PROS / The multiple web-enabled features keep you connected to popular genealogy searches like Ancestry and FamilySearch.com.
CONS / You only get the full force of this software with a paid subscription to Ancestry.com.
VERDICT / The price for Family Tree Maker 2014 jumps if you want to get the most out of it, but its close relationship with Ancestry.com is great for online researchers and bloggers.
Editor’s Note: The developer of this software has decided to discontinue selling it as of December 31, 2015. They will continue to support current owners of the software through January 1, 2017 as they transfer their files out of the program. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Family Tree Maker 2014 smoothly combines web-enabled features with the classic tools you see in most programs. Among the web-friendly features in FTM are tree sync, web matches, and lightning quick exporting and importing times. This family tree software can create charts and keepsakes to map your lineage and share discoveries with the rest of your family.
When we charted a family using Family Tree Maker, the software generated hints for over half the people in our database. These web hints appear whenever the software finds matching or similar data on Ancestry.com. Available records include census, military and marriage documents, and you can also access yearbooks and old school photos. However, you won't be able to dig into all of these resources without an Ancestry membership. While you can connect to RootsWeb, FamilySearch and MyHeritage, web hits from these sites don't populate in your family tree.
Family Tree Maker's parent company is the popular genealogy search site Ancestry.com. Every day, millions of people search Ancestry for records of their ancestors and connect with other genealogists around the world. Using Family Tree Maker, you can sync, search and import documents directly from the genealogy search. Because of its close relationship with the parent website, FTM is best for already active Ancestry.com users. The membership to Ancestry.com adds to the expense, but it will get you the most out of Family Tree Maker.
When it comes to data entry, most of the work in Family Tree Maker happens in the People tab. To fill out your family tree, you complete standard pedigree charts with family information, including birth, death and marriage dates, as well as extra information like notes and medical records. The list maintains your family tree in a pedigree format to make it easy to enter information and follow through the generations. You can customize required data for each person. For example, you can focus on a certain feature of your family like immigration or military service. Additionally, you can list complex relationships, such as remarriages and stepchildren, in your family tree.
Within the Places tab, you can access a physical map of your ancestors' migrations and origins. The more information you complete in the People tab, the more complete your Places tab appears. When you record significant events such as births, deaths and marriages and enter a site for each event, the Places map marks the locations. This is a great tool to show your family's migration over the years. It's also a handy visual for multiple families and a good way to see how new branches of your family developed.
This version of Family Tree Maker has 10 types of printable charts and 27 reports. You can combine these publications to create full books about your ancestry. Whether your genealogical research is personal or academic, publishing features are an important component to good genealogy software. Books, reports and charts are the best ways to help others with family history research overlapping yours and leave keepsakes for your own family. This genealogy software is also capable of displaying PDF images and simplified exports. The PDF capability makes it easy to share your work, collaborate with other researchers and publish your findings online.
Family Tree Maker gives you plenty of room to customize your charts and reports. The backgrounds are classified by occupation, region and scenery. You can also upload your own images, like old homes and family crests, to use as backgrounds to charts. In addition, all of the nodes on the family trees and fan charts are adjustable, so you can tailor the text, position, color and content for each person on the chart.
Citation & Organization
This software sorts children automatically by birth order and allows you to view people by country, state, county and city. Adding facts to your family tree is as simple as copying and pasting. You can add facts like source citations, media items and notes.
The Sources tab serves as a repository for all of your sources. The fields in the dialogue windows ask you for information about the sources, and the software formats them into formal citations. This is especially convenient if you're doing professional or academic genealogical research. If you provide source data like title, author and publishing info, FTM 2014 can create a full bibliography for you.
When you add multimedia to Family Tree Maker, you can tag each entry with a caption, date and description. All of the videos, images, stories and other bits of information collect in the Media tab, which keeps your documents and other files organized and accessible.
The Plan tab allows you to create a task list and keep your research strategized. You can filter tasks by type, priority or individual. This section also shows statistics about your family, including the number of people listed, surnames, average life span, earliest birthdate, and the number of places, sources and media you have linked to your tree.
Family Tree Maker 2014 has enough features to satisfy both advanced and beginning genealogists. It also integrates seamlessly with Ancestry.com, so you can do your research through one of the most popular genealogy sites. Because of its close relationship with its parent website, FTM is best for active Ancestry.com users. While it is one of the top genealogy searches on the web, Ancestry.com does have a higher membership fee than most websites like it; however, that extra fee gives you access to billions of records dating back centuries.