Genealogy sites MyHeritage.com and Ancestry.com as well as genealogy programs like RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, AncestralQuest, Family Historian, and many others are great for presenting family trees, displaying your data in a straightforward graphical form. However, one Windows program allows you to really understand your tree, to spot problems, links, and patterns you might have missed.
FTAnalyzer is an open source tool for Windows which imports your data in the form of a GEDCOM file, then analyzes it by using a number of useful reports, providing details you might not have uncovered any other way.
To use FTAnalyzer, you have to export your family tree from your present genealogy program or online service as a GECDCOM file. (If you are unfamiliar with GEDCOM files, read my GEDCOM Explained article at https://blog.eogn.com/2014/05/24/gedcom-explained/.) All modern genealogy programs and the leading genealogy web sites all do that although instructions will vary from one such service to another. In most programs and online family tree web sites, you need to find the command to EXPORT your family tree and then follow the menus.
FTAnalyzer produces many reports, including:
- Listing individuals, families, surnames, locations, occupations and more.
- “Data Errors” looks for possible mistakes in the data (birth date after the mother’s death, married before the age of 13, and 20+ others), while the “Duplicates” report intelligently checks your tree for people who appear more than once.
- “Census” report takes this a step further with a choice of 16 reports highlighting issues with US, UK, Canadian, Irish and other census data. To take a single example, one click will show you everyone you’ve not located for a given census year, very helpful in understanding where to research next.
- “Occupation Lists” showing all the occupations in your GEDCOM – double clicking on an occupation shows the lists of people with that occupation.
- “Facts” allows you to view the various fact types in your GEDCOM see who has a particular fact also shows a count of how many sources a fact has. Double clicking on a fact shows the detailed sources for that fact.
- “Sources” shows all the sources in your GEDCOM along with a count of the number of facts for each source. Double clicking on a source lists all the facts that have been sourced by that source.
- “Data Errors List” shows various types of data errors in your GEDCOM such as events happening before someone was born or after they died, etc.
- “Census Lists” permits listing everyone in your file that should be alive on a census at a particular date and for whom you have not yet found a census entry.
- “Loose Death list” shows all details where you have death date info for an individual but you haven’t updated the death record for that individual.
- “Lost Cousins Report” shows you everyone you have already found on a census so you can check if you have entered them at Lost Cousins.
- “Maps” reads your GEDCOM locations, geocodes them, and presents the results on Google-sourced maps.
- “Timeline” highlights your ancestor’s locations on a map, for instance, then graphically shows how they’ve moved around over the years.
Perhaps best of all, no installation is required. Simply download the file, unzip it, move all its files to a new subdirectory you create (there are a lot of files!), and then click on the FTAnalyzer.exe file to run the program. You also can save Family Tree Analyzer and all its files to a USB flash drive or other portable storage device, then run it on any other Windows computer with no need for installation. It does not create new entries in the Windows Registry or Start menu, leaving the disk clean after removal.
Unfortunately, FTAnalyzer 5 runs only on Windows; there is no Macintosh version.
When I looked at FTAnalyzer 5, the web site was agonizing slow and took several minutes to display a web page. While waiting, I opened another window and checked other web sites and they all worked normally so I know the problem was not in my Internet connection. I don’t know if the problem was in the codeplex.com web site (very possible). If so, it may be a temporary problem. I checked https://ftanalyzer.codeplex.com again a couple of hours later and performance was better but still much slower than most other web sites.