Saturday, September 15, 2007

Family Tree Legends software - first impressions

I finally got around to downloading and testing the FamilyTreeLegends genealogy software that is now FREE to download and use as a full-fledged software package. This software was developed by Pearl Street Software, which was recently acquired by

The FamilyTreeLegends software can be downloaded from - just click on the FREE DOWNLOAD link.

The download and installation went quickly. I opened the program to run it, and uploaded a large GEDCOM file. The loading took several minutes (9 mb, 20,000 individuals, 6,000 families) but it looks like everything is there - vitals, facts, sources, notes, etc. I don't have any photos or documents in that particular file.

I clicked on all of the different menu items - File, Edit, View, Charts, Reports, Scrapbook, Books, Internet, Bookmarks, Options and Help.

I also clicked on the icon links for Back, Forward, Home, Navigate, Index, Search, Charts, Reports, Books, Records, SmartMatches, Learn, Print and Help.

In the Family View, there are sections for the father, mother and children. The Father and Mother items include birth date and place, death date and place, and marriage date and place. In the Children list, only the name and birth date are shown. You can navigate to a specific Child's page by clicking on the house icon next to the Child's name. There are icons next to the Father and Mother names for SmartMatches, Spouses, Parents and sources. On the right margin, there are icons for Home, Facts, sources, Notes/To-Do, Addresses, Names and Scrapbook.

The Charts offered include Ancestor, Descendant, Hourglass and Bow Tie. The Ancestor and Descendant charts can be Fan, Standard or Vertical.

The Reports offered are Ancestor Report, Pedigree, Descendant Report, Indented Descendant Summary Report, Individual Timeline, Family Group Sheet, and Kinship Report.

I haven't fully investigated the SmartMatches, Facts, Sources and Notes sections.

The data input process for names, births, deaths, marriages, notes, facts, and sources seems to be similar to FTM 2005. There is a template for a new source, and a line for defining the confidence in the source.

All in all, this looks like a pretty useful software package. I like the look and feel of it - navigating from generation to generation is fairly intuitive once you figure out the icons. Going from Family View to Charts or Reports is easy using the icons.

The major drawbacks I see with using this program for my own research and reporting purposes are:

1) The Ancestor Report can provide an Ahnentafel list, but it doesn't include the "end" ancestor in a particular line. That is, if the father of Henry Carringer is Martin Carringer, and there are no known parents of Martin Carringer, it doesn't list Martin Carringer in the Ahnentafel report. That is not comprehensible to me - why didn't it put this person on the list?

2) The Ancestor Report does not provide the names of the children of each family. It provides the father and the mother, but doesn't list the children and their primary information. Again - that is incomprehensible to me!

I won't use this program as my primary genealogy program, due to the report deficiencies. However, I will recommend it to new researchers who want to try out genealogy software or need a free software package that does all of the necessary tasks.

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