Sunday, September 10, 2017

Microsoft Access for Genealogy: A Facebook Group, Templates, & Free Alternatives

It's no secret that I love using Microsoft Access for genealogy. I've written blog posts about it. I've made YouTube videos about the applications I've found for it. Segment data and cousin match analysis for DNA, research logs, research trip planning, the works. You name it, I use Access to do it. And more people are taking notice.

A Young & Savvy Genealogist
Etsy Store
Lots of people have been asking me if I'm going to make templates available for all of these applications. So I took my databases, added loads of new features to them, and will be selling them online! I've created an Etsy store to make those templates available. All of the applications I've developed for Access so far will eventually be available to purchase. So far, the templates for my DNA cousin match database and research logs are available. Up next will be research trip planner and a documentation tracker. Your purchases there will help me get to RootsTech 2018!

Because of the videos I've made, I know plenty of people are interested in learning to use Access. To facilitate that, I've started a Facebook community for anyone interested in using Microsoft Access for Genealogy. If you're interested, please be sure to join us there!

Getting a License to Microsoft Access

A necessary part of learning how to use Access is first obtaining a license for it. I personally discovered Access because my husband works for local government, and receives a discount for Office Professional from his employer. Check with your employer or school to see if they also receive discounts. Otherwise, you can buy the Professional suite of Office, Office 365, or a standalone license.

(Note: This post is not a promoted post. These links are here for your convenience, and as a personal recommendation from me. They are not part of any paid endorsement.)

Free Alternatives

If none of those options work for you, there are some free alternatives to Microsoft Access you can also use. I've tried various alternatives for both PC and Linux. For PC, I recommend either LibreOffice Base or Open Office Base. These are very similar to each other because they're both based on the same source code. The main differences between them, for your purposes, will be the interface and stability. I recommend trying them both, and seeing which of the two you/your computer like best.

If you're using Linux, you have a third option. The Kexi Project is the most stable Access alternative I could find for Linux. It handled my (very) large DNA database without complaint, and the interface was superior to both LibreOffice and Open Office versions of Base. Up until I got my new computer and could switch back over to using Windows/Office, Kexi was my primary database software for quite some time. Based on the experience I had, it's worth dual booting into Linux to use Kexi if it comes to that for you.

I'll be upfront and state that Microsoft Access is superior to all of these alternatives. It comes with features that are either non-existent or difficult to use in the free options. Not everything I do in my Access databases can be replicated in the free software options. My paid templates also were not designed to work with these other programs. I may make separate free templates available at a future date for these programs. If/when I do, you'll find them available to download on the Facebook group.

If you're interested in exploring other alternatives to Microsoft Access, or have others you would recommend for genealogy, leave them in comments! And don't forget to connect with us on the Facebook group. We'd love to hear about you're using Access to bust through your brick walls!