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iFamily for Leopard update

February 25, 2011

Well I’ve had a fairly consistent play with my new software over the last few days, so I thought it might be timely to do a bit of an interim report.

iFamily for LeopardThe first thing I’d like to say about iFamily for Leopard is that it’s very intuitive – I LOVE that about it.  And the bits that are not immediately intuitive are clearly and concisely explained by the extensive and comprehensive support forums on the website of the developers, who are in Australia.

In the early 90s, it was sometimes possible to pick up a little shareware application and if you were that way inclined (as I sometimes was), you could communicate with the developer.  This program is not a little shareware application, but the family of the man who developed are still working on it and still carry out a very personal and interactive dialogue with the users.  I also LOVE that about it.

I have entered a significant amount of data over the last few days.  The way the program is set up, you can enter data in a variety of ways, but the most disciplined and methodical way, is to add a source – perhaps a certificate, or a letter, or a newspaper article/notice, even a conversation – you enter the information for the source, including a photo/image if you have one (which you can transcribe right there).  Once the source is loaded up, you can add this information as ‘events’ or straight into the forms for that person.  This is similar to the way the other programs I have used operate – except that the ‘source’ is usually just that – a reference to a document.  And if you upload a picture/image of that source, you do so as an image, along with your family photos.

What this has done for me, is allow/force/coerce me into sorting through all the source files, scans, images, certificates, adding them methodically one by one and entering all the information on them in a coherent and organised way, against all the names/dates/events.

The developers claim that the difference between iFamily and other genealogy applications is that iFamily focusses on the individual, rather than the family, primarily.  This is very much the way I see genealogy too.  My focus is not on gathering a ‘line’ of my family or seeing how far back I can get.  I’m much more interested in bogging in and ‘meeting’ my family members – finding out as much as I can about the individuals in my family tree – getting to know them and what their lives were like and the paths their lives took – finding out about the places they lived and the circumstances they lived in.

Once a number of events are entered for an individual, they organise themselves chronologically – in a time-line-like fashion – and events are cross-referenced.  So if Mary Smith dies on 1/1/1800, her death also appears in the events list of her parents and children.  If someone attends a wedding, and their name appears in a newspaper article about that wedding, an even can be registered – not just the ‘marriage’ for the parties getting married, but also ‘attended the wedding of Mary and Fred’ in the events of the person whose name was mentioned as attending.

When my great-great grandfather died in Menzies, Western Australia in 1919, his sister published a death notice in a Melbourne newspaper, informing people in Brighton, Victoria, where he had lived for many years, many years before, of his death.  I was able to enter ‘posted death notice for Frederick Greer Hanna’ in her events, just as I recorded the details in the death notice (including the existence of his sister, who I had not know about until I found that notice).

A picture develops, in doing this, of the life of the person and of those connected with them.  This doesn’t happen in the other similar programs I have used – there are not alot of them, but there are a few.  I have usually given up on them because they didn’t do what I wanted them to do. iFamily does pretty much EVERYTHING I want it to do, and a few things I didn’t know I wanted it to do till I found them.

But the very best thing it does is auto save, seamlessly and invisibly, as you work.  Early into my trial run, I looked for a ‘save’ button, then went to the File menu and found it, clicked on it – producing a message that said something like ‘you don’t need to manually save – iFamily does so for you after each entry.  If your computer loses power suddenly, the most you will lose is the item you were entering when it happened’… something like that.

You don’t know it’s saving, but it is.  I’ve tested it.  I entered a few things and shut it down.  There was no ‘do you want to save’ prompt when I closed, and when I reopened there was everything, just where I left it.

I could rave a bit more, but I think I will play a bit more, build up a bit more of a data base and see if I can find any limitations.  The only ‘problem’ I’ve encountered so far is when trying to add new ‘labels’ in the notes section of a source, the pop-up (for want of a more accurate description) box won’t close, and won’t store my new labels.  But I predict that this has more to do with how I’m trying to do it, than it does with the coding or program design.  I will follow it up on the forum – most of the questions I’ve had so far have already been asked and answered.  But it hasn’t really impeded my progress.  I have added the labels manually, and ignored the boxes.  They go away when the program is closed down.

I’m looking forward to figuring out the reporting and html generation aspects once I have a few generations to display.  But I’m having so much fun paddling around in the minutiae of each record that I haven’t got more than about four generations of one family entered (four generations of non-living individuals, that is).

Stay tuned!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2011 3:44 pm

    That sounds like a brilliant bit of software!

  2. Michelle permalink*
    February 25, 2011 6:48 pm

    I like it so far. I havent tried out all its bells and whistles yet.

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