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Louis Kessler's Behold Blog

1000 Genealogy Programs on GenSoftReviews - Sun, 18 Feb 2018

GenSoftReviews reached a milestone and now has 1000 different genealogy programs listed at the site.


The numbers have been creeping up over time. GenSoftReviews started in Sept 2008 with the 355 programs I transferred over from my my old genealogy software links page. The number grew to 466 by the end of 2009.  556 for 2010, 595 for 2011, 702 for 2012, 765 for 2013, 862 for 2014, 936 for 2015, 980 for 2016, and 992 at the end of 2017.

I’m always on the lookout for new programs that can be considered to have a genealogy aspect to them. There are a number of people who suggest new programs to me from time to time, which I’m very appreciative of. If the program is active and supported and it’s not already on GenSoftReviews, I add it. If you know of any current programs not on GenSoftReviews, please let me know.

Early on, I used to delete programs from GenSoftReviews that no longer were available. But now I just mark those programs as “unsupported” and point their web address to an archive.org snapshot of what their site was, or to some other information about the program that’s still on the web. Many unsupported programs still have active users as well as reviews on GenSoftReviews, including such programs as Family Tree Maker by Ancestry, The Master Genealogist (TMG) and Personal Ancestral File (PAF).

As genealogy software expert Tamura Jones tweeted:

That’s an excellent question. There are a lot of hardworking developers out there who have created programs with their own ideas of what’s needed to help a genealogist. They all deserve a look at. Taking Tamura’s question a step further, I’d ask: “How many have you even heard of?”

Here’s a breakdown of the 1000 programs:

  • 466 Windows programs
  • 116 Mac programs
  • 105 Unix programs
  • 132 handheld programs (phones or tablets)
  • 389 online programs

These total 1208 because some programs run on multiple platforms.

  • 355 full featured programs that can edit and save your genealogy data.
  • 404 utility programs that read in genealogy data and do something with it.
  • 233 auxiliary programs that do some genealogical task for you.

Hmm. These total 992 and should total 1000. I’ll have to find the 8 unclassified.

  • 627 free programs
  • 287 programs you have to purchase to use.
  • 65 programs you have to pay a subscription to use.
  • 71 programs that are unsupported.

This totals 1050 because some programs have both free and purchase versions.

The 1000 programs as I write this have acquired 4926 user reviews, or an average of about 5 reviews per program. The top 10 are:

  • 560 reviews: Family Tree Maker 2008 – 2014
  • 474 reviews: My Heritage
  • 343 reviews: Family Tree Builder
  • 223 reviews: Ahnenblatt
  • 205 reviews: RootsMagic
  • 200 reviews: Geni
  • 185 reviews: WikiTree
  • 173 reviews: Legacy Family Tree
  • 150 reviews: The Next Generation (TNG)
  • 147 reviews: The Master Genealogist (TMG)

These top 10 make up 2660 or 54% of all the reviews.

270 (27%) of the 1000 programs have had at least 1 review. So that means 730 which is 73% have not had any reviews yet. What uncommon genealogy software do you use? Does it have a review at GenSoftReviews yet? If not, why not consider adding your review?

55 programs have had at least 10 reviews which is the minimum needed to qualify for a GenSoftReviews Users Choice award at the end of the year.  Of those, 39 have been a winner of the award at least once. That means they had averaged a rating of at least 4 stars out of 5 from their users.

Next time you wonder if there’s a genealogy program out there that might be able to help you do something a little easier, why not take a browse through the 1000 programs listed at GenSoftReviews. You might just find the gem you’ve been looking for.

Programming is like Songwriting - Sun, 11 Feb 2018

A programmer develops an original idea for a program and spends time writing it. Once you’ve got it working to some point, you put it online and test the waters. If it’s well taken, you go out on tour.

A songwriter develops some original ideas for some new songs and spends time putting the tracks together. Once the album is published and the tunes are liked to some point, they go out on tour.

One year’s the writing year. The next year’s the touring year.

I worked for many years until Version 1.0 of Behold was ready. I released it in 2011. It was time to test the waters.

In 2012, I entered Behold as a contestantName Badge 2012 in the 2012 RootsTech Developers Challenge and it was accepted. 2012 then saw me “on tour” as I attended the 3rd RootsTech in Salt Lake City, presenting Behold and meeting with other developers, genealogy bloggers and BetterGEDCOM folk as well as being on a panel discussing Sources where a few statements I said about source-based genealogy were to my surprise met with huge applause. Early 2013, I picked up my genealogy “tour” as a speaker on the 3rd Unlock the Unlock the Past Speaker - Cruises 3 and 10Past genealogy cruise where I met my Australia genie friends for the first time.

During 2013, I continued work on Behold, and by the end of the year got it up to version

2014 was another a touring year. It was back to my 2nd RootsTech where I was a speaker. In October, it was over the pond to Leiden, Netherlands where I spoke at the Gaenovium Conference organized by Tamura Jones.

During 2015, it was back to work, I finished and released Behold 1.2.

That was followed in 2016 by the 10th Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruise around New Zealand and Australia. It was there that Judy Russell coerced me into DNA analysis, so I took the leap and found that DNA now occupied and took over every spare moment left in my life. I needed something to analyze this mass of data, so I developed Double Match Triangulator for my own needs. When RootsTech later that year announced the Innovator’s Showdown for innovative genealogy products, I thought: “what the heck”, and submitted DMT, went to RootsTech 2017 and DMT took 3rd place.


Thus started the biggest “tour year” of my life, with me giving a workshop on DMT at the 37th IAJGS Conference in July in Orlando, with me giving DNA talks at the 2nd Great Canadian Genealogy Summit in October in Halifax, and then my attending the 13th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy put on by Family Tree DNA in Houston in November.

My “songs” are different from everyone else. Programs are like music. You can either like my style or not. Everyone has their own taste as to what type of “music” they like and what soothes their soul. As a “writer”, I choose to “write” what I want to “listen” to. If others happen to like my “songs” as well, then that’s great. If not, I completely understand.

There are a lot of genealogy programs out there, as the almost 1000 programs at my GenSoftReviews site can attest to. Choosing the right program and what works best for you is a personal decision, just like buying a car, clothing, or anything else. We are all different. All I can say is, I’ve got my little niche here of what I’m trying to do and where I’m going with Behold and DMT and maybe I’ll pop another surprise in there.

Songwriting and programming can be a lonely task. Stuck in an office for hours on end, only coming out for that caffeine break, or a walk to the mailbox to get some fresh air and clear the mind.

Just like a songwriter, programmers can get stuck on a line for a few hours, for a day or two, or sometimes even for a week or two. The best inspiration comes in bed at 3 a.m., in the shower, or out for a walk.

It takes motivation and inspiration to keep going sometimes. And other times, the ideas just come and the code just flows and you look forward to the sun rising on a bad-weather day so you can get right back to it.

Innovation is the bottom line. We don’t need “same old”. RootsTech got it right when they say they’re looking for innovation. There are so many ways the genealogist’s work can be enhanced and made easier. It’s only a matter of figuring out how to do it. I’ve lost count of how many neat and imaginative features I’ve added into Behold and DMT. I challenge all other genealogy/DNA programmers to go do it. Think outside the box.

I recently added the following “philosophies” to my DMT Thanks page:

  • Part of the imagining … is imagining what to do
    when something’s not been done before.
  • The person who says it cannot be done
    should not interrupt the person doing it.

So after my big 2017 tour year, I’ll be taking it “easy” in 2018, staying at home and programming. Here’s my ribbon this year, courtesy of Christine Woodcock:

2018 is my year of “writing”. I just released DMT 2.0. I’m now working on Behold 1.3 and my New Year’s Resolution is to release Behold 1.5 by the end of the year (Saving GEDCOMs and its own database).

If I can then do some more imagining towards the end of the year, then maybe DMT 3.0 will actually map your chromosomes for you – at least that’s my hope.

And the year after that 2019 could start with a beta of Behold 2.0, when I attempt to finally turn it into the full featured genealogy data editor that I’ve always imagined it would be.

Maybe then, I can actually start to use it to get back to my own genealogy, which has been in abeyance for 20 years. Wouldn’t that be something!

A 2019 genealogy cruise with Unlock the Past would be a wonderful way to celebrate that.


So I’m busy. And I won’t be touring this year. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t be active.

On Monday February 26, I’ll be giving a talk called: “DNA, the Journey” to the Manitoba Genealogy Society here in Winnipeg.

Of course, February 28 to March 3 is RootsTech 2017, and I’ll be watching the live streaming and I’ll be staying involved on the social networks.

And on Saturday March 17, I’ll be answering questions in a #genchatDNA session about triangulation on Twitter:

Life is good. Enjoy the music!

Double Match Triangulator 2.0 - Tue, 6 Feb 2018

I’ve just released a new version of DMT, with many improvements.


Excel No Longer Required

The previous version of DMT used a technique called Excel Automation to generate its Excel files. It used the Excel libraries that would be installed on your computer with Excel, so DMT required that you had at least version 2007 of Excel installed in order for it to create Excel output for you. Otherwise DMT would create unformatted csv (comma delimited) files.

Now DMT uses a 3rd party package called FlexCel that is no longer dependent on having Excel itself installed on your computer.

It also gets around lockups that used to occur if you tried using Excel while DMT was creating its files.

Not only that, the generation of the Excel files is about 4 times faster.  Also, the files produced are much smaller than they were previously.

DMT now always produces Excel .xlsx files and no longer produces csv files. You do not need Excel on your computer to read them. Open Office, Google Sheets and other spreadsheets can read Excel files. 


Download Helper for GEDmatch

GEDmatch has a Tier 1 Utility called Matching Segment Search that produces an online report with your segment match data. However, it has no download capability. You had to copy it from the webpage and paste it into a spreadsheet and then save that to your computer.


Now DMT has a “Save GEDmatch” button to simplify that process. You run the Matching Segment Search at GEDmatch. When the report is ready, you select the whole report and copy it to the clipboard. Then press the Save GEDmatch button and DMT will create a csv (comma delimited) file containing the GEDmatch match data from the report.


Direct Reading of 23andMe and GEDmatch Match Files

Previously, if you had match data downloaded from 23andMe, you had to convert it to Family Tree DNA’s Chromosome Browser Results format to use. Now DMT can directly read 23andMe’s Relatives Download file containing its segment match data.

The same was true for GEDmatch data. You used to haveto convert it to FTDNA format. Now DMT can directly read GEDmatch data in the csv files created by  new “Save GEDmatch” button.


Improved Reading of FTDNA Files

Family Tree DNA Chromosome Browser Download files list all the segment matched by the tester’s name. Older downloads often had extra spaces in the names, e.g. two spaces between the first name and the last name instead of just 1. Sometime in 2017, FTDNA corrected this problem.

Since FTDNA does not include the kit number in the file, DMT must use the person’s name for matching. The extra spaces in older files would prevent the people from being matched up with those in newer files. DMT now removes extra spaces from the names in FTDNA’s match files before it does its comparison.


32 bit and 64 bit Versions

DMT used to only be a 32-bit program. It now comes as 32-bit or 64-bit. If you have a 64-bit computer, the 64-bit version will automatically be installed on your computer. Otherwise, the 32-bit version will be installed.


Triangulations Separated from Missing AB Matches

Previously, in the Map output, all double matches were denoted by green X’s, whether or not they were triangulations or missing AB matches. Now the green X’s only represent triangulations. Missing AB matches are shown as grey m’s and are the double matches that don’t triangulate.

Version 1.5.1:


Version 2.0:



Combine All Results Now Groups AC Matches Together

The option named: “Analysis by Chromosome” didn’t really reflect its true purpose. It has now been renamed to “Combine All Results”.

The results are still combined into separate chromosome result files since they could become too large otherwise, but that is just a result, not the purpose.

The combined files used to be presented simply as the individual AB runs assembled together with the triangulation groups from the AB runs left intact.

I’ve realized since then, that there is great value to keep all the B matches for each AC match together and to display the B matches with other B matches first. This will allow you a better chance to identify and place the AC match to the common ancestor it may come from.

Version 1.5.1:


Version 2.0:



Unregistered Version Now Shows Full Names For Chr 1

Previously, the unregistered version of DMT would not show Person C names. This likely made it harder to evaluate the worth of DMT.

Now the unregistered version of DMT will show actual output, but only for Chromosome 1. To see the remaining chromosomes, a one-time purchase of a lifetime license of DMT is required.


Many Other Improvements and Fixes

Many tweaks were made to the user interface, reports and log files and several bugs were fixed. Some of these items include:

  • Now using a standard Windows folder dialog for the picking of a folder,
  • Removed the “Used 0 files” line that was incorrectly being shown,
  • Files will now still process if only some lines have errors,
  • Improvements to the way recently used files are chosen,
  • Person A’s file is now read only once per run.