Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Software Generated Family History

I've been comparing software generated modified descendant registers for creating a Family History. You can generate a book using this report. Once you've produced your report you can upload it to Internet Archive and share it with family.
I started out by using my own Rootsmagic program. I used the modified register report and added more photos for family members. It produced a nice layout, with lots of detail included in the family group layout. It also produced an index which is so helpful.

Rootsmagic Modified Descendant Register

I also downloaded a free trial of The Family Historian software. I created another modified register here. It produced a slightly different layout. I believe that company is based in the UK where they have a different protocol for the arrangement of the data. Rootsmagic provided more details for individuals at the family group level, whereas, Family Historian only gave date ranges, and no spouse info at this level. I could not manipulate the pictures in the Rootsmagic program, but could with Family Historian. I was able to make the pictures small, medium and large. I could also move them. I later found out I could change the size of the pictures at Rootsmagic by going into settings then options, and resizing them. I don't think you can move them in Rootsmagic?
Family Historian.

I like the uncluttered, neater, layout Family Historian produced. It's easier for family members to read. Here is the copy I contributed to Internet Archive: http://ia600800.us.archive.org/23/items/DescendantsOfAndrewForgeyAndMargaretReynolds/DescendantsOfAndrewForgeyFinal.pdf . Genealogists would probably prefer a more detail oriented layout like Rootsmagic.
I also tried Ancestral Quest's Modified Register which produced this layout:
Ancestral Quest
This report did not include spouses at the family group level. It's interesting that it did give info about sex. It's not as attractive as the other reports but readable. The default picture size is small.

Ancestral Quest  Index
Ancestral Quest like Rootsmagic generates an index. The index is even more detailed than Rootsmagic giving the ID number of each individual in addition to the page number and dates.
Legacy seems to generate a report similar to Ancestral Quest. It does have a more attractive layout with a larger default picture size.

It appears that the Legacy modified register doesn't have an index either.
Here is a sample of the same sort of report produced by The Master Genealogist:
The Master Genealogist Descendant Narrative

This report provides a substantial amount of info about individuals. It reads more like a word processor style document; the layout is basic no frills. 
I like the Rootsmagic and Family Historian layouts the best. I think the Rootsmagic version is excellent. The Family Historian layout is good to give to family members not that familiar with genealogy. They can quickly scan the info which is very simply layed out. Too much info, too cluttered may put off those not familiar with genealogy. 
I found out that I could add biographical info using comments. Without the biographical info these reports can be about as interesting as reading a phone book. I also found it may be necessary to remove some of the facts and events you may have in your database. These can result in very odd sentences. You may also get a sentence that reads "undefined sentence." That means you need to remove a bit of information connected to that person. It's best to use notes/comments to give info about Military Service etc. Sources may come out jumbled also. It's probably best not to activate sources for reports for those not familiar with genealogy. You can include some important sources in notes.
It is good to print and read a narrative report like this. I found many mistakes on my gedcom. It's difficult to spot mistakes unless you create a narrative. 

No comments: