Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful software for family history fans, 20 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Family Tree Maker 2012 World Edition (PC) (CD-ROM)
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Family Tree Maker software is produced by Avenquest. The box contains 3 CDs:- Family Tree Maker (FTM) , Back up and protect your pc, and Create your own web site. The FTM is linked to Ancestry who provide subscription or credit access to online global historical records. The software comes with 6 months free access to Ancestry world wide membership (currently worth ~£112) Having used several previous versions of this software it is highly recommended for those starting out in family history research, it can be used on a very simple level, but also has the capacity to handle large amounts of complex information.

One relatively new feature is the ability to sync your offline FTM tree with and online version. If you already have a recent version of FTM then this new version does not seem to offer a lot over previous versions, but I believe upgrade packages are available which may make the cost worthwhile.

There is a 350 page guide to using the software, help functions within the programme and online help from Ancestry for subscribers.

The software installation prompts you to register which is usually irritating and not a feature I like however chances are you will want to access the Ancestry online records so this was ok.

You can then start with a new file and type in names/detsails e.g. mother or father, or you can import an existing file or download a file from the ancestry web site. If you choose the latter there is the option to link a tree to one uploaded to ancestry and keep them synchronised. This is helpful as you can then work on your tree off line. I found problems with FTM version 2011 which had to imported and exported to and from the online version, with photos and media items not always syncing properly, this seems much improved with this version, but could have been a fault with the web system and not FTM.

The software is split into areas: plan, people, places, media, sources, publish and web search.

Plan- here is an overview of your current tree and a list of any others you may have. As trees get large it can be useful to split them perhaps in two files paternal and maternal ancestors.

People- this is the most useful area, where your family tree can be viewed under tabs 'family' and 'person'. The family view has a list on the left handside of all the individuals in the tree in alphabetical order. In the top mid half of the screen there is a brief tree with 2 to 4 generations depending upon what is selected. In the bottom part of the screen is shown the spouse/partner and any children. On the right hand side of the screen is the information about the selected individual, e.g. DOB, marriage date. This section is customisable to show the info relevant to the person, and labels can be created if those relevant to your creed/religion are not included. This layout is pretty similar to the previous versions. (There are new functions/buttons show blended families with all children of both parents.)

This general 'People family' overview is not available (or I've not found it) in the online version, and I find this helpful when you have a family with a lot of children and want to navigate up and down the siblings and their dependents.

The second view under People is the person tab, which gives much more detailed information about the data recorded for an individual, with a place to write notes and add citations (references) to the data.

Places- here there are maps, and all those individuals who have a connection to that place are listed. This can be a really interesting tool to see how families move around. However this part of the software is not perfect. The place information which may be taken from say UK census records often does not match the ancestry record database which has a US bias. So West Ham, Essex, Greater London gets mapped to a no mans land just outside Lancaster? A degree of geography knowledge is helpful, and it must be kept in mind that county boundaries have changed during the last hundred years.

Media- where for example photos and uploaded copies of census documents can be reviewed, comments can be added and links made to other individual in the tree.

Sources- gives an overview of citation/references. This can be important as historical records are not precise and it can be useful to review the source of the information before deciding if new information relates to your relative or not.

Publish- is where charts and reports can be generated. This is essentially similar to the previews versions. There are 10 charts, and ~24 reports. One nice feature is the smart story. This pulls together photos and information about where a selected person was born, married, their children, writing the info in sentences rather than in a chart or list. Although the reports are comprehensive and there are a lot of things that can be customised, I've not found a way to build a report or chart completely from scratch the way I want it.

Web search- view which checks Ancestry one line records and provides a summary of your selected individual and possible matches. This section only gives access to limited data if you don't subscribe. A lot of info is available free however if you search for it. As subscriptions and copies of original BMD certs can be expensive its recommend finding all the free stuff before taking out a subscription. There is a useful task list where you can record details you're searching for, v useful as the tree gets big.

The package also comes with software Create your own web site, which has a wizard/template to set up a web page. This seemed pretty easy to use however I did not publish it was long term there were subscription costs involved.

The third piece of software was pc back up facility which was not evaluated.

All three programmes run on Windows XP, Vista or 7.
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