Find My Ancestor Blog

Mobile Monday – MobileFamilyTree Pro

Last week I did my usual weekly search in the App Store for any new genealogy apps for my iPhone or iPad. I came across a new app called MobileFamilyTree Pro by Synium Software, the same developers of Mac desktop application MacFamilyTree and the iPhone and iPad application MobileFamilyTree.

MobileFamilyTree Pro is a completely rewritten iOS application, much different than the mobile application MobileFamilyTree that has been in the App Store for the past couple of years.

Some of the new features include:

  • Completely rewritten from scratch
  • Can be used as a standalone app without MacFamilyTree or a Mac
  • Full GEDCOM import & export
  • To Do's
  • Media Browser
  • All charts and reports from MacFamilyTree are available in MobileFamilyTree Pro
  • Print charts and reports directory from iOS device
  • Email charts and reports
  • Maps
  • Sync iPhone and iPad
  • Flawlessly sync to MacFamilyTree on your Mac
  • and many more...

With this app you no longer need to have a desktop application to create, manage and share your genealogy database with others.

MobileFamilyTree Pro is the first iOS application where you can create multiple databases directly on your iOS device and sync them with other iOS devices and your desktop MacFamilyTree application.

All the charts and reports you can create in MacFamilyTree are available in MobileFamilyTree Pro. Along with creating the charts and reports you can print them directly from your iOS device to email them in HTML or PDF format to others.

This last weekend I spent some time create a family database from scratch. Rather than importing a GEDCOM file into MobileFamilyTree Pro I wanted to add individuals, facts and media files into a new database to see how easy the app is to work with and to see how long it would take me to create a comprehensive database directly on my iPad.

The app is very simple and easy to use. If you have ever used the desktop version of MacFamilyTree, using this new app will be very easy for you to learn and use.

One of my favorite features of this app is the ability to wirelessly sync databases between the iPad, iPhone and desktop application. To me, this is very handy because I don't have to get out my USB cables, connect my devices, open up iTunes and mess with complicated instructions just to get my database from my computer onto my iPad. The process is very simple - just open up the sync screen on the app and view available devices and databases. Select which database and device you want to sync with and simply click sync. The syncing only takes a matter of seconds depending on the size of your database. If you include media files, syncing will take longer.

MobileFamilyTree Pro Syncing Screen

Just like the desktop application, one of my other favorite features of this app is the ability to create so many different types of charts and reports. I have found MacFamilyTree to have best and informational charts and reports than any other genealogy database software I have used. I really like the look and feel to the reports you are able to create. All the charts and reports available in the desktop application are also available in the mobile app.

Though I have not had a lot of time to find a lot of specifics with the app that I do not like, there are a few things I have found that I think could be improved.

  • Adding media files to the database have to be added to each individual separately. There is no way of importing a batch of images at once and then assigning them to individuals in your tree.
  • I have noticed that the display order of children on the Families screen is ordered in the sequence you added them to the database. I do not see any place to order the individuals by age or date of birth. (If there is a way to do this, I have not been able to find it)
  • When adding a new location to an event, you can "search" for the location out of a list previously used. This is helpful when you have a lot of different locations in your database. However, when you hit "search" the cursor is still in the location field rather than going directly to the search box. There were many times I tried to search for a location, but I was actually typing in the wrong field. This is not a big deal, but would make it a lot easier rather than having to hit search, then click in the search box.
  • When clicking the Places tab, it would be nice to have a button where you could view that place on a map. The Places tab lists all the events for that location and you can click on the events and go directly to the individual who's event that is for, but I think it would be fun to be able to view that particular location on a map. You can use the Map chart to view all the locations on a map, but I would like to see where a single location is. This function also only works if you use the location template in the app. When I enter in locations into my databases I do not use individual fields for each locality (city, county, state, etc.) I enter all the locations into one field.

Those are just a few things I found in the short time I had to play around with the app. As time goes on and I use it more, I will post more features that I think are great and those that could be improved or implemented into the app.

Overall, I believe Synium Software is sure ahead of the game when it comes to genealogy apps on the iPhone and iPad devices. You can also see more screenshots and more information on the app by visiting the MobileFamilyTree Pro page on Find My Ancestor as well as visiting the developer's website.

Download the app!

MobileFamilyTree Pro - Synium Software GmbH
*Disclosure* I was given a copy of MobileFamilyTree Pro to review and show on my website and blog. The review and opinions expressed here are my own.


Find My Ancestor App Available in App Store!


I am happy to announce that there is now a Find My Ancestor App in the App Store! This is something I have wanted for quite some time and I have been working on it for quite a while.

Within the app, users are able to read the Find My Ancestor blog, make comments on each post, see how many users have viewed each post within the app, "heart" the post and let others know you enjoyed it and share the post with others through Facebook, Twitter and email.

All the videos on the Find My Ancestor YouTube Channel are available for viewing, commenting, liking and sharing with others. This feature will also help motivate me to get more tutorials, interviews and other movies out there on the YouTube Channel!

Just as many of you enjoy the Genealogy Wallpapers here on Find My Ancestor, the app has a few wallpapers you can download onto your iPhone and save as your Lock Screen, Home Screen or both!

You are also able to send comments and other feedback through the app. Whether you have a question, comment, or just want to send a picture of you doing your genealogy on the go, there is built in function directly within the app!

Currently this app is only available for iPhone users, but I am hoping to have the app also available for Android users. Keep an eye out for news when the app can be downloaded in the Android Market.

One of the best parts of the app is that it is FREE! So go ahead an download it for yourself today!

Ancestor - Find My Ancestor


Other Great iPhone Apps!


BillionGraves App Available for Android!

Yesterday I received an email from the developers of BillionGraves announcing the release of their app for Android devices!

Since day one of the release of their iPhone app about a month ago, people have been emailing the developers asking for an Android version. Now both iPhone and Android users can take photos of headstones, upload them to the website and help transcribe the images for others to search. The app is now available to download in the Android Market and will soon be available to download in the Amazon App store. I downloaded the app but have not had the chance to use it yet in a cemetery. Perhaps that is what I will do tomorrow afternoon. In the email from BillionGraves they mentioned that not every Android device will be able to use the app. This is because not every Android device uses true GPS and therefore would not tag the photos with the proper coordinates. There is a blog post by BillionGraves that gives more information and a list of known devices that will and will not work properly with the app. Check out the list and see if yours is there. If you do not see your device on the list at all, test out the app and let them know. Have any of you out there had the chance to download the app on your Android device and take photos yet? Let me know how it works for you!


Billion Graves – Taking High Quality Photos

Yesterday I posted quite a lengthy review on the new app and website Billion Graves. I had so much more to say about the app and I didn't want to write a whole novel in one posting, so I decided to break it up into small segments. Today I want to talk about some of the issues I have already seen with the new app and website having to do with the photos that are taken and possibly some suggestions on how both us as genealogists and photo takers can improve the photos uploaded to the website as well as some suggestions for the developers to help create a better product for us users. As most of you know, the new app and website Billion Graves is a way for users with iPhones (and Android devices soon) can travel to cemeteries, take photos of the headstones, and upload them to the website which can then be transcribed and made searchable to users. On Sunday when I was playing around with the website I was scrolling through the images that had not yet been transcribed and I ran into a few that I thought were perfect examples of some of the issues we are going to see with this new site. Let me first start out by saying I am not meaning to point out particular people with the photos or anything like that. I don't know who took these photos, nor does anyone else. I just want to give some good examples of headstones that cannot be transcribed either because of lighting on the headstone, objects covering the headstone, photos that are the back of headstones with no apparent names, and other similar problems. Phillip Trauring of the Blood and Frogs blog mentioned the other day about the issue with the website not supporting multiple languages. This may be a feature that will be added later, but for now headstones like these aren't able to be transcribed and therefor sit in the transcribing que for a long time. There are quite a few photos I saw where it is obvious the photographers did not read the instructions on taking photos. Yes, there are instructions on taking photos on the website. They are located here. Please read them! Also, when you are taking the photos, image if you were taking the photo for yourself and it was your ancestor's headstone you were taking. Would you want this picture for your scrapbook or research report? Can you read all the information on here? This is not a headstone, but a plaque talking about the cemetery its self. Right now there is no option to add photos of the cemetery its self like there is on Find A Grave. I am sure this person who took the picture had good intentions of uploading this to the website, but until there is an option to  add additional pictures about the cemetery, I say we just stick to regular headstones with names on them. What do you thing? Comments? Suggestions? Okay, I am sure this picture was not meant to be uploaded to the website. To me this looks like an accidental photo or the person thought they would be funny and upload the lawn mowing guy. While I am on the topic of accidental photos, because there are a few more below, I think the developers need to take the "Auto Upload" feature off and make the default setting so you have to upload the photos by pressing "Upload" yourself. For those of you who have not used the app, when taking a photo, afterwards it shows you the photo you just took and asks you whether the picture is good or not. Obviously if you take a picture you did not mean to you say no, other wise when you say yes it will automatically upload it to the website. I don't want to see "oops" pictures on the website and I know you don't either. So, while the developers fix this (because it really does need to be fixed!) how about you go into your settings on the app and turn OFF the "Auto Upload" feature! This headstone overall looks really good. The lighting is fine, you can read all the words, but it is cut off. I know this isn't the end of the world, but I know there are many people like me who use the photos of headstones more than just for the information on them, but I use them when creating reports, scrapbooks, etc. People want the entire headstone in the picture. They don't want to use a headstone picture that is cut off to put in their family history book they have been working so hard on for many years. They want the best quality they can get. So please, make sure you get the whole headstone in the photo for the best picture! Did I mention there are instructions for you on the website? Here is the link (again). I cannot read the husband's full name. Can you? Photos like this the grass should have been swept off and what ever was blocking the headstone that created the shadow should have been moved. If objects can't be moved, get the photo from a different angle or a different time of day. I think I see someone's finger in the corner... Make sure your fingers and other objects to do get in the way of the camera. Also, I cannot read what this headstone says at all. The photo was taken from too far away. Get as close as you can to the headstone, but still making it so you get the whole thing in there. Of course there are going to be headstones where time has worn it away and photos cannot get the best picture. Here are a couple suggestions my dad and I came up with:
  • Have a card that you can write the name on and have it beside the headstone in the picture. This will let others know what it says when they see the picture.
  • Talk to the cemetery and see the name that used to be on the headstone.
  PLEASE clean off the headstones before you take the picture. No one wants stuff covering the headstone! Again, imagine if this was your ancestor's headstone. Do you want that grass covering it? Also, your white shoes look very nice in contrast with the green grass, but be sure not to get other objects (fingers, hands, shoes, etc) in the pictures. It makes them look less professional. Is this an accident picture? Or did the person taking it want her shoes, flowers, and headstone all in the same shot? If this is not an accident picture, sorry, but I cannot read the headstone at all! And this is my favorite picture so far I have seen on the site! Not really, but can you guess what it is? I think it looks like a close-up of a couch or a wool suite jacket. Either way, this is clearly not a headstone and I am assuming it was yet another accidental upload. This is why the "Auto Upload" should be turned off! Here is a screenshot of the settings screen where you disable this: Again, I don't mean to point fingers by showing these few photos, but it is important for others to know and to see what some of the issues with uploading photos and taking photos are. I have said this a few times already, but when you go out there doing such a great service to all of us taking these photos, images they are all your ancestors and they are pictures you are going to be using in a scrapbook or a family history book. I know you would want the best quality photos, so please, provide us with the best quality photos! And be sure to READ and FOLLOW the instructions given on their website - also just use common sense on whether a picture is readable or not.