Friday, May 2, 2014

Choosing Software: Ancestral Quest, Family TreeMaker Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic

When it comes to software it can be hard to choose the right one. There is always more than one that will do the same thing. Take for instance word documents, today one can choose from paid programs like Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect or use some of the open source programs like Open Office or even Google Docs, it can be so confusing that one gets lost and frustrated.

For the next few weeks we are going to review 4 main programs that will store all your family files, pictures, recording, etc. and reproduce a variety of reports and charts to put on your wall or give to family members as gifts. 

We will be reviewing Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree and Roots Magic. Family Tree Maker is used by a colleague of mine and he has created some online tutorials that we will reference to cover it. As you can see from the chart above they are all listed there in the top 5 software programs listed by Top Ten Reviews.

When choosing software one has to take in consideration what you would like the program to do for you. Each of these programs a wonderful job with taking care of your family files. When TopTenReviews did their survey they judged the software by the following categories:

1) Reporting and Publishing
2) Feature Set
3) Citation & Organization
4) Help & Support

Each of these four software programs has most features in each of these categories so what is their difference?

Usually it is layout and functionality, various screen and whether they are easily understood. Many people feel they can load a program and figure out how to use it without too much difficulty, however, if the program itself is too complicated that is not the case.

The data entry screen for Ancestral Quest is as follows:

This screen should be most familiar to those who previously used PAF (Personal Ancestral File). That program was available for 14 years, however, the code for that program was provided to FamilySearch by Incline Software in 1999. At that time, PAF 4 and Ancestral Quest 3 were nearly identical except for the different name and a few other minor variations, it was finally released to the public in 2002 and retired in July, 2013.

Ancestral Quest has the same look and feel for most of the screens and processes as well as charts and reports, however, there are many more reports and options available with AQ than there was with PAF. Here is a screen shot of the Charts and Reports:

There are tutorials on how to use this program built right into the drop down menus. For those who will be linking and synching between FamilySearch and Ancestral Quest, click on FamilySearch and a drop down will bring up tutorials to help learn how to use those features. There are also general tutorials under Help:

Next week will go step by step with entering an individual and show how to do a couple of charts before we move onto Legacy Family Tree. Ancestral Quest can be found online at

Comments are always encouraged and welcome!

Building Bridges for All Generations!

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