Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Best Free Genealogy / Family Tree Software

I located this great information on My clients are always asking questions on the best software for this application and they often ask my opinion on Free software – so this will cover both :-)

Later I will download, install and verify this software for you.

Here is the bulk of the article:

Legacy Standard is my top pick for the best free Genealogical software.  The program is fairly easy to use, flexible, and has plenty of capabilities.  The free version supports family, pedigree, and index views.  You can easily navigate to younger, or older generations simply by clicking on the individuals. Clicking on Events icon displays all of the events for an individual.

You can attach photos or any other type of document.  I love the well structured source formats.  The location field is unstructured but the Master Location List can help keep the locations consistent.  Strong report generator supports eight general report types. Legacy can print narrative book style reports using generic sentence templates.  Creates stunning graphical charts, ancestor, descendant, fan, hourglass, bow tie, and DNA charts.  Imports  from GEDCOM or PAF files.  Exports to GEDCOM, PAF, or Clooz. The program provides Research Guidance with tips, Internet Search links, and a To Do List.

Legacy creates the best looking web pages and has the most features for web site creation of these programs. Supports photos and CSS.

Legacy places data files in the C:\Legacy\Data directory instead of the normal %UserProfile% directory unless the default directory is changed in the options.  If the user has backup software they should take care that the backups include the nonstandard location.

Also many menu items when selected display a message that the feature is available only in the Deluxe Edition.  Greying out the unavailable options would have been less obtrusive and nagging.

GrampsGramps is a strong contender for the top slot.  I liked that I could easily navigate or filter by people or name list, family, relationship, ancestry, events, places, sources, repositories, media, and notes.

I felt the place entry especially outstanding.  Places have distinct fields for street, city, latitude, church parish, etc.  Alternate locations can be entered for each place, e.g. one could enter West Virginia as an alternate for some Virginia locations prior to the Civil War.  Sources, notes, multimedia, and internet links can be linked to each place.  Also all events linked to the place are displayed and can be navigated to.

I loved the date support.  Dates can be based on several different calendars, e.g. Gregorian, Islamic, etc.  The date can have a quality of regular, estimated, or calculated.  And finally the type can include before, after, range, span, etc.  Events support roles, e.g. bride for a marriage event.

Gramps can create narrative style web sites.  You can select a standard copy right or from any of the Creative Commons copyrights.  Not only can living people be excluded, entirely or name only but also a date range to restrict recently deceased people can be selected, e.g. people who died within the last five years could be treated as if they were still living.

Sources can be attached to people, families, events, and multimedia.  I would have preferred source templates based on Mills' or Lackey's books.

Gramps directly supports patronymic style names, e.g. ap Robert, verch Evan, etc.  However, matronyms are not supported so for example ‘Īsá ibn Maryam would need to be entered as a patronymic.

The installation can be intimidating.  There are several required programs which must be installed in a specific order.  I recommend using the all in one installation or the portable version on the Portable Apps website.

Family Tree LegendsFamily Tree Legends is fairly easy to use, flexible, and has many capabilities.  Clicking on Events icon displays all of the events for an individual.  You can add alternate names, birth, marriage, death, and burial events along with the many other events of the individuals life.

You can attach photos or any other type of document.  Strong report generator supports ancestor, pedigree, descendant, descendant summary, time line, family group sheet, kinship, and other reports. Creates ancestor and descendant charts in fan, standard, and vertical formats as well as hourglass and bow tie charts.  Legends can print collections of reports with table of contents, an index, and other pages.  Imports date from Family Tree Maker and GEDCOM files.  The program supports a To Do List and a correspondence list.

I like having the ability to merge duplicate sources and repositories.

There is only one source format.  No location list to help with consistency in place entry but you do have a replace function to help clean up variations on a place name.

RootsMagic EssentialsRootsMagic Essentials has a variety of source templates based on Elizabeth Shown Mills Evidence.  Rootsmagic supports narrative reports.  I was able to open multiple databases or the same database multiple times and display them side by side.

Supports multiple parent relationships, e.g. adoptive.  However, all parent relationships assume that the parents are married.  Happily I was able to enter a gender neutral relationship for the parents of a child.  However, one of the women was denoted the father and the other as the mother.  I'd prefer to be able to list both as parent, both as mother, or the actual mother as mother and the other as parent.

Create a web site is disabled in the free version.  Saving reports to other file formats is disabled in the free version--viewing and printing is allowed.  There is no option to hide living people or events for living folks in reports.

RootsMagic displays a nagging splash screen at every start up requiring the user to chose between the free and the Full version.  This is immediately followed with a RootsMagic News screen.  Many menu choices are not functional in the free version but I do appreciate that they are highlighted in a reddish color.

ScionPCIf you're interested in a portable application then ScionPC should be at the top of your list.

I love the lack of gender constraints, e.g. I can add both of my grandchildren's same sex parents without resorting to tricks such as changing the gender of one of the parents.  Both members of marriages are referred to as partner's.  (There is a warning that the couple is the same sex.)  I wish other genealogy programs would adopt this standard.

ScionPC has exceptional date format support, e.g. Circa, Before, After, Estimated, and Date Range modifiers as well as Georgian, Julian, Hebrew, French Revolutionary, Islamic, Persian, Indian National, Coptic, User Defined and Unknown calendars.  I like the pop up calendar for use when entering dates.

The program creates a complete web site for upload.  Supports CSS.

The program has no place list but it does provide a unique method for merging similar places.

No method of excluding living individuals or their events in either reports or website.  Surnames default to all uppercase.  Only one source citation is permitted per event.

Personal Ancestral FilePersonal Ancestral File (PAF) is the software supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It's a good basic genealogy program and easy to use.

The reports are in Born, Married, Died, Buried order but the other events are not sorted by date.  No box style charts.

Only one source citation is permitted per event.

No bookmarks.

PAF can generate html files for upload to your website.

Myheritage Family Tree BuilderMyheritage Family Tree Builder has an nice hour glass view that can adjust from just one generation above and below the focus person to three generations.  This eliminates the need for seperate person, pedigree, and descendant views.  There is a handy list for navigation just to the left which can be expanded or retracted out of the way.

MyHeritage automatically checks for possible duplicates when entering people.  This feature mitigates the absence of a merge duplicate people tool.

A button appears next to the place entry field when clicked will offer suggestions from similar places already appearing in your database.

Individual reports can be saved to HTML format.  MyHeritage supports a direct upload to the MyHeritage web site but no other independent web site creation.

No place or individual reports.

There is no context sensitive help available but the PDF format manual is very helpful.


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