Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Excuse Me, What is This?

James Tanner at Genealogy’s Star has a post about Genealogy Software on the Mac.

The gist is that the offerings aren’t as feature-rich as PC genealogy software, with the best option a solution for Mac users being to run Windows using the Parallels software, if they are familiar enough with both Mac and PC environments to not be confused by it. [Sentence revised based on follow-up entry at Genealogy's Star.]

Having used Mac software since I began my family history obsession 3 years ago, I can’t really argue with his premise that PC software is better, as I haven’t used any of the PC software.

However, he links to a Software Review site, TopTenReviews, which lists Mac Genealogy software, and itemizes which ones have which features. I was shocked, looking down the list of features my software allegedly doesn’t have.

We’re going to play a game now I have entitled, “Excuse me, what is this?” I will list a feature that TopTenReviews claims that iFamily software doesn’t have, and then I will display a screenshot, or two.

1) Filtering Options “Filters individuals in database according to user specified criteria”

If you only wish to filter on the contents of one field, the easiest way to accomplish this is the search box on the main navigation window:
Above we see a list of criteria we can filter upon

And here I have filtered a list of individuals who died in Texas.

For more complex filters, there's the Filtered People Report

Above I am filtering for the surname Newmark, birth year prior to 1950, and birth place in London.

2) Flags/Labels “puts flags or labels on incomplete or noteworthy individuals”

You will note that in the search box above, one of the categories you can search on is “Notes.” You can put any coded labels you want to put into the notes section of an individual’s entry, and then search for that label.

3) Geographic tracking “tracks locations of ancestors and events”

iFamily has a nice Google Maps interface. Pictured below.

There may be other geographic functions iFamily doesn't do.

4) Ancestor chart

(The names are cutoff as I sized the chart to the window, and I am using a small laptop.  iFamily does work a little better on larger desktop monitors, and the iFamily website recommends a 17inch screen.)

5) Descendant chart

 6) output formats

a) web/html

b) cd/dvd

You can certainly burn a CD or DVD if you are exporting a website, as you can see above.

c) pdf

Well, first, you can print. And on most printers today, I believe, you can print to PDF. But let's say your printer doesn't do that.

 Do you see the "Save as PDF" button above for this descendant chart?

(Horizontal charts are possible, as well as the traditional vertical charts I showed in #4 and #5.)

The navigation window for iFamily is an ancestor/descendant chart in itself, and you can print directly from it. (If I had a larger monitor, more generations would be readable.)  As you can see below, PDF is one of the export options.

Finally, under user support, TopTenReviews claims there is no User Forum.  (I've linked to the User Forum for you.  The oldest post on the user forum is dated 2006.)

It also claims there is no email contact

The contact button on the left is a direct email link.  You can also see a link to the forums.

I admit I am not as familiar with the other Mac Software Apps.  I've experimented with MacFamilyTree and Reunion, but felt their graphical user interfaces weren't as welcoming as iFamily's. Still, if the TopTenReviews itemization is filled with inaccuracies for iFamily, I don't put a lot of faith in their list of features for the other software. 

iFamily is the least expensive of the primary Mac software options, and I will be the first to admit that there are some deficiencies, primarily in the area of charts and reports.  For many the biggest void may be the ability to print ahnentafel and register reports.

However, Personal Ancestry Writer II is a free software program you can download and use whenever you want to print out either one of these reports.  It has a primitive interface, which I wouldn't want to use for everything else, but you can open any gedcom in it and print out the reports you need.

GRAMPS (free/open source) is also working on a Mac Version, which I reviewed back in September.  I haven't checked to see if they've fixed the bugs I noted back then, but it has Register, Ahnentafel, and Henry reports.

In short -- Mac genealogy software may not be as feature rich as some PC options.  I have no means of comparison.  But the checklist of features on TopTenReviews Mac Genealogy page is filled with inaccuracies when it comes to at least one software package.

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