Friday, November 2, 2007

FTM 2008 Books - my wish list

Ben Nettesheim on the FamilyTreeMaker part at the Blog wanted to know what users really wanted for the Books portion of FamilyTreeMaker 2008 in his "Question: What About Books?" post. He makes some interesting observations, like:

* Ancestry Press is not, nor was it intended to be, a replacement to the old book building capability available in previous versions of Family Tree Maker.

* The offline book building option will be available next year. As a result, the finished product is not set in stone.

I provided my opinion as to what the FTM 2008 Books capability should be to satisfy my needs. I put them in as a comment on the blog and on the FamilyTreeMaker feedback form. Hopefully, they will get read and acted upon.

My comments made on his blog are below:


"Thank you for the opportunity to offer my opinions. Here is what I want for the Books portion of FTM 2008 and beyond.

"1) The ability to incorporate descendants reports, ahnentafel reports, pedigree charts, family group sheets, pictures and document images, and text items into a book in the order that I choose. With the ability to have text footnotes and source citations. With an index and Table of Contents and List of Illustrations. Just like we have had in FTM 2006 and before.

"2) However, I would like to be able to export the book to a Word Processing file (especially Microsoft Word!) with the Field codes for the TOC and Index included so that I can edit the book as I wish before I publish it. Presently, the only way to get an index in FTM 2006 and before is to get a PDF format which cannot be edited. The alternative is to collect the edited reports in the Word Processing program and add the Field Codes by hand or with a macro - with 100 pages and maybe 2,000 names, that is time consuming. It’s impossible for a really big book.

"3. For the ahnentafel reports, I would like the option to not include the children listing in the report. This type of name list is very useful to me and others and the lack of it has been a gripe for years. Even lowly PAF can do this. It’s simple. Please?

"4. For the descendants reports, I would like the choice of Register and Modified Register (NGSQ) formats. These are the standard for publications and web pages. The FTM 2006 and before has this option and does an excellent job of them.

"5. For any report or book, I want the ability to tie Sources for Facts to the text Notes - so that a transcribed or abstracted deed, will, census record, Bible record etc. can be given a source number and citation in a Footnote. In FTM 2006, you can add a Fact with a Source, but only by putting the transcription or abstract in the Footnote can you tie the text to a source. Does that make sense? I hope so!"


In general, I really like the way FTM 2006 and before does descendants reports, ahnentafel reports and books. I would like to see Facts, Sources and Notes integrated somehow, and the Field codes for the index produced in such a way that my Word Processor can read it. I also really want an Ahnentafel List - just names, dates, places, no kids, no notes, no sources.

What I didn't say was that most of what I "want" and "need" are available in other software packages - RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree and The Master Genealogist have all of those, I believe. If FTM wants their product to be the choice of professionals, who often recommend software to other users, they need to stay up with the competition. And do it better. Fast.

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