Reprinted with permission, Cat Fanciers' Almanac, November 1996
The first step in selecting software is crucial to your success and satisfaction. You must define your end goal for the software. There are several questions to ask yourself (and be brutally honest):
Armed with the answers, you are now ready to make some decisions. The packages currently available (and several under development) generally fall into one of two categories: full cattery management or pedigree only packages (see reviews later in this article for details). After making this choice, you can whittle down the list somewhat further by choice of operating system. Some packages that were designed to run under DOS or Windows 3.1 will run just fine under the newer Windows95 operating system. Others may require an update from the company/software author. This brings us to a series of very important points to consider. You should try to find other breeders that use the software package(s) you are considering. We're not referring to testimonials printed in the advertisements. Some of the questions you might ask others are:
The program menu is very simple, as it gives you the choice of insert cat, output pedigree, delete cat, edit, print, save, and quit program. You do not have to hunt for any of these. You can do either a 4 or 5 generation pedigree, a litter pedigree (which you tell it how many you need and who the sire and dam are). You may also do potential pedigree, as well as child (kitten) search. It is easy to enter all the information, however, you must make sure that everything is exact, including titles in order to produce your pedigree. There is no universal place to change titles or edit spelling errors.
BELL-CATS is a pedigree program only, and one that is easy to use for beginners. Drawbacks are that it has no cattery management capabilities or places for notes. There are also no expense charts either for the cattery or your shows.
It's one of the things Kelly really likes about the program - the availability of tech support and a developer who was able to speak to a novice and actually use understandable terminology! And without making the as-yet-to-be computer user feel subhuman!
GEN-TREE FOR CATS! was created for the computer novice (ie, "If I touch this key, will something break?"). The user manual is short and simple. The program is inexpensive, which is important when you're not sure you can handle a computer program. A novice will be able to install the program, list an entire pedigree of information and print a pedigree within an hour. From there on out it's only a matter of adding cat information to produce an unlimited number of records and pedigrees.
Jay Holovacs is the creater of GEN-TREE FOR CATS! Jay is one of those rare computer experts who is available AND returns phone calls! YES. Any support you will need with this program is likely to be minimal but, as anyone who has touched a computer knows, when you need help, your need for it is maximal. Jay has never let Kelly down. As editor of Persian News, Kelly often fields questions from people looking for advice re regarding selection of computer programs - either someone is buying a computer for their pedigrees and they want a program they can understand, or the caller already has a computer and pedigree program, but the program was so sophisticated that he/she 1) couldn't get it to work, 2) found the manual uncomprehensible, 3) couldn't reach technical support, or 4) reached help, but the technician was condescending or impatient. She recommends
GEN-TREE FOR CATS! in these circumstances because it is truly user-friendly, will produce: a five generation vertical pedigree, reverse pedigree, medical record and notepad, phone/address file, and much more. If you become ambitious and want to share pedigrees with other breeders or even compile your own data bank, GEN-TREE FOR CATS! will import data from CompuPed, Cat Breeder's Assistant, CatTrax and BelCats.
The program has pull-down menus and mouse support; runs on 286, 386, 486 and Pentiums; is MS DOS and can operate under Windows.
Russ can be reached by email and is available for technical help, and is also very open to suggestions for improving the program. A demo program is available (with an entry limit of 200 records) and it can be downloaded from several sites on the Internet (see table in December issue).
The program is extremely easy to use - even novices would not have a problem. A "key" disk is required only for the initial installation of the program. One feature Karen really likes is the ability to choose the screen display colors - she detests working with white characters on a black screen! Data entry on previous versions of the program was in upper case only. The latest version has upper or lower case capabilities, and includes a handy utility program to convert your imported files to the format you choose to work with. Merely entering a registration number will provide you with the correct color for that breed, according to CFA's color prefix list. The breed and color database can, however, be user defined should one wish to do so. Pop-up screens for a list of sires and dams are automatic, as is notification of duplicate cats names or registration numbers being entered.
A visual pedigree is available instantaneously from the entry screen at the simple press of a key. The visual pedigree is 3 generations, with the ability to tag a cat (so you can return to that particular entry at any time) and look at further pedigrees of ancestors. Visual pedigrees can be available in either the default display or in ASCII. With the use of the ASCII screen display, and a nifty little utility program that redirects normal printer output to a disk file, one can easily save a three generation pedigree in a file that can be used to display the pedigree on the Internet. Definitely a bonus for those people wanting to include pedigrees in their web sites!
Here's a sample of what a pedigree would look like:
VISUAL PEDIGREE - PEDIGREE Version 3.12 (c) 1996 Ruskat Cattery +---------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | +----<3>GC ABYDOS PHOENIX DM | | | 0382-002662 RED 09/09/1979 | | +-------<1>GC/NW QUIN-JO'S RED 'N REDDY | | |SIRE: 0382-258087 RED 11/04/1984 | | | | CH QUIN-JO'S ROSITA | | | +----<4>0383-199243 RED | | GP/RW TAILSEND SYNIAN (7th Best Cat Great Lakes Region 1990-1991 | | 0382-537372 RED 02/25/1989 | | (M) | +----<5>CH TAILSEND TA-LEE-HO | | | | 0380-141969 RUDDY 10/08/1982 | | |DAM: CH TAILSEND TOUCH OF CLASS | | +-------<2>0383-422088 RED | | | TAILSEND SUSSUDIO | | +----<6>0381-276018 RUDDY 07/15/1985 | +---------------------------------------------------------------------------+ CH=Champion GC= Grand Champion GP=Grand Premier RW=Regional WinnerPedigrees, when printed, can be 5 or 6 generations. The ability to define a printer is available, and Russ will help with this if you have any problems doing it.
Other reports that can be generated include those for a range of names (good if you want to pull out all cats from a certain cattery); a range of registration numbers; those cats with the same sire or same dam, or with the same sire and dam; those cats with missing parents; and a reverse pedigree for which you specify the number of generations to be covered. Reports can either be saved to a file, printed to the screen, or sent to a printer for a hard copy. The ability to print an entry form is not included, and is one of the few drawbacks to the program.
Health and breeding records are included, as is a gestation table. Health records are limited to the number of characters per entry, which is sometimes not enough space to cover all you want to input. The capability to add notes to a cat's file is also included, with a maximum of 300 characters (or 5 lines) per note. Notes and health records can also be saved to file, printed to screen or sent to a printer. A genetic inheritance probability report counts re-occurrences of ancestors thru 10 generations, and figures a "probable" percentage of contribution based on the number of occurrences and where they occur. Programming for a true co-efficient of inbreeding report is being worked on, and will hopefully be in the next release.
The program has the ability to import/export data from other programs and the routines are excellent, even to the point of allowing you to review the imported data and check for duplicates prior to actually adding the file to the main data file. Kris Willison (Su-Bali and KLM Catteries, Texas) uses this feature often and says that although the import is from fixed ASCII only, you can configure a template specific to the file you are importing.
Karen and Kris also point out that serious historians should spend a moment or two checking out the LineChaser's BBS( in New York state) that Russ maintains online. This is the largest database for online research, and is available to anyone with a modem (prior approval required, and password available from Russ by email at Ruskat@capital.net). As of August 11th there are in excess of over 200,000 pedigrees available. Breeds included are:
|Breed||No. of Records|
| GCCF Siamese|
| GCCF Balinese|
Since many cat breeders register and show their cats in more than one registry, MacKittyTM has room for up to 4 registration numbers for each cat: three of the most well known registries, and a fourth one for the registry of the users choice. The program also has some built in features to protect the user from making mistakes. For example, the program protects the user from accidentally deleting a cat without confirmation. It also checks all new entries to prevent accidentally entering the same cat twice. Other simple mistakes are automatically taken care of such as typing too many spaces or not using the same capitalization.
Still undergoing Beta testing as we write this column, and scheduled for release in September, this program will surely be welcomed by the MacIntosh community!
[ Pedigree Program Reviews - Part 2 | Back to List of Articles ]