Software choices: TNG, Ancestry.com, Family Tree Maker 2012, Roots Magic 7, Legacy 8

tngheader-smallBeing a techie of sorts, I naturally know there are many software choices for keeping ancestors and relatives in a ‘family tree’. This post will just be about software choices I’ve made and only snippets of the machinations I have thought about and gone through.

Several years ago I bought a copy of The Next Generation (TNG) for putting a tree online. Yes, there is other software that can do that. And Ancestry.com itself can be set for public viewing. But I already knew that I wanted something more robust than Ancestry. I had some health issues taking my attention for years and years. The software I bought languished on my hard drive. Occasionally during vacations I would look at adding to my family tree. My tree was full of errors and duplicate entries. Like a bad haircut, I did not even want to show it to even my closest relatives.

Now with some new found energies I am plugging away at the options available to me and making some choices. So far I still want to use Ancestry.com for it’s vast resources and sync ability with it’s own proprietary client (desktop) software. The desktop is necessary for ease of cleanup of my online entries as well as a backup…just incase the online files are corrupted or the business goes under or changes it’s policies, etc. I’ve spent so much time on this family tree now that it’s important to always think about backups, backups and etc.

BUT, then I still want to use the TNG software for my online tree. Why? Because it is open source, is currently still being developed, has a user base that also develops MODs (modification plugins), and has a lot more flexibility over all than other online trees offer. So the question for me is if I can use the Ancestry’s client software, Family Tree Maker (FTM), and port my data and media files to TNG. And if so, how to do this with as few steps as possible.

This is where I am now currently trying to figure out a workflow that is not too cumbersome and works!! So far to test functionality, I have added test data my family tree in both Roots Magic 7 and Legacy 8. I exported a GEDCOM file, an outdated but the best we have available for a universal genealogy file format. Then I uploaded these altered files to Ancestry.com. If I want to, I can sync that new online tree back to my Ancestry client software. I don’t actually what to do that. The Ancestry software will only sync one online tree to client software. I just wanted to know if if can be done as some of that relates to my posting a tree online using the TNG software.

Why do I want to use software other than the client software FTM? Well, I’ve experienced unintended software related errors. And I noticed them after I propagated them to the online Ancestry as well. Also, the software FTM does not have as much flexibility as other software in terms of edits and sourcing citations or other data. I thought I would use my ultimate online family tree as my ‘master’ file. But I think that is not wise. Likely the upload of the GEDCOM from Roots Magic and Legacy is missing something or non standard. But so far I have not noticed. All of the links to media such as census were there. And notes transferred as well. Is it perfect? Probably not. Is it good enough? I expect so. Did it upload media files other than those linked via Ancestry.com like census or marriage files. Nope. Those media files are not contained in the exported files. Which brings me back to my desire to use TNG as my end user online family tree.

I have shared my online Ancestry tree with a few relatives and I may need to point them elsewhere for an ‘authoritative’ file. There may be documents or photos I won’t necessarily upload to Ancestry, but they will be on my own online tree, in a file area of this blog, and only visible to selected users. That means I will still use Ancestry.com and it’s associated client software, FTM for Windows. (I have an install of Windows on my mac using Virtual Box to run the Windows OS).

Now to choose between Roots Magic 7 and Legacy 8 for my daily workhorse client….ah, decisions, decisions!

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