Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Family Book Creator - Post 1: Creating the Book

I received the notice about Family Book Creator, a plugin for Family Tree Maker 2014, last week from Stefan Harms - his website is www.familybookcreator.com

The website says this about Family Book Creator:

"Are you a committed family researcher, dreaming of publishing your research results in book format to preserve your hard work for succeeding generations? I guess yes. At least I never met a family researcher who would not like to have a look at his research results in book format or to pass on the research results to future generations.

"However in most cases the problem is that nearly everyone is of the opinion to begin with the book production as soon as the research part is done. In reality the research is never completed and consequently a book is never been published. Family data stored on hard disks or other storage media could become corrupted or in some way unusable and the results of your valuable research work will get lost.

"That’s exactly where the Family Book Creator program comes in. It allows the creation of family books by just pressing a button. It only requires that the family data are being stored inside the Family Tree Maker database. You will immediately become aware that your research results presented in book format will give you a special insight of your family data.

"Of course there is no novel generated, but you have a good tool at hand that can help to pass on your research results to future generations simply by using the family data you have already entered into your Family Tree Maker database."

 I met Stefan at RootsTech 2014 in February and had a good discussion with him about his product.  I have been testing this program off and on for several years as Stefan has developed it, and I appreciate the product - it is a step beyond what other family tree book creators have produced to date, in my opinion. 

However, it does require a Windows computer, Family Tree Maker 2014 software, and Microsoft Word to make it work well.  It costs $54.95 for a Private license - see details at  http://familybookcreator.com/en/menu-order-en.  You can download the program for a month and try it out with a limited book for up to 7 families.  

Russ Worthington, on his Family Tree Maker User blog,  has written a series of blog posts about Family Book Creator, including one video of a book he created, and I commend those for your reading pleasure.  See:

I received a private license from Stefan Harms, and installed Family Book Creator over the weekend.  I had some problems being able to read it and edit it because I don't have Microsoft Word on my computer, and apparently LibreOffice won't work with the Family Book Creator file for some reason.  

The process I used to create a book after installing Family Book Creator, and accessing Family Tree Maker 2014, was:

1)  On the Family Tree Maker 2014 "People" workspace, I highlighted my mother, and opened the "Tools" menu list, and selected "Plugins," then "Export With Plugin," and found "Family Book Creator 2014:"

2)  After clicking on "Family Book Creator 2014," the window said that it would take about 180 seconds to load the plugin:

3)  The "Family Book Creator 2014" window opened and there were four difference sets of menu items and tabs to work with:

On the right of the screen above are buttons for "Book items," "Preferences" and "About."

Across the top of the main part of the screen are tabs for "Title page," "Coloform," "Dedication," "Foreword," "Table of contents," Introduction," "Main part," and "Indexes."

On the right side of the main part of the screen above are a "Family sections" field (with a drop-down menu) and check boxes for persons to include in the book.

At the bottom of the main part of the screen above is the number of "Generations to show" and the user can select a number.

For each of those buttons and tabs, there are more fields to select from or enter data into.  Russ's article Family Book Creator - the First Plug In for Family Tree Maker shows them all in some detail.

4)  For the "Main part" tab on the "Book items" button, there are three tabs, and each of those have tabs also.  Here is the "Items to include" tab, which has tabs for "Family chart," "Primary," "Partner," "Children," Children (the main section)," and "Photo Album:"

The user really needs to work through every one of all of the buttons and tabs in order to get the book the way s/he wants it!  On one of the tabs is the selection of a Descendants book or an Ancestor's book, including the preferred format (e.g., NEHGS or NGSQ for descendants).

5)  The "Preferences" button (on the right) shows seven tabs, for "General," "Name formats," "Date Format," "Images," "Fonts," "Page Layout," and "Privacy:"

Again, the user needs to think carefully about each tab and each tab on the different screens.

6)  Finally, when I thought I had it the way I wanted it, I clicked the "Save Settings" button at the bottom of the screen above (so I don't have to change them the next time, unless I want to), and clicked on the "Create document" button at the bottom of the screen:

The book was created over about 35 seconds (the screen above shows it in progress).  The "Exit" button was live after the book was created.

An RTF (Rich Text File) format file was created and I put it in my Family Tree Maker file folders.

7)  Stefan Harms provides a Quick Start Guide for Family Book Creator, and a User's Guide for Family Book Creator 2014 as PDF files when the user downloads the files.  In order to work with the resulting book, users really need to read both of these documents!

8)  I will show the Book results in another post. I eventually worked out my word processor problems today by downloading an up-to-date version of OpenOffice.  

If you can't wait to see a book example, check out Russ's video at Family Book Creator - First Book.

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

Disclosure:   Stefan Harms provided a complimentary Private license for Family Book Creator, which I greatly appreciate (thank you, Stefan!).  This does not affect my objective reviews of the product, nor was I required to write blog posts about it.  I did volunteer to do that because I think the product needs to be publicized.


Cousin Russ said...


Glad you were able to get that problem resolved.

I didn't spend any time creating the book, didn't check the options, just wanted to demonstrate it and see what it looked like.

I'll create a book taking my time with the options to see how finely it can be tuned.

Thank you for the shout out.


Charlie Purvis said...


I took a look at Russ's video at Family Book Creator - First Book.

Reminds me of Genbook for PAF.

Can you check with the Creator/Author of the program and see if there is something similiar in the work for RootsMagic.

Russ did a great job.

T said...

I made three "books" with this program. I was not impressed. Other than the diagram I can do the same thing with Family Tree Maker under Reports. It requires a LOT of editing; perhaps more than a Report. I like the simpler diagrams for descendants in a family but it doesn't include all the children so in actuality doesn't suit my purpose. Doing a Snipping Tool cut of my family view at ancestry.com does what I want. YMMV. It might be just the ticket for others but not for me. I am in the process of writing the story of each family rather than a report format. Anybody can write a list of names and dates. I'm airing out the closets!