Overall, it’s pretty good. It’s very easy to navigate, which can be tricky with geneology software. It’s very easy to enter information, and to edit information. I LOVE that it offers so many ways to visualize your family tree: the circle chart is particularly beautiful and interesting to explore.
However, it needs some work before becoming a perfect program. I wavered between 3 and 4 stars, and gave it 4 because it’s very good at constructing a family tree, which is obviously what it advertises itself as being designed to do. However, I was really hoping for a program that would also help organize and record the vast number of papers, documents, and photos I’ve been collecting from my family, and to be able to share my research with other members of my family. In these matters, it is very weak.
The things that really need improvement:
- The website it publishes looks like it’s from 1997. The software’s UI is modern and simple and elegant in that Mac-software-way, and the many, many tree views it offers are all so elegant and beautifully designed… so it’s kind of a shocker to see the final, clunky website. In particular, the media needs to be improved, and there’s no location information. There also needs to be options to hide certain information or comments before publishing.
- There needs to be separate categories for photographs/images of the people and places, and for media that is in document/written form. Lumping them all together under “media,” and having whichever one randomly ends up first be the person’s avatar on the family tree, is extremely clunky and inconvenient. When I add a group photo, and tag a bunch of people, that photo moves to the front of the “media” queue in each entry, and then I need to go back into each person and change the order of their media to get back to a photo of their face as the Family Tree avatar. There needs to be an assigned photo for the avatar that doesn’t change, and it needs to be able to be a cropped version of another photo (to get nice and square around their face) WITHOUT cropping the entire photo in the “media” section.
- The media options in general need to be vastly improved, and IMO there should be a way to tag different media types: personal letters, business letters, government documents, education records, etc. At the very least, separate categories between government/official records, and personal records. I have thousands of random little documents and letters between family members that I’d like a much more elegant way to organize. I’d love to be able to scan them in, attached them to people, and know that a digital copy is safe. I guess this could be done by making them each a “source,” but that would make the source list completely unweildy. If that’s how it’s supposed to work, there needs to be a way to put sources in folders or categories/subcategories, because having to navigate a list of literally thousands of love letters and “wish you were here” postcards between distant relatives to find the 1900 census documentation would be ridiculous.
- Locations needs to be significantly improved. This is a big one, and pretty frustrating. When doing family research, locations can be as important as individual people. First of all, you can only assign events down to the town level… but I have all these census records and family histories that include street addresses, and mutliple events happening in the same town that I’d like to assign to individual locations. Street addresses can be very important to family history: who got married in which church in town, what happened to the family when they were still living on X street, before they moved to the larger house on Y street, etc. There also needs to be ways to attach photographs, documents, and notes to locations… I have so many family stories of what happened at X location that don’t really belong under an individual person, but definitely belong to the location. It’s also really weird to me that you can’t assign photos to locations. I have a bunch of photos of houses that family members lived in, churches they got married in, vacation spots they went to, that I’d love a place to store and attach to the location.
Basically, this program does about half of what I need it to do. Some stuff (like the location updates, and being able to assign a face to a name) I think it should already do. Being able to use it to store photos/memories/documents isn’t technically within the program’s mandate, but it would make the program so much more useful, and me such a happier customer.