Looks may not be everything, but when you’re preserving your pedigree findings, well, let’s be honest: No one wants ugly-duckling charts and reports.
Enter Family Tree Legends <www.familytreelegends.com>, one of the most attractive genealogy programs on the market. Version 5.0 packs even more charting options into a program that already boasted uncluttered screens, eye catching graphics and a refreshing pastel color scheme.
The latest edition expands the software’s impressive array of reports to include fan charts in three styles — a quarter circle, a semicircle and a three-quarters circle. Starting with a plain chart of your ancestors or descendants, you can customize the fonts and boxes, and add a background color or image.
You also can make multiple scrapbooks for each person and family. Although the printed scrapbooks show photo titles, you can’t include more-detailed photo descriptions. So if you’ve labeled your photo with the title The Jones Family and entered each person’s name in the description field, only The Jones Family will appear; individual names won’t. Other genealogy programs such as RootsMagic <www.rootsmagic.com> and Personal Ancestral File <www.familysearch.org> will incorporate both photo titles and descriptions into your printed scrapbooks.
You say it’s what’s inside that counts? Legends adds a few practical enhancements, too. If you routinely modify reports to suit your tastes, the new custom reports will come in handy. For example, family group sheets normally show sources as footnotes. If you prefer endnotes, you can save a family group sheet with endnotes as a custom report and name it Family Group Sheet With Endnotes. Instead of making this change every time you print a family group sheet, you just select your custom report.
Like RootsMagic (reviewed on the opposite page), Legends also lets you create a CD or DVD with all your family data and pictures. This shareable disc includes a free, limited version of the program, so your relatives can simply insert it into any computer to view the data and pictures. They can print all the reports available in the full version of Legends, too. This is a great way to share your family history with relatives, and it’s a lot easier and cheaper than printing a book. Plus, when you find new information on your family, you easily can burn an updated disc.
Additionally, Legends has added a feature for backing up your files to a CD or DVD, but this utility isn’t fully developed yet — there’s no function to convert the backup file back into a regular Family Tree Legends file. Not to worry, though: If you have online access, you can store your data on a secure Internet server with Legends’ free real-time Internet backup included with the product. (Family Tree Maker 2006 <www.familytreemaker.com> charges a fee after the first 90 days to use its similar feature.) Or you can always manually save your files to CD.
For handheld computer users, Legends now lets you load your family tree files on your PDA for easy access on the road: The program comes bundled with both GedStar <www.ghcssoftware.com> genealogy software for Palm handheld devices and Pocket Genealogist <www.northernhillssoftware.com> for the Pocket PC. Simply create a GEDCOM file in Legends and transfer the data to your handheld device.
Legends is particularly easy to use and its innovative Smart Matching technology — which weeds out irrelevant results when the software searches the Gen Circles <www.gencircles.com> pedigree database — produces remarkably accurate matches. Expanded charting options, shareable CDs and DVDs and handheld support make Legends 5.0 one of the best genealogy programs overall, and a worthwhile upgrade for existing users.
Family Tree Legends 5.0
Price: $49.95 to $99.95; $1 9.95 for upgrade
Biggest draws: Large selection of charts and reports, shareable CDs and DVDs, handheld support, ease of use
Drawbacks: No photo descriptions on printed scrapbooks, incomplete CD and DVD file backup feature
From the April 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.