Editor’s Note: Family Tree Heritage has made the jump from version 9 to version 15. We will post the new test results and review when we next test Genealogy Software.
As you conduct family history research, you may find conflicting sources. To keep all your facts straight, you want ancestry software with plenty of organizing and sourcing options. The strength of Family Tree Heritage is its organizing and sourcing tools. It’s very good at simple tasks, such as merging family trees and adding sources. However, it lacks the charting capabilities and GEDCOM accuracy of the best genealogy software.
Family Tree Heritage earned a C+ for accuracy in the GEDCOM test. Genealogy is a collaborative effort, and GEDCOM files are a universal format for sharing genealogical records, allowing you to share and receive research from other people. After importing four GEDCOM files to Family Tree Heritage and testing their accuracy, I found that only Branches had performed worse on this test. While Family Tree Heritage was mostly accurate at importing individual names with the corresponding information, it lost some families in the larger files.
The biggest issue with the GEDCOM accuracy was with establishing the relationships. If there was any potential problem with a relationship, such as a same-sex marriage or a parent too young in relation to a child, Family Tree Heritage excluded the individual from the pedigree chart instead of simply flagging the potentially incorrect information. It likewise excluded all subsequent names that followed the excluded individual.
The navigation and data entry tools both received B grades. They performed better than several others in testing, to be sure, but were not nearly as intuitive or efficient as the tools in the best ancestry software. For example, it took me a total of about 15 minutes to enter information on 10 people using Family Tree Heritage but only about five minutes using Family Historian. And while the interface is simple and easy to navigate at first glance, the number of windows opened for each individual name quickly adds up, significantly lengthening the data entry process.
The chart quality is a concern and earned a C–. The charts aren’t easy to access. It took me several hours of tinkering to find there was more than just the one pedigree chart on the home page. The charts aren’t customizable in the preview. You can set parameters for a chart before you print, but you can’t see how it looks or confirm the information without hitting the preview button. The charts don’t have much style; they are just text boxes with lines connecting the boxes to indicate relationships. You can’t create fan, bowtie, hourglass or color-coded charts.
The scrapbooking tools earned a B grade. A big part of being a family historian is recording family stories by uploading photos, videos, text reminiscences, life event data and more. Family Tree Heritage lets you print out reports and books based on this information, but those tools aren’t easy to find, and that adds a significant amount of time to the process.
Family Tree Heritage Platinum is a family history program that makes a good first impression and thus might appeal to novice genealogists, but it’s not nearly as agile and efficient as other programs. The GEDCOM accuracy was disappointing, as was the chart quality. The excellent research tools, however, automatically provide hints to online databases.