The Master Genealogist (TMG)

Click To See Award Winners
by Wholly Genes, Inc. (Bob Velke)
A comprehensive program with many features that include a powerful report writer and excellent source referencing. In December 2014, TMG was discontinued. It still has User Groups.

Unsupported • Windows • Full Featured • Builds Website
Overall1454.03 out of 54.03 out of 54.03 out of 54.03 out of 54.03 out of 5 4.03
20170    No Ratings
201615 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 5.00
Earlier1443.84 out of 53.84 out of 53.84 out of 53.84 out of 53.84 out of 5 3.84

Add Your Review of The Master Genealogist (TMG)

Your name:         Your rating:   worst 1 2 3 4 5 best

    If your review includes a website address, it will not appear until it is checked to ensure it is not spam.

Biggest Pro:  

Biggest Con:  

If you see this field, leave it blank:

145 Reviews of The Master Genealogist (TMG)     RSS 2.0 RSS     Showing 21 - 40                   Add Your Review

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Trakker,  Mar 10, 2013

4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

I’ve used TMG for over ten years and have no complaints, except the UI is getting dated. I’m a family historian with probably 7,000 individuals in my database and every year I become more adept at collecting and attaching information to individuals and so I’ve employed more and more of the TMG bells and whistles, in fact it’s fun to explore different features I haven’t used yet to see what they offer. I use this on a small laptop (13.3″ screen, 3 GB RAM, Pentium SU2700) and while it is slow to load, it has never choked or locked up. I do believe the program is due for an overhaul soon because the UI and screens look dated.

Biggest Pro: Many useful features, flexible, stable (few if any bugs).
Biggest Con: Look and feel is dated.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Cheri,  Jan 11, 2013

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

Great customer support. Can use both actual date and a sort date is the actual date is not known. Great reports. The program basics are easy to learn. Once you start using the program, you will see what other programs are missing. Flexible. It’s for genealogists who want a good solid program to organize and print their work out. I have been using it for years now and glad I switched from FTM. Check out a user’s group which are listed on their web site.

Biggest Pro: Reports, able to customize most things, easy to work with
Biggest Con: Can be slow if on an older PC

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by J Boyle`,  Jan 3, 2013

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

Provides a sort date so data can be displayed in proper sequence even if actual date not known. Easy sourcing of every piece of data. Customized screen appearance to suit an individual’s needs.

Biggest Pro: Best narrative reports ever seen
Biggest Con: relatively slow with a large databse

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Becky Pyle,  Nov 28, 2012

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

I’ve used it for many years through many upgrades. The customer support is outstanding! One time Bob Velke, the creator, called me at home to help with an issue!. It’s very versatile and there are features I still haven’t fully explored thoroughly after all these years. My favorite, however, it the witness function. I can enter an event, such as a census, for someone and then have other members of the family as witnesses.

Biggest Pro: witness function & customer support
Biggest Con: steeper learning curve than many programs, but worth the effort.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Don Raney,  Nov 28, 2012

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

The very best for documentation and writing a family history book.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Byron Atkinson,  Oct 24, 2012

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

Used other programs, and liked them, until I learned how much I was missing, moved to TMG in 1999, kept using FTM for a short period and once I learned most of what TMG offered (one never learns all about TMG) I moved everything and stopped using the other programs. Version 7 was getting rather old, but release of version 8 has moved thi program back to the front of the current programs.

Biggest Pro: All of the opitions, customizations that allows one to set the program and views up in a manner that meets ones needs.
Biggest Con: Folks are afraid of all of the opitions. You don’t need to change anything from the basic program, bur many folks are afraid of all of the possibilities.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Dr Sidney Barnard,  Sep 19, 2012

1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5

Having used FTM, FH, RM, and several other progams over the years (I presently use FTM12) I was looking for something a little more sophisticated and stable (FTM has one or two bugs that I have failed to resolve). So, having installed and played around with TMG all I can say is ‘you must be joking!’, software for experts ‘really?’, for the professional genealogist, ‘is that right?’. Well, I’d like to know what kind of ‘experts’ and ‘pros’ use this antiquated, 80’s style, slow, super buggy, excuse for software. I know kids that could design something better, by comparison FTM is super slick, super sophisticated, a joy to use, far more ‘professional’, etc. God know’s what kind of ‘experts’ use this but if your paying someone to do research for you find out beforehand and save your money! FTM (and, no, I’m not an Ancestry fanboy) fully intergrates with web services, has a vast forum, solid support base (phone and email) and a current community of user that are realistic about it’s limitations (as well as virtues). Thankfully I only downloaded the trial version of TMG, if I had paid for this I’d have been really pe’ed off. There’s free software available that looks better.

Biggest Pro: You can download a trial version and then delete it.
Biggest Con: They want you to pay for it.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Doris Wheeler,  Aug 29, 2012

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

The most comprehensive program available but flexible too so that you can start simply and add function and features at your own pace.

Biggest Pro: Flexibility and Second Site for creative websites
Biggest Con: Functionality seems overwhelming

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Don B.,  Aug 9, 2012

4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

I started working on my family history in the mid-1990s, and picked up FTM when I saw I needed a database. FTM was good choice to start with, being very easy to use. But some its “features” began to drive me crazy, like automatically completing wrongly spelled names and places (forcing repeat fixing of the same spelling issue), happily permitting me to enter 5 versions of a given place name, and then not giving me any way to standardize it one time for the entire database, etc. etc. So my journal reports looked like crap unless I tracked down each and every instance and manually fixed them one at a time.

I bought TMG when it was ver. 4, around 2000 or 2001 as I recall. In 2010 I bought Second Site, and using that put my website together I have never felt the slightest regret about moving to TMG, and have zero interest in even looking at another competing product. Does it have its warts — yes it does, but the features far outweigh the disadvantages, for me. Here’s my assessment:

1. Stable as the Rock of Gibralter (because of the MS Visual FoxPro engine, I suppose)
2. Master list management for sources, places, repositories, events, tag types, and styles.
3. Huge flexibility in report content and formatting.
4. Marvellous user community with tutorials, examples, and (last time I checked) a very helpful e-mail list.
5. Availability of complementing products — John Cardinal’s TMG Utility and Second Site

1. User interface is … so 1995, because of the MS Visual FoxPro engine.
2. Learning curve — yes, it’s tough and takes some time to become productive. But you don’t need to be a master of every feature — I doubt I use more than 25% of them.
3. Resource hog — because of you-know-what. I’ve bought faster computers, as my database has grown, because this program will bring a less speedy computer to its knees.

I have 15 years of work invested in my genealogy data — there are 88,000 individuals in my TMG database, and my web site runs 2,000 pages. I wouldn’t dream of trusting all of that to any other product, period. I pray for good health for Bob Velke, and I dread the day when MS releases an OS that won’t run Visual FoxPro, because that will be the beginning of a bad time for me and my hobby.

Biggest Pro: Stability of the software.
Biggest Con: Takes time and effort to learn enough to become productive with it.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Phil,  Jun 6, 2012

3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

I have used TMG since UFT was killed after version 3.1. It is still my main database but only because I loathe the prospect of editing my data once it has been transferred to a new program. The Genbridge technology is great for getting information into TMG however if you use witnesses a lot and in-text footnotes it’s a nightmare to get out by Gedcom.

While the UI is flexible it is rather archaic in appearance and no matter how one adjusts it awkward to use. Data input is probable a little more complicated than it should be however it produces wonderful charts and descent reports that require only moderate editing to be publication ready.

Biggest Pro: chart and report output
Biggest Con: awkward UI and data entry

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Doug Elerath,  Jun 3, 2012

1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5

I have been using TMG forever. I have just switched from PC to Mac and want to export my data. Unfortunately I have made extensive use of the witness feature, especially for census data. The resulting data apparently can not be ported out!! This is silly. Although GedCom is antiquated, I would expect that the witness data could at least be turned into notes for GedCom export.

I have worked for years with DBs, and know that if it is in the database, it can be extracted. But Wholly Genes provides no support for this. I advise against even thinking about TMG unless you are positive you will never move to mac and/or never want to move your data to another program!

Biggest Pro: It is feature laden
Biggest Con: You are stuck with it and it’s very clunky user interface

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by D. L. Johnson,  Mar 31, 2012

2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5

Rubyann’s review is worth reading. It speaks for me. I spent a “lifetime” in the computing biz including teaching relational database at the college level. Writing the Fox Pro “underwear” is not hard.
I would have bought this long ago if they had just tightened the code instead of IMPROVING it so that giddy amateurs will buy it.
Decide on your market and aim to own it. I’d advise aiming at the growing population of professionals and trying to gain their trust and keep it. If this system worked as marketed I’d pay real money for it.

Biggest Pro: Relational Database flexiblity
Biggest Con: Not ready for prime time

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Riv,  Mar 7, 2012

2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5

user since v6, and the program is getting worse.

Yes, v8 now officially runs on win7, even 64 bit. the trade off is more random crashed and lock ups than even v7 had. (actually, v7 has fewer crashes for me on 64 bit win7, imagine that). And this is not a Costco special pc: Specs include: i5 Quad core, 12 GB DDR3, Hardware raid o/s drive (1 TB) with 64 bit win 7 Pro, GTX-460 card, supplemental 2TB Storage (2x 1TB 10k rpm drives, SATA). Windows scores a 7.5 in it’s own “performance” tests (not counting disk access).

I can triple box online MMO’s, listen to music, surf the web/, and vpn into work, all at one time with no issue. Run TMG v8, all alone, and it still hangs.

Fox Pro, still? really? The more I do with it, and the more data I store, the more unstable it becomes.

I like the granular access to my data, and some of the editing tools (which can destroy your data if not careful), but this is one of only 2 time sin my life, I have regretted buying any software.

heck, I started using PHPGedView as is is more robust (and accessible anywhere).

TMG, as soon as I test and find a suitable replacement, auf nimmer Weidersehen. hmmm, maybe time for some postgresql, or even NoSQL.

Biggest Pro: Granular control over data.
Biggest Con: FoxPro, really? Y2k called and wants it’s RAMBUS back. Slow. Prone to crashing, alot.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by N. P. Maling,  Feb 12, 2012

5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

TMG remains the best genealogy program out there. It’s not an ancestry program and it’s not a family history program. It’s for genealogists who care about their work. Version 8 continues Wholly Genes’ commitment.

Biggest Pro: Usability
Biggest Con: Compatibility

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Alex,  Jan 18, 2012

3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

I have used TMG 7 for years. Yes, the program is extremely customizable - you can create unique events, unique place styles, name styles, etc - but it is also extremely rigid. The UI is awful. Seriously, it’s almost like using an Excel spreadsheet, but 100x more cumbersome.
The software comes with translations into German, French, Dutch, Italian, Norwegian, Danish, and Afrikaans. What about Spanish?? I’m honestly totally amazed that an American company has not caught on to the fact that there are 10s of millions of Spanish speakers in the US alone. Time to get with the program guys. Yea, I can translate everything myself - but why would I buy your program to then have to do a ton of work to make it useful?
TMG 8 might be great, but from reading the reviews and the changes I am unconvinced. I’m not going to waste more time and money trying to adapt my mind to their software.

Biggest Pro: You can create whatever unique events, place styles, and name formats (amongst other things) you like.
Biggest Con: You will spend hours doing the same tedious repetitive tasks. And there’s no Spanish translation for the reports.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Nathanael,  Jan 13, 2012

3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

Follow-up of my previous review.

Been looking at FTM 2011, which someone bought me as a Christmas present a year ago and I’d never used.

First, I note FTM DOES allow me to design my own input form, in a limited sort of way: when in Family View, click on the Customize… button at the lower right of the screen; from there you can choose which data entry fields you want. I’ve added Burial, and am finding now that data entry is faster in FTM than it was even in TMG’s multiple-add screen, particularly as I don’t have to go back to invidually edit persons with data not covered in the multi-add screen. The only advantage I see to TMG at this point is one need only specify the source once, and TMG automatically applies it to every event entered in the multi-add screen. But in FTM one need only press Ctrl-Shift-S to reuse the last source, so it’s not much of a hassle.

In a couple days playing with FTM, I haven’t found much TMG does that FTM can’t also do — that is, of the TMG features I use. TMG does have finer granularity for sourcing — for example, I can slap separate sources on Date- and Place-of-Death in TMG; in FTM the same source is applied to both. And TMG does seem to have better report generation facilities — though creating and fine-tuning your sentence rules in TMG is a bit too much like computer programming.

However, if TMG has more features, still FTM doesn’t appear to lag behind, and has a modern and much more intuitive interface besides, demonstrating my previous assertion that complexity and intuitive interfaces are not mutually exclusive: a program CAN be robust, powerful, full-featured *and* intuitive. Bob Velke, take note.

The one feature I’m missing so far from FTM is the ability to generate web pages ( apparently wants to keep you tied to their site), but to be fair, TMG doesn’t do it natively, either; that functionality requires a separate purchase.

And FTM has name completion — YEAH! So far, I’m liking FTM.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by JR,  Jan 13, 2012

1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5

I have been using this software for several years and still find it hard to navigate and use. It uses non-Windows standards in its interface and adding citations is just a pain. Recently, I experienced a power failure while doing some significant editing / additions. Unfortunately, the folks at TMG must not have test this potential problem as it corrupted my data file, which caused me to have to restore from a backup. I lost several hours of work in the end. Time to switch to another tool as I am done with TMG.

Biggest Con: Hard to navigate and use. Corrupt data when power fails.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by JohnnyC,  Jan 12, 2012

2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5


Every UI problem you mentioned is due to TMG’s one fatal flaw: it’s just a Visual FoxPro app. Drag and drop? Auto-completion? TMG doesn’t have ‘em because VFP doesn’t support it. “Early 90s meme”? Once again, that’s VFP all over. Look at any VFP application — they all look the same. TMG will never get a facelift because VFP doesn’t support modern UI design.

And never will. Microsoft has end-of-lifed VFP. No new versions, no more patches. VFP is dead. And, unfortunately, so is TMG as long as it’s wedded to dead-end 90s technology. The only way forward for TMG is for Velke to rewrite it from scratch in something with forward momentum (MySQL, anyone?). And I suspect Velke would rather go down with his ship than do that.

Biggest Pro: Comprehensive, powerful, can do pretty much everything.
Biggest Con: It’s a Visual FoxPro app. VFP is dead.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Nathanael,  Jan 11, 2012

3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

@MaryD: “And lastly, speaking of ignorance, flag should be ‘gender’ rather than ’sex’”

Sorry, no. It’s “sex”, not “gender”. People are male and female, not masculine and feminine. If you think “sex” is wrong, complain to the government. Every census form I’ve ever seen says “sex”. Personally, I find it rather pleasant that TMG is one of the few programs that hasn’t submitted to this dumbing down of English.

TMG has been my go-to genealogical software for several years, now, and the best I can say about it is that I like it better than anything else I’ve tried. It *is* a powerful program. Unlike, say, FTM, which is OK with sloppiness, I like that TMG constantly nags me about details like sourcing and surety. By forcing me to stay on top of things I have a penchant for getting lazy about, TMG makes my research better.

With TMG, one almost never has to ask, “Can it do this?” Of course it can! Though until one becomes accustomed to the philosophy behind TMG’s design, it can be a bit difficult at times to figure out *how*. The problem for me is that there are so many ways to do something in TMG I have a hard time picking and sticking with a particular approach (in addition to being chronically lazy, I’m an incurable second-guesser).

Critics of TMG’s UI, however, are spot-on. It’s cluttered, and seems haphazard, with far too many pop-up windows, and is firmly stuck in an early-90s meme. Where, for example, is drag-and-drop support? I’d love to be able to drag-and-drop people from anywhere into a Focus Group window, I’d love to be able to drag-and-drop (or even double-click) someone from Project Explorer into the Details window. How about name completion? Why can’t I just type “Kl” rather than having to type out “Kleinliebental” every time.

And is there a program out there that will let me design my own data entry screen? I’m currently working through a stack of seventy or eighty group sheets in which the compiler recorded place of burial instead of place of death. Now TMG8’s multi-add screen makes short work of adding a whole bunch of children at once, but it only has fields for place of death, not burial, which means after adding all the children en masse I still need to go edit each one individually to fill in place of burial. All the time-saving the multi-add feature promises just goes right out the window.

And to defenders of TMG who insist “intuitive” and “complexity” are mutually exclusive, I beg to differ. Yes, TMG can be a complex program. That doesn’t mean it can’t also be intuitive. Responsibility for TMG’s outdated and overly complex UI rests squarely with Bob Velke, not TMG’s capabilities. Velke needs to stop cramming in new features, and spend the next two or three years radically overhauling TMG’s interface, or hire someone to do it. It’s scary old.

Having said all that, I LOVE the users’ groups and mailing lists. With TMG’s reputation (deserved or not) for being geared toward the professional genealogist, I’ve found that the regulars on the TMG mailing list tend to be a cut above in terms of their genealogical experience. I can also count on an expert and thoughtful answer to my queries.

Verdict: A radical overhaul of its twenty-year-old interface would propel TMG to the top of the pack. As it stands, TMG 90s look and feel serious hampers the usability of an otherwise powerful program. Casual users run away from TMG screaming in terror.

Biggest Pro: One never has to ask, “Can TMG do this?” Of course it can! (And the expertise on the mailing lists is a cut above.)
Biggest Con: No question about it. The UI is scary old, haphazard and has far too many pop-up dialogs. If TMG doesn’t get the mother of all face-lifts soon, it risks falling into irrelevance.

The Master Genealogist (TMG) Review by Rubyann,  Jan 10, 2012

1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5

As a serious and detailed genealogist for over 35 years I certainly know how to research and know what tools I need for my research. Those tools need to be easy to use and a database is merely one of the tools. My first tool purchase was a database and I have upgraded several times as they ‘improved’ their products. However, many of the newer ones appear to be adding gimmicks in order to sell more products. They are certainly adding features for which I have no need or desire. TMG is one of those, in my opinion. I only purchased TMG when it acquired Ultimate Family Tree (or whatever it did) and ceased supporting UFT, but I wasted my money on this purchase. TMG is far more complicated than it needs to be. After several attempts to learn its features I’ve decided not to waste anymore of my time on it. Should have stuck to my first rule ‘must be easy to use’ and saved myself lots of aggravation and time, time I could have used better in researching!

I would rate TMG a ZERO if I could.

Biggest Pro: None that I can see.
Biggest Con: Too complicated.

« Show 1-20    Show 41-60 »