Click here for reviews of Family Historian (including screenshots).
Family Historian is a new kind of family tree program, with a new and different design philosophy. It was launched at the Society of Genealogists Family History Fair at Westminster, London in May 2002. To find out more about Family Historian read the reviews including that published in Family Tree Magazine (May 2002) by genealogy software expert John Hanson, and discover why he believes that "there is a lot that ... makes this program stand out from the rest".
Family Historian has several unique features that are really powerful and user-friendly. For example, add people to your database by simply clicking and dragging away (up, sideways or down) from an existing person in a tree. That's right, data entry in the trees themselves, just as you would on paper!
Family Historian comes with a 48 page Quick Start Tutorial in the box, to get you started using the program. It also comes with a 141 page User Manual in the form of an Adobe Acrobat document which is installed when you install Family Historian. You can print this yourself if you wish, or read it online. The User Manual is a complete and comprehensive document that takes you through all of Family Historian's extensive functionality. Its philosophy is that the best way to learn is by example, so each chapter can be worked through as a little tutorial in its own right, if you wish. In addition to the Quick Start Tutorial and the User Manual, there is also extensive, context-sensitive Online Help. We, TWR Computing, provide our customers with free unlimited support and advice by telephone and e-mail, normally 8am to 8pm 7 days a week. There is also an excellent e-mail discussion list devoted to Family Historian, including participation from the author of Family Historian himself!Superb Diagrams
We believe that Family Historian offers the best diagram (or chart) facilities of any family tree application. In Family Historian, diagrams are tightly integrated into the way you work. You use them not just for printing, but also for browsing and editing. As well as Ancestor, Descendant and ‘Hourglass' diagrams, Family Historian also has a unique All Relatives diagram, which really does allow you to view all your relatives (including in-laws) in a way that looks great and is easy to understand. Relatives of the same type (all first cousins, all second cousins, etc) are laid out in the same row; so you can read off how people are related, from the (optional) row labels. Family Historian Sets a New Standard with its Support for Pictures and Multimedia
In Family Historian, not only can you add as many pictures as you like for each person, you can add a picture once and link it to each person in the picture. You can even link each person to their own face in the picture, and show just faces in diagrams without having to ‘crop' your pictures. We believe that Family Historian is the only family tree application to support this and yet it is really an essential feature if you wish to work with pictures. You can also add sounds, video and any other kind of multimedia. You can even add links to other family tree files.A Powerful and Sophisticated Query Engine
A ‘query' allows you to extract whatever data you want from your family tree file. For example, you could use a query to get any of the following information:
What were the ages at death of X's ancestors in the 19th Century?
What boys names have been used by the descendants of Y?
Who are your relatives and what are the 5 closest ways that you are related to each of them
(if you are related to them more than once)?
Family Historian comes with a set of standard queries, but you can easily create your own, to get whatever information you want from your own data. Every query can be displayed in a spreadsheet-like grid, printed as a report, output to a file, or copied to the clipboard for easy transfer to other programs (such as a word-process or spreadsheet). Queries can also be used in other ways. For example, if you wished to split a family tree file you could use a query to define the split. You can also run a query to select pictures to view (e.g. show me all pictures of the female descendants of Z).100% GEDCOM
GEDCOM is the universal standard format for shared genealogical data; but applications vary significantly in how well they support it. Family Historian is, we believe, unique in being 100% GEDCOM compatible, and 100% GEDCOM complete. ‘100% GEDCOM compatible' means that Family Historian can save all of its data to the GEDCOM (5.5) format. In fact, Family Historian uses GEDCOM as its own native file format. ‘100% GEDCOM complete' means that Family Historian can load all records and fields (or tags as they are called in GEDCOM) from a GEDCOM (5.5) file including other applications' extensions to GEDCOM. You might think that 100% completeness is the least you should expect; but it is not what you usually get. We know of no other application that comes close. Other family tree applications simply discard records and fields that they cannot load. Some will tell you when they do this. Some won't.Excellent Support for Sources
Where did you get your information from? It's a very good idea to record not just the facts, but where the information came from your sources. Your data will be much more useful to you, and valuable to others, if you know this. Family Historian makes it very easy both to record source information (with its automatic source citations) and also to view it.A Unique Merge/Compare Facility
Family Historian allows you to compare any two GEDCOM files side-by-side so that you can see exactly where and how they differ. We know of no other family tree application that offers this facility. Having compared them, you can then if you wish use Family Historian to merge them. Some family tree applications provide no support for merging records at all. Other family tree applications let you merge records, but only one-at-a-time. We consider that this is analogous to being asked to sign a contract one clause at a time. Only Family Historian allows you to do a full file merge; so that you make all the decisions about how the files are to be merged, and can see exactly what the outcome of the merge process will be, before you start any of it. You can if you wish leave everything to Family Historian or you can view how Family Historian proposes to do the merge, and override any aspect of it in any way you like. Or you can do everything yourself manually if you prefer, using the information provided in the compare process.Events & Attributes
With Family Historian you can record full details of any events in the lives of the individuals or families in your files. Family Historian comes with a large number of pre-defined events for you to select from (birth, death, baptism, marriage, divorce, etc), but you can easily create any new event types that you wish, and use them exactly like standard events. Attributes are facts about a person e.g. their religion, where they lived, what they did. Again, Family Historian comes with a large number of standard attributes, but you can easily add your own. Family Historian has no built-in support for disease history, for example. If that's what you want no problem. Just add whatever attributes and events you need, and quickly see at a glance, who's had what, when, and how old they were at the time. Reports
Family Historian comes with 28 queries when installed, all of which can be printed as reports. As discussed in the 'Query Engine' section above, users can create their own custom queries, and thereby (because all queries can be printed as reports) create their own custom reports. In reports based on queries, the data is laid out in rows and columns, and you get one row for each record returned by the query. Traditional genealogy reports, such as the Family Group Sheet or Individual Summary Report, cannot be generated in this way, and are not included in the current release, 2.0.7, of Family Historian. However, they will be included in the next release, 2.1, which will be available as a free download from the Internet, to purchasers of 2.0.7.Notes & Documents
You can have as many notes as you like about each individual in your family tree file (this is in addition to notes relating to specific events or attributes). Often, in practice, when an individual marries, you will wish to make notes that apply both to them and to their spouse. Sometimes you will wish to write notes that apply to a number of individuals. Family Historian supports all of these scenarios. It also allows you to see at a glance, and read, all the notes that are relevant to a given individual and, of course, provide source citations for all of them. But if a note is not enough, you can also link your records to entire documents, written using your preferred word-processor, which you can store separately or embed in your family tree file. No Limits
Each user can have an unlimited number of spouses, children, sets of parents, pictures, multimedia, notes, source citations, and so on. You can store multiple, possibly conflicting versions of most items of data, such as names, dates, places, etc.; and you can assess the reliability of each version.Ease of Use
Family Historian is very easy to use. It incorporates many recent advances in user-interface design. Unlimited numbers of
- Images of documents
- Multimedia objects
NEW FEATURES INTRODUCED IN VERSION 2.1.6(1) A New Reports Menu, a New Reports Window and 17 New Reports
The new reports include (2) A New Facility for Creating Named Lists
The Reports Window allows you to preview any report and browse it online. While doing so, you can switch back to any other Family Historian window without having to close the Reports Window. You can even have multiple Report Windows open at the same time if you want to. You can change almost every aspect of report 'on the fly'. For example, you can change the style, format, page layout and the content (which fields are displayed, etc.) within the Report Options dialog, while viewing the report, and watch the report update immediately to reflect your changes when you click 'Apply'. You can change which records are selected for the report, and even change the actual data upon which the report is based (e.g. if you spot a mistake) - all without having to close the Reports Window. If the underlying data is changed, the window will update immediately to display the new changed data. You will be required to refresh the report by clicking on 'Rebuild Report' once, before you actually print it, however. Reports have very flexible support for pictures and sources. You can, for example, display a picture of a family at the top of a family report, and then print pictures of faces taken from the family picture down the side, next to each family member in the detailed sections below. You can also print pictures of sources, and even of source citations, alongside the source listings if you wish to. Most Family Historian reports can display information for multiple records. There is a new Record Selector Dialog to help you select records for reports. The Record Selector Dialog lets you select records from a normal records list or from Named Lists (see next section). It also lets you use queries to select the records you want ('queries' are stored instructions for retrieving data - you can create your own or use standard ones).
- Individual Summary Report
- Family Group Sheet
- Ancestor Outline
- Descendant Outline
- Source Summary Report
- Individual Census Report
- List Report
- ...and many more, including record detail reports which include all the data in a given record. All reports can be saved in HTML (World Wide Web) format, RTF (Rich Text Format - supported by word-processors such as MS Word), or plain text. The reports are fully configurable. You can create custom reports, using any existing report as a template.
It is frequently useful to be able to create lists of records for various purposes. For example, you might want a list of bookmarks, a list of work-in-progress records, a list of key people or famous people, a ToDo list - or even specifically, a ToDo list for a given planned trip to a particular record office. Family Historian now lets you create as many lists of records as you like. Support for Named Lists (so-called because you give each one a unique name), is integrated into the Records Window, which now supports multiple selection, making it very easy to add records to lists, or to find records from a Named List (you just double-click on the list item). You can add a note to every item in a Named List. For example, if the list was a ToDo list, you could add a note to say what you wanted to do with the record in question. All lists can hold records of any type - not just Individual records. You can keep lists in any order you like. A new List Report will print off lists, including the list note (if any) and list item notes (if any). Support for Named Lists is integrated into the program generally. For example, as mentioned in the previous section, you can access them when selecting records for reports in the Record Selector Dialog. You can also add to them from the same dialog. You can add any record to a Named List from anywhere within the program. Named Lists are designed to work well with queries. You can use Named Lists as filters within queries, or use the output of a query to modify a Named List.(3) A New Tools Menu Facility to allow you to Re-order out of Sequence Data
Using this facility you can re-order any out-of-sequence events/attributes, children, spouses, and LDS ordinances within your file. You can either let Family Historian do them all in one go, or ask for confirmation before each record is re-ordered. You can also manually re-order events/attributes in the Events tab of the Property Dialog (new button on toolbar to support this). Previous restrictions on the order in which events and attributes could be stored have been removed. You can request that updated records be added to a Named List.(4) New Backup/Restore Facility
Backups are stored in a standard Winzip format. You get prompted to backup at the end of every session (unless you choose not to be). (5) Fast-find Edit Controls for Name and/or Record Id in the Records Window
These controls are also available in most contexts where you need to select/find a record. To find an individual, "John Smith", in an Individual records list, for example, you type "Smith, John". If there are multiple John Smiths, press F3 to move forward through each of them.(6) A Number of New Preferences Options
(7) Improved Support for Dates
- An Auto-Save facility
- You can specify a default file to open when Family Historian is started.
- You can specify a default folder to look in when using File/Open to locate Family Historian/ GEDCOM files.
- You can specify a default backup folder to save backups to.
- Option to Auto-add Father's Surname when adding child (doesn't apply to 'low-level' editing in the Records Window, but works in the Property Dialog and the Diagram Window).
- Option to store Family records ahead of Individual records in the GEDCOM file (default now is Individuals first). Some 3rd-party applications will not work if the records are not in the order they expect.
- Option to say if you want surnames in capitals or not (if yes, you get them everywhere; if no, nowhere - much simpler than old system).
- Ability to specify which Named Lists are 'auto-create' - ie. should be created in any file, even if not already there.
- Option to stop Family Historian automatically registering itself as the default GEDCOM application.
- Option to stop the Family Historian splash panel appearing. The 'Splash panel' is the box containing the product name that appears when the application starts up.
You now have a choice of 6 different formats in which dates can be displayed in diagrams, reports and queries. It has also been made easier to copy Family Historian date information into other programs. The problem before was that Family Historian supports more complex date information than spreadsheets or database programs can usually deal with. Family Historian now allows you to effectively split a Family Historian date into 3 separate items of information which you can output from a query and copy into, for example, 3 columns in a spreadsheet..(8) Sundry Other Enhancements
- New 'Unlink' menu command on the Edit Menu
- Mouse Wheel support with most record lists
- Added Address field to the Events tab
- Added Birth/Baptism/Christening/Death/Burial fields to Details tab, plus other fields
- 'Email' and 'Web' fields now added to the Property Dialog for Repositories
- New qualifiers make it easy to display different parts of names in Diagrams, Queries and Reports
- Improvements to the Exception Report
- The Records Window now shows dates for Individual records in an improved format
- You can use Ctrl-K and Ctrl-L as alternative 'hot keys' to zoom diagrams in and out (alternatives that is to + and - on the numeric keypad). Useful for laptops which don't have numeric keypads.
Family Historian version 3 will run under Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista.
Version 3 will not run under Windows 95 or Windows NT4.
Family Historian version 2 is a 32-bit Windows application. That means it will run under Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows NT4, Windows XP.
Family Historian will not run under Windows 3.1 or earlier versions of Windows. Family Historian will also not run under any Windows NT 3.51 or earlier versions of Windows NT.
A CD-ROM drive is required to read the CD-ROM that Family Historian is installed from and approximately 15Mb of hard disk space to store the program and accompanying files.
Family Historian will run quite happily on any PC that meets the minimum requirements of Windows itself. However, it is designed to make the best use of your PC's capabilities and a low-spec PC may struggle if you work with large files, or if you wish to work with large diagrams displaying large numbers of pictures (especially if the pictures used are large).
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