While I was at #RootsTech, I was surprised to find out that Tamura Jones did a review of Version 1.0 of Behold.
I have said for a long time that Tamura writes the most comprehensive and accurate reviews of Genealogy software anywhere. Tamura has written full articles about Behold in the past: Version 0.98.9.90 alpha on Jan 6, 2009, Version 0.99.2 beta on Dec 1, 2009, and Behold FTW TEXT on Jan 3, 2011.
I take pride in anything that Tamura says is good about Behold. The not-so-good stuff is taken as constructive criticism and I look forward to getting that. Most of the time, I agree with Tamura’s analysis and I can then work to improve Behold’s weak spots and make it an even better program.
Being a programmer, I love recursion. So this will be my review of Tamura’s review.
First the good stuff:
“The Behold blog was started in 2002, and has been chronicling Behold’s progress ever since.”
I’m very proud of this blog. I feel I am probably the only genealogy software developer this open about what I am doing and how I think.
“Behold does not just support various Unicode encodings, its entire character set support is excellent. Behold does not only support all the character sets the GEDCOM specifications allows - ASCII, ANSEL and Unicode -but additionally reads many other ones, such as Windows ANSI, that are actually illegal.”
I don’t emphasis this enough on the Behold website and I should.
“Behold supports GEDCOM and then some. It not only deals with GEDCOM dialects, but also tries to deal with known errors vendors make, just so the user does not need to be bothered with it. Late in 2010, Behold even added explicit support for FTW TEXT.”
Oh Lord! Nobody knows like I do how horribly other vendors export their GEDCOMs. I want Behold to read as much of that junk as possible. Genealogists need a way to transfer their data between programs and the vendors don’t care. This is a real problem. Even if a BetterGEDCOM or GEDCOM X comes to be, if the vendors don’t follow the standard, the data won’t transfer properly.
“That makes Behold the first Windows genealogy application for which a 64-bit edition has been announced.”
And also coming in the future (I’m hoping with Version 2) a Mac version, followed by iOS, Android and Unix.
“Even with large files, performance is snappy; scrolling is smooth and and clicking a hyperlink immediately jumps to another section of the Everything Report. You can browse your data without getting annoyed by a sluggish application.”
Ensuring this worked well involved virtualizing TRichView, the component I use for displaying the Everything Report. That was probably the most difficult part of Behold for me to implement. It took close to six months to do and turned Behold from a slow memory-hungry app into a fast moderate-memory using app. This change was when I transitioned from alpha to beta and made Behold a viable program.
Now the not-so-good stuff:
“Behold 1.0 has a fan value of 19”
I am not proud of 19 at all. It’s not that bad a value, but Tamura recently found that RootsMagic 5 had a fan value of 24+ meaning that it can open up a file 32 times larger than Behold can. Behold still loads the entire GEDCOM plus all generated internal data structures for it into memory. This is currently limiting the maximum size. Over the next few months, I’ll be creating a native file format for Behold. Most of the data will be written to that file, and that should significantly increase the maximum file size that Behold could handle. This is a trade-off between memory and loading time. I’ll try my best to ensure that this will not slow Behold down too much, as I still want Behold to load GEDCOMs quickly. And the 64-bit version should give a big boost to Behold’s fan value.
“Behold 1.0 isn’t a genealogy editor, it is a genealogy viewer.”
Yes, I know (sigh!). As Tamura pointed out, I boxed myself into a corner and ran out of version numbers. 0.99.24 was starting to get ridiculous. But it was time. Version 1.0 is stable and capable enough to become a full release – even if it is just a viewer for now.
“it took 17 years to get version 1.0 out, so it is only natural to wonder how long will you have to wait for version 1.5”
Well, pre-alpha took 10 years. Alpha took 5 years. Beta took 2 years. I think I’m speeding up.
At the end of the review, Tamura provides a great index into many of my previous blog posts. The best of my posts get classified by: genealogy software, GEDCOM, Performance, Unicode and Technology.
Overall, I think it’s a great review. The very last line of the review gives me a challenge that I expect to meet:
“Behold 1.5 will include GEDCOM export, and if the quality of the exported GEDCOM is as high as promised, its flexible GEDCOM import and quality GEDCOM export will combine to make Behold a must-haveGEDCOMto GEDCOM conversion utility.”
I don’t know if Tamura will decide to do a review of my review of his review. But if so, I promise I won’t review that back.