Research Ties: A Review

Last year at the FGS conference, I visited a vendor booth for a new web-based service to keep research logs, called Research Ties.  The program had not been released at that time, so I signed up for the mailing list.  When I was planning the sessions I wanted to attend at RootsTech and spotted one called “Research Ties: An Online Research Log.”  I thought it was probably the same program, but since I hadn’t received any email about a launch, I checked their website and recognized the logo.  I immediately added this session to my calendar.

I was intrigued with what I saw while attending the session, so I signed up for a two-week free trial.  My two weeks is almost up, so here’s my experience.

The program is pitched as an advancement on paper logs, word processor logs, and spreadsheet logs.  I use a spreadsheet, so I was curious to see if it really was faster and more efficient.

What I Liked About Research Ties:

  • I like the idea of having my log accessible via the web.  While I almost always have access to my spreadsheet, if I’m at a repository with only my iPad, using the spreadsheet is difficult.
  • I really like the templates for creating research objectives.  They are well thought out, thorough, and specific.  Here’s a screen shot of the “Add Objective” screen (click to enlarge):

Research-Ties-add-objective

And a sample objective that I wrote using the template:  “Search the probate records of Murray County, Georgia for the surname Baxter.”

  • I also like the template for formulating a search statement.

Research-Ties-add-search

Here’s a screen shot of the objective above with a search and search result attached:

Research-Ties-search-results

 

What I Didn’t Like About Research Ties:

  • While the idea of online access to my research log was attractive, the reality didn’t measure up.  I first tried using the program over 3G at the Family History Library and it was so slow as to be unusable.  I tried again when I got home, using my own wifi, but it’s still so slow that I can’t stand the wait.
  • It requires too much duplicate data entry.  Surnames, families, repositories, sources, places – they all have to be entered into this program in order for it to work.  Yes, you can upload a small gedcom (no more than 100 names recommended), but I just didn’t see that as a viable alternative.  I could pick a few names that I’m working on right now to create a gedcom, but then I’d have to do it again when I move on to a different set of names.  I especially didn’t like entering all the source information into separate fields, when I’ve already done that in RootsMagic source templates.
  • It’s not always clear what information should go in the fields.  Some fields give a clue, but some don’t.
  • I also found that the drop-down lists for fields didn’t always work.  In fact, sometimes the same field would produce a drop-down list if I was using my iPad, but not my laptop or it would produce a drop-down list one day but not the next on the laptop.
  • The reports don’t make sense to me.  I can run a report of objectives, or a report of searches, or a report of results. . .but not all three at the same time. The results report includes the related “search,” but not the objective.

The Bottom Line:

It’s too slow for me.   When I was at the Family History Library, I felt like I was wasting valuable, and limited, research time by waiting on the screens to load, so I finally gave up.

At home,  I could have put up with the duplicate data entry if it went faster, but it’s still too slow.  I can enter the information (or copy and paste) in my spreadsheet much, much faster.  And I can sort and filter to my heart’s content to get just the information I want to look at  and create reports that make sense to me.

If you would like to try out Research Ties, click here.  I would advise you to read the slides and posts in the learning center and blog first.

As for me, I’m sticking with my spreadsheet.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Twitter: Familycurator
    Thanks so much, Tonia, for doing this review. Like you, I saw Research Ties last year at a conference (Roots Tech) and thought it had great potential. I kept checking in but it wasn’t ready yet, and maybe it still isn’t quite ready for prime time from what you describe. Maybe the company will take your suggestions to heart and work on the speed and user interface to make this program more attractive. Hope so!

  2. says

    I have tried off and on for 6 weeks to master Research Ties and I can’t do it even with emails from Jill herself. I keep telling myself that I can learn it because in the last 10 years I have designed and published 7 websites, 3 of which are still up and running (one for 12 years), so I’m not inexperienced in internet know-how. Even when I go to the learning center and find the exact thing I’m trying to do – it won’t do it. It’s not worth the frustration at my age.

  3. says

    Tonia, Denise, and Dwyn,

    Thanks for your feedback. We have been aware of the speed issues and have completed some major changes to the program in the last couple of weeks. The speed is now significantly faster. We have addressed most of the issues mentioned above, but we are still programming the report that will return the searches and results by objective. It will definitely be an option in the program.

    I appreciate your input–we are listening. I hope you will check back and see the improvements. We’re new and working hard to meet your needs. Feel free to contact us with your questions–we’re happy to assist.

    Tonia, thanks for the review!

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