It was a long time coming, but I finally decided that I have to upgrade my family tree software because the version I was using has been around since God was a boy. I was quite happy with the way Family Tree Maker worked – but I did want to be able to create some better looking tree charts, especially for clients who are getting research done as gifts. So, having ordered the upgrade from My History (who were extremely quick – it arrived the next day), I spent the weekend playing with it, (which gave me an excuse to do some work on my own family history). So, I am now able to give you a review of Family Tree Maker 2012 in case you are looking for some good genealogy software to buy or upgrade.
Obviously some of the features I have described, may already be on previous versions, but I can only compare it with my old 2005 version!
The main interface was quite a shock to start with, as there is a lot of information on one page, and my old version just had a very simple family view page – but once I got used to it I found I really liked it. I like the fact that you can see both the pedigree and the family group sheet on one page. I also particularly like the fact that each ancestor’s relationship to oneself is described. I’ve been doing a lot of descendant searching, so it’s nice to see at a glance how distant the relationship is, whether a 2nd cousin once removed or a 3rd cousin 3 x removed etc!
It is also very easy to switch from the Family sheet to the Person sheet, where you can add detailed information about each ancestor and see timelines and family relationships at a glance.
Another feature that is very useful is the Places page. With this I can automatically see exactly where someone was born, married or died on a map without having to use external maps and typing in the information. This will save a lot of time, as a large part of research is finding geographical locations.
The ‘Publish’ button is where one can create tree charts and pedigrees. I have had some fun playing around with these, and there is far more scope to create an individualised chart that looks professional and suitable to present to a client. There’s a large range of colours, fonts, box designs and backgrounds to play with, and a good range of chart types. I particularly like the new ability to create a chart that links one specific person with another so you can see, for example, how you are linked to your 3rd great grand uncle in one simple chart!
It’s also very easy to do an automatic search on Ancestry.co.uk using the Web Search button. All the details are automatically entered into the search engine. Mind you, I had never used the search feature on my previous version so I’m not sure how new this is.
Some of the backgrounds available (e.g. the ‘Lifestyles’ themese) are still aimed at American users, but apart from this I have been very pleased with everything.
If you have been using a very old version of FTM, it will take a while to get used to entering information, which is slightly more complicated than it used to be, but once you’ve got used to it, it is actually very simple.
It’s certainly worth upgrading from the 2005 or earlier versions – though if you have a later version it’s difficult for me to say just how different it is.
You can buy your new or upgraded version of Family Tree Maker 2012 at:
Ancestry.com (currently with a 25% discount)