Review: Heredis 2.1.0 (Mac)

Software Review

Heredis 2.1.0 (Mac Version)

My first, quick, look at Heredis for the Mac was awesome. The free trial
version allows tracking of 50 individuals in your tree but otherwise is full
featured. I downloaded their sample tree, of forty-six individuals and was
impressed. The integration of photos, sources, and places with the people is
extremely slick. The interface was incredibly user friendly and followed Mac
methodology. Data is well organized into four major areas: 

Under Persons are four tabs, 

Immediate Family, grandparents, parents, spouse,
and children, are displayed. There is a great feature where you can link
variants of a surname together. In my family tree, I have Manning, Mannin,
Mannon, and Mannen, which spellings used changes constantly.
Personal Data, which includes key info on the
individual, (names, notes, etc.) events, (birth, marriage, death, etc.) and a
family section. One cool thing about the section is what they call “sundry
links” which is a place you can link an individual to another based upon a
non-direct relationship. For example, when a niece is living with a family and
you don’t know who the parent is or even which side of the family the to whom
the niece is related. Events allow you enter many different event types. A
marriage event does not show who the marriage was to. You have to display the
families tab and the events tab simultaneously and figure out which is the
correct one. Adding a new marriage event is cumbersome, as the input screen does
not display all the info for the marriage. They also put unusual emphasis upon
people’s occupation and even have a separate index for that. The software seems
to put too much importance on a child’s status (illegitimate, natural, etc.)
and if a person can sign their name (verses uses an “X”). It is rare that I
have cared about status and have never paid attention to a person’s signature
Family Group Data provides easy access to key
information on parents, partners, and children. The display is cluttered, trying
to put too much on the screen.
Ancestors tab gives a quick pedigree chart,
which is easily selectable as four, five, or six generations.
The Places section is likewise very clean. It uses little icons
to indicate if you have a picture of a place or if it has notes. Accessing
Places via the “Tools” menu gives access to you to see which individuals have
an entry to a particular place. Locations link to “Open Street Map.” I had
never seen them before and really like their maps.  I may use them for other things in the future. 
The Sources section is more flexible than some other
programs I have seen. You can add images and notes. The notes have complete formatting
capabilities, font, font size, bold, italic, etc. 
The Media section links photographs to the individuals and
is very clear and concise in its use.
The Reports are standard and what one might expect. It will
create a biographical report for an individual and then launch your preferred
word processor for you to finish it off. I thought that was very cool. Throughout
the reports you have the option to include private data or not.
There are Heredis iPad and iPhone applications (free) that can allow you to sync your desktop to your iPad or iPhone and take it with you.  Also, the sync function allows you to sync to remote computers, external hard drives (cloud), and USB Flash Drives.  
I thought, “Wow,
I can’t wait to see how it does with my tree.”
I encountered my first disappointment. It only imports
GEDCOM and Heredis files. It would be nice if it imported some of the other
popular genealogical software. I imported a GED file knowing that GED imports do
not support media. I would have to reconnect my media to my sources. A time consuming process.
Then I found the showstopper. I noticed that the import
stripped off the name if I had more than one name for an individual. I then
found there is no way for an individual to have more than one name. (Their support forum confirmed this problem.)  I have
several ancestors who changed their name for no apparent reason and there is no
way to accommodate those different names in the software. 
There are several other issues, for example no web
publishing capability, although their website says they are working on it;
however, most of the other problems are minor and can be worked around.
At $59.90, normal retail price, the cost is in the same
range as other genealogy programs for the Mac such as Family Tree Maker,
Reunion, and MacFamily Tree. Heredis’ use of indexes and their search
capability are second to none and really a plus. If they fix their names issue,
simplify some of the screens that try to show too much data, and improve their
import file format capability, I think it will be a desirable product. In its
current form, I do not recommend it.

Backup Solutions

I have been trying many different cloud storage solutions.  I use Drop Box to share working drafts of
various documents with other church members. 
It works really well.  I love how
it alerts me when another board member makes a change to a file. 
I have also been using Google Docs to share files with my
wife, family members, and friends.  It is
super the way it integrates with Picasa and provides a great platform for
sharing pictures.
I also use Syncplicity. 
It is a cool little program that sync’s my genealogy files off site.  I really like it; the free version provides 2GB of data space but the paid plan is excessively expensive.  At $15/month for 50GB, which would not be
enough, it is the most expensive of the various plans for off-site storage.
Having been in Computer Security for many years, I
understand the importance of having off-site backups.  I have known that the hodgepodge of things I
have been using are not really safe and effective.  I needed to put together a plan for myself.  I really like my local backup program.  Being a Mac owner, I find Time Machine is very
awesome.  Set it and forget it.  It is awesome.  I have a 2TB, USB connected backup drive,
which provides plenty of storage for my modest 320GB local drive.  Nevertheless, I really want to get something
off-site – just in case.
I considered four different off-site backup solution
providers.  (I did not consider Norton
Online Backup because of a past negative experience.)  They were, Back Blaze, Carbonite, Crash Plan,
and Mozy.
In considering a cloud (off-site) backup solution, I looked
at price, ease of use, and reviews.  I
quickly dropped Mozy Home from consideration. 
At $5.99 per month for 50GB and $9.99 per month for 125GB, it was just
too expensive.
I have several friends that use Carbonite.  At $4.92 per month for unlimited it was
definitely a contender.  I could be happy
with the basic “Home” version, as I do not need the External Hard Drive Backup
or the mirror image backup.
Then I looked at Back Blaze and Crash Plan.  They were both $4.17/month on a 1-year plan and
included unlimited storage.  Back Blaze does
not backup your Operating System nor your Applications.  It does backup attached storage, however,
that is not important in my case because the attached storage is only a backup.
 Moreover, really, if I have a catastrophic
problem I am not going to want to reinstall all my apps, even if I could
remember all the apps I have.  Crash Plan
Plus appears to back up everything and have unlimited space for the same price.
From my research, I had a good idea of the products I
thought were desirable.  I then Goggled “online
backup services reviews 2012” and started looking. ‘s writer Tim Fisher said his favorite
was Crash Plan Plus.
Computerworld’s review of “Five Backup Services keep yourData Safe” liked Crash Plan except that it took way to long to upload the first
time.  They then selected Mozy Home as
their selection.  I really do not care
about the several daylong upload times to get things started, but I can see
where some others might be.  The bottom
line is I selected Crash Plan Plus.  I
downloaded the 31-day free trial with the intent to purchase the plan the first
of next year if it works as well as I think it will.