Have you abandoned your desktop genealogy program?

+14 votes
I sort of started neglecting mine and it never complained so, well you know how that goes.  I installed Legacy many years ago and was very happy with it.  Since I've used it for so long, I feel like we know each other.  My sister, the librarian and PhD uses Family Tree Maker, but then she always had the big buck to spend on genealogy and had an Ancestry account for ever.  They make Family Tree, did you know that?  Anyway, their free version only lets you maintain about 200 profiles (see?  I speak WikiTree in my everyday language now!)  So, I kept Legacy, which has no such limit.  I do pay for the advanced copy or whatever they call it because I like the extra features.  

But a couple of years ago, I felt flush (in the pocketbook), and purchased a subscription to Ancestry.  My sister had fallen in love and wasn't doing very much genealogy (she still isn't, unless it involves traveling), so she wasn't feeding me information.  I struck out on my own.  I found it so easy to find information because they do have a lot.  I also maintain several trees for my varied interests.  I make a new tree when I work on the Connectors Project because I invariably find a family that is interesting and requires 200+ profiles to be created before making that one connection.  I'm looking at your, Staub Family.  I also started on of all the people who live on Degraw Street in Brooklyn because I want to see what happened to them.  I have a tree for the Buffalo Soldiers who also were awarded the Medal of Honor.  I really, really want to find a success story.  I've had quite a number of people on Ancestry thank me because I broke their brick wall for them.  Who knew?  It is very gratifying when that happens.  I also have a crazy cousin who writes to me every so often on Ancestry as if I know what she is talking about.  We are related on my father's side.  I never knew my father, but I had met him a couple of times and have a little contact with his brother, who is not a pest, and my sweet Senecal cousin.  The crazy one, hopefully isn't really crazy, but her mother apparently stepped out on her legal father, and well, through the magic of DNA, she found out her biological father was a cousin of my father.  So we are cousins.  She wants to invite herself over for family Thanksgivings, but I told her to cool her pits!  Apparently, she has a half-sister, about her age, and wants to have a sleep-over.  Another cousin (male) knows both of these people and advises against barging in on her half-sister, who may not know.  So I told her to not contact her yet.  I think it would be better if the male cousin who knows them both decides if its a good idea and does the deed.  She just wrote me that she's been talking to another cousin who moved out of state.  They are going to meet up by the end of the year.  Exciting, but I digress...

So I suspect Ancestry likes to string us along.  I'm still afraid if I stopped paying the ransom, they'll delete all my trees.  I also suspect that they hold back information.  I'll do a search and find nothing, then I'll happen upon information that has supposedly been laying in plain sight in some database since 2009!  It's like, "Oh!  You're looking for THAT Andrew Ream!"  Isn't that what I said when I searched?  So, the other day, I was working on my daughter's grandmother's family (notice how do not mention my ex-husband).  So, I'm working on my daughter's family and I think I am conflating profiles.  They are African American so are hard to research already.  Then I hit upon the idea to use my desktop genealogy program to sort it all out.  I find the layout, etc. easy to view and figure out if there are matches, blah blah blah.  Then I remembered that I had configured all my sources so they can be copy and pasted into WikiTree the way I want them.  I can also use it to standardize place names and stuff like that there.  Well, duh!  I am quite the happy camper!
in The Tree House by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (872k points)
Ancestry trees don't get deleted if you are a non-subscriber, I had a tree on there for a few years before subscribing and I also got added as a manager to the tree of someone who is a relative of my hubby's, without needing to upgrade.

I've never used a desktop program, just computer and notebook/paper and a pencil.
You are like my sister.  She had so many papers.  She purchased all the birth certificates and such (because she has more money and less children) and I collate all the information and do the internet stuff.  She has a big accordian file, which is really a file box, but it has a handle and she can carry it around.  It has all her genealogy stuff and she calls it, "Blue Box."  Any time we want to do some digging in person, you can hear her all over her house, "Where's Blue Box?  I can' find Blue Box!"

22 Answers

+14 votes
No. It is, and will continue to be the primary repository for the summary of my research.
by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (681k points)
I agree completely. I use Family Historian.
My offline tree is the only place I enter all of the living people, especially the children. (I have entered a few living adults -- besides myself -- on both FS and WT, just so the various tree views and other tools have some utility, but I always do so very reluctantly.) I tried Legacy when I first started, but it _still_ doesn't support Unicode (in 2018!!), which is a total deal-breaker for me. So I use GenealogyJ, which is getting pretty ancient at this point, and I don't think anybody's working on it any more, but it still works, and suits my style of thinking.
+14 votes

I had been using Family Tree Maker for all things genealogy for over ten years.

I haven't opened it even once since I started using Wikitree.
by Living Botkin G2G6 Mach 4 (40.7k points)
+12 votes
I still use mine daily.  I was using Family Tree Maker for a while, but after a computer crash, I bought a copy of Family Tree Heritage at a reasonable price and it's worked out very well.  Maybe the day will come when I can feel comfortable having all my research stored purely online, but I'm not there yet.
by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (148k points)
I agree.  I like knowing there's a back-up hand, on the computer, and on a portable hard drive.
There's no such thing as too many storage locations.  I've invested too many years into my research (as did the family members who got me started when they gave me their research) to risk losing it.  Even when my computer crashed a few years ago, I had all the data saved in several places.  It was just getting it back into a program I liked that was the problem.
+13 votes
I loved Generations 8 from a now defunct company. Replaced it with Family Tree Maker which I hated.  Replace that with Legacy.  I will continue to use Legacy because I like the reporting that I cannot get from a site like this.  

WikiTree has some good ones but not all the ones I want.  

There is no way to comprehensively print your watch list or export it to Excel for analysis.  

There is no way to print a variety of pedigree files like fans, hour glass, and generation views.  

I also like that I can set up a source once and easily add it to multiple profiles without having to retype them.
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (853k points)
+13 votes
I still use my online ancestry trees for my basic researching as it is so easy to build quickly and link documents (though I never link to "hints" or suggested matches). I also have several projects on the go for adoptees etc  and my postcard recipient/photo projects and find the ancestry trees easier to identify possible relatives. However I also have the most recent family Tree Maker which I synch my trees to, and use FTM regularly to scan for duplicates in my test trees and also to search on place names, which can't be done on the online Ancestry trees. The new FTM also has a new colour coding tool, which I haven't had time to really try out, as my main focus is getting my main 6000 tree into Wiki tree one fully sourced profile at a time!! Yes..I prefer to do it the slow painful way rather than upload a gedcom!
by Michelle Wilkes G2G6 Pilot (176k points)
My approach is similar to yours Michelle.
+12 votes
I hadn't been using it for awhile. It was an old Family Tree Maker that stopped working. I replaced it with Roots Magic free version. I wanted to keep track of living cousins. Also  cousins as they die. I am debating whether to upgrade.

Wikitree is good for ancestors but there is that problem with the living and recently dead. Wikitree has all the dead relatives from aunts and uncles backwards. It is much better to share information. The tree is much better than I would have done on my own. It will be thee after I am gone.

 I am trying to figure out how to share more recent info. I recently hit on the idea of putting together a Facebook cousins scrapbook. I downloaded the photos that have been posted and organized them by my aunts and uncles families. It is interesting to compare with the Roots Magic info. Only some cousins are on Facebook and some share a lot more than others, but I found a LOT. I have 4 out of 9 Aunts and Uncles families represented by some of the cousins. They are mostly the children of my cousins. I realized how many I am missing. A few of my cousins have large families.
by Sue Hall G2G6 Pilot (172k points)
+14 votes
I will never completely abandon my desktop program because that is where I keep my serious work. Online programs all have things that make them fun but not a great place for serious genealogy. Not only have I found serious errors on every one I have worked with but they could cease to exist at any time. Even WikiTree has a plan in place for when they could possibly cease operations and with my data backed up offline at least I have a plan as well. I actually have Legacy 9 on 3 of the 4 computers in my home with the data on a removable external hard drive to add another layer of protection against loss of my work.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
edited by Dale Byers
I’m with you Dale.  Well said!
I am re-reading this after three years, and it is as true today as back then.
+12 votes
I still use FTM, but I hated the update. The older version has over 900 pics from various places, mostly from F-A-G, that didn’t transfer to the new because they were not saved in the right format. So, all the pics are on the old version, lots of new material on the new, and even more on WT. so I need all three. It’s just that the old FTM has a tendency to crash: it just can’t handle the load (67,000+ “profiles”). I have exit and go back in. I’m becoming more and more dependent in WT, but I think it’s going to take years to get it all in. A worthy investment of time for my descendants as already there is so much on WT that I don’t have in my database. And won’t! I am not going to work in reverse.

One thing I do wish WT had the capability of doing is all the reports and charts I can generate in my FTM  program.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.8m points)
+12 votes
No. I nearly did, but then I realised I need to maintain a backup. All those European GDPR changes got me thinking longer term.

Then I realised I still need those charting, searching and visualisation tools.

Wikitree is now my master version, except for living people. I use Reunion for Macintosh and have been quite happy with it.
by Mark Dorney G2G6 Mach 6 (66.5k points)
I'm with you Mark.  WikiTree has become my master.

I could just leave it hanging like that!

Most of my work is on WikiTree, but I do have several trees on the desktop that I am working on and then the many trees on Ancestry.  The Ancestry ones can be speculative, in which case I keep them private.
+10 votes
I still use mine, though not in the same way I did when I first started this journey. There are many more "speculative" connections in my FTM tree than anywhere online. Hopefully, I will get around to researching them thoroughly soon. It is great backup, and I keep it on a thumb drive as well.
by Deb Durham G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+10 votes
I still use my desktop software and keep regularly updated copies of my work on my computer and an external hard drive. On Wikitree I try to make some of my completed profiles available, but it is a slow tedious process and feels like I'm doing it all over again.

So, in a nutshell, I use a paid site to test drive possible connections, keep 2 trees at home (one fully sourced and one with the speculative data), and a small amount on Wikitree.
by Living McCormick G2G6 Mach 6 (60.7k points)
+8 votes
I have been using Legacy since 2001 and I still use Legacy to start the trees I want to research before later transfering the details (one person/profile at a time) to Wikitree.

The transfer to Wikitree, only happens once I have found all the possible sources and eventually run out of names to look for... It can sometimes take a while.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
I know what you mean.  I have found some of the craziest mis-spellings that I could never in my wildest dreams come up with.
+7 votes
Yeah. My family tree maker program is from 2006. Since then my rig has changed several times and I'm now running Windows 10. In theory it should run the program fine. However, I've tried running games which are a little older or from around the same time and they still crashed. Because of that I am hesitant to use the desktop software. Though, I might try it. I have no idea.

Probably would be best to get a new program on Amazon or something at this point. Though I might give the Family Tree Maker one last try.
by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (802k points)
There are free programs you could try also.  I've noticed that several people mentioned - ahem - Legacy.  Full-disclosure:  I also use Legacy.  It is very nice, especially for a free program.
Yes Legacy is wonderful!!!!!
My FTM program is many versions out of date but still ran on Windows 10. However I do now run Legacy, and they have a free version, because it has a lot of features I like and one of them makes it very easy to transfer genealogy profiles from familysearch to the Legacy program. I can then work on any problems I find before correcting those problems on any other online platform. And it runs just fine on Windows 10.
Cool. I'll check out Legacy. =D Thanks, everyone!
Checking out Legacy. Uploaded my gedcom from Ancestry and it seems kind of clunky. I'll give it a try.
One thing to beware of in Legacy: it still doesn't support Unicode. You should be OK if all you need is the occasional acute accent, but if you need anything beyond the Latin-1 supplement to ASCII (such as ā, ĉ, č, ő, œ, š, etc.), you're out of luck.
I ended up uninstalling it. It kept flagging the birthdays of a few people as "wrong". We're not talking ancient history. It claimed that my grandmother was too old when one of my aunts was born. That was just like "Really? REALLY?!" Apparently people can't have babies at 35 according to that program. Certainly not in the '60s! Nope....

The program just seems too clunky for me. So, I am checking out Rootsmagic.
Are you referring to Legacy Chris?

I do agree that Legacy is very nitpicky about things like -  too long gaps between children and what ages the parents are etc, but they just show up as red dots so I usually ignore them.

But if they annoy you,  then you can of course find something else.
+10 votes

Hi Lucy,  I have been an iMac user for many years and my desktop program is called GEDitCOM II.  Nice program with lots of bells and whistles, but almost all my research is in WikiTree now.  In fact, I have exported my WikiTree gedcom and used it on GEDitCOM as my back-up.  I have very rare need for my desktop program now.

Re Ancestry:  They seem to collect all the data they can, so I don't think they would remove your tree(s) if you stopped their services.  As long as your data makes them money, I think they will keep your information on line.  But that is just my guess and my opinion.  

by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (658k points)
+9 votes
Ditto what George Fulton said.....I use Legacy 9 & FTM
by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.7m points)
+7 votes
My desktop is where I do my research. I post on WT once I have established enough information. I also keep living people there. My desktop lets me do better analysis, especially when working on speculative things. I can sort and organize in different ways. I'll eventually move most data to WT as well. The reports and charts on my desktop program are also much nicer.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (556k points)
+7 votes
I started out with one of those genealogy books that you hand-write information in, that was handed down to me from my mother. She did genealogy research, and I helped her when I was a kid. All the known information was in that book, that still reeks of her cigarette smoke so much that it would choke a horse. That information was also added to by my paternal grandfather, who also did some family research on his side.

At one point I tried using GRAMPS, way back when. But I found it frustrating and ultimately not worth my time.

I found WikiTree, and it became the repository for all my information. I also then re-created my kids' maternal side genealogy from memory (notice how I also didn't mention my ex-wife).

I've since documented the heck out of everything (but always more to do), and broken through a number of brick walls all around, adding to the information that my mother had, my grandfather had, and my kids other side had (ha! take that!).

I haven't been as concerned about the issues with living members, etc. I seem to be the only one in my family interested in genealogy, yet I'm the black sheep in the family (for other reasons). Go figure.

WikiTree provides all the capabilities that I need, so far. Could there be other features added? Sure, and I hope that WikiTree continues to be improved over time. Could it be improved faster? I think so.
by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (531k points)
+7 votes
I still keep Family Tree Maker up to date on my direct line ancestors,  but I do a lot of work on other WikiTree profiles that aren't put into FTM.   I even bought the upgrade for FTM last year.  

For one month a year I activate my ancestry.com subscription  (usually in the winter when I'm indoors more).... I do a little "research" for sources. But each year I find less and less and it takes a lot of time to get through the mis-information.
by Peggy McReynolds G2G6 Pilot (477k points)
+6 votes
Lucy, hi. I'm not a pro and discovered genealogy last year. As a mad mad mad mad novice, I totally failed at understanding how to use familysearch's online tree. So I decided to try Ancestry and ended up paying the ransom as you say. Finally I was able to build a tree, and the search engine seemed more manipulable.

Then I discovered Wikitree and nearly killed myself manually redoing all my profiles while heeding Wiki recommendations. (Later replacing ancestry sources with family search, because free for everyone.) Like others on here I like Wiki as the best place to keep and work on profiles. Have no intention to maintain an offline version. Should we be confident in the future? That is the question. How long will our work be maintained?  As a video editor I have been through generations of equipment, formats, software, file types, etc and sympathize with you genealogists who also experience software aging, systems changing, and storage issues.

by C Ryder G2G6 Mach 9 (90.7k points)
+4 votes
Great question to engage discussion with family historians of all ages and experience levels!

My mom's desktop database is the central location for our family history research, and it was the source of the gedcom files I uploaded to populate my family tree here on WikiTree.

However, I have never worked primarily out of a personal database.  It seems like every few years there would be an upgrading or compatibility challenge to deal with, the data is not easy to export to other researchers unless they have the same software, and the info is only available on the machine hosting the personal database.

So WikiTree turned out to be exactly the desktop software I was looking for!  The data here is accessible on any web-connected device in the world, and the tech infrastructure is maintained far more capably than I could do on my own.  

But I was curious about what I was missing.  I installed Gramps, and I'm glad I did for two reasons.  First, it is nice to have a fully featured genealogy program that can generate fan charts, nicely formatted descendancy lists, and other database-output gadgets like that.  I certainly see the appeal.  Second, I have exported gedcoms of the branches of my tree from WikiTree and imported that data into Gramps, so my personal database functions as a backup to the WikiTree data.

Gramps does have the jankiness characteristic of an open source project, which I like, but wouldn't recommend to genealogists who want something with more polish.  

Again, this is a very interesting discussion and I have enjoyed seeing everybody's answers.
by E. Compton G2G6 Pilot (198k points)

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