TMG to be discontinued
#genealogy #software #FoxPro
It's been a long time coming, and now it's official: Wholly Genes is retiring The Master Genealogist (TMG).

TMG is written in FoxPro, a programming environment aimed at dBase power users that was very popular in the 80s. Microsoft acquired FoxPro in 1992. FoxPro version 9.0, released in 2004 and last updated in 2007, is the final version.

It is common for vendors of older products to complete rebuild their product once in while. For more than two decades, Wholly Genes has refused to do so, and that shows. TMG is a genealogy product with a database design,  user interface design, and capabilities stuck in the 80s.

TMG's messy user interface has become infamous, yet Wholly Genes kept unwilling to admit that TMG needed an overhaul until the bitter end, desperately trying to sell the dated mess as a "learning curve", as if that makes it right.

Today, the Wholly Genes newsletter announced that they are discontinuing TMG,  because fewer and fewer users are willing to buy their product.

Back in 2007, I pointed out that vendors of FoxPro-based products had tree basic options: quit the business, stick with FoxPro, or migrate to a new platform.
http://www.tamurajones.net/TheEffectOfFoxProsDeathOnGenealogy.xhtml

Wholly Genes decided to stick with FoxPro, a legacy platform, and all the limitations of that platform. TMG has never fully supported GEDCOM 5.5, because FoxPro is a pre-Unicode product, and although FoxPro's database limitations may have seemed royal in the 90s, genealogy databases are not getting smaller.

To keep up with the competition, Wholly Genes developers should have switched to another platform with modern capabilities, but it seems they never bothered to learn or even evaluate other platforms; Wholly Genes stuck with FoxPro until only their most loyal users had not left them yet.

I gives props to Wholly Genes for announcing the retirement of TMG before they'll stop selling (end September) and supporting (end 2014) it.
In comparison, it was more than ten (!) years after the abandonment of PAF that FamilySearch finally admitted that they had abandoned PAF, and for most that time, they brazenly kept promoting it on their home page!
Wholly Genes is being more professional about retiring their product than FamilySearch.

When FamilySearch finally made its announcement last year, competing products saw a notable uptick in sales; PAF users switching to something new.
I doubt vendors will notice an uptick in sales from TMG users seeking for a new product. TMG was never as popular as PAF, and its popularity has been in a steady decline for years. Most TMG users already switched to a more modern alternative, and the holdouts are likely to keep using TMG for as long as it keeps working.

Wholly Genes sells TMG to end users, and GenBridge to other vendors. GenBridge is not really a separate product, but a fancy name for TMG's import module. GenBridge is slow, but some vendors licensed it anyway because it imports several database formats directly.
Alas, GenBridge is as dated as TMG; many of the products it supports were discontinued so long ago, that you may not even have heard of them.
Moreover, while Wholly Genes has repeatedly claimed that GenBridge supports PAF, that is not entirely true, as PAF supports Unicode, and GenBridge does not. Because of its dated technology, GenBridge (TMG) is simply unable to truly support currently popular products such as MyHeritage Family Tree Builder and RootsMagic 4+.

It is reasonable to expect, now that Wholly Genes is abandonding development, that most third-party vendors using GenBridge will start looking for another solution, such as improving their third-party GEDCOM support.
The current situation seems an ideal opportunity for AncestorSync, a promising product announced in 2011, but they do not seem ready to jump in. In fact, right now, the AncestorSync website does not even respond.

Wholly Genes deserves kudos for winding down orderly.
Wholly Genes is making GenBridge freely available for third parties who wish to import from TMG.
That is a nice gesture, but most parties will be better off making their own import routine, to directly import from TMG, instead of going through unsupported legacy software to do so.
Many years after they first did so (but then never bothered to keep it up to date), Wholly has released a document that details TMG's file structure.

TMG 9 file structure: http://www.whollygenes.com/files/tmg9fstr.zip

Bootnote: The last pre-Unicode product that still enjoys a significant user base is Legacy Family Tree.
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