Friday, October 8, 2010

Can Genealogy Software Do This? - Relationship to Root Person

One of the questions I had as the "Computer Genealogy" consultant at the recent CVGS Fall Seminar was:

"Can software programs indicate which person in a family is my direct-line ancestor?  Do programs indicate the relationship of persons in my database to me?"

I couldn't remember the exact details to answer this question.  The person had an early version of Family Tree Maker, and was having a difficult time determining which child in a family was her direct ancestor, and had to check many children to find the right one, and even then wasn't sure. 

I decided to try to find the answers in the four genealogy programs that I have available.  Here's what I found:

1)  Family Tree Maker 16

*  There is apparently no way to highlight a home or root person
*  There is apparently no way to show a relationship to a home or root person in the Family View
*  A Pedigree Chart view can help identify direct-line ancestors
*  There is a Relationship Calculator in Tools > Relationship Calculator to figure out relationships between two specific persons

2)  Family Tree Maker 2010

*  Select a Home Person in the People Workspace using Person > Set as Home Person.  The Home icon will then take you to that Home Person.
*  In the People Workspace and Family View, the direct-line child in a family is highlighted with a yellow left-arrow in the list of children.
*  In the People Workspace and Person View, the direct-line child is not clearly identified.
*  There is a Relationship Calculator in Tools > Relationship Calculator to figure out relationships between two persons.

3)  Legacy Family Tree 7

*  Select a Root Person using Options > Set Preferred Startup Family.  The Home icon will take you to that startup family.
*  To use a Person as the Starting person in relationships, highlight that person on the Family View screen, then select Tools > Set  Relationships
*  To enable identification of all Direct-Line Ancestors of the Starting person, highlight that person on the Family view screen, then select Tools > Set Direct Line as Preferred
*  The relationship of each person on the Family View to the Starting person will be displayed between the highlighted person and their parents in the Family View.  E.g., "4th-great-grandfather" or "2nd great-grand-aunt."
*  In the Family View, the Direct-Line ancestor is identified in bold typeface.
*  There is a Relationship Calculator in Tools > Relationship Calculator to figure out relationships between two persons.

4)  RootsMagic 4

*  Select a Root Person using Tools > File Options > General.  The Home icon, or Search > Go to Root Person, will then go to that root person.
*  The relationship of each person to the Root person will be displayed in the bottom left-hand corner of the RootsMagic screen (not in any one of the panels) when a person is highlighted in the Name Index, or in any one of the View tabs (Pedigree, Family, Descendants, People).  E.g., "4th-great-grandfather" or "2nd great-grand-aunt."
*  There is a Relationship Calculator in Tools > Relationship Calculator to figure out relationships between two persons.

So the answers were "not in Family Tree Maker Version 16 and before" and "Family Tree Maker 2010, Legacy Family Tree 7 and RootsMagic 4 will do what is desired."

The Legacy Family Tree 7 solution provides the most information and is the easiest to see on the screen.  The Family Tree Maker 2010 solution is the simplest, but only works in the Family View.  The RootsMagic 4 solution is the most difficult to see on the screen.

What about other genealogy software programs?  Do you know how to set up your program to do this task?


Ed Hamilton said...

In Gramps 3.2.2-1, for Linux:
Click on "People" in the left-hand column. Then click to highlight the person whom you want as the home person. Then, from the main menu, click on "Edit" and select "Set Home Person."

It will then tell you the blood relationship to the home person, if there is one.

TheLadyClaire said...

Ancestral Quest does a nice job of this also and needs to be mentioned here!

Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

I have FTM 2010, too, and yes, there is a yellow arrow to indicate your ancestor (it makes it easy to click along to follow a lineage.) However, if two siblings are both your ancestors (I have a case where three siblings are ancestors of mine) you can't find them unless you click on each name to see which one shows up as a great grandparent. (Yes, I have a very tangled family tree...)

Tamura Jones said...


Even PAF can do this, but what is the point of relationship calculators in first generation genealogy applications?
Lately I've been thinking that, perhaps with the exception of highlighting official ancestors of the proband, traditional genealogy software should not have relationship calculators, because such calculators reinforce
traditional genealogical thinking, encourage you to think of your official greatgrandfather as your real greatgrandfather.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

In FTM 2008, at the top of the right hand column, it tells you if the person is in the direct line of the home person. For aunts, uncles and cousins it says "no direct relationship" and you have to use the relationship calculator. FTM 2008 runs so slowly on my computer that I rarely use it anymore.

Eileen said...

I use FTM 2011 and, as in 2010, it displays the relationship at the top of the right panel in both the Family and Person Views, as well as highlighting the direct-line child with a yellow arrow. It also displays the exact relationships to the home person of anyone you select, such as "1st cousin 2x removed."

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

After commenting earlier I worked on my tree and was surprised to find a new feature on the individual profile page, "View relationship to me." The first time I used it I had to find myself in the tree even though I had set myself as the Home Person. I only had to do that the one time. It not only tells you your relationship, it also shows how you are related. There is a check box at the bottom so that now every time I view that person their relationship to me is shown just under their name. I like it!