"If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance"
-George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Legacy 7.0 vs Family Tree Maker

Note: I am NOT being compensated by the makers of Family Tree Maker or Legacy for this entry. This is in response to a blogging prompt posted on facebook by the Genea-Bloggers group! The information contained here is base solely on my experiences using these software programs.

I admit that I am a converted Family Tree Maker user. Converted from Family Tree Maker that is. When I first started working on my family history it consisted of writing letters and waiting weeks to hear back from family members to returned filled out family group sheets. Which then would be typed up on my mother's electric type-writer. (That was big technology back then!) The internet hadn't even been invented yet! (And for all you who grew up with the internet, I'm not that old). We had computers, but they were the good old apple greenscreens. Being in my early teeens I had no source of income and we didn't have a computer for quite some time.

My very first exposure to Family Tree Maker was when I met my (now) Mother-in-law when my husband and I first started dating. She opened up my eyes to the world of Genealogy databases and.....Ancestry....! My Mother-in-law was an avid, long-time genealogist and she showed me all the wonderful things that Family Tree Maker could do. She popped a date disk in and I instantly started finding family members in my tree and was happily printing away sheets of information. Then I learned about Ancestry. Many hours was spent searching the pages that ancestry had to offer. That Christmas my husband bought me my first copy of Family Tree Maker. I think it was version 5.0 or 6.0. It was the delux version and it came wiith something like 20 data CD's as well and if that wasn't enough, it also came with a free 1-year subscription to Ancestry. Much to my parents' dismay, I'm sure. Every year for the 1st 3 or 4 years I faithfully bought the upgrades and got my free year to ancestry. Then I asked myself, why was I spending money every year to upgrade Family Tree Maker, and I quit buying the upgrades.

I continued to use Family Tree Maker until about two years ago. I had subscribed to Family Tree magazine and read an article about the top genealogy software databases and they were user tested by a panel of genealogists of varying expereince, all using the same dataset. Among the scores, Legacy recieved the highest overall ratings and Family Tree Maker came in somewhere in the bottom 2 (out of 4 or 5 programs tested). Legacy offers a free version of their software online, so I downloaded it and gave it a try. Withing a week I bought the full version and I haven't turned back since.

So, what's good and what isn't? With Family Tree maker, obviously I liked the free year to Ancestry, espcially when the price for the world version of Ancestry costs about $300/year, if you purchase the annual option, more if you go month by month. I also liked the data CDs that came with the program, but I could never seem to find information on my family lines. What I didn't like about Family Tree Maker first and foremost is they wanted me to contribute my research, the work that I have put literally hundereds of hours into to them so they could turn around and sell it and make a profit, while I got nothing out of it. After using Legacy, I find that Ancestry's sourcing function could be improved, I never knew what I needed to put into the source to properly cite my sources. I also got tired of buy the updated version every year for Family Tree Maker.

I know there are lots of Family Tree Maker fans out there and if that is the program you are happy with, then that is what you should use. After trying out another program, I just found that I like Legacy better and it works better for the type of researcher that I am.

So what about Legacy? Well I like that I was able to try out Legacy for free for starters, who doesn't like something for free? Of course several features were unavailable in the free version that I couldn't access until I bought the full version. I like Legacy's layout design and when I bought my copy of Legacy 6.0, 7.0 was so close to being released that I got the upgrade for free! Thank you Legacy! Legacy's sourcing function makes citing sources easy because it is all fill-in the box and then the program arranges the information in the proper order. Another feature I like about Legacy is companion programs! Legacy comes with a charting program that is fun to play with and make all kinds of fancy charts. There are also several programs fromt the makers of Legacy that interface with Legacy. Some of these programs work with Palm Pilots and Microsoft's Palm PC these programs supposedly interface with legacy, however I have never been able to get my version that I bought for my palm pilot to work, and honestly with my laptop the program lost its novelty after a couple months. Passage Express (PE) is another add-on program that interacts with Legacy. Although I have never bought the full version I have played around with the basic free version and it is pretty elaborate in what it can do. PE creates interactive CDs that you can make and share with your family. Think of it as a digital scrapbooking program that is designed towards genealogy. I actually thought that CDs made from this would make a great family reunion fund raiser! All these companions are great, but you have to pay for each program. The palm pilot and palm pc programs cost around $25 to $35, depending on which companion program you purchase. PE costs around $55.

Ok, so at one point I tried Roots Magic's free version and honestly I was happy enough with Legacy that I wasn't really interested in trying another Genealogy database. I do recommend trying out a couple databases, espcially if you can try them for free or borrow from a friend (remember to abide by software licensing laws) and try out different programs to find what works for you and what you like best. Also check out trade magazine for reviews of the database programs. They are a good source for not only the PC programs, but the Mac programs as well.

There are many good programs out there for genealogists and I think each has their pros and cons. It just depends on what kind of researcher you are and what you are looking for in a database program.


  1. I did the same thing...started out with FTM and then switched to Legacy! I really like Legacy too. I've thought about trying RootsMagic just to see, but I haven't had the time. I'm also pretty happy with Legacy and don't see a real need to switch like I did with FTM. I think I stopped using FTM at version 16. It just wasn't as sophisticated as Legacy at that point, though like yourself, I had quit upgrading.

  2. I have a really big tree online on Ancestry, and I want to bring it all into my computer... so I actually have both FTM 10 and Legacy 7 and I can't decide which to use!!! The thing is that FTM10 claims they can import my online tree with ALL of my pictures (not sure about documents and stories). I am unsure of what I can do with Legacy 7 and all the work I already have online!!! Help. Also, I am not familiar with Legacy, other than owning the software, and so you are saying I can search records like I do with Ancestry? I have to say that the charting possibilites in Legacy do intrigue me, but not if I am going to have to reinvent the wheel. What do you think? My email is haugen.history@gmail.com if you want to take this off the comment section -- as I may forget to come back here and check for a response anyway. Thanks! Astrid.

  3. Astrid-
    First of all, sorry it's taken so long to answer you. I'm not sure about exporting things off ancestry. I would contact Legacy directly and aske their tech support. I know you can import GEDCOM files into legacy. I don't know about the photos.

    You can search online databases from Legacy through the program, similar to Family Tree. I peronally find that the extra functions like the To Do list make legacy a more inclusive reserach tool for me.

  4. I haven't tried FTM but I had Legacy until my computer died a sudden death recently. My only back up of my Legacy GEDCOM was on that computer but have an older copy without as much info on Rootsweb that I can download.. I really loved Legacy & found it easy to use. I lost interest in genealogy a couple of years ago but have had a couple of people contact me over the last 6 months or so looking for info. One was today, a high school teacher looking for info on my G.Grandmother's brother as his history class are doping research on Australian soldiers who were KIA in WW1. I have been digging around for info for them & it has sparked a new interest for me to start doing research again. I still have my Legacy purchase receipt & customer number so once I download it I will hopefully be able to unlock the Deluxe features. Oops I'm rambling on...
    Have a great day!!!