I have decided to write software reviews of all of the leading genealogy programs available today for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Android, and Apple iOS, as well as cloud-based genealogy programs. This is the second article in the series: Legacy Family Tree, one of the more popular genealogy programs for Windows. I will later review genealogy programs for other operating systems as well.
I have also created a Windows Genealogy Software Comparison Chart showing the major features of each program reviewed so far. The Chart may be found at http://wp.me/p5Z3-FG.
Legacy Family Tree is one of the more popular genealogy programs available for the Windows operating system. Its popularity is caused by three major factors: it is powerful, it is easy to use, and it contains most all the features that serious genealogists demand. However, it also works well for genealogy newcomers. If you are looking for an easy-to-use genealogy program for a Windows PC, Legacy Family Tree absolutely should be on your list of programs to consider.
Legacy Family Tree is available in two versions: Legacy Family Tree Standard is a FREE genealogy program that includes all the basic functionality but omits some tools, reports, and advanced features. The full-featured Legacy Family Tree Deluxe program includes everything and sells for $29.95 for an online download or for $39.95 when bundled with the software on a CD and a 333-page user’s guide. That is a rather modest price for a genealogy program with all these features. You can use the free Legacy Family Tree Standard for as long as you like, and the program does meet the needs of many genealogists. However, should you decide to later upgrade to the full-featured version, your previously-entered data will be available immediately after upgrading. There is no need to re-enter all the information again.
Perhaps the best method of trying Legacy Family Tree is to download the free Standard Edition and install it. You should use it for at least a few days, perhaps a few weeks, to see if you like it and if you wish to upgrade to the Deluxe version. If so, the Deluxe features are hidden inside the free Standard Edition. To unlock the Deluxe features, start the Standard Edition program and click on Help > Unlock Legacy Deluxe. Follow the prompts to enter your name and your Deluxe Customer Number, and click the Unlock button.
Legacy Family Tree has a long list of features, including unlimited people in the database; unlimited alternate given and surnames; unlimited events; GEDCOM import and export as well as importing from Legacy, PAF 2.31 or 3.0, or Ancestral File; ability to specify individuals and information to be exported; onscreen views that include pedigree view, descendants view, and more; view up to six family/pedigree view windows simultaneously so that you can view different parts of the same file at one time; multimedia support for pictures, video, maps, and more; picture editing; slideshow capability; open two different family files simultaneously to compare and copy information from one to the other, including drag-and-drop feature to copy people from one file to another; source citation system; maps that plot important locations in ancestors’ lives; pre-written interview questions and memory triggers for interviewing family members; notes for general, research, and medical information; support for multiple marriages including adoptive lines, polygamous and sequential marriages, and incestuous relationships (Same sex couples are not supported either as parents or marriage.); individual and marriage tags; to-do list; up to 200 bookmarks for quick return to specific individuals; history list of the last 200 individuals displayed; a pop-up calendar containing a month and year calendar ranging from 1700 to 2099; date calculator; support for LDS-specific fields; and alternate names.
Legacy can print all the expected basic reports plus timelines, a to-do list, three types of address lists (Mailing, Repository and Event), and wall charts. It can also print narratives for ancestors and descendants, as well as customizable line calendars for groups of individuals and couples showing birthdays and anniversaries. It also prints all the United States census forms plus Canadian census forms for 1851 and 1901.
One powerful feature is the “Query by Example” capability. The user can fill in the information to look for. All entered data can specify Exact, Starts With, or Anywhere in field. Multiple search criteria also can be used, including Equal To, Not Equal To, Contains, Starts With, and Sounds Like (which uses standard Soundex codes). Multiple conditions can be combined using AND and OR.
Various specialized searches are also available. Legacy can Search by focus group; oldest or youngest direct line generation of the current individual; direct-line ancestors with no parents; direct-line descendants with no children; linked individuals with no children or with no parents; unlinked individuals; people who have been tagged at a specified level; and records with bad dates (unrecognizable date format).
Of special note is the Legacy SourceWriter™ to help you prepare properly formatted sources regardless of your expertise. Simply fill in the fields, and Legacy will create the footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography for you, following industry standards. That is a powerful feature and one that I wish would be copied by all genealogy programs. Many genealogists, including almost all newcomers, do not know how or why they should record source citations in a manner that allows for easy verification. Legacy Family Tree gently prompts all users to enter the source citations and provides easy “fill in the blanks” templates for all sorts of citations to record information found when researching a family tree.
I must admit that I like the capability to create a personal web site. Legacy Family Tree will create HTML files or even PDF files. The files may be uploaded to a web site, copied to a CD, copied to a flash drive, or sent as an attached file in an email message.
Note: The Index, Table of Contents, and Title Page options are not available when using the HTML File output format. (The PDF file feature is part of the Deluxe Edition only.)
Legacy Family Tree also works with several other (optional and extra-cost) programs:
GENViewer for Legacy works directly with your Legacy family file or with GEDCOM files created by other genealogy applications. It offers powerful File Search capabilities, allowing the user to simultaneously search multiple files for individuals or find that critical piece of information you need. See http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/GV-Genviewer.asp for details.
Charting Companion provides wall charts for presentations, better reporting tools, more publishing options, and an even easier method of sharing your research with other family members. See http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/LCComp.asp for details.
Genelines is a timeline charting program that works with Legacy. In addition to the Pedigree Chart, Family Group Chart, Pedigree Chart, and Direct Line Chart, it offers a Fan Chart, Full Descendant Chart, Individual Biographical Chart, and Comparative Biographical Chart that compares the life events of two or more chosen individuals.
GenSmarts for Legacy is a genealogy software program that can analyze your file and tell you, by person, which record to research and why. GenSmarts finds holes in your data and can do automatic lookups for you on free internet search sites. Details may be found at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/GenSmarts.asp.
Several other optional programs also may be “plugged into” Legacy Family Tree and used seamlessly. See http://www.legacyfamilytreestore.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=3 for more information about these additional products.
One item will be important to anyone who uses FamilySearch’s online Family Tree: Legacy Family Tree is “Tree Share” Certified for FamilySearch™ Family Tree. This means you can now share your Legacy information with FamilySearch™ Family Tree and pull information from Family Tree into your Legacy family file. Legacy’s FamilySearch integration features are available in both the Standard (free) and Deluxe editions. More information on using Legacy Family Tree with FamilySearch Family Tree are available online at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/fs.asp.
Note: The FamilySearch Family Tree is an online system that allows users to search for ancestors, contribute new persons and information, and retrieve missing information from a single, central database. For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch Family Tree is also the system through which temple ordinances are checked and reserved.
Another feature I like is the “Potential Problem Alerts and “Gaps of Unusual Size”” reports. Legacy monitors your family file for any potential problems and immediately displays a warning symbol when it finds one. It helps to prevent bad data. No automated program is ever perfect, but the one built into Legacy Family Tree can be a big help. It finds unusual family facts, such as a mother giving birth at age 8, a child born more than 9 months after the father died, and similar “facts.” These can be caused by erroneous data or by typo errors.
A few of the “questionable facts” may actually be legitimate. For instance, Legacy Family Tree thought it was unusual that I was born 8 years after my next-oldest sibling. Well, it may be unusual, but it is a fact. Legacy Family Tree didn’t change the data or flag it as erroneous; it simply offered it as “something unusual that needs to be verified.” I wish all genealogy programs would offer something similar. A few other programs offer similar capabilities, but many do not.
Legacy’s DNA section lets you record the results from the DNA tests that you have ordered for your ancestors.
You can view a much longer list of available reports and other program specifications at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/Features.asp and at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/DownloadLegacy.asp.
I installed Legacy Family Tree on a Windows 7 virtual PC (see my Plus Edition article about virtual PCs at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=31851.) The installation was simple, about the same as most other modern Windows programs. The program can be downloaded directly from the Legacy Family Tree web site. After the download completed, I clicked on the newly-downloaded file, followed the instructions, and then was viewing the opening screen for Legacy Family Tree a minute or so later.
I immediately imported a GEDCOM file containing information about 3,000+ people in my family tree. The import process was quick, requiring less than a minute to complete. I experimented a bit with entering data for several additional people not in the GEDCOM file. Data entry was easy and intuitive. However, I cannot describe subjective terms such as “easy” or “intuitive.” To see for yourself, I would suggest downloading the free Legacy Family Tree Standard and using it for a while.
Here are some screenshots of Legacy Family Tree in action. Click on any of these images to view larger images:
Here’s a hint: I suggest you first download and install the free version, then use it for a while. It is a no-cost method of becoming familiar with the program. You may find the free version meets all your needs and you can use it forever. If the free version is insufficient for you, however, it is a simple process to upgrade to the full version at any time.
Of course, nothing is ever perfect. Perhaps the most notable drawback in Legacy Family Tree is that it only supports Western European fonts (English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, and the Scandinavian languages). The program does not support Eastern European fonts, like Polish, Russian, Asian fonts, Hebrew, or any other non-Western European fonts.
The program is available in several languages, however. A complete list may be found at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/InternationalLegacyVersions.asp.
Another drawback is the lack of support for same-sex marriages.
Legacy Family Tree works with Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows ME, Windows 98, Windows NT, and Windows 2000. It also runs on newer Macintosh systems if they have Windows installed under Bootcamp, Oracle’s VirtualBox, Parallels or VMware Fusion. Legacy also runs on Linux machines with a Windows emulator. It has been tested on Linux with VMWare and Oracle’s VirtualBox.
On all systems, Legacy Family Tree version 8 will also require a hard disk with about 100 megabytes of available space, 256 megabytes of RAM memory as a minimum (using an emulator on a Macintosh or on Linux will require additional memory), and a mouse. An Internet connection is strongly recommended. Internet Explorer 7 or later is also required if you want to use the Bing Mapping feature.
A 236-page user’s guide is available either as a printed book or as a downloadable PDF file. In fact, if you purchase the printed user’s manual, a CD-ROM disk is included that contains the electronic PDF version. However, I suspect that most experienced genealogists will not need the user’s manual. The program is easy to use, and the built-in help files seem to be adequate. However, newcomers or anyone looking to use the advanced features of Legacy Family Tree will probably want to order the user’s manual at http://www.legacyfamilytreestore.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=1. The same web page also offers a variety of “bundled packages” that include the software on CD-ROM, the user’s manual, and even several video training courses.
Almost all genealogy programs have methods of performing backups quickly and easily. Legacy Family Tree has menu entries to back up to any location on disk drive that is connected to the computer. Typically, this is to a separate folder on the Windows system’s hard drive. However, the program can also back up to a flash drive, an external USB drive, a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, or to (my favorite) Google Drive or to Dropbox or to most any other cloud-based backup service. Keeping off-site backups is always a good idea to protect against simple data losses or against major disasters in the home.
The producers of Legacy Family Tree do not offer companion programs for Android or Apple iOS mobile devices. However, third-party software companies do offer Legacy-specific programs for mobile devices. Families 2.0 from TelGen Limited is an excellent program for viewing Legacy on mobile devices. It is available for Android and for Apple iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch). See http://www.telgen.co.uk/families/ for the details. In addition, Pocket Genealogist from Northern Hills Software LLC provides similar capabilities for PocketPC’s and other “Windows Powered” mobile devices. See http://www.pocketgenealogist.com/ for details.
All in all, I found Legacy Family Tree version 8 to be a powerful and yet easy-to-use genealogy program. If you are looking for a new genealogy program for use on Windows, I strongly suggest you download the free version of Legacy Family Tree, install it, and use it for a while. I think it will appeal to a lot of genealogists.
You can learn more at http://www.legacyfamilytree.com.