Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Passage Express

Passage Express (PE), formerly known as Family History CD, has apparently been around for a while. I recently heard about the program but hadn't gotten around to trying the free demo. When word got out that the company was looking for beta testers to try out the program's compatibility with Ancestral Quest (AQ), I jumped at the chance.

The primary goal was to test how PE imported AQ files. Although there were some initial problems, the programmer (Jefferson) was quick to address any issues that the group of beta testers brought up. Some AQ files (like mine) were stubborn to cooperate with PE, while other testers reported minor problems or none at all. In a relatively short time, whatever was locking up my import was fixed.

During the time I had trouble with the AQ imports and waited for a resolution, I played around with other features of the program. Manually creating a multimedia project in PE was at first a little difficult, but once I learned the tools the task was easy. I'd have to say that computer novices might be a little intimidated by PE at first, but I would definitely recommend they give the program a chance and stick with it for a while. (Jefferson is currently tweaking the menu layout to make it more user friendly for first timers.) The alternative would likely be much more frustrating; by that I mean using a program like Photoshop to edit photos and create graphics, using [insert favorite program here] to record audio, and [insert favorite program here] to make slide shows. PE does a lot of little things well.

One of my favorite features is the ability to add audio to an image. That audio can then be played when the image is viewed in the final presentation or as part of a slide show. Another great feature is an editor for your project's welcome screen. Not being the artistic type, I found the tools very easy to use and pre-installed templates and graphics a huge help and inspiration for layouts.

Once the AQ import issue was fixed, I tested how PE handled the AQ file and included it as part of a presentation. I was impressed, though because AQ is not as widely used as other genealogical programs (why not, people?!) I don't know how often I'd use such a feature. Those viewing my presentation could install a demo file of AQ, of course, but I don't know how many would be willing to do so.

All in all, I would highly recommend that others looking for a way to bring together their genealogical data, scanned photos, videos, PDFs, and audio at least download and try the Passage Express demo. Passage Express currently works with Legacy, PAF and RootsMagic. If you don't use one of those programs, you could still try the PE demo to create a multimedia project.

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