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What Reunion is Not

Reunion has no gimmick.

  • The Reunion CD isn't filled with stuff you probably won't use.
  • Reunion doesn't include a copy of AOL or some other software which you can easily obtain for free.
  • Reunion doesn't include "free" space on somebody's web site. You probably already have web space available with your internet service provider.
  • Reunion doesn't include access to some "exclusive" or "proprietary" area on somebody's web site. We are not in the business of creating a cyber-"club" with doors closed to the sharing of family information.

At Leister Productions, we focus on what we do best: developing and supporting a pure software "tool" for recording, organizing, storing, retrieving, editing, and presenting your family information. To change our focus would require lots of time, energy, and resources which would distract us away from the development and support of the tool. This isn't in our best interest. If you appreciate Reunion and the importance of a good software tool, you'll understand why splintering our focus isn't in your best interest either.

Reunion doesn't rely on 3rd parties for any portion of the software. When you install Reunion, you won't find lots of Microsoft files littering your hard disk and system folder.

Reunion doesn't use a big 3rd party database engine like some other genealogy programs. Reunion is developed entirely in-house and is written in the C programming language, using the most efficient code possible. This method of developing software requires more time, but results in a much smaller, more efficient, and faster application.

In addition, the future development of Reunion isn't limited by another company's database engine or environment, such as FoxPro. Applications based on FoxPro will always be limited by the capabilities of FoxPro. Relying on a 3rd-party for a software engine says a lot about a software developer's priorities.

Why doesn't Reunion include a pile of CDs?

Many of the genealogical CD ROMs do not contain much useful data. In many cases, they consist of nothing more than a list of names with references to other CD ROMs you can purchase for more money. In addition, the source of the data is often not identified. Thus, you have no way of verifying whether or not the data you're obtaining is truly accurate.

Your complete family heritage on a silicon platter?

Here's what an article had to say about the "libraries of genealogical information" that are bundled with some programs...

In truth, these libraries aren't much help. Despite the hype and hyperbole, these databases are next to useless for most people. The difference between 200 million and 300 million entries is microscopic when you consider the billions of people who have populated the world.

Let it suffice to say that no one is going to hand you your complete family heritage on a silicon platter. By nature, the databases compiled by Broderbund, Palladium and Corel are limited and contain several redundant entries. Even with these programs, genealogical research still requires investigation and elbow grease. Fortunately, the Internet has opened a vast new resource to people trying to track their family roots.

There is a tremendous amount of redundancy in the CD-ROM databases, and the billions of names offered by Family Tree Maker and Generations Grande Suite are mostly in online sites that are open to everybody.

-- Steven Kent, MSNBC

Moving to the Web

With each passing day, more and more data is becoming available on the web. The concept of purchasing expensive CD ROMs for data may soon become a thing of the past, as the web continues to grow. Does it make sense to buy a $30 CD ROM that may contain just one name of interest?

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter recently commented on the use of CD-ROMs vs. on-line access to databases...

An interesting battle began to take shape this year; CD-ROM distribution versus online access. In 1997, CD-ROM publication has been the most popular method of distributing large amounts of genealogy data. But I believe that is going to change as more and more people connect home computers to online services. Online databases are generally more cost-effective than CD-ROM distribution. Online access also has the advantage of being available at any time, whereas with a CD-ROM you must trek to a store or else order from a distant retailer and wait days for delivery. Online access adds a level of convenience not available on CD-ROM.

Numerous online databases appeared in 1997, including: Ancestry's Hometown... and probably hundreds of smaller genealogy databases. Ancestry Inc.'s web site has probably grown the most. It has 230 genealogy databases or reference books available online, more than any other site on the Internet. Ancestry even has PERSI online. (PERSI is also available on CD-ROM.) Ancestry's site charges $5.00 per month to access the majority of these references...

-- Dick Eastman

Examples of resources on the Web:

Ancestral Findings - Free search of the following genealogical CDs (up to two searches a day): Birth Index, Census Indexes, Death Indexes, Marriage Indexes, Veterans' Schedules.

Ancestry Search - provides free searchable databases for Social Security Death Index and the Ancestry World Tree. Also has 30-day free trial use of 30 different databases (vital records, census records, settlement records, etc.) Many more inexpensive subscriber databases.

Archives.com - contains Genealogy Internet Help and Guides, Libraries, Maps, Geography, Deeds and Photography, On-line genealogy information, North American Genealogy Resources, World-Wide Genealogy Resources, Genealogy Societies, Newsgroups, Mailing Lists and more.

GenServ - the Genealogical Gedcom Server System containing over 9,500,000 names in 7,200+ GEDCOM databases on-Line.

MyTrees.com - Search a 1 billion name Surname Index. Includes pedigree-linked views, GEDCOM downloads, and submitter contact information.

RootsWeb - Provides a variety of free genealogy services, such as the WorldConnect Project. RootsWeb also hosts several volunteer projects, including Cemetery Photos, Cyndi's List, and the USGenWeb Project.

In addition, check out the following articles which contain links and descriptions for many web sites with free genealogical data.

The quotation from Eastman's Online Genealogy is copyright 1997 by Richard W. Eastman and Ancestry, Inc. It is republished here with the permission of the author.