Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Master Genealogist bows out

Wholly Genes have announced that they are discontinuing genealogy software The Master Genealogist. The website announces that:
"The Master Genealogist (TMG) has been discontinued. Official technical support will be discontinued on 31 Dec 2014 but user-to-user support will remain available on the Community Forum and TMG-L discussion list, among other online resources.
For the time being, the product and updates will remain available in the interest of researchers who want to communicate their data to family members or upgrade to the latest version. It is made available with the understanding that, while there may be additional bug fixes before the end of the year, there will be no more development of new features."
Genealogy software expert Tamura Jones provides technical background to the decision explaining that the program rests on an out-of-date database.

It's becoming evident that the hay-day of stand-alone genealogy software is past as more of our computer services become based in the cloud. The LDS software PAF is no longer supported, Ancestry no longer make annual updates to Family Tree Maker and ceased sales through retailers a couple of years ago.
Don't get me wrong, the day of stand alone software isn't past. When your internet link is down, when its unavailable when you travel, when you`re concerned about trusting sensitive information to a third party, one that could go out of business or stop providing support, standalone software is the answer.
BUT, the trend is clear.
Internet availability is becoming more reliable, as much of a utility as electric power, and would you refuse to use a family history database on a computer because the power may go down?
The internet is also becoming more pervasive thanks to smartphones. It may not be everywhere when you travel but when you can duck into a MacDonalds or Starbucks for a wifi connection it`s getting more so.
Is the information in your online family tree database any more sensitive than other information you trust to the net? Do you make online financial transactions?
And is your standalone software provider any less likely to go out of business than a provider of web-based software? You may think, yes, but I have the software on my computer. Ask yourself how long will my computer last and will the next one, or the next update to the operating system, continue to support the genealogy software and the software it is built around.

Cloud-based genealogy services don`t yet provide everything, but on the other hand do provide services not available from the standalone variety which itself aren`t comprehensive. Will it give you a list of all the people in your database who you`d expect to find in the, say, 1891 census of Canada?Are you sure it knows about sections of that census that are missing?

Ottawa has had a small but enthusiastic TMG user group for many years.  It meets monthly at the City Archives with meetings publicized by Malcolm Moody in the Archive CD Books Canada newsletter. Will what to do be a topic for their upcoming meetings?

1 comment:

Mike More said...

John, I suspect that the Ottawa TMGUG will discuss options for new software for many years to come. TMG will not stop working on 31 Dec, just as XP did not stop working earlier this year. Most long time users of TMG know that there is no comparable program and we wait to see if anybody will develop something worth switching to. Or perhaps, it will keep running longer than I will. :-) BTW, the meetings of the Ottawa TMGUG can be found at http://ottawa-tmg-ug.ca/index.htm, including many of the past presentations. Most meetings are now webcast for those who cannot attend in person.