Brother’s Keeper does what genealogy software is supposed to do: It manages ancestral data, sources and media files, and puts the information into a visual chart. The interface has some frustrating quirks, resulting in a bigger learning curve for this software than for every other program I reviewed. Further, its chart quality and scrapbooking tools are subpar.
To test the program’s GEDCOM performance, I imported two large records and two problematic records. Brother’s Keeper earned a B– for accuracy on the GEDCOM test. Similarly to Reunion, it was more than 90 percent accurate on the two large records but less than 75 percent accurate on the problematic ones.
The software’s navigation and data entry tools both received C– grades for ease of use. At first glance, the interface seems easy to navigate. The home page has a simple menu across the top that lists the various charting options: tree, box, descendent, ancestor, collapsed, alpha and group. But as you try to access individuals or families, you can easily get lost because the interface requires opening window after window and leans too much on search functions to find people. It took me nearly 25 minutes in total to enter data on 10 individuals. With Family Historian, I entered the same information in less than five minutes. If you spend hours working on your genealogy, this interface can waste time.
Despite the many chart options, the quality earned a C–. Even when compared with other line-and-box-style charts, the Brother’s Keeper charts lack style. The lines touch the names, leaving no space. The fonts look bad in both printed and digital forms. This isn’t the program you want to use if you’re interested in printing family trees or sharing them with family.
Brother’s Keeper has all the scrapbooking tools you might look for in a genealogy program, and the number of reports options is impressive. There are more than 25 options, a total matched or exceeded only by Family Historian and RootsMagic. You can attach pictures, videos, memories and locations, then create reports based on all the recorded data. It’s an excellent way to tell your family’s story. But because of the interface’s difficult learning curve, the scrapbooking tools aren’t easy to find, much less use.
The interface of Brother’s Keeper is dated and often frustrating to use. The learning curve is significant, but it includes practical features. You can create an array of charts and reports about your family history, but you may want to use a different program to improve the look of your charts if you plan to give them as gifts or heirlooms.