Soft Serve

By Lauren Eisenstodt Premium

Does your family history comprise stacks of printouts from Web sites, handwritten charts, piles of old photos and scraps of paper? If so, it’s time to invest in a genealogy software program. Not only can these programs help you get organized, but they also can turn those scraps of paper into attractive charts and family albums you can show off to kith and kin. What’s more, the latest genealogy technology lets you put your research on the Web, so you can share data with other researchers, using GEDCOM files (the universal file format for exchanging family trees). And even if you’re not a computer whiz, these programs make entering and displaying data a breeze.

Already have family tree ware? Consider upgrading: We got the scoop on all the latest versions of your favorite software. 

• Ancestral Quest 11

Incline Software, (800) 825-8864, <>

$34.95 download or $39.95 CD-ROM. Requires Windows 95 or higher, 8 to 35MB hard disk space and 8MB RAM. Ancestral Quest’s easy navigation and terrific reporting capabilities make it one of the best programs for organizing your research. And this latest version’s new features — the ability to save reports in PDF format, the option to automatically search’s online databases for names in your files, the new Direct Line Descendant chart and an improved source-citation system — make the program even better. Ancestral Quest is compatible with Personal Ancestral File (PAF), and it’s similar to Ancestry Family Tree and Family Trees Quick & Easy, which are both based on Ancestral Quest version 3.0 (see right). The core program also is identical to Heritage Family Tree Deluxe 3.0 (Individual Software, 800-822-3522, <>, $39.95), which comes with a bonus program: Progeny Software’s Charting Companion. That means you get all Ancestral Quest’s capabilities, plus Charting Companion’s excellent charting features and book-format reports. You get a free three-month subscription to, too. Requires Windows 98 or higher, 6 to 45MB hard disk space and 32MB RAM.

• Ancestry Family Tree

My, (800) 262-3787, <>

Free download. Requires Windows 95 or higher, 10MB hard disk space and 32MB RAM. When genealogy giant (see page 30) debuted this freeware (based on Ancestral Quest 3.0) two years ago, family historians took notice. Not only does Ancestry Family Tree make organizing and displaying your family data easy, it also searches’s online databases for names in your pedigree. Some databases require a subscription to, but others anyone can access for free. Read our review in the June 2002 Family Tree Magazine.

Also based on Ancestral Quest 3.0, Family Trees Quick & Easy 5.0 (Individual Software, 800-822-3522, <www.individualsoftware. com>, $19.95) is a cinch to navigate and creates well-designed charts. But Family Trees Quick & Easy has some features that its sibling software lacks, such as compatibility with PAF, and source and repository merging. Requires Windows 95 or higher, 6MB hard disk space and 16MB RAM.

• Family Historian 2.1

Calico Pie,, <>

49.95 pounds (about $82). Requires Windows 95 or higher and 15MB hard disk space. Like most genealogy programs, this popular British export helps you create attractive family tree charts. The difference here is that you can edit your family information right in the charts. That way, you can update an individual’s information while seeing the big family picture. Family Historian also lets you customize and add pictures to charts, and create 17 types of reports. Read our review in the October 2003 Family Tree Magazine.

Family Tree Legends 2.0

Pearl Street Software, <>

$49.95. (Note: this software is no longer being produced; it’s available as a free download.) Requires Windows 95 or higher, 20MB hard disk space and 32MB RAM. From the creators of the popular Gen Forum <> and Gen Circles <> Web sites, Family Tree Legends is one of the most attractive, easy-to-use genealogy programs. While it creates a variety of reports and charts, the program’s best known for its innovative Internet features. It automatically backs up your data on secure servers, and helps you publish data on Gen Circles. Plus, it intelligently compares your ancestors ‘ names to the names in the Gen Circles pedigree database, so you can find more branches of your family tree. For a review of Family Tree Legends, see the December 2003 Family Tree Magazine.

• Family Tree Maker 11, (800) 548-1806, <>

$29.99 for the program only or $69.99 to $199.99 with online-database subscriptions. Requires Windows 98 or higher, 125MB hard disk space and 16MB RAM. This top-selling genealogy program will help you turn your data into charts, books, reports and online scrapbooks customized to suit your tastes. Version 11 also lets you back up your data on CD, export your reports to Excel and other spreadsheet applications, copy and paste between files, and view two files side-by-side. Read our review in the February 2004 Family Tree Magazine.

• GEDitCOM 3.55

RSAC Software,, <>

$49.99. Requires Mac OS 8.1 or higher. One of the few genealogy programs available for Macs, GEDitCOM doesn’t translate GEDCOM files into its own file format, as other programs do. Instead, this shareware program creates GEDCOM files and then reads them directly, so you don’t lose data when you download or share files with other researchers. GEDitCOM is free as just a file browser, but you’ll have to pay for the souped-up version, which includes upgrades. Read our review of GEDitCOM in the December 2001 Family Tree Magazine.

• Heredis 7.2

BSD Concept,, <>

Free Standard Edition or $29.90 Premium Edition. Requires Windows 98 or higher, 27MB hard disk space and 32MB RAM. A new Mac version requires OS 9.1 or X. This French program creates beautiful family tree charts in several formats (even in 3-D), and lets you record any events in an ancestor’s life. The free Standard Edition offers these features with no data-entry limits. We suggest trying it first — then decide if you want to invest in the more-advanced Premium Edition.

• Legacy Family Tree 5.0

Millennia Corp., (800) 753-3453, <>

Free downloadable Standard Edition; Deluxe Edition $19.95 to download, $29.95 on CDROM with manual or $49.95 on CD-ROM with three training CDs. Requires Windows 95 or higher, 40MB hard disk space and 64MB RAM (128MB RAM recommended). Strong source-citing and photo-editing capabilities, a variety of printed reports and a handy to-do-list function make Legacy a great choice for most genealogy software needs.

The Master Genealogist 5.0

Wholly Genes, (877) 864-3264, <>

$79 Gold Edition or $39.95 Silver Edition. Requires Windows 95 or higher and 64MB RAM (256MB RAM recommended). If your primary goal is to get all of your family history data impeccably organized, look to The Master Genealogist. This program lets you record every family detail, properly cite sources and keep a research log. Once you’re organized, display your research in a colorful chart or, if you buy the Gold Edition, create a slide show. The software’s flexible-yet-complex interface is best for tech-savvy researchers. Read our review in the October 2002 Family Tree Magazine.

• Parentèle 3.1

Alsyd Multimedia,, <>

$59.95 Classic Edition or $79.95 Prestige Edition. Requires Windows 95 or higher, 30MB hard disk space and 16MB RAM. Want to publish your family tree on your own Web site or CD-ROM? The English-language version of this popular French software helps you do just that. And it offers dozens of customizable reports to boot. The program’s documentation capabilities could use some work, though. Read our review in the October 2001 Family Tree Magazine.

• Personal Ancestral File (PAF) 5.2

Family Search, (800) 537-5950, <>

Free download or $6 on CD-ROM. Requires Windows 95 or higher, 20 to 60MB hard disk space and 32MB RAM. This family tree freeware from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most powerful genealogy programs — and one of the most user-friendly, which makes it perfect for computer novices. Use it to organize your research and create basic reports and charts. To make fancier charts, spring for the add-on program, PAF Companion ($13.50, available from <> or <>). Learn more about PAF in the December 2002 Family Tree Magazine.

• Reunion 8

Leister Productions, (717) 697-1378, <>

$99.95. Requires Mac OS 8.5 or higher and 12MB hard disk space. A godsend to Mac users, Reunion 8 has a straightforward interface that makes entering family data a snap. And like most Windows-based genealogy software, it offers numerous options for displaying your data. If you have an earlier version, we suggest upgrading (for $59): Reunion 8 boasts additional chart-editing capabilities, search options and dozens of other new features. Read our review in the April 2003 Family Tree Magazine.

• Roots Magic

Formal Soft, (866) 467-6687, <>

$34.95 or $44.95 with printed manual. Requires Windows 95 or higher. A new kid on the software block, Roots Magic ranks up with the best genealogy programs in ease of use, reporting options and photo-editing capabilities. And if you’ve been looking to replace your Family Origins software (also from Formal Soft and now off the market), Roots Magic will import all data from that program. Read our review in the June 2003 Family Tree Magazine.

From the January 2004 Family Tree Magazine.