Data gathering tools (new, to me)

As a genealogist that conducts much of his research on the web, good data and image gathering tools are extremely helpful.  As a person who relies heavily on the PC as a genealogical repository and information processor, tools that help me sort and process the information I gather are highly valued (prized).  In all fairness, I also ought to restate that I rarely (VERY rarely) work with any software outside of the OpenSource (or Free) realm unless I have a hugely compelling reason to do so.

ToolsI must, additionally, admit that I am very new to many (read almost all) of these tools.  It is also worth knowing that several of these tools are brand new to the world (or perhaps even a little bit newer than new).  Nonetheless, I thought archiving and sharing these pointers might be useful.  It is my hope that you, too,  might be willing to share additional information or insights you might have regarding these or other, even better tools.  With mutual sharing, we will all learn and benefit.

Having said all that, here are the innovative tools which most recently appeared on my radar screen.


Zootool is about collecting, organizing and sharing your favorite images, videos, documents and links from all over the internet.


Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.

Here is a biased comparison of Mendeley to other competing products.

Wunderkit  (currently in beta test)

This tool looks like it will be most useful in sharing project tasks, results, ideas, etc with others.

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I have recently come into contact with a family member who luckily has a long and detailed memory of the times and travails of my “German” family in and after WW2.  Because of the information from that source plus the information I have gathered from my immediate family over the years, I am attempting to use this tool to understand and write the overall story/ flow of events of that place and time. Obviously Storybook is intended for novels but then family histories are stories, too; they just are not fiction.  To quote the Storybook site:

Storybook is a free Open Source novel-writing software for creative writers, novelists and authors which will help you to keep an overview of multiple plot-lines while writing books, novels or other written works.

Focus Writer

This tool (and others like it) are useful when you want to write and be uninterrupted on your PC.  Hard to believe but electronic interruptions can and are a major distraction.  Sometimes you just want to write…

As their site states: FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment. It utilizes a hide-away interface that you access by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen, allowing the program to have a familiar look and feel to it while still getting out of the way so that you can immerse yourself in your work. It’s available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, and has been translated into many different languages.

As I mentioned at the outset, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on any of these tools or their competing products. After all as the Beatles once said, sometimes:

I need a little help from my friends.