Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Create a Heritage Cookbook using AncestryPress

When my daughters got married, I gave each a collection of our favorite family recipes which I had typed into Microsoft Publisher, printed on my home computer, and put into a 3 ring blank recipe book I found at the local kitchen store. It wasn't just a book of recipes but also included the history of the recipe, when we usually served it, and family stories to go along with the meal. Since each of my daughters moved away, I told them the recipe book was a way of keeping the family close even when separated by miles.

I have since thought about expanding the favorite family recipe book to include heritage recipes. Each of my grandparents has a different ethnicity, and I wanted to do a recipe collection to highlight our heritage. I don't have the recipes for the dishes my immigrant grandmothers prepared (they cooked using the "dash of this" and "handful of that" until it "looked right" method), but with the Internet today, it is not hard to find recipes close to what they made.

So I was quite surprised to go to AncestryPress and find they had added a recipe cookbook template section! You can either send your completed book to AncestryPress to print, or print the recipes on your home computer for free. The completed pages are a lot more attractive than those I did with Microsoft Publisher years ago.

Creating the recipe pages are not intuitive in AncestryPress , so here are the instructions:

  • Go to and select “Make a family history book from scratch” under “Start a Project.”

  • Name your project and click on “Continue.”*

  • Once your project is created, click on “New Page.”

  • Select “Other Pages.”

  • Select the “Recipe Template” from the options provided.

  • Select the type of page you’d like to create:

  • For a cover page:

    • »» Add text for your title, subtitle and author.

  • For a recipe page without a photo:

      »» Add a recipe name in the title field.
      »» Add text for the “Ingredients” field.
      »» Add text for the “Directions” field.

  • For a recipe page with a photo:

    • »» Fill the photo field using photos from the “Family Tree” tab or the “Uploaded Photos” tab.
      »» Add a recipe name in the “Title” field.
      »» Add text for the “Ingredients” field.
      »» Add text for the “Directions” field.

  • Once you have completed your first page, select “Add a Page” and choose the type of page (from the drop-down menu) you’d like next in your Recipe book.

I think there are two types of heritage recipe books that would be great to create using AncestryPress .

  • Family Favorite Recipes - a collection of family recipes from the immediate family as well as favorites from parents, grandparents, aunts - recipes for holiday meals as well as other occasions when the whole family got together - also everyday family favorites. You can add photos and stories to the recipe pages.

  • Heritage Recipes - a collection of recipes from your family's country of origin. I plan to do four sections in my recipe book - German, French, Irish, and Hungarian/Romanian sections - one for each of my grandparents.

Recipe pages can be interspersed with a family pedigree chart, images of passenger lists and other family records. What a wonderful and yummy way to remember and honor your family history.

I think this is a great idea for a unique and meaningful Christmas present. I'm off to collect our heritage recipes, then I'll start creating the book.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Interview with Ben Nettesheim, FTM Brand Manager

I had an opportunity to speak with Benjamin Nettesheim, the FTM Brand Manager, and asked him if he would answer a few questions about the new Family Tree Maker 2008. Even though Ben has since started the Family Tree Maker blog, he still graciously took the time to answer my questions, some which have not been asked on the official blog. I applaud TGN's communication with the genealogy community. If you have a question that I didn't think to ask, please post the question in the new FTM 2008 blog. Here are my questions with Benjamin's answers.

Kathi: We've heard that some of the genealogy reports will be added to the program through Service Packs to be distributed as a free download in mid October. Can you tell us what reports are planned for the October patch? Can you tell us if you are planning additional Service Packs during the next year?

Ben: The October update is scheduled to include the Hourglass chart and the Vertical Ancestor chart. It is also scheduled to include Register and Ahnentafel reports. Additional Service Packs beyond this are not currently planned at this time.

Kathi: Some people, especially those with very large database files, have reported performance issues. Is this something that Ancestry will be able to address?

Ben: The first update that was released included some performance improvements. The October update will also include performance fixes. Additionally, we currently have a Family Tree Maker developer dedicated to looking into the issue further. This is something the development team is constantly working to improve.

Kathi: One of the things I miss the most is the search and replace feature. I also miss the global spell check and Facts spell check. Are there plans to add these features to FTM 2008?

Ben: We realize these are important features and are working hard to have these available in a future version of Family Tree Maker.

Kathi: Will more flexibility be added to the Place Name Authority allowing us to add historical place names, or add the word county or parish as a preference?

Ben: Likewise, this is something that is getting prioritized for a future version of Family Tree Maker.

Kathi: Does Ancestry plan to become FamilySearch Certified to interface with New Family Search (NFS) API?

Ben: This is another feature that is being evaluated for a future release of Family Tree Maker. At this point it is likely a lower priority then the last two feature sets that were mentioned.

Kathi: Some people are concerned about privacy using Ancestry Press for books and would prefer to build their books completely on their desktop computer. Are there plans for books that can be built on a person's own computer?

Ben: Yes there are. It was and still is our intention to include an offline book building solution similar to the one in previous versions of Family Tree Maker. Due to the complexity of this project, we anticipate it will not be ready until next year. We still plan to make it available free of charge to all Family Tree Maker 2008 customers.

Kathi: What plans are there for the plug-in option? Does Ancestry plan to publish the Family Tree Maker API for 3rd parties?

Ben: Family Tree Maker has published their API for 3rd parties. Some of them are currently developing plug-in products for Family Tree Maker. Anyone interested in this 3rd party API should contact Benjamin Nettesheim at The Generations Network.

Kathi: Because the program is so new and different with so many new features, are there plans to hold online classes to help people learn how to use the new program? What do you recommend as the best way to learn to use the new program?

Ben: A Webinar is scheduled for the evening of October 25th. It is a free online seminar that should run for no more than one hour starting at 8:30 p.m. EDT. The Family Tree Maker blog will have steps on signing up for the Webinar.

Training videos were also included as part of the Family Tree Maker 2008 package. In the past these were sold separately, however Family Tree Maker 2008 includes them for free as a DVD. We highly recommend watching them.

Finally, The Official Guide to Family Tree Maker 2008 is also available for sale in The Ancestry Store. This is a 380 page resource that gives step-by-step instructions to accomplish various tasks in Family Tree Maker 2008.

Kathi: What do you see as the major advantage of FTM 2008?

Ben: Personalization would be one. Family Tree Maker 2008 can give you whatever view you want, whether that be a pedigree view only, a family view only, or a combined view. We received a lot of feedback as to how frustrating it was to switch between the pedigree and family views. Family Tree Maker 2008 gives you either or both. Additionally you can adjust the index and edit panels.

Along those lines is the ability to see more information in a single view. Some customers have told us that they discovered they had more data than they were aware of because Family Tree Maker 2008 allowed for more information in a single view.

Another advantage is the huge global place name authority that provides consistent spelling for places as well as complete place name elements. The place mapping is also a nice addition.
The linking function is also very beneficial. It provides the ability to link a single source to many facts. You also have the ability to link a single media item to many people or facts. This is a huge time and computer resource saver.

Overall, in usability testing we found that beginner and advanced users had more success and faster success creating and building a tree with Family Tree Maker 2008 than with previous versions.

Kathi: Thanks, Ben, for taking time to answer my questions.

Family Tree Maker 2008

Monday, October 01, 2007

Family Tree Maker 2008 Tip - Index of Names

Family Tree Maker 2008 has had a complete program rebuild from the ground up giving the program a strong foundation for the next generation of FTM.

Because it is a completely new program, and not just an add-on upgrade to the old version, some things are done differently, and you may find it awkward at first trying to navigate in the new interface. So, I thought I would share some tips and tricks I have discovered as I have used the FTM2008.

Index of Names
To view the Index of Names, go to the People Work space (one of the seven work spaces available on the top bar) and click on the Family Tab.

Having the index always open is an efficient way to navigate to different people in your tree. Hover your cursor over anyone in the list and a pop-up window provides the full name, birth, marriage and death dates so you can more easily select between individuals with similar names. Clicking on an individual immediately changes the screen to that individual 's Pedigree and Facts.

The Index of Names is always on display on the Family Tab, but you can close or collapse the Index panel if you need to make the Family Screen fit better on your monitor or even if you just prefer less panels open on your screen.

To close the Index of Names, look at the top right side of the Index panel for the almost invisible vertical ..... ^..... When you hover over these 8 tiny dots with an arrow in the middle, it displays "Open / Close the left panel". Just click on the arrow to close the Index panel. If the Index panel is closed, simply click on the 8 tiny dots to open the Index panel again.

Index of Names Top Bar
The top bar of the Index of Names states the word Index: followed by the number of names in the Index. On the right side of that same bar is an icon of a house. Click on the house to go immediately to the Home Person.

Next to the house icon is an icon with three vertical bars. These bars means that an additional column can be displayed. You have a choice to add either the Birth date, Marriage Date or Date of Death. You can choose to show dates (for clarification) in the index or not show dates (to take up less screen space) and easily toggle back and forth between the two by clicking on the three vertical bars icon.

Family Tree Maker 2008