Family Historian Compared to Other Genealogy Programs


You can use the table below to compare the features and capabilities of the following products:

The program Who Do You Think You Are is not listed separately, but it is in fact a repackaged and rebranded version of Family Tree Maker so you can get a rough idea of its capabilities by looking at the column for Family Tree Maker 2006.

While the information given below is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief, we cannot take responsibility for any inaccuracies. Please check with the publishers of the individual products to verify. Also bear in mind that different versions may have different capabilities. If you find any errors, please notify us by emailing

Comparisons are made under the following headings:

Features relating to sources and source citations occur under various categories (e.g. Data Entry Features, Pictures and Multimedia, etc).

Please note: For the purposes of this table, the terms 'chart' and 'diagram' are effectively interchangeable.

Family Historian 3
Roots Magic 3.0.3
Family Tree Maker 2006

GEDCOM Support
GEDCOM is the global standard format for shared genealogical data. It was deliberately designed so that genealogy programs could easily support as much or as little of it as they wanted to. If a GEDCOM file contains data of a kind that a genealogy program does not support, the program can ignore it and just load the parts it does support. This means, however, that to say that a genealogy program supports GEDCOM is to say very little. It does not tell you how much of the GEDCOM standard the program supports. Calico Pie's GEDCOM Coverage Test was designed to test the extent to which different applications actually support the standard, and to find out whether they will warn you if the file contains data that they cannot load and have ignored.

Coverage (as calculated using Calico Pie's GEDCOM Coverage Test)

Main Genealogy record types supported out of 6 (see Calico Pie's GEDCOM Coverage Test)

All GEDCOM record types supported
Warns of data that, for whatever reason, cannot be loaded
(in test warned of fewer than 1% of fields that it could not load)
Chart/Diagram Types Supported
All Relatives
Diagram Integration
Use of diagrams for browsing, exploring, navigating, click-and-drag data entry, editing, etc.
Diagrams are integrated into main application
Expand tree branch to one level (branch expansion buttons)
Expand tree branch to full depth
Close tree branch (branch expansion buttons)
Access full record details from within diagram (e.g. by double-clicking on box)
Basic record details only. No relationships.
Diagrams dynamically update to reflect changes made to the underlying data
(but only basic edits are possible within a diagram - no record additions or deletions or changes of relationship).
Click-and-drag to add parents
Click-and-drag to add spouses
Click-and-drag to add children
Set automatic source citations when adding/editing data using diagrams
Re-order spouses by moving boxes in diagram
Re-order siblings by moving boxes in diagram
Delete records from within diagram (with rigorous checks to ensure that it can't be done accidentally)
Use diagram to select records for other purposes (e.g. to open more diagrams)
Work with multiple diagrams simultaneously
Toolbar buttons to access standard diagrams in one click
2 clicks
Change most diagram options 'on-the-fly'
'Wall Chart' Features
Wall Chart features are features that are especially useful for producing chart output - e.g. for displaying on a wall, or for sending to others.
Standard orientations (top-down, left-to-right, bottom-up, right-to-left)
All charts have 1 orientation only (vertical), except Ancestor which has 2 orientations (vertical and left-to-right)
Fan charts
Scale charts to any size
Multi-tree charts (i.e. additional trees can be inserted into existing charts)
Only by copying and pasting all boxes in a tree from one chart to another
Automatic linking of duplicate boxes across multiple trees
Number of data items in boxes
Set font, size, colour and alignment for each data item separately
Set indentation (3-levels) separately for each data item
Set vertical gaps between data items
Set conditions for data items (e.g. based on box type, gender, record flag, etc).
Show all/any instances of data items as required (e.g. all occupations)
Show notes (record notes and/or fact notes) in diagram boxes
Show all names/events/attributes/notes etc for each person
Create and save complex Text Schemes (specifying box contents) for re-use
Export Text Schemes and Import Text Schemes created by others
Include pictures within boxes
(primary only)
Hide/show boxes
Show/Unhide hidden boxes
Link duplicate individuals
Link duplicate families
Suppress duplicated branches
(box chart reports only)
Auto-size boxes
Manually size boxes
Re-enable Auto-size after manually resizing
Move boxes and branches
In one Ancestor & one Descendant diagram only
Move trees
By selecting and moving all boxes in a tree only
Limited support in 2 diagrams only
Position diagram on page
Scale diagram to fit required size (e.g. one page)
Move boxes and branches relative to a 'fixed point'
Smart Trees automatically adjust to accommodate moved boxes/branches
Spouse Display Options: spouses in own boxes
Spouse Display Options: one box per marriage
Spouse Display Options: no spouse info
Layout options for spouse boxes
Change displayed order of spouses and siblings
Insert text boxes
Limited (no control over font, size, frame, background or text colour)
Insert pictures
Insert lines
Insert rectangles
Standard box features (box shapes, colours, line types, shadows, etc)
Specify standard box features depending on generation
Specify standard box features depending on gender
Specify standard box features depending on record flags
Specify standard box features depending on box type
Specify standard box features depending on any combination of generation/gender/flags/box type (you set priorities)
Display icons with boxes boxes based on any of the above conditions (an 'icon' is a little picture displaying below a box to show something about that box, just as a shower icon in a bed-and-breakfast catalogue might show that a room has an en suite shower)
Maximum number of icons per box
User can create and use own custom icons
Control front-to-back ordering of diagram elements
Show page boundaries
Force boxes to avoid page boundaries
Save chart to file
Save chart in picture formats
(9 formats)
(6 formats)
Data Entry Features
See also data entry and editing features in the Diagram Integration section above. Also see Events and Attributes features below.
Auto-complete fields
Automatic source citations
Copy and paste sets of facts (events and attributes)
Copy and paste source citations
Copy and paste any field
Validate data on entry
View master place list & fix place name errors throughout file
Ditto for occupations, religions, group/castes, origins
See at a glance all data you have any individual or family
Hide rarely-used events and attributes in selection lists
Record place details for any fact
Record note for any fact
Dates can be entered as 'range', 'before', or 'after'
Dates can be entered as periods ('from... to...')
Dates can be approximate
Dates can be quarter dates
Dates can be text (e.g. "one week after his wife died")
Dates can be 'double dates' (for crossover to Gregorian calendar)
Date entry assistant dialog to help enter dates in supported formats

Named Lists & Record Flags
Named lists are a general purpose tool that have a wide variety of uses. They can be used as to-do lists, bookmark lists, work-in-progress lists, delete-pending lists - or just as a convenient way of grouping together people whose records you are now working on. Record flags are another kind of general tool. They can be used for marking records for whatever purpose. For example, in Family Historian, a diagram might display records with particular flags in distinctive colours or with special icons. Or again, when creating reports and websites, record flags can be used to mark Individuals as 'Private' - i.e. not to be mentioned in the website or report.

Built-in record flags for Individual records
2 (Private & Living)
1 (Private)
Create your own record flags
Create named lists of Individuals
Create named lists of records of any type
Add notes to named lists
Add notes to items (records) in named lists
Configure display columns for named lists on a per-list basis
Set record flags based on named list membership
Set named list membership from flags
Print named list reports

Queries are another kind of general purpose tool. They are stored sets of instructions for retrieving and displaying data. A query allows you to do things like finding out the age at death of all your ancestors who were born in Ireland, say. They can be used for any number of purposes - e.g. to produce a report, to locate data for further analysis in another program, to define a way of 'splitting' a family tree file, or to mark boxes in a diagram (e.g. mark everyone in this diagram who died of a heartattack under the age of 65).

Standard queries included
No queries as such, but 20 of what R.M. calls 'lists' that provide similar data
No queries as such, but 10 reports that provide similar data
Output data to a spreadsheet-like window with cells
Create custom queries
Select any field for output in a query
Select any field for inclusion in filering criteria within a query
Use query to mark boxes in diagrams
Use query to split a family tree data file/database
Use query to select pictures for viewing
Copy query output to clipboard for easy transfer to other programs
Save query output to a file (in text or .CSV format)
Output query as report
Use query to select records for deletion
Use query to select fields for deletion
Import queries created by others
Export queries for others to use
Download queries from website
Use a query to set record flags
Use a query to set named list membership
Test record flags in a query
Test named list membership in a query

File compare/merge is when you compare an entire file with the current file, and optionally merge the whole thing into the current file in a single operation. Typically, matching records are merged and unmatched records are appended as new records - though ideally you should have full control over this (as you do in Family Historian). Record compare/merge is when you compare and/or merge 2 records within a file. Branch compare/merge is when you compare an entire set of duplicated records, and optionally merge all matching records in one go.

File Compare
File Merge

(The nearest equivalent is that you can append all records from one file into the other and then get Roots Magic to search for duplicates in the resulting file and automatically merge the ones it finds).
See before doing a file merge exactly (down to the field level) what the outcome will be

You can't see exactly what the outcome will be, but there is a report which provides a lot of information about it.
Override any aspect of a file merge before starting it
Branch Compare
Branch Merge
Record Compare
Record Merge
Record comparisons (within File/Branch/Record Compare) show all fields in each record
Record comparisons show which fields match and which don't
Control not just which records are merged but which fields

Website Creation
This is a tricky one for comparison purposes, because the kind of Website Creation features offered by Family Historian and Roots Magic on the one hand, are very different from those offered by Family Tree Maker on the other. With Family Tree Maker you are not so much creating a website of your own, as being allowed to upload your data to the publisher's website - on the condition that you effectively donate your data to the publisher's data archive, and sign up to a complex, legally-binding agreement.

Create Website to be uploaded where you wish
Create Website without having to donate your data to an online data archive
Create Website without having given anyone rights in perpetuity over your data
Create Website without having to sign up to a lengthy legal agreement
Create Website without having to indemnify anyone against possible claims/losses arising from your data
Create website that you can view prior to uploading
Degree of control over data content and layout in pages for selected individuals
Very extensive. You have a choice of 13 reports to use as templates for each page, and can set extensive, detailed options on whichever ones you use.
Choice of 6 website 'types' only. No ability to configure content options within each page.
You can choose a background and a 'style' only. No control over the information presented about selected individual or its layout
Max. number of selected individuals
Max. additional reports you can add to be accessed directly from home page?
Can use custom reports as templates for default web pages for individuals?
Can specify a website title to appear at top of each page?
Can specify a website logo to appear at top of each page?
Index Page
Separate Index Page for Surnames Only
(but surnames are 'picked out' within the main index making them easy to view and find)
Contact Details
(on contact page)
(on home page)
(on home page)
Statistics Page
Exclude all references to individuals flagged as 'Private'
Not exactly, but you can opt to have the names of people flagged as 'Living' replaced with the word 'Living'
Include only basic details about individuals flagged as 'Living' (or flagged in other ways)
(but if you do this, you can't also replace their names with the word 'Living' - see previous)
Number of colours you can set for page elements
n/a (but you can select a choice of colourful styles and backgrounds)
Website wizard remembers settings so re-generation is easy
Website individuals have to be re-selected each time. Other settings are remembered.
(but very few options)
Advanced Feature: Number of places within each HTML web page for selected individuals where you can add custom HTML
n/a (no access to HTML)
Advanced Feature: '.CSS' style file used to store style info (useful for HTML editing)
Save any report as a distinct web page
Family Tree CD
Design Family Tree CDs
(using all the same power and features as are available for website creation)
Limited. You can design the introductory page. Apart from that, viewers have to use a ReadOnly version of Roots Magic to view your data.
Pictures and Multimedia
Pictures of Individuals
Pictures of Families
Pictures of Events/Attributes
(but do not appear in reports)
(but only appear in Scrapbook reports?)
Pictures of Sources
Link multiple individuals to the same picture
Link Individuals to their face within a picture (without cropping)
Show linked faces in diagrams, reports, websites, CDs, etc
Select a person (e.g. to view their properties) by clicking on face in picture
Can embed multimedia?
Can link to external multimedia files?
Tool for managing links to externally held multimedia?
(but you can use search and replace to update links)
Sounds, Videos and other Multimedia also supported

Events and Attributes

Create custom events and attributes
Create events and attributes that can be re-used in different family tree files
Export fact sets
Import fact sets
Can preview sentence templates for narrative reports
Can edit sentence templates for standard events/attributes?
Can add sentence templates for new custom events and attributes
Can override sentence templates for individual events and attributes
Each event and attribute can have its own note(s)

Standard reports included

9 (approx).
R.M. does not clearly distinguish reports from charts. Also, this count excludes 'lists' which have already been counted as equivalent to 'standard queries' - see Queries above.

Excludes reports which have already been counted as equivalent to 'standard queries'- see Queries above.
Save all reports as web page (i.e. HTML)
Save all reports as word document (i.e. Rich Text Format)
Ancestor Narrative report
Descendant Narrative report
The Genealogy report contains some narrative elements, and is a descendant report
Individual Narrative report
Family Group Sheet
Descendant Outline Report
(descendant box chart)
Ancestor Outline Report
(ancestor box chart)
Pedigree Chart
(pedigree chart standard diagram)
Complete Record Details Reports
Change report options on-the-fly
Work with multiple reports simultaneously
Continue working without closing report
Open reports automatically update if you change data or correct errors



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