Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
Vol. 8 No. 7 - February 17, 2003
Newsletter and is copyright 2003 by Richard W. Eastman.
It is re-published here with the permission of the author.
Genbox Family History 3.0
Thoughtful Creations has released a new version of their genealogy program for Windows. Genbox Family History 3.0 is described as "a full-featured windows application for managing family genealogy information and producing charts and reports." This week I took the program for a trial run to see just how good it is.
I downloaded the program online and found that the installation was quick and easy. Upon launching Genbox Family History 3.0 for the first time, I was offered options about starting a new database. I elected to import a 3,000-person GEDCOM file that I already had on my hard drive, a file that had been created by a different genealogy program.
The GEDCOM import took less than a minute to complete on a 2.4 gigahertz Pentium 4 system running Windows XP. Upon completion, the program displayed a log file, showing the data items in my GEDCOM file that it could not import properly. In my case, there were only eight items listed, fewer than what I have seen when other programs import the same GEDCOM file. All eight were easily resolved later by manually re-entering the pieces of data that had not been imported correctly.
I soon found myself looking at my database in a rather user-friendly set of screens. I maneuvered around the database for a while and found the program easy to use, with a good number of available reports. I also entered about a dozen new individuals to see how the data entry screens worked. I didn't have any surprises with the program as everything seemed to work well and intuitively.
One of the better things about this program is its ability to handle multiple names and parent relationships. While one name is considered to be "primary," you can also enter other identifiers, such as married name, adopted name, or even the "name used in the old country." Likewise, you can enter data about birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, godparents, and more. You can also decide whether or not to display those alternate parents in printed reports.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Genbox tracks information as "disproved," something lacking in most genealogy programs of today. In this case, a set of parents for an individual can be labeled as "disproved": this identifies individuals that are known NOT be parents of the current individual. Experienced genealogists will often tell you that you need to keep track of identified falsehoods as well as the proven facts. Genbox Family History 3.0 is one of the few programs to have built in this capability. However, I could only find it in the screen for listing parents. It would be nice to be able to document disproved dates and places of other documented "facts."
Genbox Family History 3.0 also keeps track of a lot of genealogy data, more than what most people will require. I was surprised to see one screen that lists "Caste Name" along with religion, occupation, number of marriages, national origin, and a lot of other personal data. On the data entry screens, you can double-click on any fact (birth, marriage, death, military service, etc.), and an Event Screen appears as a place to record the date, place, witnesses, and any text that you wish to record.
The program also does a good job of documenting sources where information was obtained. It uses a Source Template to specify the format for each type of source citation. For example, a baptism record typically contains different kinds of information than a marriage record or a reference to a CD-ROM record, and a record of a bar mitzvah event would contain still different data elements. The Source Template specifies what type of information is to be collected for each source type. The program lets you either choose from 92 different source templates or create your own.
I was disappointed to find that Genbox supports only one occupation for the lifetime of an individual. I know that certainly is not enough for me, as I have had a number of occupations! So did my father, my mother, both of my grandfathers, and many others in my family tree. I suspect you have the same situation; one occupation per individual is often insufficient. (1)
Of course, one of the most important aspects of any genealogy program is the reports it generates. Genbox Family History 3.0 does an admirable job as it includes all of the common genealogy reports as well as calendars and customizable "other" reports. The various charts and reports available include:
I was especially impressed with the capability to generate Web-format reports in HTML, the standard for use on the World Wide Web. You can create reports and many charts and then upload them to a personal Web page to share with others around the world. The reports will also produce output in RTF (Rich Text Format) that can then be imported into any modern word processor for final editing. The charts are produced in JPEG or PNG graphics format that can then be imported into a number of Windows programs. You can see examples of all of the above at: http://www.genbox.com/charts/index.html and at http://www.genbox.com/reports/index.html.
Adding pictures and other multimedia to your Genbox Family History database can make your charts and reports much more interesting. You can use another program to scan old photographs or create other digital images. Likewise, you can obtain audio and even video files. In Genbox, you create a media record for each image, audio, and video file and then define links from individuals, families, events, places, sources, or researchers to the media records.
I found Genbox Family History 3.0 to be an excellent genealogy program. It tracks almost all the data elements that experienced genealogists expect. It is easy to use and has a wide variety of printed charts and reports, along with Web reports and support for multimedia.
Genbox Family History 3.0 costs $59.00, which strikes me as being a bit high. Most of the better-known genealogy programs with similar capabilities sell in the $20.00 to $40.00 range.
Genbox Family History 3.0 is available for download as a 30-day fully-functional evaluation version. I would suggest that you try the evaluation for a while to see if you like it. At the end of 30 days, the reports section of the program continues to function, but you will not be able to enter any additional data. Once you pay for the program, the "lock" is removed, and all your data remains available to you,(2) along with all the other functions of the program.
Genbox Family History's producers have created an excellent "online tour" that shows many of the program's screens. This tour will give you an excellent view of data entry and the other commonly-used screens. You can take the tour at http://www.genbox.com/tour/index.html.
For more information about Genbox Family History 3.0, to see a full set of chart and report examples, to download the evaluation version, or to order the full version online, go to: http://www.genbox.com.
To discuss this story further, please visit the newsletter Discussion Board at http://www.RootsForum.com and click on "Discussion Board."
1. Additional occupations for an individual can be added. On the Attributes page, click the blank line at the bottom of the list. Select "occupation" from the Attribute Type drop-down menu. You can also add occupations on the Events page by adding employment event records.
2. All of your data continues to be available for both viewing and GEDCOM export after the evaluation period.
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Creations. All rights reserved. Last Updated 02/19/2003.