Most Americans turn to homegrown genealogy software to organize their research, but imported programs are catching up in the marketplace and merit your consideration. Version 2.1 of Calico Pie’s Family Historian, one of the most popular genealogy programs in Great Britain, boasts several major improvements and some features you won’t find in American programs. Here’s how Family Historian measures up in a few key areas:
• Graphic charts — Like most genealogy programs, Family Historian helps you create attractive family tree charts. But in this program, the charts aren’t just for printing — they’re interactive, and you can use them to edit your family information. Just click and drag the chart’s boxes to add relatives. Double-click on a name, edit the person’s information, and it’s immediately updated on the chart. While viewing a multigeneration chart, you can edit an individual’s details in another window. That lets you see the big picture and details at the same time.
You can customize charts with your choice of design, colors, boxes, pictures, text and titles. With a single click of the mouse, you can expand or hide individual tree branches. And in addition to the standard ancestor and descendant charts, Family Historian’s All Relatives diagram shows one person’s relationships to the rest of the family.
• Reports — Version 2.1’s 17 new reports include a Family Group Sheet with pictures, Individual Summary Report, Ancestor Outline and Descendant Outline. These reports can show events in chronological order and make handy timelines for individuals. Unlike most other programs, Family Historian shows the person’s age at the time of each event.
You can save all reports in HTML format for publishing on the Web, in Rich Text Format for editing with a word processor or in plain text. You also can preview all reports before printing.
• Pictures — If you have an image depicting more than one person, you can save the picture in your family tree file once and then link each person in your chart to that picture. You also can link each family member to his or her face in the image without having to crop the picture. That means a family group sheet can show a picture of the whole family at the top and a face from the picture beside each individual’s information.
• Queries — What are the most popular boys’ and girls’ names in your family? Which families had the most children? Which relative lived the longest? Family Historian can analyze your data to answer these and other questions using built-in queries, or you can design your own.
Family Historian supports all GEDCOM tags (GEDCOM is the universal file format for exchanging data between genealogy programs), so it successfully imports most data from other software. This version also does a good job of documenting sources and makes it easy to back up and restore family files.
The program still lacks some important features, though. You can’t print numbered pedigree charts, and Web pages don’t include a names index or contact information. Plus, when you create a GEDCOM file, there’s no easy way to specify how many generations you want to include. But overall, Family Historian has enough features to suit most genealogists, and its unique chart-based interface makes it easy to visualize your family tree as you grow it.
Family Historian 2.1 requires Windows 95 or higher and costs 49.95 pounds (about $82). For purchase information, visit <www.family-historian.co.uk>. You also can download a free trial version.