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Family Tree v1.1b- by Bob Smith

Family Tree v1.1b (11/16/96) is a shareware Presentation Manager, 32-bit, multi-threaded program for organizing and displaying one's family tree written by Nils Meier of Lohmar, Germany. For those wanting to organize their family's genealogy without resorting to using a Windows or DOS program, it may be the answer.

Installation

Installation of Family Tree is simple and straightforward. The ZIP file is unzipped into its final subdirectory and an INSTALL.CMD file creates a program object on the Desktop and initializes language-specific DLL and HLP files. Users have the choice of English, Dutch, French or German as operating language. The program takes up about 1.7 MB of space in total.

Program Operation

The first time you run Family Tree you are presented with a plain white field with a single entry: "ADAM". This isn't meant to imply that we should go that far back in our family tree; it is just a place marker for the first entry. Included with the program is a copy of the author's family tree which can be used as an example of what a growing tree looks like. (There are 46 individuals in five generations in family tree).

Almost all operations on entries in Family Tree can be accomplished with the mouse. The right mouse button (RMB) brings up a context menu which allows a wide range of operations. To start off, one would click the RMB on ADAM and click EDIT to start one's tree. The data that can be entered includes: name, birth place & date, death place & date, marriage place & date & ending date (a sign of our times I guess, as the program is built to allow a multitude of partners) and miscellaneous information, including a picture.

The help file states that you can drag and drop PCX, GIF or BMP files to the entry field for pictures, but I discovered that if you provide the path to a TIFF file it will also work.

Family Tree allows editing of personal information such as sex, name, and various dates which can be dangerous if one is not careful. For example, I added an entry for my second wife without making an entry for the divorce from spouse #1. The program accepted the change but showed an error entry for my second wife's marriage until I put an ending date in for marriage #1.

Documentation is extensive and all on-line; no printed manual. The on-line help can be printed out, but at a big cost in paper. In general, the help files are useful and tell you what you need to know.

The interface is rather obvious. A family tree should show as a tree and it does. It can be aligned either vertically or horizontally -- quite helpful depending on how wide your family tree is or how many generations you have chased back. One very nice thing is the program's ability to use colors to delineate different relationships. This makes a lot of things much more visible when looking at the tree on-screen.

Perhaps the most useful thing about Family Tree though is its REXX hooks. There are a full range of pre-prepared REXX scripts which will do a lot of useful things: print out a list of birthdays, death anniversaries, a birth order of the entire tree or several other neat things. It also allows you to check the validity of the tree; that your grandmother was not dead before your parents were born and other impossibilities like that.

Included in the standard REXX scripts are ones to import and export your family tree in the GENCOM format, a standard format for genealogy programs. This allows you to share data with others who are not using the same program. (A big help for those of us who use OS/2!) Also, if you are at all handy in REXX, you can write your own scripts to do almost anything with the data in your family tree.

I tested Family Tree on a Pentium 90 with 32 MB of memory, a 1 GB hard drive and a HP 660Cse printer and found the performance to be very good.

Family Tree is shareware and can by found on most popular FTP sites. The cost to register is 20DM or US$15 and it can be registered through BMT Micro.

Conclusions

Family Tree will not help you find your relatives. It will help you organize data, display it in a rational manner and extract relationships from that data though. It is not a "cadillac" program like Broderbund's Family Tree Maker for Windows, but for the hobbyist genealogist who is only trying to find some branches of their family tree, it does the job quite nicely.
 * Family Treev 1.1b
by Nils Meier
download from BMT Micro (ZIP, 970k)
Registration: US$15

Bob Smith is a 15 year veteran of USAF as Transport Pilot and Planner; he has also spent 15 years in Fire Service in small a California community. He retired as Fire chief in 1995 and has been using OS/2 since v2.0.

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