By: Carolyn L. Barkley
I am a PC user, but I have an iPad which seems like an extension of my right hand. One of the reasons I bought a tablet was to make my genealogy information more accessible when I was away from my desktop. I’ve used an iPad for about two years and am a long-time Master Genealogist user. As the later has no plans (the last time I asked) to create an iOS version of its program, I have been searching for an iPad genealogy app that would meet my research and database needs.
First, I tried GedView. It did allow me to download information via GEDCOM and the information was accessible even when no Wi-Fi or 3G connection was available. GedView at that time, however, was only a viewer; I was unable to edit the information. In addition, because Master Genealogist is my major desktop application, I could not synch information between my files without the considerable effort of exporting and importing GEDCOM files – not my favorite pastime. Consequently, I continued to look for another solution.
Next, I tried Ancestry’s mobile version. Once again, I could access my information easily, but now could also add or delete information from a family file, accessible on any device after I signed into my Ancestry account. But, I still rely on Master Genealogist as the main repository of my family files because of its functionality. If I added or changed any of my information on Ancestry, I would have to reenter it into Master Genealogist to keep the main database current. I coupled the issue of duplicative work with the fact that the “green leaves” often lead to duplication and confusion if I am not careful, and continued to look for another solution.
After several other trial experiences (and that is “trial” in both senses of the word!), I discovered the Heredis app while scrolling through the iTunes genealogy apps category. Some background research yielded a Dick Eastman post dated 21 June 2012 which announced the launch of a New Blue Suite of programs for Macintosh and iOS, as well as Windows, by the French company Heredis. After some reading of his article, among others, I installed the app on my iPad and began to explore.
I must say that I am very pleased with the results of my preliminary work with this app.
- Heredis is very pleasant to look at with a blue theme which is easy on the eyes, clear and readable. While not a technological assessment, perhaps, long hours of research can be quite tiring visually and every little bit of user friendliness is important.
- I was able to transfer a GEDCOM file easily into the app by moving the file into DropBox and then opening it with Heredis. So far, so good!
- After “hacking around” for a bit (what? Read the manual first?) to discover where various functions were located, I noticed that on the main page (which I, of course had skipped merrily through to get to my family file), if I selected “Help,” I could access assistance in creating people, navigating, illustrating, searching, creating charts, importing/exporting, and synchronization.
- Major functions include “Persons,” where I was able to locate a list of individuals in the file from which I could select a specific individual; and “Charts,” where I could view information as four-generation “designed” charts (olive tree, American elm, live oak tree), or in 4, 5 or 6 generation single-page pedigree charts (the more useful of the two styles) that could be either printed (I don’t have a printer compatible with the iPad at this time) or could be emailed as a pdf file. My favorite function, “Indexes,” provided me with a list of either all the places or all the sources in my file. (I understand that Heredis also offers additional index choices, such as one for occupations, depending on the content of your GEDCOM).
This index function is particularly exciting. I can choose, for example, Rockbridge County, Virginia, in the left hand navigation bar, and on the right the app will display “assignments.” These assignments are all of the records (birth, marriages, deaths, land, etc.) contained in the file for that location along with the individuals associated with those records. If I then tap an individual’s name, an event screen is provided with further details (if available) on the specific event (birth, etc.). If I then tap on the arrow beside the event location, I arrive at an integrated map showing the geographical location for that record and individual. WOW! But, be as specific as possible in your geographic description and be careful to standardize your entry for each geographical place (or at least clean up your GEDCOM) as entries of Augusta Co., Virginia, Augusta County, Virginia, and Augusta Co. Virginia (both in the city detail box) will result in three separate index entries.
The “Person” feature is, I think, my favorite. If I choose a specific individual in the left hand navigation bar, the individual’s family screen comes up. Instead of needing to work through several screens to locate or enter multiple spouses, parents, and grandparents, I can complete all of that information on the same screen. In other words, “at a glance” I can see information about the focus individual, all his or her spouses, all children, both parents, and both sets of grandparents. If any of those boxes are empty, a tap on the box will bring up an entry form to add the information. WOW x 2!
- To me the most exciting feature is the ability to synchronize data between Heredis on your iPad or iPhone and your desktop Mac or PC. This attribute appears to resolve one of my major issues with the apps tried previously. Although it is implied in the literature, I would want to confirm that the synchronization function works across platforms. In other words, will I be able to synch my iOS iPad file with my PC desktop tile? WOW x 3!
- If you are using Heredis on your iPhone, you can dictate to Siri. WOW x 4!
- The Mac version of Heredis is available in standard edition at no cost (imagine that!). The “commercial” version is available for $47.99 (a 20% discount is currently being offered). The PC commercial version can be purchased for $29.90 (at the same 20% discount). Demo versions may be downloaded at no cost.
I have not gone so far as moving from Master Genealogist to Heredis, but I must say that I am strongly considering it. Software reviews are available online that compare Heredis with Family Tree Maker, Legacy, RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest, Family Historian, The Master Genealogist, and several other genealogical programs.
If you are looking for a more user-friendly genealogy app, or if you have just received a new iPad or iPhone for Christmas and want a great genealogy app, take it from me, you will want to investigate Heredis.