Friday, November 12, 2010

Dear Randy: Which program creates the best narrative report?

I received an email yesterday from Genea-Musings reader Michael asking:

"Which program has the best ancestor narrative report?  I am using RootsMagic and it lacks other wives and children."

I currently use Family Tree Maker 16, Family Tree Maker 2010, RootsMagic 4 and Legacy Family Tree 7, all Windows programs, and haven't chosen one to live and die with.  So I can only address those four programs.

Let's rephrase the question to "Which program lists all wives and all children in their ancestor narrative report?"

Here's what I found when I created ancestor narrative reports in each program (eliminating notes, sources, indexes, etc.  I chose a report for my great-grandfather, Frank Walton Seaver, because his father, Isaac Seaver had three wives, and children with two of them):

1)  Family Tree Maker 16 ("Ahnentafel report" selected):

Family Tree Maker 16 does not list the other two wives, or the other child by one of them, of Isaac Seaver in his family description.  It does list the three wives in his listing as a child in his parents' family description.  Clearly, FTM16 does not do what Michael wants done.

2)  Family Tree Maker 2010 ("Ahnentafel Report" selected):

Family Tree Maker 2010 lists the other two wives, and the child of one of them, after the listing of the children of the wive in the direct ancestral line.  In other words, Frank Walton Seaver was the son of Isaac Seaver and Lucretia Smith.  However, Isaac's first wife was Juliette Glazier, who is mentioned after Lucretia in the report.  FTM 2010 does do what Michael wants done, but the wives are not in order.

3)  RootsMagic 4 ("Narrative Report" selected - "Ancestors and Children" selected):

The Ancestor Narrative report lists only the persons in the ancestral families.  The family description for Isaac Seaver does not mention his first and third wives, or the child by his first wife.  In the family description of Isaac's parents, his marriages are not listed at all.  RootsMagic 4 clearly does not do what Michael wants.

4)  Legacy Family Tree 7 ("Books/Other" selected, then "Ancestors" selected):

The Ancestor report generated by Legacy listed the wives and children in chronological order in the family description for Isaac Seaver.  The three wives of Isaac Seaver were not listed in the family description of his parents.  Clearly, Legacy Family Tree 7 does exactly what Michael wants a genealogy program to do.

I focused only on Michael's specific request for the "other" wives and children.  There may be other features that are more important in creating ancestor narrative reports to each researcher.

Some other Windows genealogy program may create these narrative reports differently - a user needs to consider their wants and needs.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

This is very interesting! I'm currently using FTM 2009 and am looking to switch. I'll see if anyone else comments on other programs.

Virginia Blakelock said...

For The Master Genealogist, see Bob Velke's response to a similar question on the TMG mailing list:

Jennifer said...

Glad that I already use Legacy!!! What are the benefits of the other programs over Legacy though? Do they do something special that it doesn't?

Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

Randy, I am using FTM 16 and am considering FTM 2011 or something else. I think the reason I hadn't been keeping up with the upgrades was that I heard that the newer version of FTM did not import all of the things that were in FTM 16. Is that true? If I convert to FTM 2010, will all my information be in the new file?

Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

This is really interesting to see what information is there and is missing. I noticed that the wives death dates were not listed on Legacy. So I assume that if the wives got married again, that wouldn't be listed either. So all the person's step-siblings wouldn't be listed.