Friday, August 10, 2007

Family Tree Maker 2008 Beta Reports and Books

NOTE: Family Tree Maker 2008 has been released and is no longer in beta or available for download.

**The Genealogy software program Family Tree Maker 2008 is available at The Ancestry Store and is constantly being updated and improved. **

I am still giving the FTM 2008 beta a test drive. I have already talked about my :

So far, from what I have seen, I like working in the new FTM 2008. It has many new features, and after getting used to the new layout, I find it is easier to use than the previous versions.

Yesterday I started looking at the books and reports.

Reports and Charts
According to the help section, the charts and reports available are on the FTM 2008 beta are:

  • Pedigree Chart,

  • Descendant Chart,

  • Relationship Chart,

  • Individual Report,

  • Custom Report,

  • LDS Ordinance Report,

  • Research Note Report,

  • Task List Report,

  • Place Usage,

  • Media Item Report,

  • Photo Album,

  • Media Usage Report,

  • Source Usage Report,

  • Source Bibliography,

  • Documented Facts Report,

  • Family Group Sheet,

  • Kinship Report,

  • Marriage Report,

  • Parentage Report,

  • Outline Descendant Report.

  • Workspace Report.

The most interesting new chart to me is the Relationship Chart which shows the connecting people between two related individuals in tree format. It is a great visual chart to send to family members who don't understand relationships such as First cousin 2x Removed in-law. (That is the name of the relationship listed on the first Relationship Chart I created.)

Most reports can be toggled to either show all individuals, immediate family or selected individuals.

The Genealogy Reports, the Register and Ahnentafel Reports, are not in the beta but I have heard they will be added at a later point. Great reporting has always been the hallmark of FTM, so I suspect that the genealogy reports and other reports will continue to be added even after the release. Let the developers of FTM at the email address at Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA know if there are any reports you want to see added.

Reports can be printed, saved, or shared. You can create a report as a PDF, CVS, RTF, HTML or create the report as an image in BMP, EMF, BMP, WMF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, or TIFF format You can print it, export it, send it to Ancestry or Ancestry Press, or email it from within the program to family, friends or yourself.

I used this email feature to send myself reports to my gmail account to permanently archive them. Having lived through a lot of hurricanes in the last few years, I believe that I can never have to0 many backups in different formats. But the internal email also simplifies mailing reports to family.

When I downloaded the first FTM2008 beta, the program said that books were "coming soon". In the latest beta, the books are through the free AncestryPress which is also in beta. This makes the books in FTM 2008 beta quite different from the books produced from FTM16.

With AncestryPress, you design customized pages online and print them at home. Since these books are so different from previous versions of FTM, you might want to head over to take a look at AncestryPress and give it a try. You don't have to have the FTM2008 beta to try AncestryPress. If you have a tree at the site, you can create a book at AncestryPress from that. With AncestryPress, you create pages of the book from your own design or one of the design templates provided. You will find individual timelines, family group sheets, military draft cards, census records, and passenger list records templates. Here is a look at the templates. I think the AncestryPress templates will make very attractive books.

There are disadvantages I see to books from Ancestry Press. Because the books are so different from older versions of FTM16, these FTM16 and older books do not transfer to FTM2008. At least, I couldn't get mine to transfer. If you have a lot of complicated books already created in older versions of FTM, this is a consideration. FTM tech support have been telling callers that FTM 16 style books will be available in a later FTM release. To me that means that they will be continuing to work on 2008. Another consideration is that AncestryPress books are designed online so someone with a dial-up connection may have difficulty creating the books.

When you create a book, you upload your tree to the Ancestry Press and you have to unclick the button to keep your tree private. If you forget, you can go back to manage tree to make your tree private. When I unclick the button so that I do not make the tree public, this is the message I get :

When you choose not to share your tree, you potentially miss out on opportunities to collaborate with other members and grow your tree. Even if you don't share your tree, other members can still learn if a specific deceased individual is in your tree, in addition to the birth year and birthplace of the person and your username (but no personal information about you). They can then contact you anonymously through Ancestry's Connection Service to request more information. Keep in mind that members who want to learn from your tree may also have helpful information about your tree to offer you in exchange.

I uploaded my tree from FTM2008 to try out the new books. Each book that was automatically generated contains up to 4 generations. The book starts with a four generation pedigree chart followed by a family group sheet for each family and a timeline for each person. Each person's notes are added to the timeline. The notes section on the timeline wasn't large enough to hold all my notes, so I created a blank page and copied the rest of my notes there. Everything on each page can be edited. Just double click on the item and it can be edited, moved, or deleted. Pages for records can be added to the book.

I decided to try a passenger list record template to add to my book. I pulled the copy of the Ellis Island passenger list and image of the ship from my file (both of which came from my subscription). Then I copied a sentence from my notes about the immigration.

I could play with the layout and make the images any size. I could choose to position the images any place on the page. I cropped most of the black edges off the passenger lists. I changed the font and made it bold. The template is very flexible.

Because it is in beta, the AncestryPress website lists changes and improvements that are coming soon. These include "photo books, family history books, calendars, project sharing gallery, posters, greeting cards, gift products, professional printing and binding, additional page sizes, more themes and backgrounds, more templates".

Most importantly, the site lists "books from Family Tree Maker® reports and charts" as a coming soon improvement. Right now, each book created in FTM 2008 builds a 4 generation "ancestors of" tree or a combination tree of "ancestors of and descendants of". More generations can be added, but you build the book 4 generations at a time. With this, I can see that while creating multiple books to encompass every one in my tree might give me a lot of flexibility when I distribute books to various family members, it would become very unwieldy if I had a large family tree file. To be fair, Ancestry Press is still in beta, and they say "In the future, we tend to offer users more flexibility in selecting the number of generations that are automatically included in a book."

I think AncestryPress beta has a lot of potential but there is still a lot still marked as coming soon. Things are being added quickly at Ancestry Press, however. Yesterday, I wanted to try a combination tree which was marked as "coming soon" and today it is available.

There is a feedback button available on the upper right corner of your AncestryPress pages. Be sure to use it to give your opinions while Ancestry Press in is beta. Ancestry Press is just beginning so please share your thoughts and suggestions and help them keep making improvements.

Here is a Flash Demo of Ancestry Press which gives a visual tour . Seeing books being created gives a much better idea of how it works than my description.

Family Tree Maker 2008

1 comment:

Linda said...

The current status of the reports and the books are the biggest reason I will not upgrade to FTM 2008. Here are some more specific thoughts and opinions.

1) GENEALOGY REPORT NOT IN 2008- The genealogy reports are not in the Beta and customer service has told me that the developers did not meet the deadline for the August release but they will be added to a future release. That is inexcusible to exclude core reporting functionality!
2) OTHER REPORTS - Another report I commonly use is the Outline Descendant report which in the Beta does not have the options to add details. As someone stated, with the last Beta dated July 25th, there is little chance all reports will contain the same features we are used to. I found option boxes for some of the reports to be non-functional and basic report options unavailable for some of the reports.
3) OFFLINE BOOK FUNCTION REMOVED- Although I didn't use the book function a lot, I don't like the fact that they have taken it our of the offline feature capabilities. I uploaded 11 people into the beta version of Ancestry Press. It was slow and there was very little to show for the big hoopla! I took the Ancestry Press visual tour and still was unimpressed.

4) DATA USAGE BY ANCESTRY - FTM customer service says they don't use our data yet you have to agree to it being distributed when you upload it. I've always been reluctant to let Ancestry use my data ever since personal identification data showed up on a World Connect file once and Ancestry refused to delete it. I had trouble getting a hold of the contributor to delete it. Also, with people sending data with errors that they don't initially see until it is in report form, how much unvalidated data is going to be out there. In many cases, I'm unable to contact a submitter due to no email address or a bad address.

4) BASIC WINDOW FEATURES NOT IN BETA - The basic windows function of Copy and Paste is not availabe in FTM 2008. I don't want to have to generate an .rtf report; copy the data into another document; and then have to delete the .rtf report. I don't need all those temporary use files on my computer and the extra time to create them.

In addition The find and replace function is gone as well as the Name Find function that enables you to search for someone known by their middle name.

In summary, I am very disappointed in Family Tree Maker and choose not to upgrade this time. The have mistepped before with their releases but in my opinion, releasing in mid-August will be a big mistake. There are too many kinks.