Friday, October 28, 2011

Exploring Family Tree Maker 2012 - Post 13: Making a Direct-Line Descendants Chart

The blog posted Family Tree Maker: New Chart Options in 2012 on 24 October, which showed a Direct-Line Descendants Chart that looked interesting.  I decided to make my own.  It was harder than it looked, but I thought my readers might be interested in the process.

I selected Robert Seaver (1608-1683), my immigrant Seaver ancestor, to start my Direct-Line Descendants chart, and decided to take it down to my grandfather, Frederick W. Seaver (1876-1942) - 9 generations.  Here is the "Publish" Workspace with the "Charts" collection shown:


For the Direct-Line Descendants Chart, the user has to select the "Descendants Chart" option in the screen above.

After selecting "Descendant Chart," the "Descendants Chart Preview"  screen showed what I already had in the chart (3 Generations, a Title, box contents and colors, Book layout, Perfect Spacing, Include Spouses of primary individual, and a tree background selected from the FTM 2012 "Background" collection in a file folder). 

For three generations, the previous chart had 57 pages of Descendants - for all descendants of Robert Seaver.  Here is the first page:

In the screen above, I changed the number of generations to 10 and, as you can see, the program is working on it. You have to wait for the program to complete the requested chart - It took several minutes.  But if you want a Direct-Line Descendants Chart for ten generations, you need to do that. 

The next secret to the Direct-Line Descendant chart - you have to enter your end-of-line person from the drop-down list of "Descendants" in the right-hand panel.  I did that, and clicked on the "Generate Chart" button and saw:

I wanted to change the Box size to make them wider.  I clicked on the "Box and line styles" icon but saw no way to change the Box width:

At this point, I checked the "Help" file (searched for "direct line descendant chart"), and learned that Box widths are fixed for the "Book" Layout (1.0 inch!), but can be changed for the "Poster" layout (in the right-hand panel).  So I selected "Poster" and then opened the "Box and line styles" and saw that I could change the Box width, which I changed to 2.5 inches:

That worked, but it took several minutes.  Here's the result - it's still on one page.

I wanted to add the birth, marriage and death dates and places to the boxes, so I did that in the "Items to Include" item.  I also wanted to edit the text in the boxes, so I clicked on the Fonts" icon and increased the font size, underlined the name, and changed the color of the type.  That made the chart two pages long but still only one page wide. I changed the background image also.

I added a corner "Embellishment" by using the "Insert Image or Text Box" icon (and finding the one I wanted in the Embellishment" file folder), added a sailing ship image to the top of the list (from my computer files), and a marriage picture (from my computer files) to the bottom of the chart.  Here is the final poster:

Not bad, eh?  It took me over an hour to do that, but I clicked on the "Save Settings" icon and saved it as my "Preferred" Descendants Chart.  I saved the Chart using the "Save Chart" icon, and also chose "Export as PDF" using the "Share" button (top right-hand corner). The key factors in creating the chart were:

*  Select the first generation person for the chart.
*  Put the generation number of the last generation person for the chart.
*  Select the name of that last generation person in the "Descendant" field (use the dropdown arrow and pick your person)
*  Choose "Poster" rather than "Book" for the layout in order to increase box width.
*  Add "Items to Include" and select readable "Fonts" to add or edit content if you choose.
*  Add a Background image and Embellishments and/or Images from your file folders to add color and interest to your chart.
*  If you want to make this the chart that you always want to use, click on the "Save Settings" icon and save it as the Preferred Template.

The user should read the "Help" screen for "Descendant Chart" to review all of the chart options  available. 

This makes a pretty nice chart, and the user has quite a few options to use to make it "pretty" and readable. 

However, it takes a long time to create the final chart because every time you change something, the program starts working on it and you have to wait until it's finished before you can change something else.  A separate "Direct-Line Descendant" Chart option is recommended, wherein the user can specify both ends of the Direct-Line.

See all posts in this series at Exploring Family Tree Maker 2012 Compendium.


Piere Clouthier said...

Be sure to check out Charting Companion's charts:

Anonymous said...

So you're telling us that every time it makes a new two page 19 person chart it takes "several minutes"? That's hard to believe!! I've had 15 to 20 year old programs working on a 486 computer that would do it much faster than that!!