Family Tree Maker September update


An update for Family Tree Maker 2012 was released on Friday (see Note 1 for info on the upgrade process). Alongside improvements to the tree sync facility and bug fixes, it is definitely an upgrade as it introduces a number of new features. All very welcome, but see note 3 for a downside.

Knowing one’s Place

One of these new features, on the treatment of Place Names, almost addresses a wish-list item of mine. I had wanted a “way to select a group of place names (on the Places screen) so you can see everyone in the USA, or Somerset and Dorset, say” – extract from notes for a Cutlock and Co article never quite written. While I had thought that adding a filter would be the answer, the new Place Name Hierarchy could do it. So for instance Scranton is under Lackawanna (county), in turn under Pennsylvania, then under USA. Unfortunately it looks like FTM will only make a hierarchy out of place names it recognises (contained in the Bing Maps database?). Old place names and my preferred renderings don’t get processed.

The Places Tab in FTM 2012 with place name hierarchy switched on.

And no, I don’t want use the built-in ‘resolve place names’ facility and see a machine enforce an American idea of place name format. One of my pet hates in FTM is the ease with which you can accidentally hit the button to set this off, and there isn’t a cancel button.

So a filter, such as that available in the People/Family view screen, remains on my wish-list. As the Find facility now doesn’t just work on the first part of the address, this should be easy for Ancestry to implement. A further enhancement would be being able to save filter settings for later use.

In meantime, I can generate Reports using ‘select individuals’ and ‘filter in’.  It is just a question of which report and tailoring the output to include the information required. A full custom report takes a while to set up but can then be saved for later use. The filter could be All Facts, Residence contains e.g “USA”, for Place field, and include Alternate (not just Preferred) facts. Or, for those people without a Residence fact yet, use the ‘Other’ option rather than ‘All Facts’.

When I ran the USA report as above, I was surprised to discover there were 348 people (out of a then total of 4735 in the database) with an American connection, although some of those will just be visiting. As a quick comparison the same filter process finds 458 with a Somerset connection.

The original use was to identify where the 1940 USA census hadn’t yet been found for the individual.

FTM gets on the web

Another new feature (see note 2) is Web Links – now as well as adding Notes, Media and Tasks to a person, you can add Web Links. Of course I’ve recorded web links of interest before in the notes feature, as I’m sure others have, but now they will copy over to the Ancestry tree and be ‘hot linked’. Very useful to share related links with other tree users.

Web Links can also be added to source citations, hoorah.

Media updates

One of the minor enhancements not mentioned in the list below is one I was looking for only the other day. For example, having added to FTM a text file on Edwin Jeary‘s biographical cuttings, once synced any future updates to this file won’t get picked up in the tree sync. Now there is a manual ‘Resync to Ancestry’ option for just such cases. It is on the right click menu when you have the media item selected – last option in the list.

Characters

Another minor enhancement, courtesy of the FTM discussion board on Ancestry, from user BrklynBridge:

“As of the most recent update, FTM 2012 is now recognizing “alt” characters (eg. ? John Paul Jones). I personally use the “?” to designate bloodlines”.

List of alt characters (NB uses the numbers pad).

(The alt character of a heart should appear in the text above, but WordPress currently renders it as a question mark. Here’s a test for a plug-in fix: &#; )

Lifespan

The index list of people in Family view now has a ‘Lifespan’ option – pretty sure that previously the choice was just birth or death date, although not sure about marriage, which is also there. Under Additional Index Data on right click.

Private facts

New option for setting a fact as private by default – see Manage Facts > Properties.

Notes

1. Patch 21.0.0.740 was released 21st September 2012.

You should be able to trigger this update within FTM (if it hasn’t automatically done so) under Help>Check for Update. Do note that the initial opening of the program after the upgrade is likely to take quite a while (depending on size of tree, and probably in particular the number of place names). The database file also grows massively – best to run the Compact facility before using (in my case the file went back to more or less its previous size).

The Place Name Hierarchy (on the Places screen) seems to be switched on by default after the update – don’t worry the place names haven’t been messed up, just switch it off – button off at top of the places list.

2. The official list of what improvements were included in the patch:

1. Improvements to TreeSync reliability and performance.
2. Private Media – Media items can be marked private and will be excluded from TreeSync. This option is on the right click menu, half way down, when you have a media item selected.
3. Web Links – Person and citation web links can now be created in Family Tree Maker and can be synchronized between Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Member Trees.
4. Improved Sync Log – The TreeSync Details log can now be printed and now shows the names of people who made each change that is being synchronized to Family Tree Maker from Ancestry Member Trees.
5. Improved Backup & Restore – A synced tree can now be backed up and restored to the same or another computer in a way that allows syncing to continue.
6. Place Name Hierarchies – Place names can now better accommodate addresses and other place detail (such as cemetery, church, hospital, or historical names, etc.).  This new capability also allows places to be displayed as part of their hierarchical structure if desired (this can be turned on or off).
7. Copy & Paste Facts – Facts (including date, place, description, notes, media, and source citations) can be copied from one person and pasted to anyone else in the tree.  When pasting you can select any/all members of the person’s family and paste to all at once.
8. Updated help for all of the new and enhanced features added during the past year.
9. Numerous other bug fixes and minor enhancements.

UPDATE: The “patch 21” web page now has a link from item 9:

Other Improvements in this Update

  1. File and Web Merge—UI improvements to make it easier to see what is kept and what is discarded.
  2. List of last 25 people visited (dropdown in people index find field and index buttons).
  3. Year-only option in the People index.
  4. Lifespan is shown more consistently throughout the program & in charts/reports.
  5. Touch screen gesture support for scroll, zoom, rotate (lists, pedigree, media collection, media viewer, places map).
  6. Individual report notes associated with people & facts are more clearly designated.
  7. New option for setting a fact as private by default (fact properties).
  8. Improved naming of record files saved during a web merge.
  9. Numerous bug fixes.

3. Unfortunately two of the enhancements seem to have reduced legibility for those of us with imperfect eyesight. The right click menu on the Places list is now semi-transparent, making the text difficult to read, and the new Sync Log is in smaller type than before.

4. See Family Tree Maker notes page for more, on previous 2012 patches and a selection of tips.

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