Centurial – Evidence-based Genealogy Software

I looked at a piece of software called Centurial in 2019. It was quite interesting in its approach to doing genealogical analysis. This review is very dated in its comments, so proceed with caution. [13 May 2022]

The design of the application is quite different from anything I’ve seen in my 25+ years of playing with genealogical software.

The main features are correlation of source materials to instances of persons in such a way that there is little doubt that they refer only to each other. Centurial has a scrollable and zoomable visual “network” view so you can see the relations of persons to each other. Sources are entered in a very nice way, according to the E. S. Mills Evidence Explained format.

There is a space in the analysis pane to enter a proof argument but there is currently no way to output that information in any manner, other than copy and paste; not even to a basic HTML document. You can, however, export a GEDCOM file with the tree you’ve built for transfer to a GEDCOM-based program such as Family Tree Maker or Brothers Keeper.

The Centurial author discusses the differences between his data model and the GEDCOM model on the website referenced below. His website has some small amount of documentation but otherwise you are on your own to figure out how to use the program.

One of the few drawbacks I noticed is that it takes some time to import and convert an average GEDCOM file. For instance, my regular-use GEDCOM is only about 2.5 megabytes and the converted project file is about 25 megabytes. That is a serious size difference. I haven’t looked at the insides of the project file to see what’s what, but I suspect that there is a heckuva lot of XML markup in there.

Centurial is written in English with a European flavor. You may want to view the three tutorials on YouTube before you download and start working with Centurial. They will explain quite a bit about how the author uses it and the potential use cases you may have for it.

Overall, I think Centurial is quite an achievement software-wise. It is not really intuitive but then genealogy itself isn’t all that easy. As it has only been around for a couple of years, I doubt many people have heard of it, though. I recommend it for intermediate or advanced genealogists.

Centurial is available here: https://www.centurial.net/, and was free in 2019. It does require registration and some data collection by the author. It is also a Windows-only product (7, 8, or 10) and requires a recent version of the .NET framework. Personally, I’d like to see a Linux version as well because that’s what I use most of the time.

Notes on Ancestris 10 – Formerly GenealogyJ

I’ve been looking at Ancestris, a free (GPL’d) genealogy program written in Java. It runs on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux systems.

There is very little documentation with the program and it takes a bit of working with to figure out some of the features included. For instance, when I ran the GEDCOM compliance checks it came out with a categorized list of items in one pane and a linked editor in another pane.

There are three editor panes to choose from. One fairly simple, one fairly complex, and one for directly editing the GEDCOM.

The GEDCOM check feature goes beyond just compliance with the standard and includes some plain old sanity checks. Some of these checks are for settable values and ranges so you can tighten or loosen them at will.

Lifelines, another free genealogy program, has a more robust set of sanity checks. Checking compliance at GED-Inline is also a better, albeit more terse, option.

The general reporting capabilities are lacking, compared to other free and commercial genealogy programs. There is only the option to output to a website, for instance. The styling of the report is fairly simple.

Ancestris is available on the web at http://www.ancestris.org. It is updated often as it is a work in progress.

New Version of Lifelines

There is a new version of lifelines on github, 3.2.0 alpha. It is a 64-bit conversion of the venerable genealogy program and scripting language.

So far it works fine for me on Fedora Linux 30.

Here’s the link: Lifelines on Github.


Extra Blog for related articles

I’ve created a second blog to go with my editing, proofreading, and indexing project. It’s at http://www.seattlebookscouts.wordpress.com/. The primary content of the blog there is the subject of the previous sentence, editing, et cetera. There is some genealogy and genealogically relevant matter discussed as examples, however, so if you are ever in need of more from me … have at it. Like this blog, the other one also offers comments. Happy weekend. I’m gonna stay home, be dry, and do genealogy. 🙂 NPM