Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Family Book Creator - Post 2: My Ancestors Book - First Try

I wrote yesterday about Stefan Harms' family book creator software - see Family Book Creator - Post 1: Creating the Book for how to make it work.  See for more information about the product.

When I first tried this product last weekend, I could not make it work for me.  On Google+ (I think), someone commented on Russ Worthington's post that it would only work with Microsoft Word and with OpenOffice.  I had OpenOffice 3.3 from several years ago, but had moved on to LibreOffice.  The book file would not open on LibreOffice, nor on the OpenOffice version I had, and I don't have Microsoft Word.  I finally looked online for an updated version of OpenOffice and downloaded Apache OpenOffice 4.1.0, installed it, and it works fine!  Whew!

I have created several books now, but I am struggling with some of the screens, tabs, buttons, check boxes, etc.  The Quick Start Guide says:

"You should make changes in the FTM file and regenerate the document until the document looks fine.  The changes should not be done inside the word processor.  The goal of the plugin is to generate the book document from information found inside your Family Tree Make database.  If you need to add individuals or fine-tune information, it should be done inside Family Tree Maker and not inside the generated document."

Here's what I received in my Family Book to date:

1)  I got my "Settings" just the way I thought I wanted them.  I selected four generations of ancestors, included family charts, included children details, modified some of the naming conventions, selected endnotes, excluded person notes and research notes, modified the typeface to Times New Roman and some of the font sizes, and did not include photographs (because I didn't have any in the FTM file).  I saved all of my settings to a file.

2) I clicked on the "Create Document" button and information for 27 families appeared within 15 seconds.  The OpenOffice document opened, and I had 96 pages (of which were endnotes).

3)  Once you have the document open in the word processor, you should save it as a Microsoft Word document file (.doc or .docx).  I did that.

Then you should go down to the "Index of Individuals" page and create a name index (the Quick Start guide, and the top of the page provides detailed information on how to do this.

Then you should go to the "Contents" page and create a Table of Contents using the directions from the top of the page (it's easier than the Quick Start directions).

You can then edit any of the pages, but you need to save your file frequently and not add too much new content.

4)  Here are screen shots for several different sections of the book I created:

a)  The Title Page.  I changed the font sizes:

b)  The Table of Contents page (I added the words "Table of"):

c)  The Introduction page:

The Introduction page provides a nice summary about the content of the book.  This one says:

"This document reports the details of 175 individuals, of which 81 are male and 94 are female. Of the 90 individuals with recorded birth and death dates, the average lifespan was 61.96 years. Of these, 39 males averaged 68.82 years, and 51 females averaged 56.71 years. The longest living male was Henry Austin Carringer (1853–1946), who died aged 93. The longest living female was Leava A. Smith (1866–1959), who died aged 92."

d) The "family of the Starting Person" section has a four generation tree chart that includes the children of the starting person's family, the starting person and spouse, and the parents and grandparents of the starting person and his/her spouse.  Then the narrative for person #1 begins, as shown below:

As you can see, the way I have my settings, the information runs on without any paragraph breaks.  It is listing all of the Facts for the person, along with source superscripts, and also any Fact Notes in the data file, although I have the Fact Notes set to "Exclude."  I have not found the right combination of check boxes to put the Facts in separate paragraphs and to delete the Fact Notes.

If there is a Fact in the Family Tree Maker 2014 profile for the person, there will be an entry in this book.  I tried excluding certain Fact types and that didn't seem to work.

Several pages down the document, the information for person #1 ends, and the information for the spouse of the starting person begins, and there is the same problem.

And several more pages down the document, the information for the spouse of the starting person ends, and the list of their children starts:

Again, the Facts (not only the basic birth, baptism, marriage, death, burial facts) are listed in one long paragraph without any line breaks.

e)  The "1st Generation" pages start, followed by the other generations requested:

As you can see, there are links to the parents of a person, and also to the ancestral child of the parents.

f)  After the four generations (in this case) have been treated, the "Index of Individuals" is included:

The user can pick the number of columns and width between columns - the Quick Start Guide suggests 2 columns and 0.50 inches.

g)  The Endnotes section is the final section of my book:

I don't know why the page above is blank, as is the next page, but on the third page starts the listing of Endnotes.

Note that the listing does not have a page title like all of the other pages in the book - it should at least say "Endnotes."

Also, the Endnotes include the "Citation text" information that was in my database - my settings do not have the "Include citation text" box checked.

5)  I have identified several items of concern for me.  They include:

*  "Fact Notes" appeared even though I thought that I had excluded them (Book items > Main part > Items to Include > Primary (also Partner, Children, etc.).

*  I want each Fact to be in a separate paragraph.  I have no clue how to do that (I know, I should probably read the user's manual!).

*  I want to be able to select which Facts to include in the book text.  I tried to include only Birth, Baptism, Marriage, Death and Burial facts for the ancestors and children, but apparently that didn't work out well.

*  "Citation text" appeared even though I thought I had excluded them (Preferences > General > Source Citations and unchecked "Include citation text."

*  I could find no way to enable a Place index - the option is whited out for me (Book items > Indexes > Places).  How do I do this (I know, read the manual will probably help!).

6)  I also have problems with the database I'm using, since it was imported as a GEDCOM file from RootsMagic 6.  For instance, the text for many of my fact notes have extra spaces in them because FTM 2014 does not import concatenated text correctly in a GEDCOM file (and itnever has!).   I have no images in this database because I didn't include them in the GEDCOM file.  I want to see how FBC handles the images.  Those are my own and FTM problems, not FBC problems.

7)  My purpose here is not to complain about the product, but to share what problems I've found in hopes that they have an easy explanation that has escaped my attention to detail, or are easily fixable by the programmers.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Doris Wheeler said...

The Master Genealogist allows you to create a book with all the elements shown here. No need for a second program. TMG does it all, plus providing a broad variety of reports, a rich flag feature, witnesses, roles, accents -- all kinds of features that are either limited or nonexistent in other programs. And check out what you can do with the companion program, Second Site. No other program comes close in function.

Russ Worthington said...


I just did my 2nd book, for real, it's at the printer now.

I talked about the Facts that I wanted to include (para 5) I think.

I haven't looked at the manual, just to see IF I could work my way through the process easily.

Start to the finished product was about 2 hours. I dropped of a PDF file at my local Office Supply house and it should be ready this afternoon.

I will make a follow up blog post (no video) on what I did about the printed version of the book.