The majority of the software programs looked at in previous articles have dealt mainly with those used on-line. This article is going to deal with what we call "locally-used software" or software in which having an on-line connection is unnecessary. There are many types of these software programs available. While many of these are available for download on-line, these programs are often available in your local stores, i.e. Wal-mart, Target, Office Depot/Max, etc. One of the most popular of these programs is called Family Tree Maker.
The newest version of Family Tree Maker 2005 costs $29.95. There are many different versions available. Older versions may still be found in the aforementioned stores and/or on eBay. The 2005 version is available for purchase online through http://www.familytreemaker.com or http://www.ancestry.com.
The data entry portion of the software is similar to many other genealogical programs. The set-up of this page called the "Family View" page contains one generation. The top includes the father and mother. You may enter birth dates, death dates, marriage dates and places for all of these. Directly under these are icons for adding more information, i.e. pictures, video, documents, etc. At the bottom of the page, you enter all of the children of the union, their date of births, deaths and marriage.
This program also offers a "Pedigree View" where you may view up to seven generations at a time. The developers of Family Tree Maker have added a frame to the right of this view to help you navigate more quickly.
This program allows you to create detailed reports and trees. You may design and personalize your own family tree for sharing either via book form or on CD. This program allows you to use the images and photos you add, as well as the colors, fonts borders and box style choices given by the program. You can use your own creativity to create your family tree that shows your own personality and style. The finished product can go into a scrapbook or can be published into a book. The program allows you to create a CD or homepage to share your finished product with family and friends using the latest in technology.
In most previous versions, in addition to the software program, you were given CD's in which to conduct your research. Family Tree Maker is now working in conjunction with Ancestry.com to give you the most up-to-date information at all times. In the 2005 version Family Tree Maker has added an on-line component. You may enter your information off-line and then connect to the internet to conduct searches through Ancestry.com's One World Tree and World Family Tree. In addition, the program works in a while similar to Ancestry Family Tree in continuously searching the submitted trees for updates on information already entered into your tree. Family Tree Maker and Ancestry.com have added an icon that will appear by each name if there is information available on Ancestry.com. By clicking on this icon, you will be taken to the page with the information. You are provided with the facts you have entered to make comparisons easier. If the new information matches, you are given the option to merge the data and possibly make even more connections than before.
By logging onto http://www.familytreemaker.com, you will be given a video walk-through of the program that is extremely helpful. The program helps and tutorials are also a wonderful resource if you are having trouble with the program. The website also offers a Forum in which you can communicate with other users, which could be more helpful that trying to contact technical support. You will also receive automatic notifications when updates to the program are available for download.
Family Tree Maker 2005 appears to be very easy to use. I like the new format and the technology updates. I have used this program in the past as well, and it was always tough for me to keep track of the all the extra CD's and it was frustrating how quickly the information was out-of-date. The program updates provided by the developers is a wonderful advantage. One disadvantage to the program would be the necessity of joining Ancestry.com in order to gain access to much of the information. Overall, this program has made vast improvements and would be a great asset to beginners and experts alike.