Everything In, Nothing Out - Not Helpful for DNA. - Sat, 26 Dec 2015
Do you an amass everything you can that might be related to your genealogy research? You have books in your library. File cabinets full of articles and clippings. Closets with boxes of unsorted picture albums and scrapbooks with letters and ephemera. Videos still on VHS and super 8.
You’ll get to it someday. I know you will. I know I will.
But when you sort through it all, you’ll be looking for just the materials that are helpful to you. Hopefully, as you do so, you’ll be digitizing everything and only keeping originals of documents and anything sentimental and throwing everything else out.
Again, the stuff you save and digitize and organize (by source) to complement your genealogy data, will be just the material that you will use or potentially use to help you document your family and lead to new discoveries.
Okay. So now you’ve got into DNA. You did a test, or a few tests with one or more companies. You expect your genealogy software to load in this data and process it for you in some useful way. The software should use it to help you document your family and lead to new discoveries, right? … (sound of silence)
I was wondering what features developers were adding into their genealogy programs. I asked a question two days ago on Genealogy and Family History StackExchange Q&A site regarding the DNA Features of Genealogy Software. What I found out is that there are at least 5 programs now that have at least some hooks into DNA and allow you to record your sample results. Check out the interesting answers to my question to learn what programs they are and what they do, and if you know something more, be my guest to add an answer.
What became apparent to me is that the programs currently are simply recording your data. They do not yet seem to be doing anything with it that can really help you.
I learned my lesson maybe 20 years ago. I had a house, a job, a young family and finances were a concern. So every receipt, bill, statement and financial transaction went into a program you all must have heard of: Quicken.
I spent a few hours every week recording my money transactions into this program. Each year I would pay $60 or so to upgrade it. Then I would add more transactions. In total, several hundreds of hours a year were spent doing this.
And what did I get out of it? A few reports run a couple of times a year that would tell me I was spending as much money as I was making. Hmmm. I knew that already by my bank account balance. So I would do a run that would say I’m spending 15% on food, 10% on clothing, 15% on housing … Hmmm. Didn’t really change every year. Once you know this, you know this.
So why was I spending hundreds of hours a year to enter this data? I gave myself a few slaps across my head and after 8 years of doing this, just stopped cold turkey. I immediately gained a several hundred hours a year.
What did I replace it with? For the 99% of receipts that are meaningless after a year, I use a simple file container with 12 file folders with 12 months marked on them. I’d put in my receipts by month, and I’d have them if I needed them. Upon a new month, e.g. January, throw out the old January receipts and start again. Did I need to total up these receipts or categorize them? No. And maybe a couple of times a year, we’d have to go back to an old receipt, and it wouldn’t take more than a few minutes to find it. Total time: 30 minutes a year.
Now lets talk about DNA again. There is A LOT of data in your DNA results. There are 100 different summaries you can do of it. You can spend all your time entering it, or spend your time looking for programs that will do that for you, and enter your DNA results into your genealogy software. Why?
Unless you will get something useful out of this, you’re wasting your time.
It appears (unless I am wrong and new answers come up to my StackOverflow question) that genealogy software today will not do anything useful with your DNA data. At the moment, it appears, you will not be doing yourself any favours by spending your time loading your genealogy data into your program.
There are already a good number of utility programs and sites online for analyzing your DNA. By all means use those, and input your DNA data into them in the format they require. Just make sure they could provide something useful for you in return.
But as far as your own genealogy desktop program goes, wait. Wait until the genealogy vendors give some superb functionality you absolutely cannot do without that needs your DNA data to be entered. Then, your time to enter your data will be well spent. Until then, don’t waste your time.