Powerful charting has always been Family Tree Maker ‘s (FTM) hallmark. The popular software from Genealogy.com lets you design and print an assortment of graphical family trees, all customizable with your choice of backgrounds, borders, fonts and colors. The latest upgrade, version 10, builds on the program’s strengths with several enhancements focusing on graphics:
• PDF Output — You can save charts and reports in PDF format, which preserves all your fonts, formatting and pictures. E-mail your chart or report to relatives and they’ll see it exactly as you designed it. They won’t need FTM, a word processor or graphics software — just the free Adobe Acrobat Reader for PC or Mac (download at <www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html>). You can also have a commercial printer output your PDF chart on a large sheet of paper for a family reunion.
• Family Tree Templates — Choose from 10 nicely designed chart styles incorporating fonts, layouts and background images, all coordinated for a pleasing effect. You might select the Elegant template with a fleur-de-lis background, the New World template with an image of Europe and a ship (shown above right) or the USA Flag template for a patriotic look.
• Enhanced Photo Editing — New controls let you adjust brightness, contrast and color saturation, and correct red eye.
Other new features in FTM 10 focus on research and reporting:
• Date Calculator — FTM finally gets this handy tool, long a standard feature in most genealogy software. It’s especially useful for calculating your ancestor’s date of birth when the gravestone gives you only a date of death and age in years, months and days.
• Standard Pedigree Tree — Simple pedigree charts filed in a three-ring notebook show you the key names, dates and places in your family history at a glance. Most programs print pedigree charts with four to six generations on a page, each numbered so you can follow any line from one chart to another. If you don’t have information on a particular branch, most can leave chart numbers available for when you find details on those families. But FTM’s version fits no more than three generations on a numbered pedigree chart and numbers all charts consecutively. When you discover another branch of your family, you may have to reprint all your charts with new numbers.
• RTF Reports — Although they’re billed as a new feature, RTF (rich-text format) reports were actually available in FTM 9 and look the same in version 10. The benefit of RTF is that it preserves formatting such as fonts and page layout. Before printing a book-style report, you can edit it with your word processor to rephrase awkward sentences, add pictures and even reformat the whole document into two columns. But you can’t easily create an index of names in FTM’s RTF Genealogy Report, and that renders it virtually useless.
Many genealogists will appreciate FTM 10’s new tree designs, enhanced photo editing and PDF output, even though it’s not the best program to organize your research. Current users will find the improvements worth the $19.99 to upgrade. The program alone costs new users $29.99; you can also buy editions that pair the program with Genealogy.com’s online subscription offerings (prices range from $49.99 to $99.99). If you’re upgrading and bought online subscriptions with your last version, you’ll have to pay full price to keep your access.
All editions of FTM 10 require Windows 98 or higher, 16MB RAM and 125MB hard disk space. Order from (800) 548-1806 or <www.familytreemaker.com>.
From the December 2002 Family Tree Magazine.