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Ultimate Family Tree

When Genealogy.com discontinued production of Ultimate Family Tree in May 2000 I heard UFT was an excellent piece of genealogy software. On the day it was discontinued I heard at least one genealogist say that it was an excellent time to get a copy of the software if for no other reason than as a memento. A good number of copies had gone on sale at e-bay. Inexpensively, also.

A month later I bought a copy at an auction on e-bay. They still have a few copies of UFT on sale there, and inexpensively. It was one of the best genealogical decisions I made. I saw what a good piece of genealogy software could do. I also gained access to several reports that I didn't have previously--such as the Henry Report.

It truly was one of the better pieces of software, in regard to genealogy. There is a wide variety of reports. It included sort dates, which, although common in most software, was not (at least as of v. 7.5) available in Family Tree Maker (FTM), which was what I was then using. UFT's narrative reports are excellent, mainly due to their role sentences. If you are using The Master Genealogist and wish to use the UFT role sentences, please go here. Citation formats are based on Cite Your Sources by Richard Lackey, although they included templates based on Evidence! by Elizabeth Shown Mills beginning with version 3. Those with previous editions of the software were able to download those templates. The main problem with this is that not all of the Mill's source examples were included in the templates that were made available. To see their source templates, as imported into TMG, see here.

There are problems with UFT, and regardless of what some long-time users of UFT might say, TMG is rightly regarded as the better piece of software. There are some things that Ultimate Family Tree did not do, or didn't do correctly. Also there are some things that UFT did easily that are not easily done in TMG v.4, if done at all. Here is why I prefer TMG:

  1. Let's begin with some of the things that UFT does right. This page is supposed to be about UFT, not TMG. And TMG doesn't do these things, or they don't do it right--not yet. Not in version 4, and not in v. 5.09. Here's hoping these defects in TMG will soon be corrected.

    UFT has the string cite, which was missing from TMG. (It has since been included) The string cite gives one citation number and then lists all the citations under that one number, connected by the words "and also". It looks so much more professional. Also, TMG does not include the biographical information of a spouse in their reports when the couple does not have children. If the person in that marriage who belongs by blood to the family the report is about does have a child with another person, the spousal information is included. But if he, or she, is childless, their spouse's biographical data is not included in a genealogy report. (This was changed in v. 6.0 and spouse events for children not carried foreward is included) UFT does include this, to its great credit, including biographical information on all spouses.



  2. You cannot include citations of any kind when you create a Descendant Text Report (e.g. Henry, Modified Henry, d'Aboville) in UFT. I've tried. It can't be done. One of the things a good genealogist should do is to cite his sources and print them. You should always have the option of not including citations in your reports, but it should be an option, and not mandated by your software. TMG, on the other hand, provides the option of including citations in every report I can think of, with the possible exception of box charts. I also have no wish to include citations in box charts, so even if its possible to do it, I would be unaware of it.


  3. In UFT, when you create a Register Report, and include citations, those citations will appear as embedded text notes, otherwise known as parenthetical citations. This was a common method of displaying citations at one time among genealogists, but it is not that common today. Elizabeth Shown Mills, the former editor of the NGS Quarterly, has written about parenthetical citations:
    it has been discarded by the major genealogical journals because it hampers full citations, limits crucial source discussions, and disrupts the train of thought in the narrative. [ Evidence! p. 24]
    I totally agree with Ms. Mills, especially in regard to the last part of the above statement.


  4. In UFT, when you create a Modified Register Report, and include citations, those citations would appear as endnotes. Only as endnotes. This is, as far as I am concerned, much better than what happens in their Register Report. I prefer the Register Report, but always chose the Modified Register Report in UFT, simply because of the way it handled citations. TMG gives the option, when citations are included, of presenting them as endnotes, footnotes, parenthetical (embedded), or as unique citations. Users choice.


  5. You can include citations within the body of text in UFT. This is an excellent feature which was only added to TMG when version 4.0a was being prepared, to make it easier for former UFT users to use TMG. The Chicago Manual of Style dictates that all citation marks appear at the end of a sentence, a practice that I believe is accepted by most, if not all other genealogy software programs. It does occur that you might wish to cite a specific fact within a sentence, or a quote that is incorporated into the text might rightly deserve to be credited. This feature allows it. Professor Lackey, in his book on genealogical citation, allows for it with the words:
    Genealogists may place note numbers within a sentence to refer to a specific fact when two or more facts are given from different sources. [ Cite Your Sources, p. 30]

    The only problem with this is that UFT provided two separate methods for doing this, the method used depending upon where the text was located.

    Each person in UFT has a field called 'Text' where remarks concerning that person could be put. They could be biographical in nature, or a place for general comments where you don't know where else those comments should be put. It this field it was extremely easy to add embedded citations--or as UFT would call it Evidence. You would simply click a icon with the word 'Citiation' on it, having your cursor where you want the citation mark to appear, and then you would proceed to add the citation. You would be given two choices, 'new' and 'existing.' If you wanted to edit a citation already added at that point you would click 'existing' and if you wanted to add a citation where one didn't exist before you would click 'new' and proceed as you always did in entering a citation. You would click 'new' even if the source you wished to include was already in your source list and had been used numerous times. A very quick and easy process.

    The problem as I saw it was that the procedure changed when you wished to add a citation to text found in an event sentence. A sentence was what is called a tag in other programs. This was because you would simply add sentences to your report, each sentence stating a specific fact. Citations would appear here, at the end of the sentence. You could then elaborate on what was in the sentence by going to a text box and adding text (what else?) which would appear after the citation marks. You could add as many citations as you wish in this text. You had to close the box and call up the evidence box from the main menu, only reached when you were not in the text box. Or by using keypad shortcut. You also had to find the sentence in question and make certain the correct text box opened again so you could tell the program where the citation mark was to be put.

    UFT also provides an easy method for adding discursive notes as footnotes, and also provides for reference notes and citations as opposed to text that would not appear in a reference report. These are features that I prefer in UFT as opposed to the corresponding features in TMG.

    TMG also gives a very easy, and consistent, method of adding embedded cites.

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