Who am I? Oh, you’d be very surprised. Genealogy-to-go.

It has been a while since we’ve looked into genealogy software. Readers have requested information on how to find their relatives, ancestors, etc. And I’ve learned it just isn’t that hard – in fact, there are so many places and people today to help you, it’s close to “genealogy by the numbers”. I tried to contact both genealogy SIGs listed in the Magazine, but no response, so I suppose they are no longer active. But that’s OK since you have help in many other places. I’ve listed the programs from basic to advanced. Now, you know your name and date of birth, so you are well on your way. Congrats!
Charles W. Evans, Reviews Editor

Personal Ancestry File - PAF v 5.2
by Robert Du Vernay

PAFPAF One of the oldest and most popular basic genealogy software programs available, this family tree software from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is available for free downloads. Powerful and full-featured, it is also very user-friendly, making it perfect for novice computer users and experienced genealogists. It hasn't been updated in several years, however. The Church’s family history Web site is linked to the world’s largest repository of genealogical resources and a global network of research centers, although a billion names can already be accessed on-line free of charge.

What is especially nice? It's free and its powerful functions and easy interface make it an ancestor to other genealogical software. Very helpful to the novice and useful to the pro.

 PAF provides:
1. Straightforward data entry template - Good for novices, pros - easy data input
2. Customizable templates (reduce the clutter)
3. Widely used
4. Strong Support
5. English, plus limited non-Latin character support
    (v5.2 only in primary No. European languages – currently)
6. Basic publishing, very basic

If you need more options there is an add-on (6.75 USD), which will enhance your publishing abilities and a full range of charts and reports. When I use this program I see a specialized inventory tool, but then I am a programmer by trade.  

PAF’s Pedigree view, a profile of five generations of your family, really sets PAF apart from other genealogy software. You can easily navigate up and down your family tree, edit an individual record, print a report and then return to pedigree view. No other Windows program makes data entry so simple or displays your family information so clearly.

If you are planning on doing some extensive presentation, i.e. a private printing with extensive support materials, this may not be your toy. But married to a good word processor, which you know how to use a little bit, it very well could be a strong foundation to your project. PAF files are easily converted to GEM files. There are no decent publish tools.

Customized individual and marriage screens in version 5.2 make data entry even more efficient. If you rarely need the christening field but routinely record occupations and cite census records, you can create a new individual template with only the fields you need - and in the order you prefer. PAF’s printed and Web reports are well-designed and show you key information at a glance. PAF doesn’t create fancy graphical charts; for that, you need an add-on program

There is a Search box on their home site; play with it, you will be impressed.  You can’t beat this product for a startup, the price is right, clean straightforward interface, manuals, lessons, and help (w/a right click). For more info go to www.familysearch.org.

Robert Du Vernay is a HAL-PC member, and does the Basics 101 series on the 1st Saturdays. He can be reached at rpd@hal-pc.org.

Brother’s Keeper 6.3
by John Moore

Brother's Keeper

Brother's Keeper is the latest revision release of the genealogy program for Windows that has been around for almost twenty years.

It is a relational database for managing, organizing and massaging your family genealogy. With the fast search engine, searching and indexing is rapid. The ability to find anyone by name, index number or even a partial name is a nice enhancement.

The author is readily available to offer suggestions, make bug fixes and is open to suggestions for additional features. One of the most discussed features is that upgrades are available at no cost to the registered user community. For ease of user support there is both an online Rootsweb discussion forum, as well as one at www.genealogy.com.

Installation is fairly straightforward, fast and simple. A novice user should review the latest revision read-me file prior to proceeding. At the initial users screen, you will be prompted to enter the registration number and password provided with a registered version of the software.

You will then be prompted to create and populate a database with your family genealogy information. Once the first individual is entered, with name and sex; you may then add additional details to the entry screen using the edit button. You may then add the spouse and/or enter Father/Mother data, thus building and propagating your family tree information. At any time, you have the ability to generate numerous reports, lists, charts and sheets.

Each database has the capacity to hold up to ten million records; and there is no prohibition on the use of multiple databases. You may attach sources to events and pictures to individuals. The ability to print ancestor charts; descendant box charts and tree charts; indexed books in .rtf format; as well as a time line and a birthday/anniversary calendar are all included.

The multitude of reports and charts appear to have a rather unlimited user customization feature. There is even a Latitude/Longitude feature for inclusion in a GEDCOM. The program provides GEDCOM import/export, along with the splitting off of selected people to a new database. Genealogy program to organize data and print over 25 types of charts and reports including several types of Ancestor (pedigree) charts, Descendant reports and books, Alphabetical lists and Calendars.

You can add photographs and videos to each individual. These can even be created into photo reports. In addition, sources can be linked to key events, which is very useful.

Brother's Keeper works on all of the Windows OS systems from Microsoft Windows 95 through Vista. Current system requirements are a Pentium computer or better. For non-US users, the program is available in a multitude of languages, some with an included help file.

An excellent program for family historians and genealogists who have a reasonable amount of experience in using computers and who have a lot of research information to document. The author not only includes his e-mail address, but also a telephone and FAX number. I suggest that if the program is of interest that you try before you buy. It is available in Shareware for a trial download from the author's web site at: www.bkwin.org.

John Moore is a HAL-PC member. He is an occasional contributor to the Magazine and is currently the leader of the Ham Satellite Radio SIG. He has been somewhat computer literate since 1963 and can be contacted at jwm@hal-pc.org.           

The Master Genealogist 7.04                                                
by Susan J. Murphy

The Master GenealogistThe Master Genealogist (TMG), by Wholly Genes Software, is designed to manage volumes of research data, photos and sources. You can assign tags (a characteristic or event) to each. You’ll find over 100 Source Types to choose and edit. Yes, it does have a learning curve, but what you can do with some study of the instructions is just amazing. This is a very comprehensive program. The nice thing is you don’t have to use all the features to make a nice family tree.

Enter the information you have – your name, family and relatives, etc. Now the real work begins. Check under Web, Other Sites and TMG links to nine research sites. TMG does not have an integrated database like some of the other programs.

NOTE: Is this beginning to sound a bit daunting? It was to me, but there is a special button for us: Beginner Buttons on the Person View make it easier to add, edit, delete, or change the primary status of tags. Experienced users can deactivate these new buttons using a new Preference setting.

Put your ancestors in the context of history. TMG includes a grab bag of historical events contributed by users, from Mediaeval Epidemics to Modern medicine and the Crusades.

The Master Genealogist has one of the most extensive report menus available. Experts will be happy to see Ahnentafel charts, Kinship Reports, Fan Charts and all of the standard reports and charts. The Book Manager will generate a compilation of specific reports. But your output is limited to print or save to disk.

Unlike other genealogy packages that come with CDs of research data, TMG is comparatively meager, offering a single disk of glossaries and bibliographies and to an on-line database. Where this package has the edge is in its capacity to organize a family history into coherent and readable reports. TMG will import data from a variety of formats, and turn it into beautifully laid-out trees, charts and graphs. This data can be exported in HTML code, allowing for convenient presentation on-line – very nice feature, especially for sharing.

However awkward, the resource management fulfills its promise - it's meticulous, very meticulous. The reporting capabilities of TMG are a bit odd. I did not find the wizard seen in the demo actually in TMG. A Register report - probably the most popular style of written genealogy – I did not find. Essentially, there are only two genealogical reports: an ancestry (Anhentafel) report and a decendency report that I found.

You probably think that you could open that popup window containing the list of sources and there would be a button labeled "Print" or "Generate Report". No such luck. So you try the word "report" on the toolbar at the top, and indeed "bibliography" appears on the dropdown menu. You can select the file folder in which you want to generate this report on the popup window. Then you click "Save" and go look for your file. Nothing there, etc. Wholly Genes, you need to look at this.

A choice of many genealogy professionals, The Master Genealogist (TMG) stands out for its ability to record every last detail of your family tree and its features for fully documenting and evaluating genealogical evidence.

You’ll find the PDF Help manual well laid out and easy to read, they are the focus of a hard-working tool designed to change your family traditions from a pile of miscellaneous data to a fascinating story.

Support includes an extensive Help section searchable by topic and word. You’ll also find Tips and Hints, link to an On-line Guided Tour and FAQs. Find Tech Support on-line, via e-mail or telephone. It has a bit of a steep learning curve, but if you live for details, like to customize, and don't mind spending a little more, you'll love TMG. For more info go to www.whollygenes.com.

Susan J. Murphy is a HAL-PC family member and genealogy specialist. Occasionally she teaches an  intro class.