Trello for Genealogy

Vicki’s Note – article from Oct 8 2016 CAGGNI newsletter




Trello for Genealogy

by Alan Wilson
Alan Wilson has been working on the genealogy of his family for eight years. He has used various software tools and databases, including Family Tree Maker, Ancestry, The Master Genealogist, Webtrees, WikiTree, Gramps and RootsMagic. Alan became interested in DNA for genealogy in 2008. Since then he has tested with Family Tree DNA and Ancestry and he has used DNA comparisons on Family Tree DNA, DNAGedCom, GedMatch, Y-Search, Y-Base and Ancestry.
While I attended the FGS meetings in Springfield, IL, the week of September 2, one of the presentations was about Trello software as an organization tool for genealogy. The presentation was by Lisa Alzo, the Accidental Genealogist ( I found the subject interesting enough that I downloaded the software and tried it out. I also watched Steve Dotto’s video on his evaluation of Trello on YouTube ( Qdfywzk ).

Trello is similar in some ways to Evernote and Microsoft OneNote. I have used both of them. Unlike the note taking apps, Trello uses an index card metaphor. So “notes” are written on cards, the cards are inserted into lists and the lists are on boards. This metaphor also works with Evernote and OneNote, but in Trello, it is a fixed structure while the note apps are flexible enough to permit other metaphors. If you are mostly interested in elaborate notes, then Trello might not be the best tool. In my case, I have found brief notes of a few sentences, or a checklist, to be most useful, and in those cases, Trello is probably a better choice. I can then construct more elaborate “notes” by grouping cards together in a list.
Trello also differs from the note apps in that it does not really exist as a program in Windows or a laptop environment. Instead, it is small enough that it is a web page app that works in a browser, such as Safari or Chrome. There is also an app for a tablet or smart phone, either Droid or Apple. The tablet or phone app is well suited for the small index card style of notes. One other benefit of existing as a web app is that it can avoid the frequent software updates forced by changes to Microsoft Windows or Apple OSX.
The figure shows a very small Trello list on a board called “Family Tree Entropy.” The list has 3 cards that I constructed for the illustration. Each card has some information that can be easily retrieved by clicking on the card.
Trello naturally supports collaboration or sharing lists and cards for others that may be working on a family tree. Cards can have checklists, due dates, color coded labels, photos, images, as well as ordinary text. It is also integrated with Google Gmail, IFTTT (If This Then That) and other useful apps, so it fits in very well in the mobile environment that is the work environment for many of us.


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