My name is Kathleen, and I have been researching my family history since I was a child. I love to go into county courthouses and smell the old books and paper... or is it dust? This blog will focus on the stories I've heard over the years and the research methods I follow. I am particularly interested in data management and cloud genealogy.

Some of my personal areas of interest include Southern Maryland and DC (Robie, Rhodes, Grimes, Lindsey), NY state (Hill, Cookingham, Flynn, Rhodes, Skinner, Wheeler, Mead, Havens, Trotter), NJ (Parcell), North Carolina and Eastern TN (Lynch, Seabolt, Spears), MO (Wilcox, Kiddell), and CA (Simi, Grady)

I am always happy to compare notes or share my experiences, so please leave a comment!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Now the bad news....

I've told you so far all the wonderful things that Bento (and the Genealogical Research System templates) can do for your genealogy research.  Now for the things it can't do....

  • Bento is not really a relational database.  It mimics the functions of a relational database with its related data fields, which allow you to link information you store in one library to related information stored in a different library.  Because it does not use sophisticated relational programming, these related data sets are essentially just "look-up" tables for information only and not for manipulating within the library that contains them.  One immediate disadvantage is that these related data fields aren't included in printouts, so you have to take extra steps to ensure the information is where you want it to be.
  • Bento is not good for producing reports.  You can export data into a spreadsheet or a tab- or comma-delimited file, but that's about it.  You cannot choose to print only certain fields in a set of records, although you can select a subset of records in any given library.  In addition, Bento is not designed to make files that are easily imported into family tree programs.  If I want to move data from Bento into Reunion, for example, cutting and pasting is the method of choice. 
  • Bento does not allow you to resize the screen horizontally.  There is so much original data online nowadays, and it would be wonderful if you could make transcriptions or notes directly from data in one screen to Bento in another.   Unfortunately Bento only allows the screen to reduce by a small amount vertically.  I get around this by switching back and forth between screens, but that leaves a greater chance for transcription errors.  If the material allows, I cut and paste data between the data and Bento, or I transcribe material into a spreadsheet or a document and then load it into Bento.  When I am researching online, I tend to have several screens open at once so I can easily switch between the internet, Bento, Pages, and Numbers.  It works, but I'd like it to be simpler.
  • Rather obviously, Bento is not a family tree software.  But boy, wouldn't that be wonderful.... it would not be too difficult to add code to existing programs that will link sources to evidence, evidence to proofs, which only then can be linked to an individual in a family.  Doesn't it make sense to have software that recognizes that you have to do the research before you can make any conclusions about a person's place on your family tree?  Don't we have the responsibility to do thorough research before we send our GEDCOMs out to take their place on the world family tree?

So.....If Bento is not a perfect tool, why do I continue to use it?  The answer is simple -- I want to track my research process, and I cannot do that adequately within current family tree software programs.  I've come up with some workarounds to make Bento work for me, but they aren't all perfect.  I'm waiting for the day that the software developers wake up to this pressing need.