Pleased with

Tree GraphicI am responsible for maintaining my family tree. This task was handed down to me by my father is the family historian. Through his work, we have been able to more or less trace the family back to the lats 1600’s. He’s travelling to Germany this year to do more digging in church archives looking for more connections.

Meanwhile, I’ve been dorking around with various genealogy software for years all of which were completely retarded with regards to the Internet. The best most of them could do was output some static reports to .html files and then you had to post them to your website.

It got so bad that I was starting to chat up some friends that we needed to write our own software which was 100% web based, had community website features (aka web 2.0 features) and was generally taking advantage of modern technology and not stuck in 1995.

Through my research (and some fairly ingenius marketing) I became aware of the website. The original website was all marketing and glitz promising to deliver a modern, Internet-centric genealogy web site. That excited me but it seemed like forever before they finally got to the Genealogy part of the website.

Their first appearance on the Internet featured their face-matching technology which lets you upload a picture and it tells you how closely it resembles a star. As of today, depending on which picture I use, I apparently look closest to either James Hetfield of Metallica fame or Jack Osbourne (and somewhat like Gerri Hallwell or Kristen Bell. Apparently, I would be a pretty hot chick.)

So is telling me that I look like Superman which is cool. But all of that is the glitz of the website. The real value to is the actual genealogy website and the social aspects that they are coding in.

For one, the website is dynamic with the genealogy data instead of static reports. You can click on anyone in the family tree and not only does it pull up their personal information (birthday, spouse’s name, etc.) it also tells you immediately how you are related to that person (I apparently have a ton of second cousins). It calculates the path of how you’re related and displays a chart of that. So instead of me trying to figure out how I’m related to some distant relative, the website does it for me.

You can also store pictures and video on the site and link it to people so you can get more than just a bunch of text. It all integrates very nicely so if a family member has a picture, every time their name shows up anywhere you get to see a little thumbnail image of the actual person.

A new feature they added was sending out a monthly e-mail highlighting upcoming events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) so you now have one less excuse for forgetting someone’s birthday.

They also do some simple and somewhat humorous statistical analysis of the data. For example, our family has a 1.86% divorce rate. The largest age difference of a married couple in our family is 15 years and 4 months.

There are some social aspects that they are adding in. You can share recipes, post news articles, run polls, and there is a message board as well.

The site allows you to do research against a ton of genealogy sites. You can export the data in the industry-standard GEDCOM file format and easily pass that information around to whomever.

My Heritage LogoIn general, it has everything that I want in a website. There are a few downsides though.

For one, you have to pay to use it. I signed up for the entry level plan which costs $3 per month, but much less if you sign up for a few years at a time. That gets me 100MB of storage, 100 members on the website, and 2,500 people in my family tree. We all want free, but I don’t regret having made the decision to send these people some cash.

The second problem is that the site is pretty slow. Nothing happens very fast. Part of that is due to all of the neat graphics and statistics that they are calculating in the background and part of that is probably due to lack of server horsepower on the back end.

My final problem is that you have to do all of the actual family tree work by using a program you download and install. Why can’t this be done directly on the website? So anytime I want to make a change, I have to use this software and have it connect to the website, do some changes, and publish it. Well, based on the speed of the website, it is certainly faster to work locally but it’s not efficient for me to have to go through a bunch of steps just to update someone’s birthdate. Also, if I’m at someone’s house, I have to download and install a program instead of editing the data directly on the website.

But those are all really small issues in the grand scheme of things. Every few weeks they keep adding features and I’m sure my quibbles will be addressed over time.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a place to house your family website, is a good way to go.


1 comment

    • Stan Payne on 2007/08/01 at 15:55
    • Reply

    This site loads VERY slow! You need a faster server!

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