This may be somewhat contentious, but here goes... Plugins are an excellent new feature, but I wonder if there is a danger they may be misused.
In my opinion Plugins should offer additional functionality not reasonably expected of FH itself. This would include features that perhaps fall outside the scope of a commercial genealogy package; or features needed by only a minority of FH users, either long-term or as quick fixes. Examples of such Plugins include Ancestors UK Census Checker and Ancestral Sources Data Entry and Export Gedcom to TNG and maybe Map Life Events/Facts.
Plugins that prove to be extremely popular imply that the feature should really be professionally embedded in FH itself, and not an add-on developed by users who must accept stringent Terms and Conditions.
Plugins should not rectify deficiencies in FH that could reasonably be fixed in FH, unless it is clear policy that such Plugins are only a stop-gap, and are soon adopted by FH. Otherwise, it might appear that Calico Pie are relying on free effort from its clients to fix FH deficiencies. Possible examples of such Plugins are Backup Family Historian Settings and Check Installed Plugins Against the Store and Search and Replace.
What do others think?
Mike Tate is researching the TATE and SCOTT family tree and all relations.
I generally agree with what you are saying, but it is a fine line. I think FH should really support functions like Map Life Facts and Timeline Chart. I believe other popular software such as Roots Magic already support these features. It may be a long time (if ever) before FH includes these in its functionality.
I have been the writing the plugins I want, I am perfectly happy to write them, the check versions in the store might well be a useful add on, but I would rather write it as I can, rather than adding it to the wish list, as I would prefer Calico to concentrate on supporting more fundamental items such as support for witnesses, multi-person events, recording location data and media against places and such like rather than nice to haves like checking plug-in versions.
The other advantage with plugins be they Calico or user ones, is that they are easily updated, so for example last weekend when Find My Past changed the web site fixing the Ancestor checker could easily be done. Core code can not so easily or quickly be changed or updated.
"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad."
I can see where you're coming from, Mike, and I'm very largely in agreement. A plugin is an excellent solution to a minority or one-off requirement, and provides for a fast and effective response to a specific FH issue. It can also act as a useful prototype testbed for more complex software developments, enabling ideas to be refined and clarifying the required funtionality and usability. But...
In my view, many such developments (your own Backup and Restore FH Settings is a good example) should subsequently be incorporated by Calico Pie into the core FH product, and it should become CP's responsibility to maintain the code and ensure its compatibility from one FH version to the next.
I'll be very disappointed if we wait for the next major version and all the new features are things that were already available in plug-ins. I don't care who provides the functionality as long as the functionality is available. For many years I've been getting more and more fed up as each major version fails to offer support for formatted text, tables, etc. in source text and notes, despite this being for me such a vital missing feature. I'd much rather Calico concentrated on adding this kind of thing (Jane mentioned others) that plug-ins can't help with.
Nick Walker Ancestral Sources & Gedcom Census Developer
I completely agree with Nick -- if, in the next release, Calico Pie just provided functionality that plug-ins already provided, there's be no point in buying it. I want them to concentrate on the stuff that plug-ins can't do -- rich text is one excellent example, and the data changes that Jane mentioned are others.
I use Family Historian to record my family tree research. I confess that I am not willing or able to spend time learning to program so that I can write plugins to carry out functions that should be in Family Historian. Although I have downloaded a couple of plugins (eg the timeline one and the map producer) they do not seem to work as I would expect.
I seem to be spending more and more time configuring FH when all I want to do is to record my research and print out reasonable reports for my family.
I do not intend disrespect to those who do spend time writing the plugins but it is not for me.
Tree Searcher said: ... all I want to do is to record my research and print out reasonable reports for my family. ....
Then probably all you need is FH5 (plus Ancestral Sources) as the facilities provided are more than adequate for your needs. I can't think that you would even need to carry out any customisation - the defaults provided by Calico Pie are sensible ones for most people.
I have written 4 plug-ins for my own use. They are all essentially concerned with census records and I use them to monitor where I have got to on my quest to try and find as many as possible. One for example provides a table showing for each of the 8 census years how many I have found, how many that are not going to be available (such as when the person is not born or has died by that date - and then the number I have still to find. Another plug-in provides a means to change all the multi-media flags en bloc - so that if I want media to show on a report/diagram I can quickly change all the records accordingly. Plug-ins can therefore be very useful tools to help grow or use the family tree.
It is also great fun working out how to get the plug-ins to work as you wish - not always that easy unless you have a programing background.
I certainly think having plug-ins has made FH even better than it already was. Dick
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