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Android Genealogy

Android Genealogy

Way back when I had a Palm which I loved. I had three before Palm stopped making the organizers. I tried other things but it was years before I found an iPod Touch. I have since added an iPad. I tried FamViewer, GEDViewer and Families on them. My comments on FamViewer are here . If you read the comments the developer tells about GEDViewer which I then tried and wrote about here.

Families is only for Legacy software. It allows you to put your entire database on it, add to it while out and about, sync back to your computer. You need to make sure you have the latest database on your idevice, upload it and sync back BEFORE you change something on your computer. If you take a computer along and forget to sync first there is a problem. I sat through the Legacy webinar on Families. While I like having my whole database I am not comfortable doing the sync thing as a general rule. On a specific trip maybe. Here’s the webinar. (Scroll down to April 11, 2012.)

This week I got a new phone, an Android. I had GedStar Pro on my Palm. It is not available for idevices (and never will be the developer says) but it is available for Android. I made haste to install it. It is simple but it has everything. You can look up names, families, pedigrees, descendants. You can view your sources, even the details. On some screens, including marriage and burial, you can get a map of the location. On all the maps I tried it got it right even though my locations do not always conform to naming systems required by my genealogy programs – and which their mapping programs whine about.

The program requires first converting your database. It converts directly from Legacy and The Master Genealogist, requires a GEDCOM for other programs. Once you have that there are several ways to get it on your device but the easiest – which they encourage – is to use Dropbox. The developer’s web site has all the documentation and it won’t take you long to read the whole thing. It is very simple to use.(Hints: install the program, open it on your device once, then proceed with making the file conversion. When making the conversion save the file to Dropbox rather than moving it there later.)

Families is also available for the Android. Julie Cahill Tarr has written a series of articles on apps she uses for her Kindle Fire (an Android device) here. She discusses Families for Android, the Ancestry app (which is available for Apple and Android) and a couple non genealogy programs she uses which I also use.

FamViewer Genealogy App

FamViewer Genealogy App

One of the things I miss most about my Palm is having my TMG database available. I read about the [limited number of] genealogy apps for the iPod Touch and iPhone and checked each one out. A huge red flag was the limit in database size.

FamViewer, the most expensive at $14.99, did not seem to have a limit and reviewers commented that it didn’t. They also commented that it was easy. I confess, due to the price [it is expensive as Apple Apps go] I waited several weeks before I decided to give it a try.

My file contains over 10,000 names and yes, I uploaded them all. That tells you it worked. Is it easy? Yes it is but getting it set up requires some prep time. I advise going to the company’s website and reading the limited instructions. The limited instructions almost changed my mind. I’m glad it didn’t.

The first thing you need is Bonjour on your computer. Unless you are using an Apple computer it isn’t likely to be there. Not only am I using a PC, it is a 64 bit and I run Windows 7. A little research turned up that this would not be a problem. I downloaded the proper file. However, when I went to install it I was asked if I wanted to “repair” or “remove.” Some application had installed a small version on my computer. It’s almost always easiest to remove and start over which is what I did.

The next thing you need is a GEDCOM of your file exported from your genealogy software. That took awhile, quite awhile, due to my large file.

Following the instructions, which were very clear, I uploaded the file. It took seconds. My entire file seems to be there. Although it is a GEDCOM it has many of the events as well as notes and sources. It may not be my complete file but it is probably enough information to travel with.

In the end I uploaded the file using the Windows by IP address method rather than Bonjour because I use that method for other apps and it seemed easier at the time.

You can also enter notes into the program on any person. These notes, of course, do not magically migrate to your genealogy database but you can email them, individually or in batches, to yourself so you can add them to your database when you get to it. They remain on your iPod Touch/iPhone until you are ready for them.

How much space does that database take? Apparently not much. I didn’t make a note but I had commented to a friend regarding how much free space I had the day before. She was concerned about filling hers up. I said I didn’t think it would be easy, that I still had 20+ GB free. After installation I still have 20+ GB free and I also downloaded another app, some podcasts and some additional music.

And I now have my genealogy with me.