Blog post

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Changing genealogy software – how it’s going

I recently mentioned that I’m changing genealogy software. Three weeks on, I’m still happy that I made the right decision.

The most surprising thing to me has been feeling like a newbie! I’m used to being very proficient in the software I use – not expert, but better than average. I knew there would be a learning curve but I didn’t anticipate the newbie feeling that came with it. I’ve got a lot of clicking on menu items and trying things out to do!

The transfer itself was reasonably smooth. I found that 232 people had been detached from their parents on import. I think this was due to a flaw in the GEDCOM export for some (but not all?!) of the people in my old database. Fortunately I had an error listing which told me who the people affected were, and their parent families. It took me about 1.5 hours to link everyone up again. That was not how I wanted to spend my time, but not the end of the world, either.

That was the only unexpected hitch, and the most serious one. The other hitches were all expected…

My main challenges now include:

  • Deciding how to handle all the witnesses to other people’s events. Genbox had a “witness” feature, Family Historian doesn’t, so I will have to re-input that information… but how? For now I’m taking my time about it, reading up on forum posts and other internet discussion to see how people handle witnesses in software without “witness” features before I commit to an approach.
    Any comments on how others do this would be welcome.
  • Adding details back into the source information. In most cases all the critical information transferred, but there are a few instances – mostly references to BDM index entries – where the detail, such as it was, didn’t seem to come over.
  • Hooking up all my multimedia properly. This isn’t the fault of my software, I’ve obviously rearranged things without telling my database about it! Broken links are a bit more obvious in Family Historian and to some extent can be batch fixed. Again, I’m taking my time about this and trying things out before I rush in.
  • Correcting errors in my information. Again, these are clearly not the fault of my software. With a slightly different view I’m spotting little errors that, I guess, used to be like part of the furniture to me.

The best surprise about Family Historian is its amazing capacity to query your data. I knew that its querying was good when I bought it, but as I’ve played with it more I’ve been thrilled with its ability to set up complex queries that run in a flash. I’m also realising just how customisable many of its other features are.

So yes, there was a little pain but I think the gain has been worth it.


  1. I was wondering how this project was progressing. Thanks for the update.
    Will you still use TNG to post your tree to the web or is your new software able to handle this for you?

  2. I'm sticking with TNG for the web. The software does quite a nice job of producing a website - but not as good as TNG. 

    "Playing nicely" with TNG was a big consideration for me when I was looking at my options. Family Historian files are GEDCOM files so I now get an almost 1:1 relationship between what I see in my database and what I see on my TNG  site.