Last year I stated in this column (9:112, 155-56) that any
genealogical computing program on the market would work quite well on a
286 machine with a 20 Mb hard drive. That statement was true partly
because the major programs had been developed a few years earlier when
that configuration was the standard. This year we are beginning to see
programs which require as a mini-mum a 386 processor, much larger hard
drive and RAM. GEDCOM, too, is undergoing change.
First to appear was The Master Genealogist. CompuServe users remember
a very active dialogue in the software section of the genealogy forum
last winter. Tantalizing “leaks” told of the program’s capabilities. The
release date, however, seemed to recede further and further. TMG
finally appeared in July; a version 1.1 has already been issued. TMG
promises to be prominent in the genealogy software market.
Roots 4 made its debut in October. Announced in March and
demonstrated at key genealogical gatherings since, the program has just
been released at this writing. People who have already received it are
unanimous in saying that it does much more than Roots 3. Some say,
however, that the increased flexibility complicates data entry. We hope
that this difficulty is just part of the development process and not a
permanent feature. There also seems to be a problem with the program’s
speed. Commsoft is working on a maintenance upgrade at this writing.
Roots 4 requires a 386 processor and at least 4 megabytes of RAM.
Quinsept issued Family Roots 4.0 this fall. It has a long list of new
and improved features. Banner Blue, developers of Family Tree Maker,
have also released a new version. Restricted to a small database, FTM
has been used by genealogists mostly for its charting capability. The
new version doubles storage capacity to 2400 records -which will be
satisfactory to many more people.
After my software review last fall many people asked why I had not
mentioned Family Origins by Parsons Technology. I obtained a copy of the
new version, which appeared last winter, and was impressed with the
program. It’s as easy to use as Personal Ancestral File, without some of
PAF’s shortcomings. Family Origins allows users to cite sources at the
point of data entry and also has a genealogy format reporting capability
- both absent in PAF. A Windows version of Family Origins appeared in
October; people who have used it like it very much.
Reunion, a popular program for Macintosh users, issued a Windows
version this summer. Reunion was the first major program to use Windows.
Of course, Sesame has existed for several years but is used mainly for
data collection and analysis. Sesame isn’t meant to be a lineage-linked
I’ll be very busy in the next few months testing these new programs
for review in a future issue of NEXUS. If you are using one of
them, please let me know your opinion. The introduction of so many new
software packages - in effect a new generation of programs - will almost
certainly change the list of major players in the field.
Donald MacDonald, a native of West Bridgewater, Mass., is NEHGS
computer systems manager. He is compiling a genealogy of the descendants
of Thomas Chubbuck of Hingham, Mass.