Tracing your family tree is, in theory, supposed to be a bit of an adventure. It’s supposed to be fun, surprising, educational and worthwhile. It’s not supposed to make you feel that you’re inputting data into yet another database.
That’s flaw one for GSP’s tie-in to the hugely successful and surprisingly good BBC TV show, the one that saw the occasional celebrity who you’d heard of go and trace their roots. But it’s not the only problem here.
This Deluxe Edition should be a good starting point for a genealogy project. It includes the main family tree making application, various CDs of data (including English and Scottish parish records, along with the 1891 census), a free month’s subscription to ancestry.com (although there’s a catch to that) and various clips and materials tying back into the TV show.
It starts easily enough. You head off to the aforementioned database screen, which to be fair is intuitive enough and does try to help you fill in fields along the way. Slowly, as you input details of your nearest and dearest, a family tree emerges (and you can customise how you view it), to which you can add good details and even images and captions.
So, let’s assume you’ve got a name in place that you want to know more about. You have a tempting button that allows you to search a special database direct from the program. Great idea. Only to use it, you must – repeat, must – register with GSP, giving them your name and address details along with your e-mail address. Once upon a time, giving a company £30 for a piece of software let you get access to everything, without the need for draconian and wholly unwelcome registration processes. Not that we’re prone to ranting…
Once you’ve jumped through that hoop, the Web search pulls up a good selection of UK and Ireland records, although more often than not it left us searching for a little more. So we clicked on one of the search results, and a further problem emerges. The Web element is where the ancestry.com subscription kicks in, and the program does include a free month with the admittedly-excellent site, which is worth a tenner.
Only if you don’t have a credit card, you’re stuffed. Now to be fair to GSP, they do warn you of this on the box, but that doesn’t make it much easier to stomach. To even get to the Web search you have to register, and to get full access to the search results you have to hand over your plastic. Surely it’s not just us that find this troublesome?
The whole effect is to make Who Do You Think You Are Deluxe Edition feel anything but. The highlight is the family tree construction database, which might feel a little cold but does get the job done. It’s also available separately for a tenner.
If you’re also a subscriber to the ancestry.com site, it’s good to see how well the program integrates with the Web-based content. The added CD-ROM material though, such as the parish records and the TV show tie-in stuff, we could happily live without.
Which, ultimately, makes this at best an average pack. In fact, there’s a compelling argument that your £30 could be better spent on three months at the ancestry.com site, rather than on this package, which feels rather cobbled together.
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