What’s New in 3.1

This page lists the new and improved features in version 3.1. See What’s New (All Versions) for details of features added in other versions.


New in 3.1.2 and 3.1.1

  • You can now specify the size of margin to leave around diagrams when saving a whole diagram in Enhanced Metafile Format (EMF). Also, the problems that some users experienced when saving diagrams in Enhanced Metafile Format have now been fixed. (3.1.2)
  • Now, if you have Windows XP or later, you can access the contents of Family Historian’s backup (zip) files using Windows Explorer. (3.1.2)
  • Some GEDCOM files downloaded from Ancestry have been found to contain bad or missing family relationship links (i.e. the links were incorrectly set up and did not conform to GEDCOM requirements). In the past, Family Historian resolved this problem by simply removing the bad links during validation (i.e. when the file was loaded, or you used the Validate command on the File menu). However, this has meant that users have then had to manually re-enter the missing family relationship information from information provided in a report. Now, in 3.1.1, Family Historian will resolve the problem of the bad links by automatically repairing them, instead of removing them. (3.1.1)
  • Sundry minor enhancements and bug fixes. (3.1.1)

New in 3.1.0

1. New Support for ‘File Root’
  • You can now optionally make any individual a ‘File Root’.
  • There is a new column ‘Relationship to Root’ which is listed in the Configure Columns Dialog for the Records Window. This column is enabled by default. It shows how all Individuals in the file are related to the file root, and it is updated instantly and automatically as relationships change.
  • When editing diagram text schemes in the ‘Edit Text Scheme’ dialog, there is a new item ‘Relationship to File Root’ that can be added to any text scheme.
  • The File Root can be set from the File Root submenu, which is accessible from the Edit menu.

Advanced users can make extensive use of the new file root features in numerous contexts – see Advanced Features for Power Users below.

2. New International Features
  • You can now choose between UK English and US English in a new ‘International’ tab in the Preferences dialog.
  • The Internet Search tool now lists sites for Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India
3. New Help System
  • The old help system has been replaced by a completely new one. The new Help system has a hideable contents pane on the left side which allows much better browsing of topics.
  • Topics from the old system have been retained, but have been extensively tidied up and improved, and the data has been re-structured and re-organised. Numerous new sections have been added, in particular a new “Getting Started” section with associated topics, and a new “How To” section (under “Using Family Historian”) and associated topics, have been added. The aim is to make it much easier, by just using the Online Help, to find information relating to both getting started (for new users) and finding out how to do things (for all users).
  • New sections have been added for each menu, detailing what each menu command does.
  • New sections have been added for each toolbar, detailing what each button does.
  • The new Help has a much improved Index and a much-improved Search facility, as well as other useful options (e.g. a button on the toolbar to easily let readers adjust the font size to suit them, etc).
4. Diagram Layout Enhancements

The old ‘Page Boundaries’ sub menu on the ‘Diagram’ menu has been renamed as ‘Pages, Rows/Columns & Boxes’. Using the options on this menu you can do the following

  • Make all boxes the same size
  • Make all boxes in the same row the same size
  • Make selected boxes the same size
  • Reset box sizes (i.e. re-enable Autosize for all boxes)
  • Make all rows the same size.
  • Reset row sizes
  • Adjust diagram scaling so that an exact number of rows (or columns, depending on the diagram orientation) will fit within a page. If rows (columns) are not already the same size, this option will force all rows (columns) to be the same size.
  • Reset diagram scaling

If you press the Ctrl key while moving page boundaries (using click-and-drag on grid intersections when viewing page boundaries) the boundary will now ‘snap’ to the nearest row or column boundary. If you use this in conjunction with the ability to make all rows (columns) the same size and fit an exact number within a page, you can get a much-improved layout for diagrams that appear spread vertically over several printed pages.

5. Other Diagram Enhancements
  • Performance when displaying very large diagrams has been significantly improved. This is especially true if ‘Check for Duplicates’ is ticked (see the ‘General’ tab of the Diagram Options dialog). Any diagrams which display ahnentafel numbers will also be faster.
  • There is a new ‘Lines’ tab in the Diagram Options dialog which allows you to set the colour and thickness for lines connecting boxes. Dotted and solid lines can be set separately. You can control how lines reflect the marital status of couples. For example, by default divorced couples had a line ‘crossing-out’ their marriage lines; and couples who never married are connected by dotted lines. But you can change these defaults as you wish.
  • In the past, you had a fixed choice of 10 line thicknesses to choose from (e.g. for lines surrounding boxes, or for added lines or rectangles). You can now specify any thickness you like (down to the nearest quarter of a point) for all lines. To do this choose ‘Other’ as the required line thickness and then specify the required line size using a quarter-point decimal (e.g. 5.75).
  • There is now a choice of the layout of lines connecting ancestors. The new default is that these lines are ‘forked’, but you can have the old style with marriage lines if you prefer – there is an option for this on the General tab of the Diagram Options dialog.
  • The lines connecting duplicated families can now optionally have ‘hooks’ that link these lines to the parent boxes. This is set by default. See “Hook boxes to family link lines” in the Duplicate Options dialog (accessible by clicking ‘Options’ next to ‘Check for Duplicates’ in the General tab of the Diagram Options dialog).
  • There is now a new option to ‘straighten’ descendant branches. This is most useful when you have a person with a single line of descent. Please note that it is the overall shape of the branch that is straightened by this option. The actual lines connecting each parent to his descendant may have a kink in them in order to achieve the overall straightened shape. This option (“Straighten descendant branch lines where possible”) can be accessed by clicking ‘More Layout Options’ on the General tab of the Diagram Options dialog.
  • If you make a change to diagram options coloured red, you normally have to rebuild the diagram. When a diagram is rebuilt, all existing trees are discarded and a single new one is created. In the past, all other diagram elements (including any added pictures, text boxes, rectangles, etc) were also discarded. That is no longer the case. Now it is only trees that are discarded. Non-tree diagram elements are retained.
  • Previously if you inserted a picture into a diagram, the aspect ratio of the picture was not automatically maintained. It now is maintained, by default. If you want to change the aspect ratio, click ‘Format’ and untick ‘Lock Aspect Ratio’ on the new ‘Image’ tab.
  • You can now insert information from the header or submitter record into Text Boxes in diagrams, using data references. Note: if you wish to insert information from the Submitter Record, the submitter must be specified in the Header record. To specify the submitter in the Header record, click on View > Special Records > Header Record.
  • There is a new ‘Set Zoom Level’ function available in the Zoom submenu of the Diagram menu. This lets you specify an exact zoom level.
  • Diagrams now save scaling info, position on page, and row height info, when you save in chart format.
6. Improved Support for File Merging or Appending
  • In the past, if you wished to append one file into another without merging any records, you had to do this by opening the Merge/Compare dialog, waiting while Family Historian searched for possible matches, and then unmatching any records which Family Historian had matched. Now when you open the Merge/Compare dialog you are asked if you want any records to be matched. If you answer ‘No’, the Merge/Compare dialog will open immediately with all records unmatched and you can simply click ‘Merge’ to append the one file into the other.
  • The File Merge/Compare matching process is now much faster in any case.
  • You get more detailed feedback while the File Merge/Compare matching process is going on, so you can see what is happening.
  • There is now a Cancel button, which you can use to cancel the File Merge/Compare matching process if it still is taking too long.
7. Improved Support for File Splitting/Deleting Data

Using the ‘Split Tree Helper’ dialog (accessible from the File menu) you can now optionally delete:

  • Any events or attributes you select for deletion
  • All events or attributes except those you list
  • All flags
  • All named lists
  • All notes within records
  • All private notes – that is notes within double square brackets (e.g. [[Secret text]]). Using double square brackets to mark a note as private means that you can optionally exclude the note from reports, etc; but now you can also delete private notes from an entire GEDCOM file.
8. Improved Support for Source Pictures

Source pictures used to have to be displayed to the right of source listings in Reports, and above them in rows in web pages, family tree CDs, or word-processor documents. You now have 4 options:

  • To the Right of the Text
  • Above All Citations
  • Below All Citations
  • Below Each Citation

You can now set both a maximum width, and you have the option to enlarge small pictures to this size. You can also set a maximum height.

All options are supported not just for reports, but also for web pages (HTML format) and word-processor documents (Rich Text Format) – except to ‘the Right of the Text’ which is treated as ‘Above All Citations’ in HTML and RTF format. All options only ever stack pictures one above the other – you no longer get multiple pictures per line.

Options can be chosen from the ‘Sources’ tab of the Report Options dialog.

9. New Support for Estimating Birth and Death Dates, and Ages
  • A new query ‘Estimated Alive At’ returns everyone known to be alive at a given date, or who Family Historian estimates may have been alive at the given date.
  • There is a new column ‘Dates (est.)’ which is listed in the Configure Columns Dialog for the Records Window. This column is not enabled by default but you can add it by right-clicking on any column heading in the Records Window and selecting ‘Configure Columns’. The new column is in the list of items on the left-hand side. It is similar to the normal ‘Dates’ column except that for people who have no dates, it will show estimated dates, preceded by a tilda ‘~’ (e.g. ~1920-~2005).
  • There is also a new item ‘Life Dates (est.)’ which allows you to add estimated life dates to any text scheme, to display in diagrams. This item is listed on the left-hand side in the Edit Text Scheme dialog.
  • There is a new ‘Estimates’ tab in the Preferences dialog which shows various assumptions that Family Historian makes which affect these estimates – for example, there are estimates for the minimum and maximum age at which women are likely to have given birth. You can adjust these settings if you wish.
  • Advanced users should see Advanced Features for Power Users below to learn more about new technology relating to estimates, and how to use this in various contexts.
10. Extended Support for Customizing Events and Attributes
  • You can now customize the listing in the Events tab, and the Record Window, for any event or attribute, using an ‘Advanced’ dialog when editing the properties for an event or attribute.
11. Improved Support For Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Pressing Ctrl+D in the Records Window now switches the keyboard ‘focus’ to the box at the top of the window that lets you search for a name (the ‘find box’). This option works in all contexts in which you have a list of records and a find box – not just in the Records Window.
  • Pressing Ctrl+Shift+D in the Records Window does the same as Ctrl+D, except that additionally it also sorts the list in alphbetical order, making records easier to find.
  • Pressing F6 in the Records Window now switches the focus between the Find box and the main records list. If the Named List pane is open, it will move the focus between (in order) the Find box, the Records list, and then each of the the 3 panels of the Named List pane.
  • Pressing Shift+F6 does the same as F6 but reverses the order.
  • Pressing F3 only used to work if the ‘focus’ was in the Find box, in the Records Window. Now F3 will continue to work even if focus shifts to the Records List.
  • There is now a complete list of keyboard and mouse shortcuts in the Online Help. To find it, click on Help > Contents and Index. Then expand ‘General Topics’ and double click on ‘Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts’.
12. Miscellaneous
  • In the past when you copied a source citation, the copy only happened when you pasted the citation. So if you changed the original citation after ‘copying’ it, the pasted citation would include the changes. Now when you copy a source citation, a snapshot is taken at that point, and changes to the copied citation will not affect pasting. Please note: this only applies to copied citations. Copying all other fields will continue to work as before.
  • If you start to enter a place name into a place field, auto-completion will now choose the most-recently-used matching place name as the ‘auto-complete’ version, for preference, if there is a choice of more than one place name that matches the typed text. If the text does not match the most-recently-used place name, the most-frequently-used matching place name will be chosen, if there is a choice of more than one. The same applies to auto-completion in all other contexts (e.g. religions, etc).
  • There is a new ‘Check for Updates’ command on the Help menu, which will alert you if there are new program updates available.
  • If you want to have a column in the Records Window to show whether a person has a given flag or not, this is now easier as each flag is listed as an item that you can add, in the left column of available items in the Configure Columns Dialog.
  • The maximum size of any given note in a note field, used to be 30,000 characters. That has been increased to 0.5 million characters.
  • A new ‘multimedia’ button has been added to the toolbar in the Source pane of the Properties dialog that will show you multimedia for the selected source. The button will be greyed if the source has no multimedia.
  • There have been numerous minor enhancements to the websites and Family Tree CDs generated by their respective wizards. The HTML generated has been made more standard. Alignment of items has been improved.
  • Relationship descriptions are now automatically kept correct as relationships change (e.g. see the new ‘Relationship to Root’ column in the Records Window). There is also an ‘Advanced’ preferences option to switch this off if preferred (see ‘General’ tab of Preferences). If not automatically updated, relationship descriptions can be refreshed by clicking ‘Refresh’ on the Window menu.
  • The GRO has been added as a site, to the Internet Search tool.
  • As well as the new ‘EstimateAliveAt’ query (mentioned above) there is also a new ‘Has Flag’ query. When you run it it prompts you to choose a flag; and then lists all the Individuals who have that flag. In effect this means that wherever you currently can use a query to select a group of people (e.g. in setting marks in diagrams, or in selecting records for deletion in the Split Tree Helper dialog), you also now choose to select individuals by flag settings using this query. The ‘Named List Members’ query (not new in 3.1) equally allows you to choose individuals by named list membership.
  • You can now specify more complex sentence templates for narrative reports (see the Online Help).
  • There have been numerous ‘tidying-up’ changes to queries – for example, all queries now have appropriate titles when printed.
13. Advanced Features for Power Users

Power users are technically sophisticated users who like to explore a program’s full capabilities. Family Historian has special power-user features which give tremendous power and flexibility to users who want it. Version 3.1 extends the power-user features considerably with 12 new ‘functions’ and other related enhancements. These enhancements are described in the section “What’s New in Family Historian 3.1” of the online help (in the “Welcome to Family Historian” section).

14. Bug Fixes

There have been numerous bug fixes and/or small usability enhancements. These particularly affect diagrams, website generation (and family tree CD generation), queries, fact sets and the Property Dialog.

Related Topics

For instructions on how to download an upgrade to the latest version, see Downloads.

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