Version 5.2's improvements lead to an even more powerful Personal Ancestral File.
You might not expect family tree freeware to keep pace with the bells
and whistles of its commercial brethren. But the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints' newest version of Personal Ancestral File (PAF), 5.2, proves — again — that in the realm of full-featured genealogy software, the best things can be free.
PAF gives you a lot of power without a steep learning curve. The
program is known for efficient data entry, outstanding printed reports
and a sleek user interface. PAF's latest enhancements — customized
data-entry screens and extended foreign-language support — strengthen
You'll have a tough time finding easier genealogy software than PAF.
Its electronic manuals, lessons and help files are all exceptionally
well-written. And a right-click of the mouse brings up a menu of options
from almost anywhere in the program.
PAF's Pedigree view (shown below), a profile of five generations of
your family, really sets PAF apart from most other genealogy software.
You can easily navigate up and down your family tree, edit an individual
record, print a report and then return to pedigree view. No other
Windows program makes data entry so simple or displays your family
information so clearly.
Customized individual and marriage screens in version 5.2 make data
entry even more efficient. If you rarely need the christening field but
routinely record occupations and cite census records, you can create a
new individual template with only the fields you need — and in the order
No matter what language your ancestors spoke, PAF 5.2 probably
supports it. Now you can type names, places and other text with Cyrillic
letters (for languages such as Russian), as well as Chinese, Japanese
and Korean characters.
PAF's printed and Web reports are well-designed. PAF doesn't create
fancy graphical charts; for that, you need an add-on program, PAF
Companion ($13.50, available from <www.progenysoftware.com> or <www.familysearch.org>), which produces many reports and charts, including wall charts, fan charts and box charts with photos.
PAF handles multimedia, too. You can attach digitized pictures, video
clips and sound files to individual records and source citations. And
you can include the pictures on reports and create interactive
scrapbooks and slide shows.
Not only is PAF one of the best genealogy programs, the price is right. You can download the software for free from <www.familysearch.org>.
It's a large file (10MB), so you might prefer to order the program on
CD for $6 on the Web site or at (800) 537-5950. PAF 5.2 requires Windows
95 or higher and 20 to 60MB hard disk space.
From the December 2002 Family Tree Magazine.