Saturday, July 12, 2008

Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 2: Exploring

I installed FamilyTreeMaker 2008 yesterday and uploaded a large database, as described in Post 1.

I went exploring in FTM 2008 after uploading the database. Come along with me:

In the last screen in the first post, the program opened with a person named "Unknown" - the third wife of Robert Seaver. I wanted to make the "Home Person" myself (for reasons apparent later!) - so I clicked on the [Plan] icon in the top icon row and then clicked on the "Home Person" words right under "master Tree":

This opened a list of persons in the Tree, and I put "seaver, randall" in the Find box and double clicked on it. That made me the "Home Person."

Then I clicked on the [People] icon on the top icon row and the [Family] View opened up. This [Family] view tab is intended to be a navigation tool, I think. Note that there are four frames on the [Family] view screen - a name index in the left panel, a pedigree chart in the center top panel, a family summary in the center bottom panel, and the Facts for the selected person in the right panel.

You can navigate to another person by using the arrows on the pedigree chart or by finding a name in the name index on the left panel.

I used the right-facing arrow on the top right-hand person to move the tree to the left twice, and now my grandfather Frederick Walton Seaver is in the left-hand box. But the Facts for Benjamin Seaver are in the right panel and his family is in the bottom panel, because he is the highlighted person, as shown below.

Only names are shown in the [Family] view, but putting your cursor over a person shows a drop-down menu with birth and death dates and places. Note that the relationship of the highlighted person to the "home person" is at the top of the right-hand panel. Facts for the highlighted person are shown in the right-hand panel.

Next, I clicked on the [Person] view tab (next to the [Family] view tab). There are three frames in this view - the Main panel for Facts, Timeline or Relationships, the Notes in the Bottom panel, and the Edit boxes in the Right panel, all for the Selected Person.

The Facts for Benjamin Seaver appeared on the Main panel (note the [Facts] tab is highlighted on the right side of the line with the [Family] and [Person] view tabs. The large plus sign (+) on this line can be clicked to add a fact - you select the fact type from a drop down menu and add text. If you have a Fact selected, you can delete that fact using the large (X) next to the + sign. You can edit a Fact in the right-hand panel. On the right-hand panel you can Add or Edit a Source for the Fact. These edit functions are significantly different from earlier FTM versions.

In the bottom panel on the screen are the Notes for the person. You can type into the text box. There are icons on this Notes frame for Person Notes, Research Notes, Mark as Private, Bold, Italics, Underline, Bullets, Symbols, Color and Spell Check. Over on the right-hand side of this icon line is a scale that allows you to adjust the font size. There is also an indicator for the size of the Note file. These edit functions are a definite upgrade for the Notes over previous FTM versions!

There are also Media and Tasks tabs on this bottom panel. I haven't explored those yet!

Next, I clicked on the [Timeline] tab at the top of the Main panel next to the [Facts] tab. The Facts were then listed in the Main panel in date order. The information for the highlighted fact was in the right-hand panel again, and were able to be edited.

I found that I could adjust the bottom frame size of the Notes panel by clicking on the edge and dragging it up, as shown below. The problem with this is that the top of the panel carries over for all Fact/Timeline/Relationship screens, and if there are a lot of Facts or Relationships the Notes section obscures some of them. I could also change the width of the right-hand panel also. I could minimize the bottom panel by clicking on the little down carat right above the word "Person."

Next I clicked on the [Relationship] tab next to the [Timeline] tab on the top line of the Main panel. The Main panel shows the birth, death and relation Facts for the Father, Mother, Siblings, Spouse(s), and Children of the Selected Person.

You can click on the name of anyone on this Main panel and they become the Selected Person.

Navigating between generations and within families is almost intuitive in the program. I was able to figure it out without reading anything, but there was some trial and error involved. I had explored this far within about 15 minutes of having the database uploaded.

In the next post, I'll explore the Menu items on the People icon screen. Stay tuned!

Previous posts in this series:

* Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 1: Loading. Installing the program and uploading an existing database file.


Donna said...


Based on your very thorough examination, is it "worth" upgrading from an older (2000) version? As I haven't been faithful in using it for some time, it's hard to remember what it is I wished it could do better.

What's Past is Prologue

Steve Danko said...


You really shouldn't consider Family Tree Maker 2008 to be an upgrade of previous versions. It is an entirely new program, created from scratch.

Steve Danko