Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Choosing a Genealogy Software Program

From time to time, I get asked about choosing a genealogy software program. I just finished publishing a post on Genealogy's Star about the genealogy software award winners for 2014. But as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have some additional criterion to consider beyond that of the general population. Of course, these additional interests stem from the orientation towards helping our ancestors receive Temple ordinances. Over the years, I have heard an almost constant background of feedback about genealogy programs and I find members of the Church are most concerned about this one aspect of any program program they potentially intend to use.

The good news is that many of the available genealogy programs provide some level of LDS support. However, the level of support between programs varies from nearly zero to complete integration with the LDS program Family Tree on  The easiest way to see this integration is to look at the compatible products listed on the website. If a product is not listed on the website, it does not mean that it will not record and maintain LDS ordinance data, but if it is listed, it means that the program provides some level of connection to the Family Tree program. Many of the programs listed as "compatible" are not genealogy database programs. The program may provide some utility or other specialized support but not be a general program for use with storing your family history.

There are essentially only a handful of programs that provide all of the connection criterion:

  • Tree Share
  • Sources
  • Discussions
  • Change History
  • LDS Features
There is also only one program that provides an additional feature of Record Hinting. These classifications may change at any time and you should be careful to review the programs before making a choice. Connecting to Family Tree should not be the only criteria for selecting a program. You need to be comfortable with the features and the interface of the program you select. Many LDS users end up using programs that do not particularly connect to Family Tree for a variety of reasons. It is always possible to manually add data from any program to the Family Tree. Connecting directly to the Family Tree may also add a degree of complication to any program that you may find too confusing to use. 

Another important criteria for genealogy program selection is whether or not other members of your family who are using genealogy software are going to use or are using the same program. You should be more concerned about sharing data with your family than any other consideration. 

You may also want to consider whether or not the program is connected to any other online family tree. The large online family tree programs may be a way to maintain your own family tree information without purchasing a dedicated, desk-top program. If you want to know what people think about the programs, please see the

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