The good news is that there is a lot of software out there for genealogists.
The bad news is that there is so much it is mind-boggling! How do you choose?
There are a lot of freeware/shareware programs, but many have limited features.
My advice is to go with the proven winners. I have tried a number of different
programs, and can recommend the ones that I have found to have the most useful
options and to be the most dependable.
Genealogy Software: For starters, you will need to enter your data into a
program that is easy to use, and can convert to/from Gedcom file format,
the industry standard. I have had good luck on most counts with
Family Tree Maker.
It is well-supported, and they have a decent website
with related articles and online databases. You can purchase their software
(cheaper than in the stores) and support our website by clicking here:
Filtering Programs: The next thing you should do is filter your
database. You don't want to put a lot of personal/private info on the
internet, and some people in your tree may not be comfortable having their
name or date of birth on the internet, especially families with young
children. I have tried many and I like the shareware
Res Privita the best. It is quick, easy, efficient and allows plenty of filtering
Converting GEDCOM files to HTML web pages: If you want to
publish your tree to the web, you need something that will generate all the
HTML code for you. Believe me, you don't want to be stuck updating thousands
of pages manually! A lot of the decision here comes down to personal
preference. There are several programs that publish standard genealogy family
reports, but few that do a decent job of creating a clean, graphically-based
tree. Don't forget that most of the people that will be visiting your site
are not genealogists, and the standard genealogy report formats will not be
intuitively easy for them to read. To me, the beauty of the internet is in
its ability to provide access to knowledge in a visual manner. I have tried
many formats and invariably, visitors to your webpages will prefer the
ability to "see the tree" and surf it. The best software I have found here
WinFamily. The shareware version is nice, but the full version is really
amazing. (FamilyWeb recently became the US distributor for
HTML editors: There are way too many HTML editors to list them
all here. Pricing ranges from free to several hundred dollars for high-end
programs. If you are just starting out, stay away from these expensive programs,
as they are either too complex for a beginner to use, or they generate pages
by templates, which can cause a lot of problems with cross-browser compatibility.
The one that I use is from
Coffee Cup Software. You can download their shareware version for free
here, which is fully-featured. The registered version eliminates the ad
banner at the top of the editing screen, but no big deal there.
Other Utilities: One of the things you might want to do if you
start putting up a lot of photos is create a page of "thumbnails." A thumbnail
is a smaller-sized version of a picture. Rather than making visitors to your
website wait for a huge picture to download (only to find out it wasn't the
one they were looking for!), it has become "net-etiquette" to post all the
photos on a thumbnail page. That way, a visitor can see a smaller version
of the picture and click on it for the larger one. A useful shareware program
to do that is