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Genealogy - Using Family Tree Software

Updated on June 24, 2012

Genealogy software programs are essential tools for organizing and storing your information. Entering your history into a program makes it easier to share your data as you can export all of your info in one file.

Genealogy software collects the date and place of an individual's birth, marriage, and death, and stores the relationships of individuals to their parents, spouses, and children. Most programs allow you to print charts, create databases, publish your history to the web and share with others as well as work with other geneaolgy software.

What is a GEDCOM ????

A GED file or a GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunication .

A GEDCOM file can contain information on births, deaths, census records, ship's records and marriages. GEDCOM files can also contain data such as physical description, occupation, and total number of descendants.

Having your family tree data in GED file makes it easier to share data with others. It is text type file and it is used to exchange genealogical data. It was created by the Church of Latter Day Saints as a research aid. Most if not all genealogy programs support GED files.

You can download a GEDCOM reader for free. This is not a program where you can enter your research or edit a GEDCOM file. You can only view it and copy it to windows clipboard for use in another program.

Programs Worth Trying

There are many programs on the market today that it is hard to know which one to use. I have tried both free and the more expensive programs and it really comes down to personal preference.

Family Tree Maker - The paid software I use the most is Family Tree Maker. I am using the 2012 version currently. I have used FTM software for over 10 years and am very comfortable using it. I love the way I can merge my trees so quickly between my computer and ancestry.com and If I save a record online it saves to my computer as well. It can be expensive especially if you combine it with a paid subscription to ancestry but it is one extra expense I don't mind paying for.

GRAMPS- The Best Free program I have tried is GRAMPS. It is very easy to navigate and is part of a great community of genealogists. GRAMPS is built using Python which is mainly used in Linux but will work in windows and supposedly macs. It has multiple language support and translations exist for 31 languages. The date support is very cool and dates can be displayed in several different ways such as Hebrew, Islamic and Julian. You can create narrative type websites with this program and many useful reports.


Screenshot of Gramps
Screenshot of Gramps | Source

Legacy - This program is very easy to use and has both a free standard version and a paid version. The free version has most of the important features including creating great looking webpages. It is a good program for beginners.

Brothers Keeper - This is one of the first programs I used back in the DOS days. I still use it for printing the larger charts. Brother's keeper has some of the best charts and reports.

Family Tree Legends - This is a fairly new to me program that I have been playing with. It is very graphically pleasing to the eye and so far seems fairly easy to use. I like the the way the indented descendant reports print. Another nice feature is that you can make a read only CD with all your data to share with family.


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