I am slowly working my way through multiple software programs to replace Family Tree Maker. I am able to do some basic navigation in all of them so I am now returning to each to take a closer look at some bells and whistles and particularly support from the developer and user groups.
Just to quickly review, programs on my list included Ancestral Quest 14, Family Historian 6, Heredis 2015, Legacy 8 and RootsMagic 7.
I am not going to share my learning experiences with all the programs on my list because two of them, Legacy 8 and RootsMagic 7, are currently used by thousands and there is a lot of information online about features, user groups, etc.
Ancestral Quest 14, Family Historian 6 and Heredis 2015 are not nearly as well known so my focus has been more on them. I have to be honest here and share what I think is a weakness in Heredis 2015. While I love that the program is used by many Europeans and, because of that, shared GEDCOMS open right up in Heredis, the main con I found – which was shared by others in online reviews – is a lack of support the development team coupled with the lack of a robust users group.
When I have questions, being a non-tech oriented person, it is very important to me that I have somewhere to go to ask those questions if I can’t find an answer in a user manual. For that reason, Heredis 2015 is off my list of replacement candidates.
That leaves Ancestral Quest 14, Family Historian 6, Legacy 8 and RootsMagic 7 on the table, but any future posts on this topic will be limited to AQ 14 and FH 6 because they are lesser known.
After all that, back to today’s topic, which is support features, bells and whistles in Family Historian 6. I will look at AQ 14 another time.
FHUG – Family Historian Users Group – is a closed group. Anyone can register, though, which I did. I commented a bit about FHUG in past posts, but this is the first time that I am taking an in-depth look at it.
First – plug-ins. Volunteers can submit plug-ins as add-ons to Family Historian. The Plug-In Store currently shows 72 plug-ins in ABC order. The “store,” by the way is free. Some of the plug-ins are very tailored to English records, but most have to do with allowing semi-customization. Some of the more interesting options include Give Witnesses Their Own Facts, Search and Replace (text, age or date in a project can be found and replaced/updated at one time) and Map Life Facts, which uses place and address fields and Google Maps to display places associated with an individual.
It is my understanding that many of the earlier plug-ins have been incorporated into later FH versions. There are ten in the list mentioned as developed for versions 5 or 6.
Second – How to Guides. There is a 250+ page user manual which I have downloaded from PDF. In FHUG, there are also links to much shorter “How To” guides, including those for beginning, intermediate and advanced users of FH. The beginners’ guide includes getting started from step 1, learning to cut and paste/drag and drop information in the program, adding pictures and multimedia, suggestions for entering and recording data on people in less common situations, like adoption and people using multiple names and working with diagrams.
I also found a list of useful research software with links to products like Custodian 4, a software program to organize genealogy data, Picasa, a free site to manipulate images, and The Next Generation, the program that creates family tree websites for individuals.
There is even a wish list where registered users submit ideas for what they would like to see added to Family Historian. The current list showed 241 items that were wished for AND added as features in the program. Calico Pie, owner of Family Historian, obviously listens to ideas proposed by its users.
The help forum appears to be quite large. Forums are divided into topics. The four main topics on the first page are General Usage, Plug-in Discussions, Importing and Exporting, and the current Wish List. Each of those categories show a January 2016 date as the most recent post, so it is an active group. There is a New Users group, too, which is terrific for help getting started.
Family Historian also has a Facebook page, but it looks to be more of a news type page, not a user group.
I also checked the HELP tab in Family Historian 6. A number of options appeared:
Help Tab in Program
It’s quite a robust HELP section, as you can see. There is an introductory online tour of Family Historian as well as a quick start guide. Family Historian on the Web goes directly to the home page, but there are separate links here for directly messaging Technical Support and accessing the User Groups. I love the easy contact tabs! Family Historian is based in England, but I have emailed questions and gotten answers back in less than a day or overnight if I emailed late in the day from Arizona.
The last support feature I like is that there is a good supply of videos. Besides links on the home page, there are a dozen YouTube videos about Family Historian.
This program definitely has a great education and support system!