Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could access your family tree on any Web-connected computer? With Internet-based family tree software, you can. Ideally, online programs would offer all the benefits of desktop versions the ability to organize and record your data, add pictures and print reports plus let you collaborate with others on your family tree and automatically search the Web for ancestral information. Though none of these apps is quite ready to replace your desktop program, our roundup reveals what you can look forward to.
Price: 30-day free trial, $39.95 a year, more subscription options coming
Biggest draws: tutorials, collaboration
Drawbacks: source documentation, no pedigree view
Overview: Like all the programs here, AGES-online lets you build your family tree online or upload a GEDCOM file created with desktop genealogy software. You can include photos and give relatives access to view and edit your family tree.
Navigating AGES-online is different from using traditional software, so take time to view the excellent video demos before you begin. Click the Focus Bar to navigate your family tree. On the Individual Events screen, hover over the state in an event to see the city and county. More features are in the pipeline, including new charts and reports, personalized genealogy Web sites, photo galleries and slide shows.
Ancestry Member Trees
Biggest draws: collaboration, family and pedigree views
Drawbacks: charts and reports
Overview: Free for registered users (you don’t have to be a paying Ancestry.com subscriber), the Member Trees area lets you record your family history, document your sources and attach photos, audio clips and digitized records.
You can invite family members to view your tree and contribute to it. Optionally, you can designate your file as a Public Tree open for all Ancestry.com subscribers to view. A leaf by a name on your tree indicates Ancestry.com has found a possible match in one of its databases (note that only subscribers can view the paid-access historical records).
You can print attractive charts and reports with AncestryPress <ancestrypress.com> (the site’s self-publishing tool), but nothing with footnotes or an index. For a casual user, though, Ancestry Member Trees is an excellent tool for organizing your family history.
Price: Free during the beta test, premium subscription service coming
Biggest draws: ease of use, collaboration
Drawbacks: no printed reports or GEDCOM downloads
Overview: Well-designed and easy to use, Family Pursuit is one of the best programs for coordinating research with your relatives. Its Research Projects, which can be public or open only to those you invite, let you assign tasks to yourself and other family members. Everyone can keep their own research logs.
The program has good individual, family and pedigree views, and navigating your family tree is easy. When I uploaded an existing GEDCOM file into Family Pursuit, the program imported all of my source citations correctly. Upcoming features include improved reports and support for photos and GEDCOM downloads.
Biggest draws: charts, navigation, collaboration
Drawbacks: source documentation, no family group sheet
Overview: SharedTree works much like desktop genealogy software, but it also lets you collaborate with relatives on an online family tree. Though it’s still in development, the program already has many useful features.
It’s easy to navigate your family tree, which can be displayed in individual, family, ancestor and descendant views. You also can add photos and images of source documents. Create pedigree, descendant, table and photo charts, and save them as PDF files for printing or e-mailing.
More Online Options
• Family Tree Explorer
<www.familytreeexplorer.com>: UK company FindMyPast.com and PedigreeSoft.com are developing this free program. Eventually, it’ll search FindMyPast.com’s databases for your relatives.
• FamilySearch Family Tree
<labs.familysearch.org/familytree/>: Now rolling out to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members, this free, upgraded system is coming soon to the general public.