Software Reviews

Family Tree Maker v5 by Broderbund

Reviewed by Simon Dibdin

When you are researching and creating a family tree then a database is an essential tool to enable you to do so. Broderbund's latest version of Family Tree Maker is certainly one of the simplest tools for producing your own family tree. Although Broderbund's earlier versions of this software such as v.3.01 are equal to the task of producing an easy understand and easy to use database, v.5.0 is certainly the edition of this excellent product to have.

One of the most difficult tasks for any beginner in genealogy is knowing where to start your research. The normal, 'old fashioned' method for doing this is by pouring over books in libraries, writing letters to record offices and delving through phone books for addresses etc. Having completed this task there is the problem of storing that information in a legible and orderly fashion so that you can refer back. Hand drawn family trees are nearly impossible to alter once they have been completed so when you come across new information or perhaps a new branch of your family it is nearly always the case that you have to re-draw your tree. This is where this piece of software comes into its own.

With Family Tree Maker storing names, dates, scanned photographs and unlimited facts on individuals is made particularly easy. The program allows you to change information, add new information or remove data effortlessly. Obviously one still has to write the many letters and scan through volumes of books and microfilms but the benefit is that your Family Tree Maker will store that information in such a manner that you can instantly produce a quality document that you can share with other family members.

So, what exactly does FTM allow you to do? Well, it allows you first and foremost to printout a family tree containing as much or as little information as you would like to include. This can include scanned photographs and any information that you would like to see. You can dictate the appearance and style of your tree. As well as the normal descendant tree you can produce ancestor trees that work in reverse of a normal family tree. You can even go as far as to produce a chart that plots your ancestors' lives against historical events. This in itself can be an excellent educational tool for children. FTM v.5.0 gives you the added benefit of being able to compile all your information in book format. This again makes sharing your information with other family members a pleasure. With FTM you can even go so far as to allow you to record interviews and music midi files and replay them with ease.

What are the benefit then of FTM v.5.0 over previous editions? Well, this version comes with ten CD's to assist with your research. You can search through the data on the additional discs, which include a database of European names, a Social Security death index and a world family tree database. This really allows you to get started with your research. The most useful tool that this version gives you though is the Internet access. FTM have their own genealogy web site that has a 'World Family Tree' database which contains a listing of some 185 million names. These have been contributed to by genealogists or have been researched from the Internet. This allows you to download information on your own family and greatly assist with your research. There is also a message board that allows you to post information or requests for information. The web site also includes a step by step guide in how to get started with genealogy and online classes in genealogy. You can also use the specialist genealogy search engine to comb through the Internet for information about your family.

Family Tree Maker v. 5.0 has to be the most useful research and database genealogy software on the market at the present time. Backed up with a comprehensive web-site and on-line assistance FTM is the perfect tool. No wonder it is the number 1-selling program of this nature. Certainly I wouldn't consider any other software.

System Requirements
  • Windows 95 or Windows 98
  • 486 or Faster
  • 8MB RAM (16MB Recommended)
  • Minimum 20MB Hard Disk Space
  • 2x CD-ROM or Faster
  • Modem required for on-line use

Looking elsewhere
  • Ultimate Family Tree Premier v. 2.7
  • Family Heritage Deluxe v. 2.0
  • Generations Deluxe