Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Software: Family Tree Maker 2011

To organize my every-multiplying family research information, I use Family Tree Maker software available through Ancestry.com.  I have the most current version, 2011.  You get good service for the $40 purchase price.  If you do not have an Ancestry subscription, then you will not get the most out of this software.  You enter names, add parents, children, spouses and supplement with dates and photos (and don't forget to cite your sources).  Little leaves appear to indicate that a matching record may have been located within the Ancestry.com database.  The software looks at the entire Ancestry.com database for matches.  I have a tendency to outline someone's life decade by decade, and then look for additional records only in the location where I think they would be.  This is partly because some names result in too many irrelevant matches.  By filling in the date parameters for you, this software can pick up some important records that you may have missed.

As a method of organization, I name women by their birth name, not a married name.  If I do not know a woman's birth name, I give her a last name of "Unknown."  This indicates to me that I have not uncovered all of her vital information yet.  Family Tree Maker sometimes locates appropriate records based on name changes, sometimes does not.

You can upload your tree to Ancestry.com fairly easily by creating a no-frills gedcom.  Your pictures will not travel with your tree.  If you want photos in your online tree, you need to add them one by one.  With the software on your computer, you can view any census page that you have saved.  In the online tree, viewers will see a listing of locations and years, but not the actual census entries.  Any revisions you would like to make after posting your tree must be done step by step.

A fluke that I noted with the 2011 version that was not in the 2010 version is saving media.  My media was not saving in spite of a merge.  I think I figured it out.  When merging records from Ancestry.com with an individual, you need to be on the page that lists the potential matches.  The final page of the dialogue box detailing the merge needs to show the actual media image, or the image will not become part of the media in the tree.

Sample page of Family Tree Maker 2011.  The media displayed in the column on the right will not appear if the record is not merged from the records page.

If this (non) image appears in the dialogue box just prior to merging records, the media will not display in your tree.

Other than the media issue, the software is running great so far.  You can create complicated charts to share your research or print family stories- bunches of facts.  I would recommend Family Tree Maker to anyone who is interested in pursuing family roots.