Friday, June 6, 2008

Working with Family Tree Builder 2.0 - Post 3

Family Tree Builder 2.0 is FREE software that can be downloaded to your personal computer from

I described the Family Tree Builder 2.0 software in my post "Family Tree Builder software (from," showed the basic open, upload, person and edit screens in my post "Working with Family Tree Builder 2.0 - Post 1," and displayed some of the Chart and Report options in "Working with Family Tree Builder 2.0 - Post 2."

This post will describe and discuss the Book Report options available in Family Tree Builder 2.0, based on my own experiences.

Clicking on the icon for Reports on the icon bar provides a list of available reports. At the top of this list is "Book Report." When you click on this item, you see a Welcome screen for the Book Report function that shows the key person you selected for the Book Report. You can change this person.

Note also that this report is generated by a free version of The Complete Genealogy Reporter, which is described more fully at The differences between the free and paid versions of TCGR are listed there.

Here is the welcome screen:

Clicking on the Next button on the Welcome Screen provides a list for you to select from - you can check the boxes for any or all of Ancestors, Descendants, Indirect Relations, Family Trees, Notes, Sources, Index of Places, Index of Dates, and Index of Individuals.

For my report, I chose the Ancestors of Isaac Seaver, with Notes, Sources, Index of Places and Index of Individuals, as shown in the screen below:

The free TCGR program worked for quite a long time - perhaps 10 or 15 minutes. It created a 662 page report for The Ancestors of Isaac Seaver with everything I requested. Here is a screen shot of the Title Page and the Table of Contents. The Paid version of TCGR adds more user-generated information.

The first section of the Book created is a series of Paternal Ancestry charts. The first chart is shown in the screen shot below.

This is a typical Pedigree Chart, but without any dates or places on it, just names and numbers. The superscript numbers by each name on the chart are the internally-assigned numbers used in later sections, not an ahnentafel number. There are also numbers in parentheses to the right of some of the names - these are for the continuation pedigree charts.

The second section of the report is the Maternal Ancestry. The first chart in this section is shown below:

The third section of the Book Report is the list of Direct Relations, ordered by the most recent generation of descendants, through the parents to the earliest generations in the database. The screen below shows the page for the Generation of Parents (I didn't want to show the first page with living people - my cousins).

The number to the right of each person is the internally generated Person number which is the superscript in the Pedigree Charts in the first two sections. For each person, there is a summary of their birth, death, spouses, and children (with the helpful person number included).

The next section is Notes, and here the notes for each person are included in some unknown order, and includes some persons not in the ancestry or descendants of the subject person of the book. Each Note has a number at the beginning of it, then the Note itself, and finally the words "Applies to ..." In the screen shot below, you can see that the Note above this page applies to Alvina Matilda Bradley and Lucretia Townsend Smith, the third and second wives of Isaac Seaver, respectively. The note below applies to Benjamin Seaver, Isaac's father.

The next section of the Book is the Sources, which are not shown in a screen shot (because of the embarrassingly few, and excruciatingly poor quality of, sources in a Source field in my database). The source citations for the entire report are listed, along with the words "cited by:" and a list of the persons (with their superscript person number) for whom the source was cited.

The List of Places is shown in the screen below. This is alphabetical by the last word in the Place field in the database, followed by the next to last place name, etc. Since my database has many cryptic notes in it like "(VR, 278)" in it, it picks up the "278)" and thinks it is a place name and lists it accordingly. This is not the program's fault - it's my fault for cluttering up the Place Name field.

The list of place names has each instance of a Fact for persons in the database after the Place Name itself.

Lastly, the List of Individuals is an alphabetical list of the ancestors and descendant of the subject of the report, along with their person number and their relationship to the subject of the report. The screen shot below shows one page from the List of Individuals.

The book is created by The Complete Genealogy Report software as a PDF file with the pages numbered sequentially, but without page numbers in the Table of Contents. You can move to the different sections using the Table of Contents list in the left frame on the screen.

There is much to like in this Book Report. It is organized logically, and provides all of the information I requested (plus some). I like the Pedigree Charts, the List of Places and List of Individuals.

However, I have a lot to complain about in the Free version, including:

* The lack of an Introduction. This option is in the paid version of The Complete Genealogy Reporter.

* The use of the Person Numbers throughout the report. These numbers are assigned by an algorithm (I think it starts with the most recent generation of descendants, and then goes to the oldest generation in the ancestry, numbered 1 through N - in my case, N=3723).

* The Book Report includes information about Descendants of the Subject person, even though I explicitly did not check Descendants (see the second screen above). I wanted just Ancestors, and I got both Descendants and Ancestors in the report.

* The Book Report separates information about a given family into several parts - the parents have a list of children (with person numbers), each child in a family has it's own family definition, and the Notes and Sources for each person are not with the family definition. Does anybody really want a report where the information is fragmented like this? My preference is to have the Notes and Sources with the person in the Direct Relations section.

* A Book Report requested for the Ancestors of Isaac Seaver should list only the Ancestors, and should number them in an ahnentafel (Sosa-Stradonitz) format, and the S-S number should be used throughout the report.

* The Book Report includes information in the Direct Relations section about persons who are not a descendant or an ancestor of the Subject person. The ones I saw are distant cousins through another line from a common ancestor - a Direct Relation to be sure, but not a descendant or ancestor, or a spouse of a sibling of an ancestor.

* The Notes and Sources for each person are in separate sections, they not listed with the Person themselves in the Direct Relations section. There is no indication about the Person that the Notes and Sources are for, other than the notation at the end of a specific Note or Source. The numbers for the Notes don't correspond to the Person Number in the Direct Relations. The Notes section should have "NNNN - Notes for 'John Doe' " where NNNN is the Person Number, and "John Doe" is the Person for whom the Notes are provided. The Paid version of TCGR apparently permits Notes and Sources to be embedded with the Person in the Direct Relations section.

In summary, this Book Report is unsatisfactory for my needs at present.

The Person Number system used in this Book Report confuses me greatly. I can't imagine how someone who is not familiar with genealogy standards would handle the system.

I want either an Ancestors Book (with only the ancestors of a Subject person, and their families listed) or a Descendants Book (with only descendants of a Subject person, and their families listed), or both in one document - my choice. An Ancestor's Book should be listed by ahnentafel (Sosa-Stradonitz) number, or at least provide that option. A Descendant's Book should be listed by one of the recognized numbering system (Register, NGSQ, etc.). Nothing else makes any sense to me as a genealogist.

I've discussed this Book Report in the context of the Family Tree Builder 2.0 software, but that is not completely fair to the genealogy software program. FTB 2.0 uses the Free version of The Complete Genealogy Reporter software.

Obviously, you get what they provide in both sets of software. My main complaints are with the TCGR software for both Reports and Books, not with FTB 2.0. I do appreciate that both sets of software are provided free of charge to genealogy researchers.

1 comment:

Louis Kessler said...

Ouch. That really wasn't a very complementary review of TCGR. I hope you give Nigel a chance to rebut some of your criticisms.