TMG 8 Public Beta Review

While reviewing beta software is not the best way to look at a new version of software, the reviewed items may or may not appear in the final release, the major changes are fair game.

I actually didn’t spend a lot of time with this software. It almost immediately didn’t meet my expectations for a major number release. The primary thing I was looking for was the Windows 7 (64-bit) printing capabilities; the rest of the changes are minor and more appropriate for a minor number release, say 7.5.

I don’t use MS Office products unless they are the ones pre-installed on my machine. 3.3 fits the bill more than adequately for my needs, and it’s free. The first, and primarily the only report I tried was the Journal report. The process worked fine, with my restored copy of a TMG 7.04 project, but crashed OOo Writer. Opening the report file with MS Word Starter worked ok. Word can save files to OOo’s format, so I did that, fixing the problem in the process. Why, if the file is ok in Word, is it not ok in Writer, they read and write the same formats? The problem may be fixed whenever Wholly Genes releases TMG8, but I might never know.

The other changes touted by Wholly Genes,

    Tag types and roles
    Adding multiple people
    Color coded report output
    Sorting and filtering options

are less interesting to me. I already can add new people and tags and roles. Color coding report output is unnecessary for me, and the sorting and filtering are minor-version enhancements, not new features.

Like Tamura Jones states in his review, about the Windows 7 printing “It is good that this major defect has been fixed, but it is wrong to call that a major upgrade and charge for it.” The rest of his review is an excellent portrayal of the rest of TMG’s faults, and any potential user should read it.

I was particularly interested in the GEDCOM import/export issues that Mr. Jones raises due to numerous flaws in TMG’s processes. For me, I’ve tried to export a number of major projects for backup and further processing in other applications. A major flaw is that TMG does not completely export witnesses and associates although these items are included in GEDCOM. TMG also has the capability to embed citations within its memo fields. These citations are completely stripped from the GEDCOM output and there is no way to get either the witness/associate or embedded citations out of TMG short of directly reading from the database files. TMG’s deliberately removing a researcher’s work from public sharing or even for private backup is a grievous mistake that could have legal and ethical consequences for the user. All of the other backup/export functions in TMG are completely inadequate to protect a user’s data from this silent destruction.

Since I discovered the data extraction errors, I’ve started working on a program to migrate data from the database. Wholly Genes and several others have kindly provided (in Wholly Genes’ case, incomplete and out-of-date) details of the database schema.

When I uninstalled the TMG 8 Public Beta, I was unable to return to using TMG 7. It seems that although the installer can backup files it replaces (.DLL files and such), it doesn’t replace them. Restarting TMG 7 failed and I had to completely uninstall and re-install version 7. Mr. Jones commented on the Amyuni PDF printer driver that TMG8 Public Beta installed; it was not removed on the uninstall of the TMG package; I had to remove it myself. I also was prompted by the Windows Update utility to apply a patch for it, although I had no clue what it was for or why I needed it. I also don’t need another PDF printer driver, I’ve got my own system for making PDF files, of my own choosing.

Speaking of print output. Why are the ancient, and perhaps extinct, formats like Mass-11, AmiPro, and XyWrite, still supported? I remember these from the 1980s and early 1990s; Mass-11 on a mini and XyWrite on an 80386.

TMG 8 seems to be an ease of access and bug-fix update instead of an upgrade to a new version. The items listed in the upgrade are fixes and enhancements and not new features. The product is showing it’s age and not moving with the times and modern technology (see Mr. Jones’ comments). We probably won’t see any major improvements to TMG until Wholly Genes is forced to migrate away from it’s underlying database technology in 2015 when Microsoft officially ends its support for FoxPro. Even then, given that TMG has other long-standing flaws that haven’t been fixed for years, it’s kind of doubtful that a major re-write will be forthcoming at that time.

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