Family Tree Legends 3.0 Software Review

By Nancy Hendrickson Premium

Wondering how Pearl Street Software’s Family Tree Legends could get any better? After all, we’ve praised this program’s knockout charts and unique Internet features since its 2002 debut. But version 3.0 packs an even more powerful punch with two innovative new features that are sure to send it to the top of the genealogical software charts.

You’ve got GenGrams

Family Tree Legends’ GenGrams works a lot like AOL Instant Messenger <> and other online chatting utilities, except it allows you to send messages to other Family Tree Legends users from within the program. Plus, GenGrams goes beyond basic chatting capabilities by enabling you to swap genealogy files and photos with other researchers.

Sure, you can send files using your e-mail software, but Family Tree Legends reduces the hassle. With the recent onslaught of spam, most of us simply can’t keep up with all our e-mail. And unfortunately, this means genealogy-related notes inadvertently can get caught in spam filters, go unnoticed among hundreds of junk messages, or arrive in our mailboxes with nasty viruses attached. GenGrams solves all of those problems because it doesn’t go through your normal e-mail program. Better yet, Pearl Street Software guarantees it to be spam-and virus-free.

Tips and tutorials

Another new feature is the Learning Center. Accessed by clicking on the mortarboard icon, the Learning Center contains several Family Tree Magazine articles on everything from getting started to tracking down immigrant ancestors. These tutorials will appeal to researchers of all experience levels.

Family Tree Magazine also teamed up with Pearl Street Software to provide just about every blank research form you’ll ever need. Located under the Reports menu, these include a cemetery transcription form, census forms, deed indexes, a military-records checklist, a research journal and correspondence logs. Just click on the form name and pick whether you want to open it as a Microsoft Word document or a PDF file. (To view PDFs, you’ll need the free Adobe Reader, downloadable at <>.)

Small tweaks, large results

Although previous versions of Family Tree Legends have included the SmartMatching feature, some tweaking has made this function even better. When you click the Smart-Matching icon, the program will compare the names in your family file with the 85 million names in the GenCircles online pedigree database <> (also from the creators of Family Tree Legends). If the software finds a potential match, you can compare the GenCircles data to your own. After confirming a match, you’ll launch a wizard that will walk you through merging the GenCircles data into your file.

So what else can this whiz-bang program do? Here’s a look at a few other new and improved features:

Direct import from Family Tree Maker (FTM) — Good news for anyone making a software switch: Family Tree Legends will preserve all of your FTM scrapbook items, in addition to all the data. The software also does a good job importing GEDCOMs (the universal family tree file format) from other genealogy programs.

Real-Time Internet Backup — Family Tree Legends automatically backs up your files onto secure servers. This is a perfect solution if you want to transfer files between computers. It also ensures that if your computer crashes, you won’t lose data.

WebFacts — Right-click on a place name, and Family Tree Legends will bring up Web sites with maps and facts about that location, such as its geographic coordinates and population. This is a handy tool when you find a reference to an unknown place.

Real-Time Internet Publishing — In addition to GenGrams, Family Tree Legends offers another easy way to network with fellow family historians: publishing your data on GenCircles. If you select this option, the program automatically will update your GenCircles files as you add findings to Family Tree Legends.

The program also offers an intuitive interface and excellent charts, complete with your choice of funky frames and a myriad of colors. With the addition of GenGrams and the Learning Center, Family Tree Legends is a stellar choice for any genealogist. It costs $39.95 at <> and requires Windows 95 or higher.
From the August 2004 issue of Family Tree Magazine.