What’s new in 2.2

This page lists the new and improved features in version 2.2. See What’s New (All Versions) for details of features added in other versions.

1. Basic Record Merging and Branch Merging

In the past Family Historian previously only supported one kind of merging/comparing: File Merge/Compare. It now supports 3 kinds:

  • File Merge/Compare
  • Basic Record Merge/Compare
  • Branch Merge/Compare

File Merge/Compare is when you compare and merge entire files.

Basic Record Merge/Compare is when you select 2 records of the same type (e.g. 2 Individual records or 2 Source records) and compare them side-by-side, and optionally merge them.

Branch Merge/Compare is, we believe, another first for Family Historian. It often happens that duplicate records somehow arise within a file for the same individuals. But frequently that is not the end of it. Not only are the Individuals themselves duplicated, but so too are their parents, grandparents, children, uncles and aunts, and so on. It is very easy for entire branches of individuals to become accidentally duplicated. Family Historian’s support for Branch Merge/Compare makes it easy to locate all the duplicates (and they can be any arbitrary group of related individuals – they don’t have to follow a ‘straight line’ branch). Having found all of the duplicates in the branch, with Family Historian you can make all the decisions about which duplicates to merge (usually all of them), decide exactly how to merge them (at the field level), and then do the merge in a single operation. Traditional genealogy programs force you to compare and merge records one-at-a-time. But this is a very unsatisfactory approach because so often in a branch merge, the decisions are all interrelated. Is A the same as B? Yes if A’s son is the same as B’s son. Otherwise not. You don’t want to decide on one pair and then the next. You need to decide on both pairs at the same time. Only Family Historian’s approach to branch merging gives you the viewpoint you need to compare all the records at the same time, and the ability to control the merge process completely, and then execute the merge in one step.

As with File Merge/Compare, so too with Basic Record Merge/Compare and Branch Merge/Compare: Family Historian lets you see exactly what the outcome of the merge process will be before you start any of it. In fact, for all 3 kinds of merging, it has been made easier to see what the outcome of a merge will be. Where 2 values are to be merged, the data value that will be discarded is now displayed struck-out, and other user interface improvements have been added.

The scoring algorithm used for determining which records are matched has been improved, to reduce the number of ‘false-positives’.

2. Improved Support for Places, Occupations, Religions, etc
  • If you enter a place name for an event or attribute, it will auto-complete, and you press Tab to accept the auto-completion. Auto-completion can be switched off in Preferences.
  • Place name fields now have a grey button with 3 dots at the right end. If you click on this, or double-click on the place name field itself, a “Places List” dialog will appear and you can select a place from the list. If you click on the “More >>” button, this dialog will switch to show buttons for working with Places. You can also view the Places List dialog in a very similar way by clicking on Tools > Work with Data > Places.
  • When working with places you can edit a place name, merge 2 or more place names, and view all records that use a place name (and go to any of them). Places are displayed with each comma-separated part that makes up the place shown in its own column so you can sort on any column (or Alt-click to reverse the sort). The same list also shows how often each place name has been used. If you click on the ‘Columns’ button you can specify how many columns you wish to allocate to place parts.
  • You can optionally choose to view places with the last part in the first column, 2nd last in the 2nd column and so on. This makes it easier to sort on the last part of a place name.
  • There is a new Places report. If you click on the ‘Reports’ button in the Place List dialog, it will jump you to this report.
  • There are 3 new qualifiers for Place fields: SHORT, MEDIUM and FULL. The last is the default (equivalent of no qualifier). SHORT just gives you the first part of the place, up to the first comma. MEDIUM gives you the place up to the 2nd comma.
  • Most of the facilities described above (i.e. except for the bits that are obviously place-specific) are also available for Occupations, Religions, Groups/Castes and National or Tribal Origins. Each other these has a new report dedicated to it – making 5 new reports in all.

3. Improved Data Entry and Data Validation
  • The autocomplete facilities described in the previous section will make data entry easier.
  • There is also now validation on data entry. When you enter data into a field, the field will be validated when you press the tab key (or the F5 key). Validating dates takes 2 forms: (a) you are warned if the date is simply invalid. (b) even if valid, you will still be warned if the looks unlikely for whatever reason – e.g. you will be warned if you enter a date of death for a person that is earlier than that person’s date of birth.
    Data validation works wherever you enter the data in the field – either the Property Dialog or the Records Window. You don’t have to press either Tab or F5 when you enter data, but the data will only be validated if you do.
  • You can now enter ‘Quarter Dates’ (e.g. “Q4 1987”) into any Date field. If you prefer Quarter Dates to be displayed in long form (“Between October 1987 to December 1987”) there is an option on the Preferences Dialog that lets you do this.
  • Events and Attributes are now automatically kept in chronological order (unless you disable this in Preferences) if you add them or edit them in the Events tab of the Property Dialog.
  • There is also new “Re-order Events by Date” command on the Edit menu, that will check, for a given individual, that that person’s events, attributes, spouses and children are all in chronological order, and re-order them if they aren’t. You can run this command by selecting an Individual record and pressing F9.

4. Configurable Columns and ‘Tags’
  • You can now configure the columns in the Records Window, and also in Named Lists. Each Named List can have its own column layout. In each case, you can have as many columns as you like. You can select from a long list of standard columns, or you can create your own custom columns to display whatever information you want.
  • You can save a column configuration as a Query, or reload a column configuration from a Query. All columns are configurable (including the direction of sort), except the first column.
  • Other genealogy applications allow you to ‘tag’ records by ticking in a checkbox when viewing lists of records. They vary in the number of tag columns they allow (typically simply numbered 1 to 3, say). Family Historian now effectively lets you have as many tags as you like, because any list can be treated as a tag. If you add a list-membership column for the Records Window (or a Named List) a check box will appear for that column which will be checked if the record belongs to the Named List, and unchecked if it doesn’t. You can add or remove records from this Named List by checking or unchecking the check box. The same check boxes can be viewed from within Named Lists too. They are Read-Only by default in a Named List context, but you can make them editable here too if the Named List supports record editing (see “Changes to the Records Window” below for more on this).

5. GEDCOM Validation, Error Detection and Error Correction

Family Historian now supports 2 kinds if error-detection and error-correction with GEDCOM files:

A. Load-time checking
If you open a GEDCOM file that was not created by Family Historian, Family Historian will ask whether you would like it to check for, and correct, well-known errors. If you do so it will produce a detailed report at the end of the process detailing exactly what it has done. The errors checked for and fixed include:

  • Incorrectly-formatted event data (common error)
  • Notes stored using incorrect syntax (the “Note-within-a-note” error).
  • Incorrect word-splitting in long text fields causing gaps between words to be lost

The last is caused by some applications not following the GEDCOM spec for word-splitting with long text fields. In order to solve this problem, Family Historian has to determine which approach the application that created the GEDCOM file used. To do this, it shows you a list of words containing hyphens and asks you to choose between 2 sentences describing the words in the list. It uses your answer to determine whether, and if so what, action is needed to solve the word-splitting problem.

When Family Historian has completed its load-time check, it will ask you whether you want to run additional Validation – see Validating Linkage and Other Errors next.

B. Validating Linkage and Other Errors
A new menu option called ‘Validate…’ on the File menu, does an additional series of checks over and above those covered in Load-time checking. These checks can be done on any file at any time. They check the file for serious GEDCOM linkage and other errors (Family Historian never produces such errors, but other programs sometimes do). Optionally, Family Historian will also correct any errors found. In any case, it will output a report at the end of the validation process describing what it has found, and what remedial action, if any, has been taken.

6. Numerous Enhancements to the Diagram Window
  • A new ‘Copy Diagram’ command on the Diagram menu provides options for copying all or part of a diagram to the clipboard in a choice of formats (bitmap or enhanced metafile).
  • The status bar used to show diagram unit values when Page Boundaries were being displayed in the Diagram Window. It no longer does this. Instead, now whenever the Diagram Window is visible, a status bar pane shows the font size of the text font. Another status bar pane shows the percentage zoom (defaults to 100% initially).
  • A new menu command on the diagram menu (Diagram > Zoom > Zoom to Actual Size) returns the diagram menu to 100% zoom.
  • When page boundaries are displayed for diagrams, only the printable parts of the grid are ‘filled in’. The rest is left white, with faint grey grid lines, making it easier to see what will print and what won’t.
  • The “Set Diagram Size When Printed” dialog has changed. You can now set either the row size or the font size (in points). If you specify the row size it shows you what font size this will give you. You can save these options as default (checked by default). There is also a “Position/Sizing Tips” button. It is also now easier to see what the current font is in the Text tab of the Diagram Options dialog (or reset it).
  • Diagrams are automatically centred within the printed page now much more sensibly than before. There is a “Position on Page When Printed” submenu off the Diagram menu that gives options for this, and a “Reposition Now” command that lets you get Family Historian to reposition again if you hide or expand branches or make other changes that might affect the optimal positioning.
  • Diagram size when printed is now consistently based around the point size of the font you choose or the number of rows per page. That means that if you change the printer size from, say, A4 to A3, instead of the printed size effectively doubling as would have happened before, the printed size remains unchanged – only the page gets bigger.
  • The Print tab of the Diagram Options dialog has been simplified, and now has an ‘Installation Settings’ button. You can no longer specify the height or width in dialog units. Also, the option to print background stripes has gone and been replaced with a simpler option that just lets you choose whether or not you wish to print the diagram background. The alternative print stripe colour has been removed from the list of diagram colour items.
  • The way you specify margins has changed. They are now specified in inches, millimetres or centimetres, depending on the Measurement Units Preferences option.
  • If you press the Space bar when viewing the Diagram Window, you will switch temporarily to ‘grabber’ mode. You can click anyway on the Diagram and drag to reposition it. Releasing the space bar switches back to the previous mode.
  • Arrow keys now work as an alternative (and rather good) way to move the selection and browse a diagram. Left and Right arrow keys move you along the current row. Up and Down arrow keys move you up or down the current tree. The selected node is scrolled into view if necessary. Also, clicking on a node to select it, now scrolls the node into view if not already visible (unless drag-adding). Pressing the Enter key expands or hides the node’s branch (equivalent to clicking on the Node’s expansion button).

7. Enhancements to the Multimedia Window
  • The Multimedia Window now lets you specify the zoom level on its toolbar.
  • There is also an Autosize button on the Toolbar. If checked, F.H. will display all windows at 100% zoom unless they are too big to fit into the current window, in which case it will reduce them to fit.
  • Improved support for right-clicking on pictures makes it easier to see how to view the Multimedia record associated with the current window, and also how to reposition or resize the framed areas within a picture.

8. Enhancements to the Records Window
  • The Record Window Options dialog has the following changes:
    (a) You can now view and change the font used in the Record Window.
    (b) You can now specify whether a double-click on a record opens the Property Dialog or expands the record (the default). Either way, pressing the Alt key when doing a double-click does the alternative action.
  • In the Records Window, both attributes and events are now shown with dates and places in a consistent format, when not expanded. You have to expand an attribute before you can edit its value.
  • Individuals viewed within the Records Window (when viewing linked records) now have their dates shown next to them (e.g. John Smith [1958-]) and (optionally) their record ids.
  • You no longer have to type a space after the comma in the fast-find edit box at the top of the Records Window. It works without one.
  • If you have previously copied a source citation in the Source pane of the Property Dialog, you can now paste it using a “Paste Copied Citation” menu command that appears when you right-click on a field in the Records Window. This menu command will be greyed if the field already has the copied citation. The menu command won’t be there at all if there is no copied source citation.
  • There is an exactly similar command that appears when you have enabled an automatic source citation, called “Paste Auto Citation”. Again, this menu command will be greyed if the field already has the citation in question, and won’t be there at all if there is no Automatic Source Citation enabled. The option to paste an auto citation is currently only available in the Records Window (in the context menu that appears when you right click).
  • Undeditable data is now shown greyed to make it clearer that the data is not editable.
  • These is now improved support for right-clicking on list names in the top pane of the Named List pane (and on the middle panel also). More options are available from a right-click ‘context’ menu.
  • Named Lists have the additional property of supporting Record Editing (optionally). If you specify that Record Editing is enabled for a Named List, it means that you can edit the record in the middle panel of the Named List pane, for that Named List. This is useful for users who like ‘low-level’ editing as it means you can create a list of any arbitrary group of records (e.g. the Individuals in a census record) and edit them all together.

9. Enhancements to the Queries Window
  • A new ‘Options’ command at foot of Query menu (Query toolbar) allows you to change the font for the Results tab of the Query Window, and also lets you specify 5 different fonts for used when printing Queries
  • Using column widths in the Results tab of the Query Window, to set the width of output when printing a query, used to result in inaccurate column sizing. This is now much improved.
  • When you run a query, you now get a proper record selection dialog, rather than the simple dropdown combo that you used to get. This makes it easier to quickly locate the person you want – e.g. by typing in a part of their name into a fast-find field.
  • Can now use the Wheel in a wheel mouse to scroll vertically in the Results pane of the Query Window.

10. Uncategorised Data Fields
  • Fields in Family Historian that were sometimes previously referred to by users as ‘Starburst fields’ have been given a new name: “Uncategorised Data Fields” (or UDFs for short). These are fields created by Family Historian to hold data where Family Historian doesn’t actually know what kind of data is contained in the UDF. UDFs are usually created when Family Historian loads a GEDCOM file created by another application that contains serious errors. Family Historian generates UDFs to store the invalid data.
  • Exception reports now give more detailed information about UDFs where appropriate.
  • There is a new dialog for locating UDFs. Click on Tools > Find Uncategorised Data. This creates a Named List of records that contain UDFs.

11. Marital Status Fields and Relationship Qualifier Fields

By default, where you have a family record, it is assumed that the 2 ‘spouses’ in the record are married. There is now a new status field (visible on the Main tab of the Property Dialog) which allows you to specify where this is not the case. The allowed values are:

  • Divorced
  • Separated
  • Unmarried Couple
  • Never Married
  • Unknown

‘Never Married’ is a catch-all for a couple who may never even have been a couple – e.g. a one-night stand who managed to produce a child, which is why a family record is needed to record their shared parenthood.

You have always been able to specify the relationship type (Birth, Adopted, Foster, Sealing (LDS)) to show how a child is related to their parents. Examples have shown that the existing GEDCOM relationship types are insufficient to cope with some of the complex cases (e.g. where a child is treated as the natural child of the father, but isn’t really). New relationship type qualifiers have been added to cover all cases. The complete list now is:

  • Adopted
  • Adopted (father)
  • Adopted (mother)
  • Birth
  • Birth (father)
  • Birth (mother)
  • De Facto
  • De Facto (father)
  • De Facto (mother)
  • Foster
  • Sealing (LDS)

You can have one relationship qualifier for both parents, or one for each parent. De Facto is a new ‘catch-all’ qualifier that is very useful for more complex cases. You are recommended in these cases to provide a note or notes explaining the reason for the category.

Both of these field types should be viewed as representing your interpretation of the data you have accumulated. You do not and cannot specify the source for these fields as such. They represent how you have decided that you wish the relationships in question to be viewed/represented in Family Historian. The justification if any for these decisions is based on the Event/Attribute data, and notes, that you may have supplied elsewhere in the record – all of which can have sources.

12. Other Improvements
  • Family Historian now remembers Window sizes and positions between sessions. It will remember the size and position of both the main window and the inner ‘child’ windows (e.g. the Records Window, Diagram Window, Multimedia Window, Query Window and Reports Window). It will remember whether any of these were full-screen or not. It will also remember in many cases the position of panes within windows (e.g. the Named List panes, and the 3 panels within it). It will remember the width and position of columns in most key windows that have columns – e.g. the Records Window. Within a session, it will also remember the position of most Dialog Boxes (e.g. Select Source Dialog and Property Dialog).
  • There is a new “Tip of the Day” window, which displays an optional tip at the start of each session.
  • There is a new DAY_OF_WEEK qualifier for all dates. This gives the day of the week for the specified date. Assumes either 1752 or or 1582 as the Changeover date for the Gregorian calendar. You can specify which in the Preferences Dialog.
  • Up to now, if you click on a column in most column-based lists, Family Historian will sort on that column. From 2.2, if you press the Alt key while doing this it will usually reverse the sort. Applies to the Records Window, Named Lists, Query Window etc.
  • In the Preferences Dialog you can now choose the measurement units you want to use in all contexts where measurement units are used (e.g. Report Options, Diagram margins etc). Choice is Millimetres, Centimetres or Inches.
  • You can now specify changeover date to the Gregorian calendar: 1752 or 1582. Is used for calculating days of the week for the DAY_OF_WEEK qualifier, and also for date validation on data entry.
  • There is a new SOUNDEX qualifier for names. You can also have it as a column in the Individuals tab of the Records Window, if you wish.
  • Most record selection dialogs now have a small menu button (typically in the bottom left-hand corner) which lets you save records from the dialog to a Named List.

13. Late Additions (version 2.2.4)
  • You now have the option to exclude any picture (linked to an Individual, Family or Source record) from either diagrams or reports or both. This option can be set from either the Multimedia Window or from the Objects tab of the Property Dialog.
  • You can now override the caption for a picture in a report by using a note instead. The option to do this, and the note itself, can both be set from either the Multimedia Window or from the Objects tab of the Property Dialog.
  • You can include private notes in these note captions. An option in the Report Options dialog box (Picture tab) allows you to specify whether private notes should be included when notes are used as captions.
  • The option to get Family Historian to automatically keep events and attributes in chronological order now applies to all tabs of the Property Dialog, except the ‘All’ tab.
  • There is now a “Close Dialog After Add” check box on the “Add Event/Attribute” dialog – the one that comes up when you add an event or attribute in the Events tab of the Property Dialog. By unchecking this you can add multiple events/attributes much more quickly.
  • By default, a spouse’s place of death is now shown in the Main tab of the Property Dialog instead of the first spouse note.
  • When showing family records as linked records in the Records Window, the default now is that record Ids are not shown for family records, unless the user has specifically opted to do this in Record Window Options.
  • When you see a link to a record in the All tab of the Properties Dialog you can now ‘navigate’ to that record (ie. display it in the Property Dialog) by simply double-clicking on the linked record.
  • If you type in a record name or record id in the Records Window, the found record is now displayed in the 3rd row within the window, rather than near the bottom of the window as before.
  • Family Historian no longer prompts you to do a backup if you haven’t saved any changes to the current file.
  • Family Historian now remembers the 3 most recent sorts, so that when you click on a column it uses the previous 2 sorts as ‘sub-sorts’. This applies not just to the Records Window, but to any records list where sorting is allowed.
  • The record Id is now displayed after the record name in the Property Dialog caption.
  • When you insert pictures, documents and other multimedia into your file, Family Historian will now automatically generate a title for the new Multimedia Object record(s), using the file name.
  • With Reports such as Individual Summary Report and Family Group Sheet, you now have the option (set by default) to show instance numbers for events/attributes that occur more than once. Make it easier to see which instance an item in the Additional Notes section refers to.
  • For the purposes of calculating relationships, Family Historian used to treat all blood relationships as closer than all non-blood relationships. Which meant that if you married your cousin, she would be listed as your cousin first and your spouse second. That did not accord with most people’s intutitions. Family Historian now uses a more sophisticated approach giving more intuitive results.