The Freedom of Information act, and a little help from a TV show called “So who do you think you are” has had a large impact on those who at one time found genealogy less than interesting. We’ve now seen a boom in the number of people trying to track down their ancestors.

Family Tree Heritage has been around for a number of years but with this latest version, the developers haven’t been tempted to make the interface, or the process, any more multimedia friendly. It’s a quick install and as the cover proclaims, it gives you access to over 1 billion records online. This is where the first snag for this software starts, as it’s an American piece of software that assumes you’re in the States, so actually getting started on a UK family is a little trickier.

The interface is simple and easy to read and looks at first like a glorified spreadsheet for you to fill in the details. The trick with the software is that behind this simple front page you can hang a number of other facts and features.

On the front page you can type in the name and relevant details of family members and clicking on them takes you through to individual family member pages. Adding photos and creating a scrapbook can also be linked to individual entries and certainly helps add depth to the cold facts.

What we liked was the quick way you could build up a profile. There is even a feature linked in with MapQuest that allows you to track where your family originally came from. Once again, this may have more relevance to US families but it’s a neat addition.

There are a number of ways you can save and print your family tree, either online or as a chart that an incorporate photos and charts.

There are plenty of new features in this latest version, all designed to make sharing your project that little bit easier. The big change is that Heritage is now able to import files from other programs, making sharing information far easier to handle. It doesn’t end there, as the program now allows you to work on the same project with others, sharing the information online. The manufacturers inform us this is the only software that currently allows this to happen.

Multimedia aspects are now better supported, as you’ll be able to turn the information you’ve created either in to a DVD or even use it to build your own family website. With a nod to the way the world is changing, you can even now record DNA test results, which in the coming years will doubt make tracing your family line less complicated.

Verdict

Family Tree Heritage may not come across as the most polished of products but you’ll be surprised at how versatile it actually is. We found it easy to get to grips with and while you may need to do a little investigating on your own; this package helps you grow a multimedia map of your family for future generations.