* Can Family Historian be simplified?

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JJH
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Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by JJH » 28 Aug 2019 13:31

Hello,
I am also testing FH - I do not know whether I should put my query here but I cannot find another topic that fits well. If I should enter this question elsewhere please let me know.

FH is great, I'm sure, but my problem is that I would prefer a far, far simpler program with many fewer features. I recently gave up using FTM 2001, not voluntarily but because the old laptop on which it was lodged no longer works. FTM2001 worked extremely well for me and I don't care at all about the lovely features that newer programs offer.

Is it possible to simplify FH at the user end, so that most of the features are turned off? I find the display far too busy and the features intrusive.

I would prefer to have only one window in which I can enter the person's name, spouse(s), marriage dates, children etc. etc., as I could in FTM 2001, and a second tab for Notes. That is all.

I do like having the option of adding in photos and pdfs of certificates and other documents, but would like to be able to simply patch these into the Notes rather than having them pop up all over the place in focus windows or what-have-you.

I also want to run the program entirely offline.

If I cannot simplify the FH user interface greatly then I think I am probably not up to the task of dealing with the program.

Thanks for any advice,
Jacqueline

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tatewise
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by tatewise » 28 Aug 2019 14:07

Welcome to the FHUG Jacqueline.

I have started a new discussion thread for your posting, as the topic is something different.

Sorry, but there is not much that can be done to simplify the FH user interface, but you don't have to use all the features.

Anyway, most of what you want is there in the Main tab of the Property Box to the right of the Focus Window.
If you really don't want the distraction of the Focus Window on the left, then drag the vertical divider between the two panes way over to the left margin.
Apart from having to add Media via a separate tab, what exactly is missing from that Main tab?

FH can certainly be run entirely offline. Why do you ask?

Since you like FTM 2001 so much, it is not clear why you are experimenting with FH.
Presumably you are now using a new laptop and could run FTM 2001 on that?
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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LornaCraig
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by LornaCraig » 28 Aug 2019 16:22

If you don't want to use the Focus window at all (and some of us don't, having used FH since before it was introduced) you can use Tools>Preferences>Startup and select the option to Display the Records Window instead of the Focus Window at Startup. You may find the Records window less distracting.

If you have the Property Box docked to the right of the screen then as Mike has said, you can drag the vertical divider between the Property box and the other pane over to the left margin. Alternatively you can 'float' the Property Box and enlarge it to cover most of the screen. Use Tools>Preferences>Workspaces and experiment with the effects of changing the Preferred Position for Property Box (Docked or Floating).
Lorna

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mezentia
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by mezentia » 28 Aug 2019 16:56

Hello Jacqueline

I would not normally be the first here to suggest you read the FH manual, but I think it might pay dividends. I tried a lot of genealogy programs before I settled on FH and FH is by far and away the best. But, like things in many different spheres, it does repay the effort in getting used to the way it works. Try using it with just a small project and focus on completing one task at a time. There’s lots of people here to help with your questions, just don’t get put off by the seeming complexity of some of the discussions here, as FH has some very experienced users. Hope that helps.

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AnneEast
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by AnneEast » 28 Aug 2019 22:13

I'm another one just saying ... just use the bits you want to. Enter yourself, parents and children and continue from there. No need to use any queries or plug ins (but you might find them useful one day in the future). I don't use the focus window either, just the list of people and their property box which appears when you select a name.

Funnily enough I did once try FTM because quite a few people sent me files from that program. I hated it and found it really complicated to get to grips with!
Anne

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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by gwilym'smum » 29 Aug 2019 06:57

The beauty of FH is that you can use it at whatever level you choose. I have had the program since it first came out and still only use it on a very basic level. This forum is a fount of knowledge and will help you get to grips with any query however basic and they do not sneer if you don't understand.
I use it along side my paper files as I am not techy. Also I have an individual paper sheet for every person and I have not found any program which, for my purposes, shows that person's information at a glance.
Give FH a try and see how many advantages it has.
Ann
Researching Mayer, Parr/Parr, Simcock, Beech and all related families

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JJH
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by JJH » 29 Aug 2019 11:22

Hello again, and thanks to everyone who took time to provide advice.

Someone asked why I do not stay with FTM2001 - Several reasons. I tried to do so, but could not move it from my old laptop because it seemed to be corrupted. I used an old, backup GEDCOM on CD to move to FH. I lost several years' data in the process, but luckily those were not my most active years.

Also, I thought I ought to have a program that runs on a newer platform and one that is unlikely to disappear entirely in the next few years. My research seemed to indicate that FH fits my criteria better than the newer versions of FTM.

A third reason is that I do want to have a UK based program if I can make it work conveniently for me. US based programs seem to have a different slant on things in some aspects. Also, I think the latest version of FTM is no longer owned by Ancestry but is based elsewhere entirely.

Someone else recommended that I read the manual. I have read all the information that I can find on the FH site, to no avail. It is interesting but it seldom addresses the specific questions that I have. I've also watched several online instruction videos. They have been helpful in some ways but none offer the opportunity to ask, 'how can I simplify that'? I was under the impression that the manual must be purchased. If that is the case, then there is no use buying it until I have made the decision to stay with FH. But thank you for recommending it.

I like this discussion group very much, especially the section dealing with things other than the program itself. The threads I have read in the past week that are not program based have been so interesting and have centred on UK genealogical matters. Although I am in Canada, I am 1st generation Canadian and most of my research is in England. Some of my English rels use FH and find it excellent, so I am hoping it will be the right choice for me as well.

Thanks again,
Jacqueline

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Valkrider
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by Valkrider » 29 Aug 2019 11:32

The FH v5 manual is available free and covers a large portion of what is in v6. Download it from the Knowledgebase on this site here

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Rusty
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by Rusty » 29 Aug 2019 14:26

I usually enter people directly into the diagram which I think is wonderfully simple and you can see your tree grow and how it is shaping as you add people. Double clicking on a name brings up the individuals box right in the centre of the screen though you can move it around to suit yourself, when you've finished with that person for the time being just close the box and double click onto the next person that you want to work on.

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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by tatewise » 29 Aug 2019 14:27

Jacqueline, when you signed up to this FHUG site, I am sure that you were advised to study the Knowledge Base > Key Features for Newcomers.
There in the Documentation & Tutorials link to Knowledge Base > Family Historian Documentation it refers to the FH V5 free PDF Book and much more.
The other newcomer topics are worth reveiwing in due course.

There is little on 'simplifying' FH because nobody has ever requested that before.

However, I expect you will want to create Family Tree Diagrams and perform Backups to protect your database, so some of those features will be of interest.

I come back to an earlier question:
Apart from having to add Media via a separate tab, what exactly is missing from the Main tab of the Property Box compared with what you could easily enter via FTM?

FYI: I have been involved with many, many genealogy products and I believe you will find them all very similar to FH in the way they offer a multitude of features (that most users want) with few ways of simplifying them.
That is just like most software products that offer the many features that most users want, because there is not much of market for products with minimal features.

BTW Rusty: You don't need to close the Property Box window before moving on to another person in the Diagram.
Just single-click that other person and the Property Box contents change.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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E Wilcock
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by E Wilcock » 29 Aug 2019 18:17

Jacqueline, please dont be put off.
I was just like you and couldnt understand the screen because I could never remember the names of all the windows offered to me.
However, if you want to, you can use fh just like a conventional program you are used to.
The Focus window shows a man and his wife and their parents plus their children. Click on any name in the Focus window and that person becomes central to it. You can click the blank places to add more people to that family.

To the left of that window in the margin you should see a little pile of coins or records. If you hover the mouse on you it will show you that that is where to click to find the index of all your records, three separate lists: all your people, all your places and all your sources. You can use that list to get the person you want to focus on because in fh one can search by birth name, married name and forename.

To the right of the focus screen showing the family, you see a detailed window for adding lots more information about a person - It is called the Property box and you can fix it in place by clicking the icon of a hand in the top row of your screen.
In the property box under the person's name and the place for their birth and death is a slot marked Note.
You can put as much into this Note space as you want. I use it for whole essays.
You can cut and paste whole Wikipedia entries for people if you want.

I choose to add sources to anything I enter, so I have the source window open on the right. But no one has to do that.

Once Mike and other kind people on this forum had helped me start, I found fh much simpler and quicker to use than other software. That is because one can cut and paste and copy in fh, just as one is used to in Word documents. One can even click on the little binocular to search for a single word in a project.

That is a most enormous help to old people like me who dont remember well. Last week all I could remember about a man was that he was a station master. So I used search and up he popped.

I suggest you just plunge in and start to use fh - I have never understood the manual. I learned by using the program and enjoying it. And by the way there is no need to be on line to use fh. The files are all on one's computer.

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AnneEast
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by AnneEast » 29 Aug 2019 19:06

I should have also mentioned that when I started with FH from a different program I spent a few days working through the Sample Family tutorial. This showed me the basics and was well worth the short amount if time spent doing it.
Anne

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JJH
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by JJH » 30 Aug 2019 11:25

Hello, Mike:

Re: I come back to an earlier question:
Apart from having to add Media via a separate tab, what exactly is missing from the Main tab of the Property Box compared with what you could easily enter via FTM?


I did not mean to imply that anything is missing. Quite the opposite, there is too much there from my perspective.

I realize that the multiple displays are very attractive to many users. For me they are a bit of a nuisance.

I intend to persevere, but was hoping for a way to make using the program more fun for someone (me) who is only interested in genealogy and history and does not want a lot of bells and whistles.

Thanks again,
Jacqueline

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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by tatewise » 30 Aug 2019 13:14

OK, here is the Main tab of Property Box adjusted as I suggested to hide the Focus Window pane.
Can you be more specific about what is too much. It seems to offer just what you asked for.
( Just ignore the icons and tabs you are not interested in. )

PropertyBoxMainTab.png
PropertyBoxMainTab.png (114.94 KiB) Viewed 985 times
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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Rusty
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by Rusty » 30 Aug 2019 13:31

BTW Rusty: You don't need to close the Property Box window before moving on to another person in the Diagram.
Just single-click that other person and the Property Box contents change.

Thank you Mike, I'd forgotten about that.

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JJH
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by JJH » 30 Aug 2019 15:28

Hello again, Mike:

Thank you, the Property Box all by itself is great. I assume I can get that by dragging the perimeter over to fill the display.

Then, if I want to change generations or to focus on cousins in the same generation, am I correct in thinking that I would need to shrink the Property Box again and pick up that person from the other box on the left - is that the Focus screen? Then, back to stretching out the Property Box and so on? I don't mind doing the extra steps in order to de-clutter my workspace.

Using mostly the Property Box and the Notes tab will work perfectly for me I think, because I am only looking for a quick and easy place to store my data in a reasonably logical manner, rather than needing to publish it or otherwise manipulate it.

I am very grateful for all your good advice and that offered by other kind members of this group.

Regards,
Jacqueline

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tatewise
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by tatewise » 30 Aug 2019 16:11

Yes, that's right you can do that.

Alternatively, in the Property Box there are navigation buttons.
See the large upward blue arrow near the top ~ that moves up to the parents Property Box.
See the blue triangle to the right of the Spouse ~ that moves to the spouse Property Box.
See the blue triangles to the right of the Children ~ they move to a child Property Box.

Another way mentioned by another user is to use a family tree chart Diagram.
Click on any Diagram icon to the right of the Media icon in the main toolbar at the top.
In the displayed Diagram double-left-click any person to open their Property Box.
Thereafter, just single-click any person to switch to their details in the Property Box.
That is a much neater way of moving to more distant relatives such as cousins and great-grandparents.

There are other techniques, but I don't want to muddy the waters.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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JJH
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Re: Can Family Historian be simplified?

Post by JJH » 30 Aug 2019 17:38

Mike:
You are very kind, thank you.
Regards,
Jacqueline

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