08 August 2006

Family Tree Software

I have been using Family Tree Maker for about a year. I like the program. It has helped me to organize my information and notes on the family. But yesterday I discovered a new software, Family Tree Legends. They both cost the same at just under $30, but they each have wonderful features. I will end up using both of mine for different features. The nice thing is I can transfer the files back and forth between the two easily.

  • The data base both are pretty standard. You can enter in all the information about your ancestor, their spouse, children and all their information from the first screen Family Tree Maker gives one added bonus, by showing the name of each spouse's parents on a button above their name. With Family Tree Legends you have to click on the parents button to see their names. Also with Family Legends you need to click on the child in order to enter notes for them, but in Family Tree Maker you can simply click on the notes button while in the family view to enter in notes for a child.
  • Notes are a great place to enter little details or stories you find out about the person as well as notes to yourself of future research. In FTM you would put all of this in one place with one standard type face and no spell check. This is where FTL makes a big difference for me. You can enter in stories in your notes , but here you can bold, Italics, or underline important pieces of information you want to stand out. You also have a spell check, and if your like me this is a must! To further organize your notes you can put your future research notes in a To-Do List not in the middle of your stories!
  • To-Do List This is a wonderful feature, only available in Family Tree Legends. At this point I had been doing this with paper and pen. With this list you can prioritize each item to do, categorize it as research, write letter, etc., enter expected expenses, due date, and place of research.
  • address Book again only available in FTL. Here you can keep tracking of contact information for family members still living.
  • Medical History both programs are about the same here, but FTL allows you to enter in your DNA fingerprint if you have had that done.
  • Pictures both programs have a place for pictures in the scrapbook, but FTL allows you to create slide shows, scan photos directly into FTL and edit pictures, as well as create multiple scrapbooks for each family group.
  • Reports both do about the same for reports. Both will allow you to export the reports to Word, but only FTM will allow export to Adobe Acrobat.
  • Charts here is where things really get interesting. In FTL you can create beautiful family trees with frames around the names, pictures in the background, many color and font options, you just have more options to create beautiful family trees.
  • Books in FTM you can create a rather limited book for web publication, but not print. In FTL the difference again is significant. You can create beautiful books for print with many more options.
  • Web Search with FTM you can search Ancestry's many records for a fee, with FTL you can search their limited record for free directly from the software. With FTM you simply click on the person you want to look for and hit the "search web" icon and it will bring up all the matches. With FTL you go into another page and enter the information you are looking for and it will search their records.
  • Blank Forms I have expressed the benefits of forms in keeping your research organized. Well guess what? FTL has many of the forms included with this software so not only do you have a data base to organize you information, but you also have the forms you need to do the research!
  • Upgrade Family Tree Legends also has a wonderful upgrade. I didn't get it because I don't have a hand held device yet. But you can purchase an upgrade to allow you to down load your family tree information onto your hand held device to take with you to the next family reunion or to go do your research.

Here are two wonderful software programs for organizing your family tree and neither are very expensive. Get a family tree software before you get too far into your research, or you'll find yourself overwhelmed. When you can find pieces of information quickly at your finger tips it will make your search for you ancestor go do much faster.

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