What’s New in Version 6.1

This page lists the new and improved features added in version 6.1. See What’s New in Version 6 for details of features added in 6.0.

Users of 6.0 can download a free upgrade to 6.1 from the Lastest Free Update page.


Improved GEDCOM Import, especially from Family Tree Maker and Ancestry GEDCOM files

A new feature called Smart GEDCOM Loading has been added, which delivers big improvements in GEDCOM imports – especially from Family Tree Maker and Ancestry GEDCOM files. The same feature can even be used to recover hidden data in existing Family Historian projects that were previously created by imports from Family Tree Maker or Ancestry (click Recover Uncategorised Data on the Uncategorised Data submenu of the Tools menu).

Other items that are likely to be of particular interest to Family Tree Maker users (they were added in response to requests and feedback from FTM users) include Improved Handling of Source Citation Media, New Date Formats and More Enhancements for Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Users below.


Improved Direct Import from The Master Genealogist

A number of enhancements have been made to the handling of names on import.  Prefixes, suffixes, and titles are all now handled appropriately.  The Title field is treated as another prefix.  The preSurname field, if used, is inserted before the surname. The Other Name field, if used, is moved to the Family Historian Nickname field. Surnames are no longer capitalised on load.  Name parts which begin with a hyphen are ignored.  Imported spouses, children and siblings are automatically put in the correct chronological order.  A bug which sometimes prevented the abbreviation for a repository from being included in a TMG import, has now been fixed.  There was a problem with the import of ‘internal text’ files under the ‘exhibit’ tab. Only the first 300 words, approximately, of each text file came across.  This also has been fixed. Creating new fact definitions for imported TMG facts could be problematic if the fact name contained certain non-alphabetic and non-numeric characters. This has also been fixed.

Other items that are likely to be of particular interest to The Master Genealogist users (they were added in response to requests and feedback from TMG users) include Add Source Citations for Parent-Child Relationships as well as Spouse Relationships, ‘No principal’ and ‘Multi-principal’ Events and Better and Easier Options for Generating Sentences in Narrative Reports below. Several of the items in the section Numerous enhancements for power-users, were also added in response to requests and feedback from TMG users.


Improved Direct Import from Genbox

Witnesses to events are now imported as witnesses, and are not simply recorded as witnesses in a Note field.  Source citations for witnesses are now also imported (source citations for witnesses can be viewed in the Source pane when you select a witness in the Witnesses window). Imported spouses, children and siblings are automatically put in the correct chronological order.


Add Source Citations for Parent-Child Relationships as well as Spouse Relationships

You can now add source citations for all relationships, including parent-child relationships. To add a source citation for person X as father of person Y, use the Witnesses window for X’s birth event, to add person Y with role of ‘father’. You can then add source citations for Y in this role, with respect to X’s birth. A new sentence template code is used to prevent unwanted sentences being generated for this, in narrative reports. You can use the same technique to add source citations for adoptive parents. Adding a source citation for a spouse relationship has always been possible, by simply adding source citations for their marriage.


‘No principal’ and ‘Multi-principal’ Events

Most events, such as birth and death, have one person who is clearly the principal participant in the event. A few, like marriage, have two principals. But sometimes you may want to create an event which is shared between several people, where none of them really have a special claim to be the principal. You might say that they all are principals, or that none of them are. Fact types can now be defined so that they behave for almost all purposes, as if they have no principal (or as if they have multiple principals – it amounts to the same thing). For example, if five people lived together, you can record this with a single residence event which all five share. To do this, you just use the Witnesses window to add all five to the same event as witnesses (a ‘witness’ in this sense just means a non-principal participant) with role Resident. One of them, it is true, has to also nominally be recorded as the principal. But all five will be treated identically in reports, and almost identically in all other contexts (such as the Facts tab of the Property Box). So for all practical purposes, the event can be viewed as a no-principal, or as a multi-principal, event.


Improved Handling of Source Citation Media

The Media Viewer window (previously known as the Show Media dialog) had been used previously only for displaying media linked to an event. Now it has been enhanced to allow it to also be used to display media associated with a source citation – that is, either media linked to the Source record, or media linked to the citation. You can see at a glance, the number of items in each category and easily switch between them. You can also use the Media Viewer to add media of either type, either by clicking the ‘Add’ button, or by dragging media files onto the window. The Media Viewer is a floating window that does not have to be closed. It displays media for whatever fact or source citation, is selected in the Property Box. So if the Media Viewer is already open, one click on a listed source citation in the yellow Source pane is all it takes to view the source citation’s media, if any. If the Media Viewer isn’t already open, just one additional click is required on a Source pane toolbar button, to open it. Right-click on each thumbnail image displayed in the Media Viewer, to see a convenient dropdown menu of things you do with that media item.

The yellow Source pane has also been enhanced so that you can see at glance which source citations have linked media, thanks to a new media icon which displays on the right, for each row in the list of source citations, if the source citation has associated media. A new menu button on the Sources pane toolbar provides yet more options for displaying source citation media. They can be displayed either in the workspace Media Window, or in an external editor/player.

As mentioned before, the Media Viewer can also be used to display media linked to an event. This usage has also been improved. For example, you can now optionally include all media for all source citations for the event, if you wish.


Automatically Fix Problems with Missing Pictures

Family Historian lets you choose to copy pictures into your project folder, if you wish, or to keep them elsewhere on your hard disk. If you choose the latter option, Family Historian has to maintain links to the pictures held elsewhere. It can easily happen, if files are moved or folders renamed, that the links to them get broken. When that happens, you will see an empty box instead of a picture, for that person, within Family Historian. The same problem can sometimes happen when you import into a new project, if the pictures are not found at the time of the import. Previously, Family Historian provided a powerful tool, Work with External File Links, to help you identify and solve any such problems. That tool is still there, but there is now an additional option, which is to ask Family Historian to automatically find the missing files and repair the broken links for you. The new auto-repair feature will be offered to you as an option, whenever the need for it arises. But you can also access it at any time by clicking on the new Auto Repair Links button, on the Work with External File Links tool (accessible from the Tools menu).

snapshot manager

Automatic Snapshots

Family Historian can now automatically take and store daily snapshots of your entire data file, so that you can easily revert to an earlier version if you need to (this is in addition to full multi-level undo/redo within each session). By default, only the 8 most recent snaphots are kept, to ensure that space taken by snapshots never becomes excessive (this is configurable in Advanced settings, in Preferences). The new Snapshot Manager allows snapshots to be viewed or deleted – or reverted to.  It can be accessed by clicking ‘Revert to Snapshot’ on the ‘Backup/Restore’ submenu of the File menu, or, in the Project Window, by selecting a project and clicking ‘More Tasks’, and then ‘Manage Snapshots’.

This feature provides additional security over and above the security offered by backups, but should not be viewed as in any way a substitute for regular backups.


No More Unnecessary Slashes Round Surnames

If the surname is the last word in the name, Family Historian will, by default, no longer put slashes round the surname in the Property Box. Gives it a neater look, we think, for no loss of functionality.


Better and Easier Options for Generating Sentences in Narrative Reports

You don’t have to be a power-user (expert) to modify sentence templates for narrative reports. But some of the more powerful and advanced features that Family Historian offers with respect to sentence templates and sentence generation, are likely to be primarily of interest to power-users. That said, the new enhancements simplify things somewhat. The Insert Code button which features in the Fact Definition dialog (see right) and in the Edit Role dialog, produces a dropdown menu for inserting template codes into sentence templates. It now has a new menu option for inserting data references, which makes them much easier to insert (‘data references’ are Family Historian’s low-level mechanism for referencing any item of data from almost anywhere). New ‘contextual data references’ now make it much easier to reference everything relating to the participants (principals or witnesses) in events. See the Help – especially the pages for ‘Template Codes’ and ‘Understanding Data References’ – for more details. Both pages have been updated and improved with more examples.

And much more, including…

Click on each heading to expand and view details.

+ Alternative map types in the Map Window

The alternative map type, OSM Roads, had stopped working in the Map Window owing to changes in the way that the service operated.  It now works once again.

+ New Witnessed Events query

The new Witnessed Events query lists everyone who has participated in an event in a non-principal role, and gives details of up to 9 instances in which they have done so.

+ Easier installation of upgrades

The Check for Updates functionality has been improved.  You will be able to install  the latest free update by simply clicking a new Upgrade Now button.

+ Improved support for companion products (3 items)

  • Family Historian family tree data is stored in a GEDCOM file.  You can now optionally specify that this file should always be saved in UTF-8 format (see Preferences, File Load/Save tab).  This greatly increases the likelihood that other applications will be able to load the GEDCOM file, without the need to export it.  The default however is still UTF-16 (formally equivalent to UTF-8, but less widely supported by other applications).
  • FH now saves the last-used record id for each record type in the GEDCOM file, which avoids some potential problems that could otherwise arise with certain companion products (such as Clooz).
  • There is a new registry setting: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Calico Pie\Family Historian\2.0\Preferences\Dgm Stats Output File.  If you put a full path file name into this setting, FH will save the “Diagram Statistics” to that file, every time you run the “Save Diagram as PDF” functionality.  This feature was requested in relation to a companion product used for automatically generating diagrams.

+ Three standard fact definitions have been updated.  Old custom versions can still be accessed.

What happens when standard fact definitions are updated?  Are custom modifications lost?  The answer is that custom modifications to fact definitions (such as changes to sentence templates) are always retained, unless the standard fact definition changes – as it has been for Birth, Adoption and Census in this upgrade.  These modifications were made to support some of the features mentioned earlier.  But even if your particular modifications are replaced during an upgrade, they are not lost.  You will still be able to view and copy your old versions of sentence templates, by clicking on the new Old Versions button which has been added to the Fact Definition dialog.

+ Enhancements and bug fixes for reports (6 items)

The following enhancements and bug fixes are in addition to those already mentioned in relation to generating sentences for narrative reports:

  • In narrative reports, the <para> code did not work if followed by a space. That has been fixed.
  • In narrative reports, you could get a line starting with a full-stop, followed by a superscript for a source reference, if the sentence ended in a list of role names. This has been fixed.
  • With the Individual Summary Report, if you set the section label font to Calibri, you got garbage appearing. Now fixed.
  • Tightened up the use of the Private flag in narrative reports, outline reports and record detail reports, so that it is always honoured as you would expect.
  • Text expressions for heading text in reports were truncated to 150 characters. Now fixed.
  • If a record note was entirely private, you could get a full-stop appearing on its own in some reports, where private text was hidden. Now fixed.

+ Improvements for website generation

Fixed a layout issue with the display of images in generated websites when the images were laid out in rows along the top of a page, and there was more than one row.

+ The Family Historian Sample Project has been updated

The sample project now has more useful and more realistic data, especially with respect to sources and source certificates.

+ More enhancements for Family Tree Maker and Ancestry users (4 items)

  • Family Historian now automatically checks for, and fixes, problems that arose when long text fields (notes, and other text fields) were incorrectly output to a GEDCOM file by Family Tree Maker (or potentially by other applications too). This means that some text fields which were previously truncated on import, will now contain the full version of the text.  This fix works when a GEDCOM file containing incorrectly-handled text fields, is imported into Family Historian, but it also works when a project that had been created prior to the fix, is later re-opened within Family Historian. In other words, if you are a Family Tree Maker user, you do not need to repeat the import of your data into a Family Historian project. The problem is fixed automatically even with projects you have already created, when you next open them. This is possible because Family Historian previously stored the incorrectly handled text in extra hidden fields, within each record.
  • Family Historian now automatically checks for, and fixes, incorrectly located Title fields, within GEDCOM files (for pictures and other multimedia).  Again, the main beneficiary of this change is likely to be Family Tree Maker users.  And again, you do not need to re-import any GEDCOM files into a Family Historian project to benefit from the change.  You should notice that Media records have correct titles, the next time you open a project which had exhibited the problem.
  • Family Historian now automatically installs a new fact set, called ‘Extended Set’.  It is installed with lowest priority, so that it will not ‘eclipse’ any existing fact definitions.  It provides fact definitions for well-known fact types used by Family Tree Maker and Ancestry; so that anyone who imports an FTM or Ancestry GEDCOM file into a new Family Historian project (or who opens a project that was originally created from an import from FTM or Ancestry), should see appropriate sentences if they generate a narrative report.  The fact definitions in the Extended Set are all hidden by default, to avoid cluttering up the fact types list; but they can all be accessed and unhidden, and modified, if required.
  • Family Historian now supports all date formats that Family Tree Maker saves dates in, even if not valid GEDCOM (e.g. “BET MAY AND JUNE 1914”).

+ New date formats

  • There are two new preferred date format options in the General tab of Preferences: Preferred Standard Date and Preferred Short Date. Users can now choose to display dates month-first both for standard dates and short dates.

+ Improvements to the Property Box and the Witnesses Window (8 items)

  • Improvements have been made to the function of the ‘Go Back’ button in the Property Box.
  • The Witnesses Window now disables the Sentence field when it is not applicable for the current selection.
  • A problem with handling of Julian dates – which arose when the dates were estimated, approximate or calculated – has been fixed.
  • A minor bug in the Property Box date entry helper dialog – which arose when switching between calendars – has also been fixed.
  • The Facts tab of the Property Box now only shows close relative events if they aren’t already listed.
  • Pressing Ctrl-A in a field (data entry box) is supposed to select all of the current text for that field. This did not work as it should have done in a number of fields in the Property Box. This has now been fixed.
  • The display of information in the ‘Sources For’ field of the Property Box’s yellow Source pane, has been tidied up – in part to present information more clearly when you are adding source citations for a witness.
  • If you added a citation for a child’s name, sex or birth in the Main tab of the Property Box, the citation was added correctly, but the source pane then showed source citations for the whole record, and not for the newly added item.  This has been fixed.

+ Numerous enhancements for power-users (18 items)

A brief reference was made to new power-user features in relation to sentence generation for narrative reports (see above). In more detail, the new features in this area were these:

  • The Insert Code button which features in the Fact Definition dialog and in the Edit Role dialog, produces a dropdown menu for inserting template codes into sentence templates (for principals and witnesses).  It now has a new menu option for inserting data references, which makes them much easier to insert.  Also, the Insert Data Reference dialog now automatically formats the inserted data references appropriately for the context into which they are being inserted (which normally means that they get percentage signs around them, except in narrative sentences where they have curly brackets and percentages signs around them).
  • Three new contextual data references (CUR_PRIN, CUR_PRIN2 and CUR~WITN) make it much easier to refer to principals and witnesses (and witness notes and roles) in narrative sentences, and to refer to any fields anywhere in their records, or in any records linked to theirs, directly or indirectly.  For example, the expression {%CUR~WITN.ROLE%} references a witness’s role in a given event.
  • Data references beginning with ‘FACT’ did not previously work in the context of witness narrative sentences – e.g. {%FACT%}, {%FACT.DATE%} etc.  This has now been fixed.
  • There is a new {blank} template code which is used on its own, when you want to prevent a sentence from being generated at all.

See also Enhancements and bug fixes for reports above.

Other enhancements for power-users include these new features and bug fixes:

  • There are two kinds of contextual data references: those which reference links and those which don’t. The ones that refer to links now begin ‘CUR~’ whereas the ones that don’t refer to links, begin ‘CUR_’.  This makes it easier to see whether to use a chevron or not.  Existing data references to links can be still use the ‘CUR_’ prefix for backward-compatibility, but this is depreciated, and  the new form is encouraged henceforth.
  • There was a bug with some data references which used contextual data references. If you qualified a field in the context of some contextual data references, the expression was wrongly treated as invalid. This has been fixed.
  • Some contextual data references could not be inserted in the context of diagrams (for example, as expressions in box conditions).  This has been fixed.
  • The Help for template codes and data references has been updated and improved. This includes the pages ‘Understanding Data References’ and ‘Template Codes’ amongst others.  The updated pages describe the new shortcut codes and new contextual data references, in much more detail than previously, and use better examples.
  • The TimelineFactOrder function now honours the cutoff date, if there is one, that you can set for Timeline Facts in Preferences. This means that the Individual Timeline Query now behaves more like the Facts tab of the Property Box.
  • The TimeLineFactOrder function now returns a number for witnessed events. The TimeLineFactText function now returns text for witnessed events.
  • There is a new function, Sex, which takes up to 4 parameters, 3 of which are optional.  These are a reference to an Individual, and the text to output if he/she is male, female or of unknown sex.  The defaults are ‘male’, ‘female’ and nothing.
  • A new shortcut code for data references allows witnessed facts to be referenced for the Individual who witnessed them. The shortcut code is ~SHAR, and it is used with the INDI tag.  For example %INDI.~SHAR[3]>% references the third witnessed fact for that individual.  Direct ‘children’ of the ~SHAR code (i.e. if you use a dot after ~SHAR instead of a chevron) are children of the appropriate witness link.  So, for example, %INDI.~SHAR[3]>DATE% references the date of the shared event.  %INDI.~SHAR.ROLE% references the person’s role in that event.  And so on.
  • Fixed bug with the FactOwner function (used in some queries).
  • Fixed bug with the IsAncestorOf and IsDescendantOf functions.
  • Corrected errors in examples and other errors in the Help page for the GetContextInfo function.
  • If you ran a query with a record parameter, and clicked ‘Browse…’ to pick one, when the Record Select dialog closed, the main application window would be re-enabled at that point. The Query Parameter Dialog although still open, was no longer modal. This has now been fixed.
  • Fixed a tooltip error in the Query Window for the ‘Save as’ option.
  • Text in the Rows tab of the Query Window, was missing some operators (such as ‘Contains’) if the expression was a link to a record. This has now been fixed.

+ Numerous other enhancements and bug fixes (30 items)

  • In Field Lists (such as on the left side of the Columns tab of the Query window), child fields of a link field now have brackets round their field names so that they are easy to distinguish from fields in the linked record.
  • There is a now a preview option for image files in the Work with External File Links tool.
  • The New Source dialog now has a dropdown list of Source Types.
  • The background grid colour of the Diagram Window has been darkened slightly, to make the grid stand out more clearly.
  • Fixed a bug that arose when a framed picture was rotated in a diagram.
  • The ‘Paste Image’ menu command on the Media menu was redundant, and permanently disabled. It has now been removed.
  • Sorting on the Latitude/longitude column in the Places tab of the Records Window did not work. This has been fixed.
  • The green arrow button on the Lists toolbar (visible when the Record Window is active) is used to add a selection to the current Named List. It is now only ungreyed when a record is selected.
  • Drag-and-drop from a web-page did not always work as it should. This has been fixed.
  • Previously drag-and-drop only worked with picture files, when dropping the files onto special ‘drop zones’ (such as the Media Viewer or the Media tab of the Property Box).  But any file can be treated as ‘Other Media’, so now you can drop any kind of file in any drop zone.
  • When filtering Place records in record lists, if you typed in a place name, it wouldn’t match places where the place name was immediately preceded by a comma. This has been fixed.
  • It has been made easier to switch from viewing media in the Media Viewer to showing the same media in the workspace Media Window. Right-clicking on a thumbnail provides convenient options for this, and for viewing the same media in an editor/player.
  • Various enhancements have been made to the way the Media Viewer interacts with the Property Box, to ensure that it always behaves as you would expect.
  • The position and size of the Media Viewer is now saved persistently between sessions.
  • Some users reported that some preference settings reverted to installation defaults, when they upgraded to a new version of Family Historian.  This has been fixed.
  • Family Historian now does a better job of importing Ancestry GEDCOM files, by automatically solving a number of problems when the files are imported.  Previously, for example, you could end up with numerous Media records for the same media file.  This is now much less likely to happen.
  • There has been a performance enhancement which should improve the speed of plugins – in some cases, quite considerably.
  • The Media Viewer has a new ‘View’ button.  Clicking this button gives a choice of the currently selected media in an external viewer/player, or viewing its record in the Property Box.   A third option allows all media currently showing in the Media Viewer, to be displayed instead in the workspace Media Window.
  • Family Historian will still, optionally, save fields it does not recognise as ‘Uncategorised Data Fields’ (UDFs).  When a GEDCOM file is imported, any UDFs that store links between records (UDF links) are now updated, if necessary, during the import to ensure that the link information they store is correct, and uses the correct record ids after the import, even if records have been renumbered.
  • Various improvements have been made to the handling of log files.  Also, they are now stored in UTF-8 format.
  • The ‘Spouse Parents’ option did not work correctly in some narrative reports.  This has been fixed.  Also, in rare circumstances, a spurious full-stop could appear in some sentences.  That too has been fixed.
  • Family Historian now shows burial or cremation date or place details in the Focus Window, if there are such details, and if there are no date or place details for the death event (if there is one).
  • When importing a GEDCOM file into a new project, an unwanted extra space could sometimes be added into the odd gap between words, in multi-line text.  That has now been fixed.
  • A filtering bug in the Records Window, which affected Media, Place, Repository and Source tabs, has now been fixed.
  • A bug when entering some ‘double dates’ (such as ‘Jan 1624/25 est’) has now been fixed.
  • The description at the bottom of the Columns tab in the Query Window was wrong for Place records, and its ‘child’ Text field, and for Note records. This has been fixed.
  • When opting to view linked media in the workspace Media Window (from the Media tab of the Property Box), the Associated Events/Facts option did not work correctly.  This has been fixed.
  • When adding a single media file to a project, if you opt to copy the file into the project, Family Historian now automatically offers to modify the copy’s name to make it unique if otherwise there would be a name clash with an existing file.
  • The diagram option (part of the group relating to markers for people who have no offspring) to ‘Also put marker below individuals with no spouses & no children’ did not work. This has been fixed.
  • Various other improvements, over and above those already mentioned, have been made to the Help (and Plugin Help).

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