I have toyed multiple times in the past with genealogy. I could kick myself now for not being more aggressive about it when so many more of the older generation of my family was alive, but no use crying over spilled milk. A colleague, who also happens to also be a cousin of mine, showed me a old census form for a shared relative that he found on Ancestry.com, and I was intrigued.
This led to me checking out Ancestry.com myself, which relaunched my interest in my genealogy. I located the most recent version of my family tree, dusted it off, exported it to GEDCOM, uploaded to Ancestry and I was off to the races!
I ended up subscribing after the trial, because I find it to be an excellent tool to to assist me with my genealogy. Some of my highlights.
- It is a very usable web interface for managing my tree. More usable, in fact, than several of the desktop programs I have used. I also love that it is online, so I can access it from almost anywhere.
- Their record repository is huge. I am sure I will exhaust what is available with them online eventually, but for kick-starting my tree it has been phenomenal.
- The “hint” engine is very cool. It reviews everything I enter about each person in my tree and scans Ancestry.com‘s repository of trees and records. I get a contextual alerts if the hint algorithm finds information that may match the people in my tree. I am still busy reviewing and processing all the hints and have yet to really need to perform any active searching.
- You can download the GEDCOM of your tree at any time, plus Ancestry.com synchronizes with the Family Tree Maker family of desktop software, so you are able for retain your tree if you part ways with the service.
- It includes slick applications for iPhone and iPad, which is perfect for me as I am an Apple fanboy. These work great for reviewing the tree at family events with relatives and processing updates on the fly.
I can only think of two negatives:
- The hint engine I mentioned seems to make many people lazy. It is too easy to see a hint and click “accept.” This means I need to consider highly suspect any hints that refer me to other people’s tree’s until I can confirm the sources they used to establish those trees.
- I cannot figure out how to mark specific media (photos, documents) sources I upload to my tree as private. This limits me from uploading items that are either of a personal nature or that I may not have permission to distribute publicly.
Otherwise I am a huge fan. It is currently instrumental in launching my genealogy work.