Today Big Data (maybe that’s an old buzzword by now), cloud computing, and data analytics are hot topics (equals lots of money going toward those technologies). The Genealogy use case fits those technologies perfectly. I think Ancestry.com has led in this, and maybe owns the market share.
Based on my limited research, I would say GRAMPS is one of the best stand-alone (maintained) genealogy software out there. At times it does take a certain patience to navigate based on what the developer intended. And there are some quirks that new users will eventually find out from tribal knowledge. However, GRAMPS is one the best, last standing, stand-alone genealogy apps.
But, I would say that there’s more advantages to a web based genealogy program that will eventually even kill GRAMPS. A web based program just works on multiple platforms without a need for multiple distributions per Operating System (and would also work on mobile devices). Web based programs are becoming more responsive, and inherently backs up your data to the cloud.
My initial interest in GRAMPS was to find a base open-source project I could move into the cloud/web sphere. And after digging into GRAMPS a bit, I have seen several attempts of people doing just that. (using various technologies). A web based genealogy would allow multiple users to interface the same GUI, would allow users to share databases (read only, or r/w), and from a development point of view, would allow more directed focus on the features rather than worrying about the devices, operating systems, ect…
Either with an open source stand-alone program or web-based program, it definitely takes a dedicated effort to move these forward, with a few leading the way. So there has to be individual needs to drive projects like these. For a web-based solution, the individual need may be that I just want to be able to share my data easily with family members (therefore I would be the single web master), an individual may want to compete with Ancestry (but more of an open-source, freemium model), or the individual likes the idea of being able to access his program from multiple places (accessing the same database), and on, and on.
So for a web based program, the user would be first the web-master (is that an old, outdated term?), and second the user. Perhaps a web-master would require more knowledge to setup than a stand-alone app on a linux or windows machine. Therefore the barrier to entry for a stand alone app is less, but serves less people. And a web based app is maybe higher barrier to entry, but can serve lots of people.
So, my initial drive to create a web-based app (perhaps using GRAMPS as the base), was to put my own data on a web site, to be shared to anyone who was interested. But, maybe I can do that with Ancestry or any other online existing service. Unless I think I could create a freemium (ad based) version of Ancestry so people could share data without having to pay a service fee?!?
Genealogists create lots of data which needs to be backed-up and shared.