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Louis Kessler’s Behold Blog

Off To Gaenovium - 3 days, 5 hrs ago

The official announcement is out. And I now can announce that I’ll be flying to the city of Leiden, Netherlands in early October.

Gaenovium will be a small one day conference on October 7 for genealogy technology creators, so it will give me a wonderful opportunity to meet, share, discuss and argue with other developers. I love these opportunities to expand and consider what others are doing and use them to make improvements to what I am doing and even possibly to change my future plans for the better.

I’m slated to be one of the five speakers and I’ll be putting together a talk called “Reading Wrong GEDCOM Right” with many examples of the multitude of non-standard GEDCOM variations that I’ve had to handle in Behold. This will be a technical talk for developers, and I’m looking very forward to presenting this to a distinct group of people that will be able to appreciate it. 

The conference is being organized by Tamura Jones of Leiden, Netherlands and Bob Coret of The Hague, Netherlands.

Tamura has done much to improve the quality of genealogy software as he provides likely the most brutally honest assessments of programs he reviews, and smart developers will heed what he says. His previous assessments of Behold: Behold release disappoints (0.98.9.90), Behold 0.99.2 Beta, and Behold 1.0 all provided me with great feedback and areas where it needed to improve.

Bob is the creator of the genealogieonline website which is just one of many initiatives he has taken over the years to innovate and improve the technology used for Dutch genealogical research.

Tamura and Bob have both worked very hard to organize this first ever Gaenovium conference and I’m looking forward to meeting them both.

Another person that I’ve corresponded with who is also speaking at the conference is Tony Proctor of Ireland. Tony was very involved with Better GEDCOM and FHISO and I had several conversations with him through those venues. I’ve not looked too closely yet at his STEMMA data model, designed to be a possible replacement for GEDCOM and more, so I’m interested in hearing what he has to say.

The last item on the Gaenovium schedule is a Panel Discussion on Current and Future Genealogical Exchange Standards, so this could be the most interesting session of them all.

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*Pavilion photo by Tamura Jones, copyright © 2014, used by kind permission.

The event will take place in a building called The Pavilion, and looks like a lovely venue. The capacity is only about 50, so if you are at all interested in coming, be sure to register as soon as possible or you may be disappointed.

It’s About Time for Version 1.1 - Mon, 5 May 2014

This is starting to get ridiculous. I’ve spent the close to 2 years trying to design and implement all the complexities of 3 new features that I think will be really important to help you with your genealogical research, which I’ve called: Ages Everywhere, Life Events, and Who’s Alive at Events.

The work I was doing on these just seemed to mushroom. The “Ages Everywhere” started veering off into Consistency Checking. I had to deal with handling Multiple Events. The Life Events led me to Who’s Alive at Events. This required estimating ages so that those people without birth dates could be stated to be “likely” or “possibly” living at an event. Then it was a matter of ordering and storing them and … it got messy, I must say. There were too many ideas at once, and the data structure developed for one idea got messed up by the next idea.

Trying to work on too much at once just doesn’t work. It leaves you in a state of everything being somewhat unfinished. And putting Behold down for a bit of time (for RootsTech, family vacation, writing a magazine article, new computer, my father passing away) was always difficult to pick up again where I left off. It’s always best to try to finish a little piece and then add to it, always leaving everything in a working state of completion.

So I’m going to try to change this. I’ve made a number of enhancements to my working version of Behold over the past year that have been marked as “done” on the Future Plans page. I’m going to release the first set of changes which will include the merging of family events into both spouses to make the output of each individual resemble a timeline, and include the individuals’ age at events. I’ll release this as soon as possible as version 1.1. This will be a significant change

Then I’ll move ahead and work on one major thing at a time, releasing the Life Events as version 1.1.1, and follow that the with Who’s Alive at Events as version 1.1.2. Then Consistency Checking, Saving GEDCOMs and the Behold Database. The plan is in place. I just have to make sure I continue to move forward and make progress.

But before my next release, I’ll have to update my code signing certificate for Behold. Doing the update is a PITA (pain in the rear-end), but the certificate has expired so I have to. They give me a whole 3 days notice, which is nowhere near enough time. In addition to the onerous procedure I went through last time, this time I have to also get a licenced notary or attorney to confirm that the documents I am sending them actually are for me. What are they going to add next time. Will I have to be fingerprinted and strip searched? I get a 3 year certificate each time, but I’d get a longer one if they had it, just to avoid the hassle this involves. Now I understand why some software developers don’t bother with a certificate, even though it adds safety for the user.

Now, back to work.

Almost 800 Genealogy Programs. You’ve Tried How Many? - Sun, 27 Apr 2014

How many have you even heard of?

Over at GenSoftReviews, where I maintain a website allowing users to rate and review their genealogy software, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the genealogy programs that is approaching 800.

In the last month alone, I’ve found, or people have told me about 14 16 new programs that do all sorts of things, including: Branches for iPad, CatroGenea, GEDexplorer, Soundex Calculator, DKIndex, Origins, Leaves, Last-Memories.com, Jworld, JewAge, DP Genealogy Records, G-List, Genway, and Khandan Info, Rodovoderevo and Wallcharts. You can’t tell what all of them do just from their name. You have to at least go their website, and then maybe try them out.

Of the nearly 800 programs, almost half run on Windows, 75 run on Macs, 70 on Unix, over a hundred on your SmartPhone or Pad, and there are almost 300 online programs.

Almost 300 are full featured programs. These are the ones you can use to record your genealogy data, print reports, import and export your data. The rest are utility programs that generally read your data and do something useful with it, or auxiliary programs that are useful to genealogists, but do not interface directly with your data.

Okay, you’re probably happy with the program you use now … or maybe you’re not. But have you tried many others? How many? One, two, a half dozen?

Do you use any online programs? There are almost 300 of them.

Are you worried about cost? Over half the programs are free to use, and many of the others have free trials.

I love finding out about new programs. They introduce new concepts, and different ideas about how to do the same thing. There’s no one best way to do genealogy. Everyone is different. Even if you’ve been using the same program for 15 years, maybe there is one out there that will be a better fit for you.

I’m saddened that the average genealogist probably has not even heard of more than a couple of dozen different programs. There are so many genealogy software vendors out there that are trying to add something new and useful to your toolkit. They all deserve at least a look.