The past year has seen two hard drive failures on my laptop followed by the purchase of a new laptop. This has also hastened to complete transferal of everything from my old desktop to my new desktop which finally became useful once I got a hard drive large enough to hold all my files (yay for my 2T hard drive!).
Before all the changes, my system was like this:
My desktop was my workhorse where I maintained my precious genealogy data files. On it I maintained the following programs:
- Family Tree Maker (FTM) (version 2006?) - this is where I kept my master family database. I used this because the syncing with Ancestry.com was oh so easy. Note: I did not upload any of my files to Ancestry.com
- Personal Ancestral File (PAF) - I would create a ged file in FTM, import it into PAF, create an html website of my data and upload to my personal website on my own doman (note again: not uploaded to Ancestry!)
- The Master Genealogist (TMG) - I bought a copy of this with the intention of slowly converting my family research and key project data with the hope of creating a really sound, accurately sourced database. Unfortunately I didn't have the time it required for the steep learning curve so I never really got going with it.
- The Next Generation (TNG) - I love the concept of this software and hoped to replace my PAF html website with this wonderful database driven one. Unfortunately, I had too many technical difficulties so that I never got it up and running. The plan for using this was abandoned. I still hope some day that I can get it setup properly on my website and put it to good use. I will have to hire technical assistance to get the job done.
Family Tree Maker (FTM) (version 2006?) - I kept a read only copy of FTM on my laptop so that I could access my data while away from home. I did not make any changes to the file. All changes were made on my desktop. (This system was begun before dropbox!)
Legacy Family Tree - I started using the free version of Legacy on my laptop for small research projects. Sometimes when sketching out a family it was easier to view it from within a database. It was very handy to be able to use Legacy to accomplish this.
Insert technology cataclysm here. One new laptop and one new (refurbished) desktop later I am faced with loading both computers with new genealogy software. Both of my new operating systems are Windows 7 and my previous ones were Windows XP.
What's a genealogist to do? Do I repeat my old systems or create something new?
I didn't mention that before my laptop died for the final time I had installed FTM 2012. I was very concerned with the fact that the database kept crashing and I didn't like the interface. It was way too different from my old version of FTM. I got in there and could barely do a thing because nothing looked familiar.
Recently a colleague told me that FTM 2012 is not compatible with any other software program so that if I put my data in there and make changes I won't be able to use it anywhere else. I don't know if that is true or not. Can someone answer that for me? I am very sensitive about anyone getting proprietary with my data. If that's the case then FTM is history for me.
Last Friday I watched a webinar by Mary Hill about organizing your family files. The talk was mostly about organizing your paper files. She used a color-coded system. I am a very visual person and found her system very helpful and logical. I have never really organized all the paperwork from my mother so I thought perhaps now was the time and that I would use this system to put it into place.
Another thing I liked is that Mary's color coding system transferred to the computer on Legacy Family Tree. When reports are printed from Legacy they can maintain the same color coding system. I really like that idea.
I have no attachment to any one genealogy program. As far as I'm concerned, they each have some strengths and weaknesses. Even so, I have still yet to find the one program that has everything I want.
So what I am thinking of doing is starting over using Legacy Family Tree as the main software for my family research and everything else. It seems that a learning curve is inevitable at this point because all of my old software is so old that I can't use it anymore. I am forced to learn a new software no matter what choice I make.
What are your thoughts on this? Which software would you choose? Has anyone encountered any problems with the new FTM 2012? Any words of encouragement for getting started with Legacy?
And so my new adventure begins......
Disclosure: I have been paid to do webinars for Legacy Family Tree. My webinars are competely independent and separate from my use of genealogy software. There is no agreement or requirement that I use the Legacy Software.