|★ APPLICATIONS ★ DIVERS ★ Biomorphs|Computing With the Amstrad) ★|
|Genny Genealogical Database||Applications Divers|
THE Registrar General's office receives a huge number of visitors each day, all eager to discover if they have any famous - or infamous - ancestors. Genny is a specialised database which reflects this rapidly growing interest in family history.
First surprise on loading is a few bars of the tune which begins: It was in Baghdad where my mother met my dad... that's as many printable lines as I can recall. Very appropriate, too.
The database can organise and store records on up to 1,000 individuals. It holds their name, sex, date and place of birth, and date and place of death or burial. It also stores the names and birthdates of parents, up to 10 spouses (more than enough for Henry VIII) plus marriage dates and the names, sex, and birthdates of up to 19 children.
There is also room for comments such as place of marriage, occupation, documentary references and so on.
Genny is disc-based and your data files are stored alongside the program on the system disc. Owners of dual drives can use separate data discs, and there are utilities to copy data files from one disc to another, although the system disc backed up without any problem.
Because of the amount of processing and data storage required, Genny is divided into four sub-programs. Geninit sets up and initialises the system, Genwrite lets you write and edit subject entries, Genread is used to read, display and search the files, and Genchart lets you trace male or female lineage and produce generation and tree charts.
All options are menu-driven and it's easy to find your way around. There is a lot of disc access and programs can take several seconds, possibly minutes, to process and sort data.
It may even take longer on the CPC464 while it performs a garbage collection. There is a vacate memory option, however, to speed up the job.
The 21-page A4 manual begins with a run through of all the options. There's no way you're going to take all this in (the manual admits as much but suggests you browse through it anyway) and it's not until you hit page 12 that you get down to using the program.
I gather I'm one of the few computer users (and reviewers) who actually like to read instructions, and I think the manual should have started with the tutorial section.
Apart from a little juxtaposition, it's quite helpful, although I would have expected the producers of such a program to have a knowledge of English grammar. When referring to relationships they insist on writing Georges father. Irritating.
First steps involve playing with the sample database. It contains more than 170 cards so there is plenty of data for you to cut your teeth on before starting to enter family trees in earnest.
It is quite easy to find your way round, and I was quickly able to enter a new database containing several generations of the royal family. Genny is designed to sort on surname, and typical royal family trees lack such information. I suggest, therefore, that you experiment with something less blue blooded.
When you enter subjects' details, cards are automatically created for their parents and, if they have any, their spouses and children. Care must be taken when deleting a card to ensure that there are no links between it and any existing cards. It would have been nice if the program checked this, but again it's not something you're likely to do very often.
As you might imagine, there is a considerable amount of cross-referencing. As far as possible, changes made to subjects' details are automatically reflected in the records of their relatives. However, changes of marriage dates, for example, must be made on the cards of both partners.
Many of the options ask you for a reference number, so it's a good idea to write down the card number for each subject as you go. If you don't you'll be forever flipping between modules. It's not the sort of program you'll be using every day, however, and data once entered will tend to remain static, so it shouldn't cause any problems.
In order to save as much memory as possible, Genny tokenises commonly used words. You construct your own lists, one for forenames and the other for place names. Each can hold 127 words and you can extend the lists as you go.
Initially I thought that a genealogical database can't be very complicated -but it is and Genny makes its operation as easy as possible. However, you do need to take great care with entries, and preparatory work is very important.
I did have a niggle or two. For instance, you can't break out of a search routine and it could take several minutes to search from one end of the database to the other. Thumb twiddle time.
You must be careful when editing a record, too. I made a complete mess of one. I couldn't exit from the edit routine and I couldn't get the original card back. This is where careful preparation and a little familiarity with the program comes in.
The generation chart prints out brief details of a subject's descendants over a four generation span, and the tree chart prints out a four generation lineage chart. I was looking forward to seeing the complete family tree of all 170 subjects in the sample database, but I suppose that is asking too much even of the CPC. You'll have to construct your own tree should you want to hang it mural-like in the front room to impress the neighbours.
There are several stand-alone utilities on the disc: Setkeys lets you program the function keys with commonly-used words, Printset offers a selection of typefaces, and Genlist prints out numerically and alphabetically sorted lists of all subjects on file - a full file could take an hour to process.
Genbrief will produce a birth brief covering five generations and may be of use to family historians and genealogical research agents.
Other versions of the program are available to run on the Amstrad PC and PCW computers, and a utility supplied with these allows Genny data files-to be ported between PC, PCW and CPd.
If you are already busy tracing your family tree or if you are thinking about doing so, it will pay to join a family history society. Not only for the help it can give you but because Genny is available to such societies' members at the reduced price of £27.
As far as I know this is the only genealogical database available for the CPC so there is nothing to compare it with. David Computer Software will supply free updates when significant improvements are made, and offers a 14-day money back guarantee if you aren't satisfied with it. I think you will be.