Family Historian 4: first impressions

2 May

Having just installed version 4 of Family Historian (FH), I had to give it a try (I should have been doing the housework!) and get a taste of the new and improved features.

The biggest difference appears to be the addition of a project management element, previously FH had really only been about handling the GEDCOM file, but now it also tries to take do the job of the organising other media as well (such as photos and census images). This appears to be causing concern amongst some existing users (who already have folders structures in place) but should be a great help to beginners.

Personally I think it is going to be a great help to me, I don’t have many images linked to my GEDCOM at the moment, and this will hopefully encourage me to include more.

I am not sure if this is the intended purpose but I am going to use the project capability to create two distinct parts to my family history research. One is the completed research with images and photos, and the other the research material/notes and work in progress.

As an example, I have lots of scanned photos (I am sure I am not alone) which need cropping, retouching, resizing and generally having work done on them. Using this new project system I will have one folder (and sub-folders) for the original image (which will be kept untouched) and another folder (as part of the FH project) for the ‘public’ copy.

The handling of media has improved, and I can now easily see the few images I do have linked. I was really impressed when I clicked the ‘Open in default player/editor’ button and my editor opened up almost instantly. I am sure this has nothing to do with FH especially, just that I did have much else running at the time, but I don’t think I have ever seen it open so fast.

The other major addition is the focus window, this is a more traditional way of viewing and editing the individuals. It shows the family of an individual (parents, spouses and children) in a clear and logical way as opposed to the list based view in the record window. The information here is not directly editable, but it is easy to bring up the property box alongside the focus window and edit the details there.

I think I will still be using the record window for most of my work, but the focus window is a great way of exploring your tree and jumping to other individuals. It has four tabs in total: Spouses & Children, Parents & Siblings, Ancestors and Descendants.

It is great to have a built in pdf printer, especially one which supports such a wide range of page sizes, that is going to make getting a large chart printed so much easier and quicker.

There is so much to explore with FH, even prior to this latest upgrade I hadn’t used even half of the features, and now when I look at a menu I have trouble remembering whether it was there before or not.

Personally I would say it is well worth the money, I know it is going to be another distraction to getting my actual research done, but research is only half of the job, presentation and explanation of the results should be just as important.

I would recommend anyone looking for family history software whether they are a beginner or an expert to download the 30 day free trial and give it a try.

One Response to “Family Historian 4: first impressions”

  1. wibblingjo May 11, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    Glad to find someone else using Family Historian – it really is a good product! Looking forward to hearing more about how you use the software and any tips.

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