January is a time to set goals for the coming year. A goal for a lot of us is to become more organized such as organizing family information.
It is sometimes hard to determine where to start when beginning such a large project. The first step in organizing family information is to put the information into a genealogy program. A question that I get asked all the time is "What is the best genealogy program?" There really is not a "best " for everyone, toothpaste or genealogy software. It depends on your needs and how you intend to use the product.
Genealogy programs are basically all the same. A genealogy program will make it easy to add and delete people, to find errors, to track progress and will help you learn how to correctly record information. It also makes it easy to create charts and reports in a matter of minutes. These are the basics features of a genealogy program. There are programs that do the basics, there are programs that do much more [that have all the "bells and whistles"], and there are programs that are in between the two. The cost of these programs range from free to over $100.
Personal Ancestral File (PAF)- available for free from the FamilySearch.com Web site. Basic program, easy to use, but without many extra features. The program is supported by the developers, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the FamilySearch Web site. Ancestry Family Tree- available for free from the Ancestry.com Web site. Basic program, easy to use, but without many extra features. I could not find any support for this product on their Web site. There is a built-in help facility in the program.
Legacy Family Tree- available in a standard edition for free or a deluxe edition for about $20 on their Web site at Legacyfamilytree.com. Easy to use with many extra features, even in the free version. It is a simple matter to upgrade to the Deluxe version if you like the program. Support available from their Web site.
Family Tree Maker, Version 11- available in many retail stores for about $80. It is the #1 selling genealogy program. Easy to use with many advanced features such as book publishing. No online help could be located at familytreemaker.genealogy.com, but there is a built-in help facility. The Master Genealogist (Gold Edition)- available for about $80 from the Whollygenes.com Web site. This is by far the most powerful genealogy program available. It is also the most difficult to learn, in my opinion. Support available from their Web site.
Reunion (For Macintosh Computers)- available for $99 on the Web site at Leisterpro.com. Easy to use with many extra features. Support available from the Web site.
These are just a few of the many genealogy programs that are available. To determine the best program for your use: 1) Make a list of the features that are most important to you. 2) Compare features of the programs. Read what the manufacturer says but also check articles and Web sites that compare the programs. A good Web site for this is Bill Mumford’’s "Genealogy Software Report Card" at http://www.mumford.ca/reportcard 3) Talk to others who use a genealogy program. 4) Test the free demo. Many of the programs have a free 14 day trial period.
Spending a few hours researching, before you purchase a genealogy program, will be a good investment of your time. You will be getting the program that best fits your needs.