Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I'm leaving Legacy Family Tree for the cloud

I have started the genealogy do-over over and over and I sputter out on the data entry portion after a few months, in large part, because working with Legacy Family Tree as my primary system of record just isn't working for me. That conclusion took me about five years to come to, in large part because Legacy Family Tree does so many things well.   I have loved working with the software.  But at the end of the day, it makes my data a complete silo, which can be a positive for some folks, I'm sure.  But for me, it's just not working.

I need the ability to share my data.  And if I'm going to have the ability to share it with family and friends, I would prefer that where I share it already have an active user base so that I can have easier interactions with other researchers about my data.  So, while I considered buying a domain and setting up a website for my data to make it shareable with family and friends or people I correspond with, that first, is a whole lot of work and second, it wouldn't have the community of researchers around it that I'd like for my data to have.

I need the ability to work on my data somewhere other than my desk.  Legacy Family Tree, for all of it's wonderful features, is a tether.  I've gone so far as putting my data onto a NAS (network attached storage device... like a hard drive that anyone on my wireless network at home can access) and installing the app on both my laptop and my desktop, which gives me the ability to work with it from anywhere inside my home on one of those devices.  But I salivate over the ability to do the same work on any device or from any pace, just like I can with my genealogy data that is NOT stored in Legacy... like photos and documents I store in Evernote.

I need accessibility anywhere and I need the ability to share and collaborate.  I need the cloud.  So, really, in considering my options, I considered the sites that I already use for research and genetic genealogy :,,,,  I considered the amount of interactivity that the sites have had for me, historically and where my best data has come from.

For me, gedmatch has been the best site in the way of connections of genetic genealogy data.  Their family tree function, though, while sufficient for finding genetic connections, isn't sufficient for the kind of documentation I want to product.  Same for    It's just not made for that.  23andme isn't a contender for me because the "community" there seems to be largely unresponsive and they have monkeyed with family trees in a way that made it more confusing then helpful.

So, that leaves me with and  Both have heaps of information and active researchers.  I love that doesn't have a paywall and I've often been able to find stuff there for free that I would have had to pay for elsewhere.  I truly have a devotion to, as a platform.  It's easy to use, it's got tons of helpful documentation on how to find things and data and information resources., on the other hand, while it has tons of documentation and information, it's all behind a paywall.  Paying per month would have made this 20 year research hobby of mine incredibly expensive.  However, they have a very active, responsive user base.

Frankly, the deciding factor between the two for me just boiled down to the fact that I also have genetic data with, which is a nice pairing, I think, with my tree research, as misguided as their tools that link the two may be.  

My other major reservation about ancestry, though, is an issue I've written about before. is ripe with bad family tree data. One of the really great toolsets that Legacy Family Tree has that I haven't found a replacement for is potential problem flagging.  It will check for things like death dates that are before birth dates, marriage dates that are after death dates, children who's birth dates are too soon in a parent's life to be possible and will very often find actual problems - like a person who I (or, more likely, some misguided soul on thought was the person in the tree but can't possibly be.

So, I'll be building my family tree at  I'll probably pay here and there as inspiration strikes me to actively work on my tree.  I will still save cited documents and photos to my Evernote account so that I have access to them even when I'm not a paying subscriber.  I'll be able to work on it from anywhere and I'll be able to share my work with family and friends as well as other researchers.  And from time to time, when it's due, I'll export from and import into Legacy Family Tree, do some problem solving, wipe my tree and re-import from Legacy.  A little bit complicated, perhaps... but it works for me.

Edit : Oh. My. God.  The vigilance that it takes to use with any sort of accuracy is stunning.  Even ignoring other tree connections entirely and sticking only to suggested public records, people have associated such ridiculously inaccurate records to my people!   It's so easy to just click, click click, whamo, family tree on ancestry... and so much of it is just WRONG.  Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop clicking long enough to think!

Photo : devices in the cloud / blue coat photos / CC 2.0

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