28 November 2011

NEWS: FIND MY PAST IRELAND OFFERS FREE FAMILY TREE BUILDER

     Findmypast Ireland is an online database of Irish vital and genealogical records. It is not a free service, but has subscription plans and pay-as-you go options. In November, Findmypast Ireland introduced a free family tree builder (registration required). I have been "playing around" with the program and offer these observations:
1. I know many, many family history researchers, even very advanced genealogists, who keep paper records only and  do not have their family history data on a computer program or online. Since I have used genealogy software programs since they first appeared, I consider genealogy tree building programs indispensable. Using genealogy programs is easiest in the early stages of one's research, so I would advise beginning family historians to use a program in conjunction with their paper files from the start.
2. The simplicity of the Findmypast Ireland family tree builder is both a strength and a drawback. The "bells and whistles" on many of the programs today make my head spin. I find most genealogy programs today to be almost unnavigable. The Findmypast family tree builder is so simple, I don't think it will scare away beginners. If you are looking for a free, simple way to record your family data, their builder is a nice way to begin. The format is easy and uncluttered, and the learning curve for using the builder is almost zero.
     The simplicity is also its main drawback. While I like the clean interface and the lack of daunting controls and formats, I would like to see a bit more attention paid to fields for source citations. I don't see a way to upload a GEDCOM file to the builder. I believe I will have to type in my names and data one-by-one. This task might be too daunting for those of us who have been collecting family history for a long time.
     Findmypast Ireland promises to expand the capabilities of the program. I hope when they do so, they can find a way to keep the interface simple and easy to master. I would hate to see such an easy to use program become a quagmire like many of the other programs.
3. Your tree will be available to you online. It is not a program that is downloadable to your own computer.
4. I don't see privacy safeguards. Please consider privacy considerations before entering the name of or data for any living person.
5. So, if you are a beginner looking for an easy way to begin recording your Irish family tree online, I would advise looking into this builder. It might work for intermediate researchers also who don't mind taking the time to fill in the data fields.  I don't think I myself will have the patience to take the time to fill in the data for all my ancestors I intend to monitor the site as it expands its capabilities to see if the builder becomes one I can use.
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(Disclaimer: I am not associated with findmypast Ireland nor have I received any compensation for this review. The comments above are mine and are based on my experiences using the Findmypast Ireland family tree builder.).