Family Tree Maker 2009 is the friendliest and most popular genealogy program on the market. The design gives you a fast start on building your family tree using seven screens or Workspaces. You'll do most of your work in the People Workspace, which has three views–pedigree, family and individual. You can easily customize both individual and shared facts for any individual.
When you choose to add a shared fact, the information will automatically appear in the linked individual's fact sheet. Plus, the program alerts you to potential problems with your entries.
The Places Workspace helps you choose a location from a list of places after you have several generations added to your family tree. A large interactive map, powered by Microsoft Virtual Earth, lists all of the people on your tree associated with that place.
To fill out the history associated with different generations of your ancestors, you can add significant world events, such as wars and natural disasters, to your timeline. And a Web clipper that lets you merge data into your tree from the Internet.
To take full advantage of Family Tree Maker's features, you must join Ancestry.com, the leading online site for genealogy research, and pay a monthly fee of $19.95 or the discounted rate of $156 if you pay for a year. By doing this, you'll have access to a wide variety of information sources, each rated on a scale of one to five.
Legacy Deluxe 7.0 from Millenium Corporation is another great program with lots of customizable features. With it you choose the level of detail and accuracy you want. The Research Guidance feature increases the odds of discovering new members of your family. Legacy also provides tools to help you check facts and will show inconsistencies. There's also a
missing information search feature, which allows you to search your family history and find only those missing a specific piece of information.
As with Family Tree Maker, Legacy offers three family tree views, plus you can choose to import from a Genealogical Data Communications (GEDCOM) file or start a family tree from scratch. After adding individuals on the Family View or on the Pedigree View, you can pull up the individual's information and add siblings, spouses, and children. Select events from a drop down menu—you can add ‘as is,' edit and add, or create a new event to add to an individual. New events are retained in the Master Event List. The program also offers color-coding to make it easier to trace your ancestoral lines.
Legacy lets you rate each source on a scale from zero to four or simply check the box to indicate the source has been verified.
You can generate a variety of reports, including ancestor, descendant, fan, hourglass, bow tie, and even DNA charts in Legacy's Report pane. You can also create a variety of charts using its charting feature, customize them with themes, colors, lines, borders, and backgrounds, then save them as PDF files.
And while Legacy may offer the most features, it's a bit more technically complicated than Family Tree Maker. The Standard Edition of Legacy is free, but grays out many of the its customizable features.