Thursday, February 15, 2007

My PhpGedView Review

I've been using PhpGedView since last September. Randy has written a post about online genealogy programs and has asked to hear about people's experiences with them. So I'm throwing out my two cents worth on the subject.

I haven't used any of the online genealogy programs that Randy mentioned except for PhpGedView, so I can't comment on any of the others.

I loaded PhpGedView on my server by myself and much to my surprise it worked on the first try. Some might say that that sort of thing should come easily to me since I'm a web site designer and I upload to servers every day. And that would be true, except that this was the first time I ever dabbled with the Php/open source thing. I never considered getting a separate hosting company that would offer to upload it for me. My server company made no such offer so I did it myself. I bought myself a new domain name ( just for the heck of it, and now my GedCom lives online as well as on my laptop (in Legacy Family Tree).

I like PhpGedView. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much. There aren't many genealogy programs I've tried that I didn't like (online or otherwise). They all do things a little differently and have some features the others don't. PhpGedView is no different in that respect. Like Photoshop, the feature-packed robustness of the program means it's complicated to use. But if you're willing to put in the time reading the documentation you'll find you can do a whole lot with this program. And you can get a lot of help online at the PhpGedView forum, so you don't have to go it alone.

If PhpGedView was my only program, I'd spend the time necessary to learn all the ins and outs. But I happily use both Legacy and PhpGedView, opening whichever program does what I want to do better, quicker, or easier. I happen to have a laptop computer as well as a PDA (with Pocket Genealogist on it) so it's a rare scenario where I wouldn't have my genealogy database with me but I'd have internet access. It hasn't happened to me yet but in the event that it should, I'm prepared! PhpGedView also functions as an off-site backup for my genealogy data, and backup is always a good thing.

Probably the only quirk I don't care for about it is the way it handles reports. You can't view them on the screen, you have to download them in .pdf format. It's not a big deal when I'm at home or on a private computer but if you were using a public computer in say a library, it could be a little awkward trying to figure out where to download a file to to be able to view it. Maybe there's even a way around this way of creating reports in PhpGedView but I'd have to do some research to figure it out.

So let's see, what else can I say... it installs easily, it has lots of features, it functions as off-site storage for your genealogy database, it has a fairly good support network via its forums... I guess that about sums it up. I like it. I can recommend it.