What’s New in Version 5

This page lists the new and improved features in version 5. See What’s New (All Versions) for details of features added in other versions.


Create Books and Booklets

Create professional-looking family tree books and booklets, with a mix of auto-generated chapters and your own ‘free text’ pages and chapters. Add any reports, charts or diagrams to your books, as well as a title page, contents page, index page, and so on.

Books can be saved in PDF format or in word-processor (Rich Text) format.


Improved Website Generation and Support for Family Tree CDs & DVDs

Style information is now kept separate from content, making it much easier to customize layout and appearance of pages. Performance has been improved. Accent characters are now handled correctly in web-pages.

Clicking on a thumbnail or other image in a generated web-page can optionally cause either the same image, or the full picture the image was taken from, to be displayed blown-up in a ‘popup’ window (see example right).


New Fan Chart Diagrams

Half, quarter or full sizes. Like tree diagrams, fan charts are ‘dynamic’. Double-click on any box to view and update that person’s details in the Property Box. The Fan Chart will update automatically to reflect the change.

Fan charts have pre-defined content options, but can be configured to show any contents or colours. They can be added to tree diagrams or vice versa.

New ‘Flat’ Style All-Relatives Diagram

All-Relatives trees can now be ‘layered’ (previous style) or ‘flat’ – a much-requested enhancement.


Improved Data Entry

Previously, dates were only validated if you pressed the Tab key. Now they are fully validated when the cursor leaves the date field, whether you tab away or click away. If Family Historian doesn’t recognise a date, you will always get a chance to put it right. As a much wider range of date formats are now accepted, it’s much less likely to fail to recognise a date anyway. And if the date is valid but looks inconsistent with other data, a balloon tip will warn you (see example right).

New Date-Checking Query

A new ‘Fact Date Warnings’ query detects numerous possible errors with dates in existing records.


Enhanced ‘How Related’ Tool

View graphically exactly how people are related, marking the connecting lines on a new or existing chart. Or see exactly how they are related detailed in the new ‘How Related’ report.

Improved Backup-and-Restore

There are now 3 levels of backup to choose from, including full backup, which backs up the entire project folder.

Improved Import and Export

You can now import data directly from other program formats. GEDCOM files can be imported and exported in all standard GEDCOM formats (including Unicode, and also UTF-8), as well as commonly-used non-standard ones.

New options have been added to make it easier to export a subset of the Individuals in a project, and the other records that relate to them.

Enhancements to Reports

Reports have enhanced performance and improved support for pictures, removing previous limits on scaleability. New features include an optional index. Some reports also have improved layout options. As well as the new ‘How Related’ report, there is also a new report on addresses.


Silhouettes in Diagrams

Silhouettes can now be used in diagrams where required, either because no picture is available or for reasons of privacy. Standard silhouette images can be used, or users can use their own.

Background Pictures in Diagrams

Diagrams can now have a background picture which can be tiled, centred, zoomed or stretched – and faded as required.

Faster Diagram Loading

Pictures are now loaded ‘in the background’ making diagrams much faster to load.

New Diagram Layout Options

A new diagram menu, ‘Layout & Scaling’, provides several new options for controlling box and picture sizes.

Improved Support for Addresses

Addresses now auto-complete (like places, occupations and other fields) when you enter them. Addresses for an entire project can all now be maintained centrally. There is a new report for addresses, and a ‘Where Used’ button allows all occurrences of any given address to be located in the Query Result Set window. The same functionality can also now be used to locate all occurrences of places, occupations, religions, group/castes, origins and source types. Once listed in the Query Window it is easy to find each actual occurrence of any field within any record, in the Property Box (see the section ‘Enhancements to the Query Capability’ below, for more on this).

The display of address information in reports and query output has been improved.


New ‘Family Connection Mapper’ Tool

This is a new tool for marking lines connecting individuals & branches in diagrams. Click a button to mark the lines connecting any two boxes in a diagram. Can be used to mark any lines connecting any boxes. For example, you can use it to distinctively mark the lines within a tree branch. Marked lines joining boxes are called ‘routes’. Diagrams can have an unlimited number of overlapping routes and each route can be formatted to any size or colour.


New ‘Shapes’ Toolbar for Diagrams

The Diagram Window now has an extra toolbar for adding a variety of items (‘shapes’) to diagrams. Many of these are new, and include ‘smart shapes’ such as arrows, which can be reshaped. You can also add ‘free-hand’ (see example right).

Shapes can be grouped, ungrouped, ordered, resized (maintaining aspect ratio or not), and rotated. They can also be copied and pasted, and stored – not just within chart files, but also as part of custom diagram types.

You can select multiple shapes and format them all together – if say, you want them all to have the same fill or line colour. Text boxes (and the new ‘Pie Shape with Text’ shape) can display any kind of data about specified individuals or about a type of relative (such as, ‘mother-in-law of the diagram root’). Shapes can even be used to create entirely new diagram types. Fan Charts are actually complex grouped shapes, and an example of what can be done with shapes.


Extensive New Formatting Options for Diagrams

In the past you have been able to specify complex criteria for controlling the appearance of boxes in diagrams using the Boxes tab in Diagram Options. You can still do this, but now you can also simply select one or more boxes and ‘manually’ change their appearance (fill, shape, line size and colour etc) in whatever way you want.


Publishing Tools Finder

This is a new finder tool to make it easy to find the right tool to generate any kind of output – whether it be a list, a report, a book or booklet, a diagram, a chart, a query – or whatever. You can find them all using the Publishing Tools Finder – the first menu command on the new ‘Publish’ menu.


Enhancements to the Query Capability for Searching & Analyzing Records

Double-click on any cell in a query window result set window, to locate the field corresponding to the cell (if there is one) in the Property Box. Or right-click on any cell to view a menu with options for locating the field in the Property Box, or specifically in the ‘All’ tab of the Property Box (see right).

It is also now much easier to add selected records to Named Lists or to set flags for selected records. Plugins can also generate result sets in the Query Window (see Plugin Store below), and ordinary limits (such as the restriction that no record can have more than one row) do not apply to plugin-generated result sets.


New Plugin Store

Download free plugins from the Family Historian Plugin Store to add support for mapping (see example right), timelines, search/replace tools, and much more. Anyone can write plugins using the built-in scripting tools (see below) and submit them to the Plugin Store for all Family Historian users to share. We recommend users to check the Plugin Store periodically as new plugins can be added at any time.

To access the Plugin Store from within the program, click on Plugins on the Tools menu, and then click the Plugin Store button.

New Scripting Tools

Family Historian now includes powerful built-in scripting tools which can be used to automate repetitive tasks, make extensive one-off changes to data, or even to create new tools or new kinds of output. They can even be used to create plugins for submission to the Plugin Store (see above).

Now Even Easier and More Enjoyable to Use…

Numerous improvements have been made to make the program even easier and more enjoyable to use.

Minor Release Enhancements

[section=New in 5.0.11]
Additional enhancements to the “The Master Genealogist” (TMG) direct import.
[endsection][section=New in 5.0.10]
Enhancements to the “The Master Genealogist” (TMG) direct import, which can be accessed from the Project window’s New Project button.

  • Fixed various bugs in the direct import from TMG databases. E.g. previously source types were being recorded incorrectly for source records. Previously with some recent versions of TMG, the role of a witness was not being recorded correctly in notes for the event or attribute. Previously the TMG import would fail if you were not logged into Windows with the user account you installed Family Historian under. All these have now been fixed.
  • Enhanced the TMG direct import to allow you to choose which dataset to import, if you are importing from a database that contains more than one (if you wish to merge datasets, import both into separate projects, and then use Family Historian to merge the projects).
  • Enhanced the TMG direct import to include custom flags (previously only standard flags were included in the import).
  • Fixed an obscure bug which could cause a Family Historian project to fail to load if a previous exception file had the read-only attribute set.

[endsection][section=New in 5.0.9]

  • In exceptional circumstances, the last page of an index did not always appear in reports. Now fixed.
  • With Emigration and Immigration, both ‘from’ and ‘to’ places now display in the Facts tab of the Property Box, and by default elsewhere (query cells, records window etc). The Diagram Window also now uses the correct defaults when adding emigration and immigration events to text schemes.
  • In exceptional circumstances in the Multimedia Window, dragging the vertical bar that separates different panes within the window, could cause the application to lock up. This has been fixed.
  • In exceptional circumstances, loading thumbnail images could cause the application to lock up. This has been fixed.
  • Some minor changes have been made to PDF-handling to make Family Historian fully compatible with Windows 8.
  • Previously when you did a backup, if one of the files to be backed up was locked (because open in another program), the backup would simply fail. Now you are prompted to correct the problem so that the backup can continue.
  • Changing the scale of a diagram could cause very slight changes to word-wrapping of lines of text in boxes which should not have happened. This has been fixed.
  • If you added a chart to a book, and the book used a different printer to the printer used when laying out the chart, you could get problems with the last line of the text in boxes not displaying. This problem was largely caused because the layout of charts added to books, was being fixed unnecessarily rigidly. This has now been corrected.
  • Various improvements have been made when loading GEDCOM files. If the file contains links to records that don’t exist, this is now reported and logged. Family Historian is now even more tolerant than previously of badly-formatted dates, and even more likely to be able to work out what the date should be. If there are more instances of a field type than GEDCOM allows, Family Historian will now automatically convert the additional fields to ‘UDFs’ (unrecognised data fields) by adding a leading underscore to their tags, so that they can be loaded. Family Historian automatically correct errors in GEDCOM files created by other programs. More such ‘automatic corrections’ have been added.
  • The ‘No Maximum Size’ setting in Step 7 of the Web or CD/DVD wizards, did not work. This has now been fixed.
  • You can now sort the list of plugins in the Plugins Window by clicking on the column headings.
  • Pressing Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V did not work when copying and pasting values in fields in the Query Window. Now fixed.
  • ‘Fixed an obscure data entry bug which meant that sometimes after adding a citation in the Sources Pane of the Property Box (when floating), the Sources Pane switched to showing the wrong field at the top of the pane.
  • The DAY_OF_THE_WEEK qualifier for dates was showing a value for dates where the day was not recorded. It no longer does this.
  • The Family Group Sheet report used the labels ‘Husband’ and ‘Wife’ even for same sex partners. Now fixed.
  • In All Relative trees, in the Diagram Window, you can now move siblings past the point where an ancestor’s line connects to his parents’ child bar. To do this previously you had to first unhide proxy boxes, and then rehide them.
  • Various enhancements have been made to the Family Historian API, for the benefit of plugin writers. Two new functions have been added, for accessing ‘subfields’ within notes: fhGetLabelledText and fhSetLabelledText. A new function fhOverridePreference has been added, which allows you to override the setting of whether surnames should display in upper case or not. The function fhGetPluginDataFileName now takes 2 additional parameters, making it easier to use, and allowing plugin data to be stored on a per-project, per-user, or per-machine basis. The function fhOutputResultSetColumn now takes 2 additional parameters: a parameter to specify the sort type to be used if the column shows ‘item’ data (ignored if it doesn’t); and a ‘hidden’ parameter, that makes the column hidden (useful if you want to sort on a hidden column).
  • Various enhancements have been made to the Plugin Editor – again, for the benefit of plugin writers. You can now inspect the contents of tables in the Variables pane of the Plugin Editor when debugging. Also, for each table, the number of elements and array elements is displayed in the Variable Pane. Other improvements have been made to the display of values in the Variable Pane. For example, links are now more clearly distinguished from the records they link to. Also, the Variable Pane now displays ‘up-values’. If you modify a script in any way while debugging, you will be warned and given the opportunity to stop debugging when you next click Go or a Step command. Two new menu commands, “Family Historian API” and “More Resources…”, have been added to the Help menu of the Plugin Editor.
  • Various other minor bug fixes have been added.

[endsection][section=New in 5.0.7]

  • The ‘Installation Settings’ button in the colour chart window for fan charts did nothing (click on View, then Fan Charts, and then click on the ‘Colours’ button to view this colour chart window). Now fixed.
  • The Preferences option to ‘never’ reuse the Multimedia Window was not honoured correctly. Now fixed.
  • If you sorted a result set created by a plugin (e.g. by clicking on a column heading) and then selected a record by clicking on a cell in the result set, the wrong record would be selected (e.g. if you viewed it in the Property Box, the wrong record would appear). Now fixed.
  • Keyboard shortcuts (e.g. Ctrl-R) did not work in the Query Window result set. Now fixed.
  • Fixed a bug that occurred if you tried to link a person as spouse in a family record where that family record already contained two same-sex partners.

[endsection][section=New in 5.0.6]

  • Fixed problem with saving free text in Books.
  • There was a problem with saving very long expressions when these were used as conditions for box features in Diagram Options, if you tried to save them as diagram defaults. Now fixed.

[endsection][section=New in 5.0.5]

  • Fixed bug in 5.0.4 which could cause line-endings in notes to be lost.

[endsection][section=New in 5.0.4]

  • The “Search the Internet” tool on the Internet menu has been updated to use the latest website data [note: this tool can be updated at any time by using the “Check for new Search The Internet settings” plugin].
  • The Plugin Editor now has two new features: ‘Go To Line’ and ‘Inspect Variable’. There have also been minor improvements to the variable pane, including the ability to sort on columns.
  • Previous installations were not guaranteed to install all the components that plugins need to run. That has been corrected.
  • A bug (introduced in 5.0.2) in the calculation of ‘pools’ which affected the ‘Search for Orphans’ query, has been fixed.
  • The ‘Save as Default’ check box in the Diagram Options dialog did not always save settings for all tabs of the Diagram Options dialog. Now fixed.
  • Changing the ‘Dotted Line Printing’ option in Diagram Options did not cause the ‘Apply’ button to be ungreyed. Now fixed.
  • Scrollbars sometimes failed to cover the full diagram range immediately after a user clicks on ‘Avoid Page Boundaries’. Now fixed.
  • In generated websites, captions were truncated at double quotes in popup windows (i.e. when a viewer clicked on a thumbnail image to enlarge it). Now fixed.
  • In rare and exceptional circumstances, it was possible to accidentally paste multiple lines of text into certain single-line fields, potentially causing save and load problems. It is no longer possible to do this.
  • Backup options were not being correctly greyed on menus when the program is in standalone GEDCOM mode. Now fixed.
  • Values of attributes were not being correctly updated in the Facts tab of the Property Box, when these had been updated in a plugin. Now fixed.

[endsection][section=New in 5.0.2]

  • In the ‘All Relatives’ diagram, in ‘flat’ style, lines connecting ancestors took a slightly wrong route. Now corrected.
  • In Print Preview in some circumstances, it was possible to get parts of the Property Box appearing over the preview window. Now fixed.
  • The ‘Copy Page’ feature did not work correctly for Enhanced Metafile Format in reports. Now fixed.
  • If you had a huge database (over 200,000 Individuals) it was possible to make Family Historian crash if you ran a query, or used any expression (for example, as a column in the Records Window), that calculated which ‘pool’ each Individual belongs to. Now fixed.
  • Performance improvements have been made when loading information into the query result set window, and when calculating relationship information and ‘pool’ information.
  • Changing the file root could cause ‘pool’ information to be temporarily lost (until refreshed). Now fixed.
  • Performance improvements have been made to the operation of the Records Window (only really noticeable if you have a huge database).
  • Family Historian can now display pictures correctly even if the Format field is missing (which it can be if data is imported from some versions of Family Tree Maker).
  • Added a new feature to the Descendant tab of the Focus Window: you can now re-order siblings or spouses, using the Move Up/Move Down buttons (unless the sibling move is ambiguous in which case you will get a message to that effect).
  • Added a new feature to the first two tabs of the Focus Window: you can now re-order families, by selecting the marriage box for the family (to represent the entire family) and clicking the Move Up/Move Down buttons.
  • Added an optional 3rd parameter to the plugin API function fhCreateItem which allows you to specify that you want it to automatically re-use empty fields if there are any. The default is not to do that.
  • Plugins can now ‘Require’ modules with a ‘.lua’ suffix as well as the usual ‘.fh_lua’ suffix.
  • Improved the Multimedia Window to reduce the likelihood of display problems.
  • Changed the way date information is recorded when entered into a date field, to make it more robust.
  • The arrow buttons for tabs on the Property Box did not always appear when they should. Now fixed.
  • The ‘Add Spouse’ link in the Property Box, for adding additional spouses, did not always appear when it should. Now fixed.
  • The debugger/editor for writing plugins, now has a ‘New’ command and an ‘Open’ command on the File menu, to make it easier to work with plugin scripts.
  • Using special indices (like ‘year=1901’) in data references when customizing the Property Box, is now supported, but the resulting edit boxes in the Property Box are read-only.
  • A warning message that appears when you do an import from Genbox (in relation to multimedia) has been improved to make its meaning clearer.
  • If you added multimedia using a Plugin, you had to close the application and re-open it, before the multimedia would display correctly. Now fixed.

[endsection][section=New in 5.0.1]

  • Problems with date entry caused by specifying ‘YYYY-MM-DD’ as preferred short date format in the Windows Control Panel have been fixed.
  • Date entry has been made more flexible (e.g. “1953 3” or “3 1953” will both now be recognised as March 1953), and error messages have been improved and made more helpful.
  • Long chart names were being truncated in the ‘Saved Charts’ list. Now fixed.
  • The thickness of the border of pictures inserted into charts, was not accurate for the supplied point size. Now fixed.
  • Tabs in Free Text in Books, are now automatically converted to 4 spaces (tabs are not supported in this context and their presence caused various problems).
  • Fixed problem whereby a cause of death was not displayed in some reports if an address was supplied.
  • Family Historian had problems loading some GEDCOM files generated by Family Search. Now fixed.
  • Place information was not being displayed where it should have been in some reports – that is, immediately after attribute values such as Occupation. Now fixed.
  • The Backup facility failed to create backup files larger than 2GB. Now fixed.
  • The Backup facility also had problems backing up very large individual files (e.g. video files). Also now fixed.
  • Various problems and issues with TMG import have been addressed: Some 6.x versions of TMG (e.g. 6.12) were not importing correctly. In the latest version of TMG, Family Historian record ids did not always match TMG record ids. Family record notes and ‘Count of Children’ fields were not being included in the import. In some situations, too many source records were being generated. All these have now been fixed. Also, Family Historian now automatically generates a family record for two people if TMG has a recorded marriage or divorce event for them.
  • Family Historian now supports the way that recent versions of Family Tree Maker store links to multimedia in GEDCOM files.
  • There is a new ‘Destination’ field in the Export Gedcom dialog box, with options ‘Default’, ‘Family Tree Maker’, or ‘Strict Gedcom’. Choosing ‘Family Tree Maker’ will ensure that links to multimedia are output in a way that FTM will accept. You will also be warned if options are unsuitable for FTM when you export. If you choose ‘Strict Gedcom’ you will be warned if options do not conform strictly to the Gedcom specification.
  • Fixed a problem with generated links in web-pages (in the ‘Publication Information’ field within source records).
  • Corrected a minor error in generated HTML.
  • Unrecognised Data Fields (UDFs) are no longer deleted if empty, when a project is saved.
  • In rare circumstances, some branches in ‘All Relatives’ diagrams could be closed incorrectly when the tree was created, if the option to hide duplicated branches was ticked. Now fixed.
  • If you double-clicked on Property Box Tab custom definition files in some versions of Windows, the file type was not recognised. Now fixed.