Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Favorite Genealogy Software

This weeks GeneaBlogger challenge is to write about our favorite genealogy software. So, with that in mind I submit the following:

I have been using Family Tree Maker [FTM] for the past 3 years. I have to admit, though, most practicing genealogists, professional or otherwise may laugh, because before that, I was perfectly content with the free PAF software that I downloaded many years ago on Family Search. [It did all of the major things I required of it!] The only problem that I found with the old PAF software was that when a jpg, gif or tiff file was attached to a file, it was just that. Attached. And if you ever moved your image file for some reason or other [as say when you change computers], your image was then "lost", because the pathway had been removed. You then had to go "find" your image, and re-attach it to the file.

Then in 2006, when I renewed my membership, I was also offered a tremendous savings on purchasing the FTM program.

I have been sold on that ever since!

Family Tree Maker basically takes care of all of my needs. I am able to import and export with tremendous ease. I seldom ever import any type of files however, especially gedcom's. I prefer instead to enter all information, even on large files, by hand. I can then make sure of any errors [especially blatant ones], as well as get a feel for the persons I am working on.

I can also save most image files without problems. And the image is saved right to my FTM program. If I export my gedcom, for any reason, I don't have to export images as well. They are already within the file.

Sources are easily entered for just about any kind of input I may have. And I love the way Endnotes prints out all of my sources numerically when the file is printed out. This makes for ease of my clients in actually seeing each of the sources with no difficulty.

Reports are printed quite well. I still like to prepare my own reports, as well as the program generated ones when working for a client, however. The program generated reports appear a little stilted, and have no personality. You can, however, insert comment as you want, and can still go with just the computer generated one if it's your thing.

The ability to print "Books", makes this program unique when you are preparing reports for clients. For my personal clients, I always use this function. Each page I then slip into an archival sleeve, and then into a binder. This gives my client the look of a professional print, without the high cost of taking it to a printer, or collater.

I love the scrapbook pages. These can also be added in your "Book". These print your images at thumbnail size. These give clients the chance to actually see the document, photo, etc. that you accumulated while working on their ancestor. [Hint: I always burn these images full-size to a CD so that clients can then print them out if they choose. Unless pre-arranged before hand, I always print these "mini-images" for clients. It allows me to discount my services, and yet with the CD gives the client the ability to still have a full-page document if they choose.]

There are numerous ways to view a family, descendency, or pedigree with FTM. And more tools than I could safely mention without fear of forgetting any!

The Help function is unbelievable. I've used it more times than I count!

But one of my favorite features is the "Web Search Resources" button. Simply click this button, below any individual's entry, and the program will automatically connect you to and begin a search for matches. [You do have to have an Internet connection first!] This has saved me more time than I can possibly tell you about! Results are brought up within the program, and you can click on any result and be taken to and view the record or document it pertains to.

FTM may not be everyone's favorite. And I am sure there are many other programs that do as much, if not more, for other researchers. But for my money, and my experience, Family Tree Maker has served me well. And as my Grandpa always said, "If ain't broke, don't try to fix it!"

Until next time!

1 comment:

J.G. Moore said...

Oh Lord, I thought I was the only one who doesn't hate paf. I use FTM to print reports and such, but I still work in paf. People generally think I'm crazy to do so, but, it is awesomely lightweight and responsive with very intuitive keybindings and shortcuts. I refuse to import gedcoms under any circumstances and have entered at least 99% of my 10 year old database completely by hand, one individual at a time. Paf is excellent beyond all others for simply entering data and moving quickly through my large file. I care not a jot for all the bells and whistles on other heavier and clunkier programs.