Monday, October 15, 2007

Using AncestryPress to make a book - Post 2.0

When AncestryPress came out in beta format, I eagerly tried it out - my report is here. It made 26 pages with 4 generations of data - a pedigree chart, a family group sheet for each family, and time lines for each person. Frankly, I was not impressed.

With all of the recent announcements about this product - see Juliana Smith's post and Richard Eastman's post just to name two, both of which essentially parrot the glowing Ancestry press release -- I thought that I would see how the final product has been improved.

Here are four screen shots from a book I created for Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922) using the "stock" format:

The first screen is of the four generation pedigree chart. Compared to the previous version, they have filled up the screen and added some icons on the left margin, and have some editing options across the top. I can print each page individually.

Screen #2 is the Family Group Sheet page, which I really like. It is well organized and shows information for each person in the family.

Screen #3 is the Time Line page - there is one of these for each person in the "book." The events in the person's life are noted, and there are notes about important historical events at the bottom of the screen. However -- the historical events are:

* British East India company establishes Singapore (ca 1820)

* California Gold Rush (ca 1848)

* Doyle introduces Sherlock Holmes (ca 1886)

* Oil discovered in Persia (ca 1910)

* Persia renamed Iran (ca 1934)

Huh??? Who cares about most of those? If I were doing a timeline, I would add terms of Presidents, notable events like wars, discoveries, inventions, etc. Where is the Civil War? Where is Lincoln's election and assassination? Where is the Spanish-American War? Where is the depression of 1893? The flu epidemic of 1918? This is terrible, frankly.

The fourth screen is of the notes that were available in my database for Frank Seaver. To create this page, I clicked on the "New Page" icon on the top menu and created a blank page, then clicked on the "1880 Census" icon (I have no clue why it's there!) and dragged it onto the blank page. The notes came over in a thin column too long for the space available. I did not see any editing function to allow me to make longer lines or cut and paste some of the lines onto another page.

So I'm still very disappointed in this application. To top it off, they have limited it now to three generations for the "stock" book. I think, but don't know, that you can make a longer book with as many generations as you want by using the "Create a book from scratch" option. At least I hope so.

I don't have any pictures uploaded for my database so I couldn't test that capability out.

In my humble opinion, AncestryPress has a long way to go before this type of "coffee table book" would have any utility or interest for me. To be fair, the book is exactly as they advertise. There is even a $29.99 special offer for a published book in a cover.

Has anyone else had a better experience? Or more comments?

1 comment:

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