Why are there so many genealogy programs? - 2 days, 23 hrs ago
The article struck me as also being totally true when applied to genealogy software, so I am reproducing it here and just changing a few words. Here it is:
I was asked this question twice in the past week, by colleagues who work with our clients. It sounds like a dumb question, but it’s not.
The short answer is that we don’t need so many genealogy programs, but we want them. Let’s explore this further.
Aren’t they all the same?
In a sense, yes. You can record your family information using Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic, Brother’s Keeper, Reunion or Family Historian. You can use Family Tree Builder or Gramps or Ancestral Quest or Heredis. Or WikiTree or Clooz or Evidentia.
Underlying this fact is that all of these genealogy programs serve the same purpose: to help you record, keep track of, and make sense of your data. In highfalutin genealogy terms, they all help you with your “Genealogy Workflow”.
At their most foundational level, these programs are all the same. But on the surface – where humans interact with them – they vary a lot. This is where other concerns come into play.
Different tools for different jobs
Genealogy programs are tools, and we choose different tools for different jobs. A tractor trailer and a bicycle and a Tesla are all vehicles – they have wheels and steering and will get you from point A to point B – but obviously we use them for different things.
Genealogy programs are similar. RootsMagic and Reunion are great for recording your facts; Family Tree Builder and WikiTree are often used to work with online family trees; Clooz and Evidentia are the tools of choice for analyzing your reasoning.
Genealogy programs often make trade-offs in terms of convenience, safety, and speed – much like vehicles. The trade-off is dictated by the job at hand.
Genealogists have tastes
Beyond mere utility, genealogists choose tools based on personal tastes.
A genealogy program is a tool for humans to express ideas to computers. While we genealogists have many things in common, there is natural variety in the way our minds work.
Because we have many choices of good genealogy programs, we can select one that “works the way I think”. Some genealogists like WikiTree’s flexibility, while others prefer RootsMagic’s strictness. Where some programs feel complex, others look like they were made for you.
Beyond utility, and beyond taste, businesses run on people. Often, you will choose a genealogy program based on what you, or the people around you, know.
Many genealogists chose Family Tree Maker mostly because that’s what they found on store shelves. In turn, it’s what their friends and colleagues then used. Which made learning how to use the software easier, and allowed Family Tree Maker to get to dominate the market.
(Unfortunately, Family Tree Maker also happens to have terrible technical characteristics.)
Technologies are supported by “ecosystems” – communities and organizations that provide the tools and assistance that every genealogist needs. A good ecosystem – Family Historian has a great one, for example – can make the individual genealogist more successful.
Variety is strength
In summary, we have a variety of genealogy programs because there is a variety of jobs to be done and a variety of people who do those jobs. This diversity makes interesting programs – and interesting companies, and interesting research – possible.
Matt Sherman Louis Kessler, Engineering Manager Genealogist Developer
For a list of over 900 different genealogy programs that you can rate and review and see other people’s ratings and reviews, visit GenSoftReviews.