What Do You Expect Your Genealogy Software to PRODUCE?

"Why should I enter all this citation information into Evidentia?" What can I expect in return?

After my blog post on Evidence-based and Conclusion-based genealogy, and the “right tool for the job” position I took on software in general, I got to thinking more about the genealogy software I use, and why I have more than one tool in the “toolbox”.

Entering data into a software program is work; necessary work, but work none-the-less. I was asked this question during the BETA testing of Evidentia: “Why should I enter all this citation information into Evidentia?” What do I expect in return?

That’s a great question. Data-entry is tedious, time-consuming, and monotonous, and no matter how much the software tries to simplify or speed up the process, data-entry is NOT our goal. That’s why the number one enhancement request I got was the ability to import GEDCOM data from other programs (a topic for another day). Even after sharing data between programs, there is a cleanup step. (Ever tried sharing FTM data with ANY other program via the GEDCOM?)

What’s the payoff? I value my time – why should I invest it into entering data into Evidentia, RootsMagic, Ancestry.com, or any other genealogy program.

“Data entry is tedious…what’s the payoff?”

What follows is an inventory of the genealogy software I use (or should I say, the software I use when doing genealogy), and what I expect the product to produce – the return on my investment. I will exclude software that doesn’t require me to enter substantial data or import a GEDCOM.

I started with RootsMagic in 1995, so it makes sense to justify it’s usage first.


  • Relationship charts – a visual, easy to understand representation of my family tree
  • Relationship calculations – very useful in researching
  • Narrative report – the beginnings of the family “story”
  • Other reports – the “status” of my current research
  • Data repository – a safe place to store all my work to date (this one is easy to forget, but crucial)


  • Gap Analysis – identification of gaps in my research
  • Lead Generation – a potential list of sources to be checked


  • Source catalogue – a data repository for all the sources referenced in my research (in citation form)
  • Claims catalogue – a comprehensive list of the claims made by any given, and its relationship to a person of interest. (#2 reason it was written)
  • Genealogical Proof Report – a detailed analysis and justifiable conclusion for relating a fact or event to a particular person. (#1 reason it was written)
  • Research Summary report – the “status” of my current research, including the identification of gaps in my research
  • Data repository – a safe place to store all my work to date (this one is easy to forget, but crucial)

Family Tree Maker 2012

  • Data Repository – an offline repository for my ancestry.com source data
  • (I find RootsMagic easier to use for everything else FTM does).

ancestry.com, familysearch.org

  • Lead Generation – a potential list of sources to be checked
  • Clue Generation – a potential list of events and facts to be verified
  • Public Relationship charts – a visual, easy to understand representation of my family tree that is shared with others of like mind
  • (I have other expectations of ancestry.com, but not that require significant data sharing.)


  • A Web Site – relationship charts and summary reports presentable to my family in a context where I have control of the data and presentation.

I tried to catalogue what I expect from each too. A side effect is that I have probably shown my ignorance vis-a-vis what I expect the software to produce and what the software is capable of. I invite you to point out these gaps in the comments, as well as comment on your own genealogy software tool chest and what YOU expect it to produce, either in the comment section or in your own blog.

What Do You Expect Your Genealogy Software to PRODUCE?


2 Responses

  1. I appreciate the approach that Evidentia takes, but I was hoping to import the data along with the sources I have already collected straight from familysearch. So far as I know, there is no program that will allow for this type of transaction. My mistake, I suppose, is having utilized familysearch exclusively to collect and catalog sources for people. I groan at the thought of having to “manually” copy/paste all of the source links and citation information that I have already collected. To be able to import all of this data into an program such as Evidentia using an import feature would be flipping amazing! I don’t see what the problem is in doing this since all of the information is included in the source box of a person on familysearch. Why can’t a programmer just identify where this source box is for an individual using the familysearch I.D. and then apply that code to their program for gathering sources…not just for one person but for any in the tree connected to that base I.D.? What I personally would like to see is a program like Evidentia that would run in parallel with or incorporated into another program that would, more or less, mimic what the web site familysearch already does. In other words, if I could have a working version of familysearch that was usable offline that also included or allowed for the incorporation of Evidentia methodolgy, well that would just be the cat’s pajamas.

    1. There are two schools of thought on software tools – the “one tool does everything” school and the “the right tool for the right job” school. Genealogy is somewhat unique in that almost all the products need access to some of the same data, making a strong argument for the “one product” school. However not all vendors have ALL the strengths necessary to pull this off, and it makes a product so complex that it is almost un-useable (remember this? http://evidentiasoftware.com/?attachment_id=1486)

      I am a member of the “right tool for the right job” school, but we really need is an up to data information sharing system to share data between programs in a reliable way.

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