Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ten Reasons I Switched to Legacy 8.0

If you've been reading my blog, you'll know that in the last several months, I've switched from using Family Tree Maker 2012 to Legacy. I've been very happy with my decision. I was a long-time Family Tree Maker user and I still think they make a good product. However, the emphasis on syncing and online trees coupled with some of the technical issues caused me to look at other programs. Legacy seemed to be more research-oriented with tools that helped guide that research. So far, I really like the features and their ease of use. I will still use FTM for my Ancestry online family tree, but my main file will now be in Legacy. Here are the top ten reasons why I made the switch to Legacy 8.0:

Tagging. Legacy has nine labels or tags that I can define however I want. I can tag my direct line ancestors and have the option to include other spouses and/or siblings. I can tag entire family lines, or only the ancestors, or the descendants. Tags can used to delete multiple people--specific people I choose, or those that meet a certain criteria. I plan to tag all of the veterans in my file and, since I am in the process of cleaning up my citations, I'm using a tag to indicate which people still need their citations cleaned up.

SourceWriter. This is probably the feature that totally converted me. I've struggled with the citations in Family Tree Maker for quite some time. Although FTM has templates based on Evidence Explained, in order to get them into the proper format, I had to do a lot of editing, which made the copy feature cumbersome. SourceWriter is very simple to use. It has a great step-by-step way to choose the correct standard format. As I enter in the source and detail information, I can see the citation being created as I type. When I copy the citation, it copies exactly as I've entered it without my having to do any editing. It has made standardizing my citations a breeze.

Share Event. Not only has SourceWriter helped with my citations, I recently learned how to use the share event feature. When I am adding a record which includes several people, such as a census, I can choose to share this event with other members in the household. At the click of a button, I choose the people from my fie, define their role (household member) from a drop-down menu, and without any copying or pasting, the entire household on that census record is cited and linked together. This saves a lot of time.

Event Notes. Another feature, which I use in conjunction with the Share Event feature, is the event notes. Family Tree Maker has this as well, but I like the user interface in Legacy better. When I add an event, such as a census, notes about that event can be added. This is where I write the details in the census entry. With each event, Legacy has a customizable narrative sentence which you can see as you enter in your data. When I view an individual chronology report, not only is the event listed, but also the event notes. I think this feature will be a huge timesaver when I get around to creating my family history book. It saves time now because it pulls all of my information into one place for ease of analysis.

Chronology Report. This is where all the hard work for data entry pays off. The chronology report ties together all of the life events of one individual in a chronological sequence. There are many ways to customize this. I find it helpful to see the age of my ancestor at each life event. This can highlight any errors with dates or places, such as a child's birth before a marriage, or a land transaction as a minor. And, as long as I use the SourceWriter, event notes, and share event feature, a beautiful report is created with no extra work. This is a HUGE time saver. I used to create these reports by hand or in the notes feature in Family Tree Maker; but it is not as powerful a tool as the one in Legacy.

Problem Indication. There is a little red icon that pops up if I have some kind of problem with the data for a person, without running a report. It could be simply transposed numbers in a date, but it might be that the dates of children are before their parents' marriage, or that there are too many years between the births of children. This feature is also customizable so I can change the parameters or override the indication if I know my information is correct. Not a big deal, but a nice little visual to catch those potential problems I might otherwise miss.

Index and Views. I know most genealogy programs have these features, but I must say that I like how Legacy has done this. In the index, all the names are on one full-screen page with the option of searching using a RIN, a given name or a surname. I can customize what information I see, such as birth date and place, death date and place, and tags. Changing Views is as easy as clicking tabs to see pedigrees, family groups, descendants and chronology of an individual. One feature I recently discovered is the Name List. Similar to the Index, but on the right hand side I can view all the events or information about that individual. It also shows the parents, spouse and children. I can even make edits from this screen. This is very helpful when I want to make sure I've got the correct individual and want to make a quick check or change.

Options. Legacy 8.0 is loaded with options. Changing color schemes, formatting, or preferences is easily done with the click of mouse. There are so many options, there is even an index to all of the customizable features. I particularly like the option which allows me to add the wife's married name to the name index. The female is then indexed twice, once with her maiden name and once with her married name, which makes finding her in the index much easier. I also like that I can choose to add any or all of my event notes to any report and even color code each of my ancestral lines.

Clipboard. This feature is what makes data entry a breeze. It can be used to simply copy one citation and paste to another event or someone else's event; however, an even more useful way to use the clipboard is to set it up first. Choose an event to cite and add the source and detail information. I like to add my event notes and media files as well. Then I save to the clipboard. The next time I need this source and details, I just click and paste at the click of a mouse. I can save multiple sources this way. I didn't find this feature to be as intuitive as the others; it was more difficult to figure out how to use it, but once learned and used with SourceWiriter, this feature is a huge timesaver.

Split Screen. I keep my entire family tree in one file. I use another file for those people who I am fairly sure are related, but haven't confirmed yet. Using split screen allows me to compare two different legacy files side-by-side or two different views of the same file side-by-side.

There are many more features of Legacy 8.0 that I could talk about. I didn't even touch on the excellent customer support that is both friendly and personal or the Research Guide. I chose only the top ten features I was excited to learn how to use. I am aware that some long-time Legacy users may not share my views of the new version. However, as Family Tree Maker seemed to be moving to emphasize online trees, mobile access, and syncing with, I was looking for something different. While I understand the importance of sharing our research, I wanted a genealogy program whose focus was to organize and guide my research. When I'm ready to share my work, Legacy has that capability as well.

The more I use Legacy, the more features I discover. I just found the little clock on the lower right corner next to the identification number boxes on the family view. When I clicked it, I was able to set up a little reminder or alarm to remind me to go to bed! Who knew? So what are your favorite features? I'm interested in hearing what you think about the new version. What features are your favorite or what changed that you don't like? Is there another program you like better?


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