Modern Software Experience

2008-06-26

Legacy

release

pre-release

Millennia expected to release Legacy 7 a small year ago, and started to promise free upgrades to anyone who bought version 6. Millennia was too optimistic about the time it would take them to finish version 7, but did not rush it out of the door to cash in on the updates.
A pre-release was made available some week ago to attendees of the U.S.A.’s National Genealogical Society Conference in Kansas City on 2008 May 14. The public release of version 7.0 became available on 2008 Jun 15. Its exact version number is 7.0.0.45.

hyperbole

The official Legacy 7.0 press release does not shun hyperbole, and quotes David Berdan, president of Millennia Corporation as saying that Legacy Family Tree 7.0 is truly the next generation of family history software.
There is nothing next generation about Legacy 7. Legacy 7.0 is the usual incremental upgrade with some new features, and is still very much the same program as Legacy 6.

version 6

Speaking about version 6, the latest and probably last 6.0 release is 6.0.0.190. If you have this version, it will confirm that you have the latest build. It does not offer to download and install the upgrade, as it is not free, but the release of version 7 is headlined in Legacy News on the Legacy Home tab.

editions

Like previous versions, Legacy 7 is available in a Standard and a Deluxe edition. The Standard Edition is freely available to everyone and the features of the Deluxe edition are unlocked by a registration number that Millennia will be happy to sell to you.

upgrading

It has been quite a wait, the buzz around version 7 was positive and the upgrade price is reasonable, so many current users will order the upgrade to version 7 on good faith.
Those who want to make sure that Millennia did not create some horrible downgrade like Ancestry.com did with Family Tree Maker 2008 can download and install Legacy 7 Standard Edition to reassure themselves. Millennia does not highlight this capability, but you can run version 6 and 7 and the same time, just install version 7 in another directory.

new and improved features

There are various new and improved features in Legacy 7, and many of these are only available to registered users.

New and available in the Standard Edition are standardisation tips, the Guided Setup Wizard and Best Fit Child Columns. Some of the existing features available in the Standard Edition that have improved since version 6 are Search and Backup.

New and only available in the Deluxe Edition are Interview Reports, mapping with Microsoft Virtual Earth and the so-called SourceWriter. The Legacy Charting Deluxe program for creating wall charts is a Deluxe feature, but everyone can download Legacy Charting Standard Edition.

Some other features already present in Legacy 6, but only available in the Deluxe Edition, are the Geo Location Database, the Distance and Bearing Calculator, the USA county verifier, the Picture Centre, the Global Spell Check, Timelines, colour coding your ancestors, the Relationship Calculator, checking your file for Potential Problems and Comparing Two Files for duplicates. Some of these have improved since version 6.

This review looks at a selection of the existing, improved and new features.

download and install

download

To download Legacy, you need to provide your name and email address. When you install Legacy, the installer will you prompt you for an installation password. Millennia will mail that password to the email address you provide.

The Millennia web site does not provide a site menu when you are browsing safely. Millennia still uses JavaScript for menus, yet you still do not need to turn on scripting, as links to download or buy Legacy are all over the home page.

You can opt to install Legacy 7 from the web. I did not try that. I downloaded the full installer, which is a bit more than 48 MB.

installation

Legacy Setup defaults to installing in C:\LEGACY. That is wrong, but it is easy to pick another directory. Legacy Charting 7 installs in Program Files\Millennia\LegacyChart7, so I suggest you install Legacy 7 in Program Files\Millennia\Legacy7.

The installation directory is the only thing you can (and because the default is wrong, should) choose. Legacy installs a desktop icon without asking, and as soon as you finish the install, Legacy is started, again without asking.

starting up

Language

Legacy is multi-language, and the installer does not ask which language you prefer, so the first thing you see when Legacy starts up for the first time is its "Select a language" dialog box. Legacy supports both English and Amglish, and on my system, it correctly defaulted to English.
Kudos to Millennia for providing English and defaulting correctly.

Start-up Wizard

Guided Setup

Once you’ve picked a language, you get to see the so-called Legacy Guided Setup. That is a confusing name, as you already finished the setup. It should be called the Start-up Wizard - and it seems Millennia’s Geoff Rasmussen agrees, because that is what he calls it in the Legacy training video.

The first dialog of the Start-up Wizard asks whether you are installing the Standard or Deluxe edition, and it defaults to Deluxe. You need to either enter your customer name and number to continue, or choose to install the Standard Edition.

Deluxe list

There is a button that brings up a list of Deluxe features and one to purchase the Deluxe Edition. It is less than commendable that this list seems to be a list of all Legacy Deluxe features, not a list of features unique to the Deluxe Edition.

basic options

The next screen gives some basic options, such as the date format. I find it disappointing that Legacy still supports the antilogical date format (06-05-2008), both on screen and in reports. Continuing to support bad practices like that is just wrong. Legacy defaults to the format used in GEDCOM files (5 Jun 2008), which will not confuse anyone, and it does support the international date format (2008-06-05).

Another bad practice that Legacy still supports is uppercasing surnames, but at least that option is off by default.

Support for LDS-specific events is on by default. A genealogy program must support LDS events to support all GEDCOM tags, but that does not imply that everyone’s screens should be cluttered with LDS-specific fields. This option should be off by default.

Legacy can display the record identification number (RIN), Ancestral File Number (AFN) or a user-defined identifier after a name. It quite reasonably defaults to the RIN. Sometimes I find it handy to see the numbers, but most of the time, I opt for the cleanest look by choosing "None".

Legacy defaults to checking for news and updates You can turn this off. The Start-up Wizard fails to note this, but it is handy to know that Legacy always performs an update check on start up.

Getting Started

The third dialog of the Start-up Wizard is where you finally seem to get started for real. You can choose to open an existing Legacy database, import data from another program, open the sample database or choose "I’m just starting".

I generally start evaluation of new programs, not by opening a file but by browsing through the menus. There is no "I’m fine" option, and if you choose that last "I’m just starting" option, Legacy prompts you with a dialog to start entering your own data. If you dare click the "Finished" button on that dialog without entering any data, Legacy will throw up yet another dialog box, this time prompting you to save the new file - despite the fact that there is nothing to save. If you notice the "No thanks. Please create a new empty family file and I’ll do the rest" check box on the data entry screen and choose that, Legacy does exactly the same thing - it prompts you to save the file you did not make.
If you try to cancel that save file operation, Legacy does not quit the Wizard, does not show the data entry screen again, but wanders one step back in its dialog box parade, to shows the dialog box with the options again, and it still does not include "I’m fine".

Wizard Whining

Wizards are supposed to make a program easier to use, not to get in between you and the program, but that is what this Wandering Wizard manages to do nonetheless. I am just trying to get to an empty screen so I can leisurely browse the menus and study the options, but the "just go away, Wearisome Wizard" or "just give me a blank file before you leave, Wretched Wizard" option is missing from that dictatorially persistent "Please select one of the following choices box" dialog box.

ill logic

Millennia’s user interface designer apparently believes that if I do not want to open or import an existing file, I must be a beginner, and will therefore be absolutely ecstatic that Legacy keeps pushing a data entry screen into my face. Legacy’s user interface designer believes that it makes more sense to omit the "Quit your Wizard Whining now" option from the option dialog box and then put an "I did not ask for a data edit screen, Woolly Wizard" option on the data edit screen that follows, than simply provide the "Quit your Wizard Whining now" option on the option dialog box in the first place. Must - push - data - entry - screen.

If that sounds like another start-up wizard, it is because it is another start-up wizard. There are two separate start-up wizards, and you get assaulted by both.

Double Wizard Assault

When you try to escape Legacy’s Lame Dialog Dictatorship by clicking the "Exit Setup" button, you get the "How would you like to begin?" dialog box....

If that sounds like another start-up wizard, it is because it is another start-up wizard. There are two separate start-up wizards, and you get assaulted by both.

bad user experience

Having two start-up wizards does not make sense, so this sloppy state of affairs makes me wonder, not only how much these Wizards were tested, and whether they were ever tested with actual users, but also how much effort was spent designing the user experience in the first place.

There is some light in this darkness. This second wizard does offer an "Start a New Empty Family File" option. It isn’t the first option, and it isn’t the default option either, but at least it is there.
You can try hitting Esc, but that does not work, you have to explicitly choose that option. When you do, Legacy once again throws up a New File dialog, but this time, it stops bothering you when you cancel it. Once you cancel it, Legacy moves on and you finally get to see the "Welcome to Legacy 7.0" welcome dialog box. Pfew!

Welcome dialog box

That Welcome dialog box is always shown on start-up unless you uncheck the option to show it, but because the start-up dialog is also Legacy’s tips dialog, you might want to leave it on for a while.

When you close the Welcome dialog box, Legacy pops up a messagebox with the cryptic "You must open Family File first." message, as if you were trying to perform some action on some data. That is not your fault. The start-up logic of the second wizard is about as sensible as that of the first one; both Wizards would benefit from a lobotomy.

pop-up after pop-up

When you dismiss that messagebox, Legacy pops up an "Order a Legacy Manual" dialog box. Yes, it is pop-up after pop-up. Be grateful for little things done right, and click the don’t show this message again checkbox. Only after closing that dialog box, do you finally get an empty Legacy screen.

training video

Several tabs of the "Guided Setup Wizard" have a "Watch Legacy Tour" button. It links to the "Legacy for Beginners" training video on the Millennia web site. Millennia has several training videos for sale, but this beginners video is free. It is a relaxed way to learn the basics of Legacy. The video is in English and is close captioned. If you are familiar with Legacy 6 or indeed any other genealogy program, you won’t learn much, but you may pick up some little things. Experienced Legacy users will probably want to skip ahead to the chapter about Sources, to see how support for sources has been improved.

Geo Location Database

Legacy 7 is not fully installed until you’ve installed its geo location database.

separate downloads

Legacy 7 has a Geo Location Database. It is not included with the Legacy 7 download, but Legacy 7 is not fully installed until you’ve installed its geo location database.

To install this feature, you must first download the Geo Database Region Files. Together, these six files take up close to 39 MB. That immediately explains why the files are not simply part of the Legacy 6 download; it would more than double its size.

import

Once you have the files, you must import the regions you want Legacy to support, and only then does the feature work. Downloading on a good connection takes just a few minutes, but importing all the files takes about an hour during which Legacy’s CPU usage hovers around 25 %. Once you’ve imported all the regions, you should compress the database. The compress matters; it reduces the GeoDb.gdb file from 574 MB to 434 MB.

I don’t like to have to assemble the geo database myself. It would be considerably more user-friendly to provide a single, complete download, or just offer a ready-made database (as a zipped download). Millennia already has this database, and does include it on the Legacy CD.

Wizard failure

That you need to download and import the geo database to take advantage of this Legacy feature is something the Start Up Wizard should tell me. Now, the Geo Location Database is a Deluxe feature, and I started evaluation in Standard Mode, but I was not prompted to download the Geo Location Database after entering registration information either.

user interface

surreal

When I reread the whole start-up experience I just recounted it seemed so surreal, so exceptionally egregious, that I just had to double-check with a clean reinstall of Legacy. I double checked, and I am sorry to say that it really is that bad.

uninstall failure

I also discovered another issue; the uninstalls does not seem to have been tested at all. When I tried to remove Legacy 7, I got a messagebox titled "Wise Uninstall" stating "Invalid INSTALL.LOG file". I had to remove Legacy manually by deleting the entire directory.

Millennia has the weird notion that the user must be forced to open a file.

forcing users

Now, it is not only this bad the very first time you start Legacy 7. Millennia has the weird notion that the user must be forced to open a file. Every time you start Legacy, it immediately throws up a File Open dialog box. It is annoying and it is wrong. Legacy should let the user decide what they want to do.
Legacy even throws that dialog box up before showing the Welcome dialog box. Even worse, if you close the project you work on, and then close Legacy, Legacy will arrogantly open that project the next time you start it. Apparently, the idea that the user should be in control has not reached Millennia’s user interface designer yet.

At some point during my early explorations of the new version, which consisted mostly of browsing menus and dialogs and of opening and closing the sample file a few times, Legacy did no longer open that sample database. That really makes we wonder how much testing Millennia has done. When I exited and restarted Legacy, it worked again.

lower left

Legacy managed to annoy even further by always putting that File Open dialog in the lower left corner of the screen instead of centred on screen as well-behaved Windows programs tend to do. These are the kind of annoyances that can make you junk an otherwise fine program.
The solution for this particular annoyance is simple. The dialog box starts out in the lower left corner, but if you move it anywhere else just once, it will appear there the next time you use it. Apparently, multiple dialog boxes share the same position, so if you move one dialog box just once, you’ve already fixed this annoyance for many other dialog boxes.

About

The about box reports the version as "Legacy 7.0". You need to click on "General", which does not look like a button or tab, to get another dialog box showing the precise version number and build date.

menu

I quickly discovered why Legacy forced me to open a file; to prevent me from noticing that without a file open, the Legacy options are unavailable, that even the language selection is unavailable. I wondered for a moment whether this is because the language is associated with the database you open, but that is not the case. As soon as you try to change language, Legacy tells you it has to restart. The language selection is purely a user-interface thing.

not grey

Features that are only available in the Deluxe edition are not greyed out while running the Standard Edition. Instead, whenever you choose one of these features, the program reminds you that you that it is a Deluxe-only feature, and may even have a button to buy it. There is little consistency in the handling of Deluxe features, and I do wonder just how much effort Millennia spent on special dialog boxes when they could just have greyed out the unavailable menu items, to make the program menu reflect the available features. Worst are the dialog boxes such as the one for Potential Problems, which let users choose all kinds of options before refusing to execute the command.

index view

The Index View (Deluxe feature) is a text-book example of sloppy user-interface design. You’d expect to click the column headers to sort the view by that column. Instead, it brings up a dialog box that lets you select which columns to display. Displaying that box in response to a right-click or a menu selection would make much more sense. There are buttons above the list view to sort the view, and if you sort by RIN, the display starts with the non-existent RIN 0 instead of RIN 1.
Scrolling up and down is not smooth, but jerky, and there is a rather noticeable delay.

I also had a weird sorting experience. When I sorted by surname, and then by ID, Legacy sorted the IDs as if they were strings, so it started with 0 (the extra record Legacy adds) followed by 10, 100 and 1000. After some trial and error, I figured out that this happens when you decide to display by User ID, one of the options under the button on the upper right, but are still showing the RIN. I guess that Legacy falls back on the RIN if there is no user id to sort, and then makes the mistake of using a string comparison instead of a numeric comparison. Little defects like this do not build trust in the quality of the coding or the extent of the testing.

Legacy ruins your database by uppercasing the first letter of all name parts, including prefixes that should remain lowercase.

prefixes

Browsing through the Index View, I noticed that Legacy had messed up my database. Family names such as ter Maat and van Zadelhoff had become Ter Maat and Van Zadelhoff. This is not just an error in Legacy’s index view, when you double-click to bring up a Individual dialog box, it becomes clear that Legacy has really changed the spelling. Legacy ruins your database by uppercasing the first letter of all name parts, including prefixes that should remain lowercase. When you import your data, and then export it again, the names have been changed! You don’t even need to export, al reports will have Jan Ter Maat and Maria Van der Meer instead of Jan ter Maat and Maria van der Meer, and that makes you look ignorant and unprofessional. This is so wrong, it defies belief. You just don’t expect anything but a version 1.0 program to contain such basic mistakes.

Format Names and Places

I did some tests. Legacy checks the "Format names and places" option by default, which is wrong, but does not act the same way for direct PAF and GEDCOM import. If you import a PAF file directly, all is fine, but if you use Legacy’s GEDCOM import, the prefixes are mangled. The direct PAF import respects correct casing, whatever the setting of "Format names and places", but you must uncheck this misfeature to make the GEDCOM import respect proper casing of last names.

disappointment

The Legacy 7.0 user interface is much like the Legacy 6.0 user interface. Although that is a Good Thing in principle, it is still a disappointment. It is partly a disappointment because existing interface errors have not been fixed. It is also a disappoint because it simply is not like the new Legacy Charting at all.
The recent release of that program, and the time it took for Millennia to come up with Legacy version 7.0, made many anticipate a Legacy 7.0 with the same modern look as a Legacy Charting, but the Legacy interface did not change more than was necessary to accommodate the new features.
As it is now, Legacy Charting is something you get with the Deluxe Edition, but looks and feels different. Millennia is bundling two programs with different user interfaces. I like to think that Legacy Charting is a glimpse into the future of Legacy Family Tree, and hope that version 8.0 will be more like it.

colour scheme

One thing that has not improved is the Legacy colour scheme. A freshly installed Legacy greets you with a puke-coloured background, and still comes with a small selection of tastelessly selected patterns. The colours are configurable, and you can set your own pattern, but there is still no option to make Legacy simply respect your Windows colour scheme. I recommend setting the background to something boring but unobtrusive like light grey.

languages

locales

Legacy supports English and various English dialects, to wit the American, Australian and Canadian dialects. It also supports Danish, Dutch, German, and Norwegian - both Bokmål and Nynorsk. Now, my German is a bit rusty, but my Dutch is excellent, so I had brief look at the Dutch interface.

translation overflow

The Dutch translation seems fine to me, hat of to the volunteers who did this job, but I could not help noticing that some words are apparently too long for Legacy; the first half of the first letter of right-aligned words in the main view are just not shown, as they would overflow the box.

I decided to try the German translation, as German is known for its verbosity. Sure enough Gestorben (died) is shown as storben; the first two letters are missing. This is exactly the kind of thing that proper internationalisation avoids.

home-brew

That Legacy requires a restart to change user interface language is a bit puzzling. Switching user interfaces while running is not that hard.
A possible reason for Legacy’s limitations might to be that Millennia is not taking advantage of Windows’s excellent internationalisation support, but using its own home-brew internationalisation system instead.

spell checker

Legacy comes with spell checking dictionaries for the user interface languages it supports. It feels similar to the one in Microsoft Office.

more languages?

If you look in the Legacy directory, you will see a bunch of files with file extension *.trn. These are TRaNslation files. There are more languages there than Legacy’s language selection box offers, including Afrikaans, French, Finnish, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish and Swedish. Alas, these are not language files for the Legacy user interface, but for reports. One of the nice features of Legacy is that you can work in one language, while creating reports in another.
The TRN files are simple text files, so with these as examples, it is relatively easy to create a translation into another language, although one major limitation is probably that the character set is limited to Windows ANSI.

limited languality

Legacy supports multiple language, but its multilinguality is limited. The help file has not been translated, and is not even available in English, but in Amglish only. Legacy Charting Deluxe, included in the Deluxe Edition, does not let you pick a language at all; it has an Amglish interface, and That’s it.

help files

I found the help files to be disappointing. I wanted to know about its support for colour schemes. There is a subject on selecting colour schemes, which immediately starts talking about how to select a colour scheme in the window for selecting a colour scheme. It refers to the dialog box as a window, which is not technically incorrect, as dialogs are indeed windows, but it is less likely to be understood correctly. The rest of the language it uses is not much better. The instructions are to highlight a colour scheme and then click load. That is not proper help file vernacular. You do not highlight a colour scheme, you select a colour scheme. Whether it is becomes highlighted upon selection depends on the current colour scheme used by the application...

The biggest problem is not even the language, but that the entry is no help at all. It tells you to select a scheme from a list and then choose OK. Duh.
It does not tell you how to get to that dialog box in the first place (right-click the window and choose Change Colour Scheme... from the context menu), nor what part of the program the colour schemes apply to (the application, not the reports, and Legacy Family Tree, not Legacy Charting).

Apart from some disappointing entries like this, the help file does seem pretty good. It certainly is extensive, and not only includes instructions for importing from many third parties programs, but even has a glossary.

Geography

Geo database

integration

The geo location database contains some 3 million current places. It does not contain historic names and does not support historic boundaries, and its integration into Legacy in minimal; it is used for look-up only. You can search the database and choose a place name, but not perform a full check of your current database against the geo location database. Now, a straightforward comparison would not make much sense, as it might flag historically correct names as incorrect, but a specialised spelling check, to catch typos, would be eminently sensible. Something for Legacy 8?

geo double

Legacy contains a second geo database for users of their local locale, the United States of America. This second database does ship as part of the product and does contain historical county information. This database is the backbone of the Legacy 7’s new USA county verifier. The county verifier does not just check whether a county exists, but whether it existed at the time of the event.

county verifier

I decided to give this feature a whirl. I have quite a few American places in my database, and had never performed any such check yet, so there should still be plenty of mistakes for it to find.
The check is not particularly fast, but not excruciatingly slow either. It took about 8 minutes and 20 seconds for the 100k INDI database. That is 100.067 records in 500 seconds, which is just a bit more than 200 records per second.

questionable results

Legacy claimed to have found quite a few errors, but that is largely because it does not handle question marks well, resulting in errors like There was never a county by the name of ? in the state of Michigan..

preview window

The Preview window disappoints. There are 20 pages of output, but the scroll bar moves completely up or down in just three clicks - another thing that has apparently not really been tested. The weirdest thing about it is that you cannot select text. You can export the report to a PDF, but not to a simple text format. You can copy it to the clipboard, but only as an image, not as text. This surprising restriction made me worry that the PDF it creates might just be a container for images, but luckily that isn’t case. The PDF file it creates contains real text, which you can search, select and copy.

So, to copy the text to the clipboard and into say NotePad, you must first generate a PDF file, then Select All, and copy the text from the PDF file to the clipboard and then NotePad. That’s needlessly complex. As just described it does not even really work, because when you try "Select All" in Adobe Reader, it selects only the current page, not the entire document.

user interface mess

There are two big buttons on the USA County verification dialog box, "Preview" and "Print". I quite naturally opted for "Preview" button. I just described the frustrating limitations of the preview window.

These frustrations stem from a convoluted user interface design. For some unfathomable reason - my best guess is that the user interface was created by a dipsomaniac dinosaur - the preview window does not provide all output options. Instead, the interface has been complicated with Report Destination radio buttons on the dialog box you get to see first. There are three radio button there, "Screen/Printer", "Text File" and "PDF file", and it defaults to "Screen/Printer". If you choose "Text file" instead, the "Print" button changes into a "Create" button, and you do get a text file. What’s wrong with letting us pick our output format from the preview window?

You are prompted for a file name as soon as you click the "Create" button, which is OK, but there is a lot more user interface silliness. Legacy provide a Pause button, but no Cancel button, and annoys with a "View File?" messagebox once its done creating the file. Worse, when you click the Pause button, it asks whether you want to Cancel the operation, and when you say yes, it still asks whether you want to "View File?".
It is enough to make you wonder whether anyone at Millennia uses their own product.

limited

Apart from the user interface problems and its failure to handle question marks gracefully, country verification works fine. The biggest technical issue is simply that it isn’t very smart. It will complain that there never was a country by the name of Loudun in Virginia, but not suggest that the proper spelling is Loudoun.
It will provide messages like Pepin County did not exist in 1857 in the state of Wisconsin. It was not founded until 1858., but will not even tell you that it was created from Dunn county. The USA county verifier will find an error, but doesn’t do anything else. It does not even provide simple hints like I just mentioned to help you fix the errors.

I tried the county verifier on my current database, which is larger but contains less question marks and fewer spelling errors. According to Legacy, "There was never a county by the name of Bad Axe in the state of Wisconsin", while the Dictionary of Wisconsin History confirms that it is actually the former name of Vernon County. Oh well, new databases are likely to have a few errors like that. Its There was never a county messages did highlight several spelling errors that have been fixed now.

Millennia has put the country verifier on the Tools menu, but it is hardly a tool. It only produces a report, so it should really be on the report menu.

GEDCOM import and export

import

Legacy Charting impressed with speedy GEDCOM import, but Legacy 7 does not contain the same impressive import technology. The GEDCOM import seems unchanged from Legacy 6 and continues to be remarkably mediocre. It still pops up dialog boxes during import. It still complains about ostensible errors that aren’t errors. It still produces a log file that is not bad, but not very good either.

The import speed has changed, but not for the better. While Legacy Charting shows how fast a GEDCOM import can be, Legacy 7 shows how succeeding program releases become slower and slower. I started this review with Legacy 7.0 Pre-Release (7.0.0.25) and found that Legacy 7 took 30 % more time than Legacy 6. As there was no obvious reason for this significant slow down, I considered that there was still some debug or testing code in the pre-release that was slowing it down, and I redid the tests with the Legacy 7.0 Release (7.0.0.45). I still found that Legacy 7 is slower than Legacy 6, just not by 30 %.

1 MB GEDCOM

Import of the 1 MB GEDCOM takes 1m38s. Legacy 6 does it in 1m30s, so Legacy 7 is 9 % slower.

It is not clear just why Legacy 7 is slower, as the GEDCOM import routine seems unchanged. Perhaps there are internal changes relating to Legacy 7’s source support.

100k INDI GEDCOM

The Legacy 7 GEDCOM import does not seem to have improved from the Legacy 6 GEDCOM import; it looks the same and acts the same. Legacy starts GEDCOM import with an Analysing phase. During this phase it displays a counter of individuals, and once Legacy is done counting individuals it displays a counter of families. It takes Legacy 3m18s to count 100.067 individuals and 45.647 families. Once it has done so, Legacy stops. I am not joking.
You ask Legacy to import a file, it starts the import, but it then stops after completing just the first phase, and it wants you to click a "Continue the Import" button that Millennia mislabelled "Start the Import".

Pause button

The mislabelled Continue button appears when the analysis phase is done. While the analysis phase of the import is still running, the dialog box display a checkbox mislabelled "Auto-Start" instead.

You may rightfully wonder what there is to start if the import is already running. The checkbox and the button are both labelled as if reading the file and counting records is not part of the import; both are labelled with "Start" instead of "Continue". Label them correctly, and the box label becomes "Auto-Continue the Import". Auto-Continue is more commonly know as Do Not Pause. So, if you check the box, Legacy will not pause. Wow, what marvellous technology.

By the way, Do Not Pause is a negative option, and user interfaces should provide positive options; Legacy should not provide a "Do Not Pause" checkbox, but a "Pause" checkbox. Replace that mislabelled "Do Not Pause" checkbox That’s unchecked by default with a "Pause" checkbox that is checked by default, and it becomes very obvious just how sensible this checkbox is. It seems that Legacy pauses because the Pause checkbox is checked by default, and that the Pause checkbox is there so that you can stop it from pausing. This ridiculously weird behaviour has been in Legacy for years, why has it not been fixed yet?

If you used Legacy for a while, you may notice that the dialog box with the unneeded and mislabelled Pause button is the same dialog box you get when opening say a PAF file directly. It is slightly less obvious, as you hardly notice the delay, but there too, the "Start the Import" button is really an "Auto-Continue" button; notice that Legacy has already read the file header to show the number of individuals and family.

There is no reason to start reading and then pause. Legacy should let you specify the file and any import options first, and then import the file without pause, and simply display a Cancel button on the progress dialog.

arbitrary limitation

The total time measured includes perhaps a minute delay caused by all the messagebox that the import routine puts up. One is a messagebox telling me that Legacy has reached its internal maximum of 60 children per family. I wonder how Legacy plans to explain that arbitrary limitation to the descendants of the Russian peasant Feodor Vassilyev (1707 - 1782) and his first wife (see Genealogical Record: Most Children).

What makes this limitation remarkable is that it is not an inherent limitation of the Legacy database, but an arbitrary limitation of Legacy’s GEDCOM import. If you import the PAF database directly, Legacy does not impose this limitation.
It is also worth noting that Legacy merely pops up the annoying messagebox, and does not list the affected record in the import file. In fact, the import log does not even repeat the message! An import log should tell you what went wrong during import. Legacy’s import log does not.

Legacy 7 seems to have exactly the same import routine with the same limitations as Legacy 6, yet somehow, it is even slower now than it was before. The total import time is 1h01m05s, and that is 23 % slower than Legacy 6.

Once the import is done, Legacy offers to start merging duplicates. I think they mean well, but offering that option after importing into an empty database does not make much sense.

GEDCOM export

Exporting the 100k INDI database takes about 16 minutes, that is slow. The GEDCOM itself seems fine and an import into Ancestral Quest resulted in just a few insignificant warnings.
Legacy claims to supports export to Windows ANSI, ANSEL and UTF-8, but its support for ANSEL and UTF-8 is limited by its major design flaw; it is a code page-based design.

Unsolved Problems

Unicode

The biggest Legacy 7 disappointment is that Legacy is still a codepage-based design. Legacy does still not support Unicode, and that automatically limits its support for other characters sets. Legacy will export to and import from ANSEL and UTF-8, but it will only export or import characters that happen to be in Window ANSI. It claims to support import from ANSEL and UTF-8, but its import ability for those encodings is limited to the 256 characters in Windows ANSI.

Unless you turned it off, Legacy shows a Special Character Ribbon on edit dialog boxes. You can customise this ribbon, by choosing eight characters from the 256 characters in Windows ANSI. You cannot pick any other character, because Windows ANSI is still all that Legacy 7 really supports.

import failure

The import of the 100k INDI GEDCOM did not go as successful as Legacy pretended it did. Several characters were not imported correctly. Legacy does not admit its failure to import correctly, it does not even issue a warning, but the Capital Letter C with Circumflex (Ĉ) that is in there lost its circumflex - and that is a fairly benign example. Had it been a Latin Capital Letter C with a Dot Above (Ċ) it would have turned into two characters, a Latin Small Letter C with with Cedilla followed by a Latin Capital Letter C (çC) - without even a warning.

unfixed problems

One thing that truly disappoints about Legacy 7 is the presence of old problems that have not been fixed.

GEDCOM import

I already mentioned that GEDCOM import is still throwing up a mass of messageboxes, complains about valid GEDCOM and produces a somewhat lousy import log that does not list its import failures.

Potential Problems

Multiple problems with the Potential Problems feature remain unfixed. The most obvious gripe about the Potential Problems feature is that it is slow. Legacy takes two hours to check my current database, while RootsMagic does so in a few minutes.

When you select Potential Problems for the first time, the "Check sort order of children" checkbox is the only that is unchecked, perhaps because this still does not work right. Every other check is enabled, even the checks for the LDS events.

Legacy seems to be handling the lack of a year as if the Proleptic Julian or Gregorian Calendar has a year zero....

Year Zero

I do not think Millennia unchecks the "Check sort order of children" checkbox because they know it is broken, but broken it is. I have a family with three children in my database for which I did not enter full dates of birth, but just birthdates - the years are missing. I believe the children are in the right order and without a year to go on, Legacy cannot determine whether the order is wrong or right, yet it complains the order is wrong. The Millennia programmers apparently never considered this, as Legacy seems to be handling the lack of a year as if the Proleptic Julian or Gregorian Calendar has a year zero....

born after father’s death

The most annoying disfeature of Potential Problems, one that many programs share, is that it complains about children born after the death of a parent. It really needs to get smarter and start using separate logic for fathers and mothers.

Legacy uses the same logic for fathers as it uses for mothers, and that is not just wrong, but stupid. It should only complain about children born after the death of their father when there is a significant number of months between the two dates. I keep being amazed by all the genealogy programs that get this wrong. It makes you wonder whether the creators flunked their high school biology.

Legacy gives about sixty such warnings on my current database. Perhaps one of these warnings is for some recent edit error, but if so, that one correct warning is hidden in a completely unnecessary flood of false positives.

unguarded logic

Legacy also complains that parents are too young when they aren’t parents, but guardians, because Legacy does not bother to check the relationship before complaining about the small age difference.

Tree Finder

A lineage-linked database contains a forest of tree. Legacy’s Tree Finder feature identifies the trees in the forest and counts how many individuals there are in each tree. It provides a list of trees, in which it identifies each tree by one individual that occurs in it. It is useful, but not reliable; it found a few disconnected persons (one person trees) in my current database, but also misidentified several connected individuals as one-person trees, perhaps because of import errors.
The Tree Finder is not fast. It took about seven minutes for the 100k INDI GEDCOM.

Features

more features

Legacy has many features that range from must-have to nice-to-have such as a To-Do list, a soundex calculator and printing address labels. I cannot possibly discuss them all, but I can certainly highlight a few.

 

…my favourite handy little feature is Swap Husband and Wife.

Swap Husband and Wife

Colour coding your ancestors is nice, but my favourite handy little feature is Swap Husband and Wife. This lets you quickly correct a case where you accidentally entered a wrong gender, and then added a spouse. If you ever had to fix that mistake in a program without this feature, you know you want this.

Potential Problems

full stop after initial

One new Potential Problems check I really like is "No full stop after an initial". It produces that same error when you have a full stop without a letter in front of it, so the message is not always accurate, but it sure highlights silly errors, and reports look so much more professional without errors that suggest you do not even care about getting names right.

Salutation

One other message I do not remember seeing before is "Salutation in name field". Legacy produces this warning for names such as Mr Jacob Kremer. It is a nice check to have, but Legacy 7 erroneously produces this warning for several names without a salutation at all such as Jan Harms Oelen Schonewille. Again, a good feature that is hampered by false positives.

best feature

It feels almost rude to say it, considering how much work was put into making Legacy 7, but my favourite Legacy 7 Deluxe feature is Legacy Charting Deluxe. Millennia bills it as a charting program, but I am using it as a visual browser. I already gave my first impression of Legacy Charting and will have some additional observations from continued use soon, this review is about Legacy Family Tree itself.

Interview Questions

A new report type is the Interview. There are many great questions in there, but I don’t see myself dumping this deluge of questions on anyone. Luckily, the questions are arranged into an interview - topic - questions hierarchy that you can select from, and all of it is editable.

Using the SourceWriter will take some getting used to, as it is a bit of a straightjacket, but the quality of the resulting citations is worth the trouble.

Sourcing Wizard

The most important new feature is probably Legacy’s support for the sourcing templates of Elizabeth Shown Mills. Millennia calls this feature the SourceWriter, which is a silly name for its Sourcing Wizard.

Legacy is not the first program to support Mill’s templates. RootsMagic 3 (2005) has a SourceWizard. The RootsMagic 3 SourceWizard is based on the Mill’s original Evidence! book (1997), while the Legacy 7 templates are based on the recent Evidence Explained (2007). The soon to be released RootsMagic 4 will probably support the hundreds of templates of the newer book as well.

I have reservations about the reasonability of so many different templates, but that is another topic. Legacy allows you to add references with or without the SourceWriter. Using the SourceWriter will take some getting used to, as it is a bit of a straightjacket, but the quality of the resulting citations is worth the trouble.

A common criticism of Mill’s work is that is US-centric, and that US-centricity carries over into Legacy’s SourceWriter. That is a limitation, but SourceWriter is likely to improve with subsequent versions.
The real problem with both RootsMagic 3 and Legacy 7 is that they have a Sourcing Wizard for creating new sources, but nothing to help you bring your current sources up to the same standards.

Map My Family

Legacy 7 sports a a mapping feature called Map My Family. That sounds nice, but it does not work right. When I choose Map My Ancestors from the Tool menu, a dialog appears, but it is immediately followed by a messagebox titled "error" on top of it, telling me that

"A Runtime Error has occurred. Do you wish to Debug?
Line: 86
Error: 'VEMap' is undefined"

Funny thing is, when I clicked Yes, I got to see the source. Turns out this is a piece of JavaScript code from Microsoft’s Virtual Earth site, version 6.1. A quick browse through the code showed that it requires Internet access and the code seems Internet Explorer-specific too; I had not allowed connecting to the Internet and my default browser is not Internet Explorer, but Firefox.

When I restarted Legacy and allowed Internet access, the Map My Ancestors feature worked just fine. You need to have Internet Explorer installed, but it does not need to be your default browser.

singular

The name is a bit misleading. I was expecting to see a map showing all locations in my database. Instead, it only shows locations associated with the currently selected person - that is singular, not plural.

place recognition

The dialog box has a small family tree you can navigate in the upper left corner. The places in my database are pretty standardised, and Virtual Earth recognises many locations. Whenever it fails, Legacy display a question mark and pops up a dialog box to tell you that it did not recognise everything. That dialog box annoys pretty soon, as it pops up way too often.

Turns out that Legacy/Virtual Earth does not recognise a place like Wilp, even though it is in Virtual Earth, and I’ve correctly entered it quite correctly as "Wilp, Voorst, Gelderland, Netherlands". When I browse the family tree the results I see suggest that the only places Legacy recognises correctly are municipalities.

Some experimenting suggests that the error lies with Microsoft Virtual Earth. If I try Wilp, it finds Wilp, Gelderland, Netherlands, which is not really correct, and when I try Wilp, Voorst, Gelderland, Netherlands, it tells me that There were no results for your search. Google Maps correctly returns Wilp, Voorst (Gelderland) for both.

Technology

FoxPro

Legacy is build on top of Microsoft FoxPro, a desktop database platform.
The current release of FoxPro is the one major Microsoft product that does not support Unicode. That is why Legacy does not support Unicode.
Microsoft is not developing FoxPro any further and is going to end all FoxPro support. That is why Millennia needs to switch to another platform.

Virtual Earth

Legacy Charting uses Microsoft Virtual Earth for its mapping feature, and requires the presence of Internet Explorer for it to work.

New FamilySearch

As far as I can tell, Legacy 7 does not support New FamilySearch (NFS) yet. I did not come across a menu item, it is not mentioned in the help, Millennia does not claim it as a feature and Legacy 7 is not FamilySearch Certified.

Delphi

Legacy Charting appears to written in Borland Delphi. It is a frequent complaint of Delphi developers that Delphi does not fully support Unicode yet, but the next version should fix that major shortcoming. Switching from one platform to another is not easy, but Millennia appears to have done it right. Legacy Charting is slick, it is fast and has a modern easy to use interface.

If Legacy Charting shows the future of Legacy Family Tree, that future may be bright indeed. Perhaps Legacy 8 will finally support Unicode and be as slick, fast, modern and easy to use as Legacy Charting.

Summary

Legacy

Legacy 7 is an incremental upgrade. It has new and improved features, but is still very much the same program as Legacy 6. The biggest change is not inside Legacy Family Tree 7, but outside it; Legacy Charting, reviewed separately.

download and install

The basic download is 48K and install is easy. To get the full product you need to download multiple geo database files, and then perform a multi-step, time-consuming installation procedure for these that easily takes hours.

Legacy is multi-language, support both English and Amglish, and correctly defaulted to English. The misnamed Guided Setup is really a Start-up Wizard. The Start-up Wizard guides you through basic settings. Legacy is still supports bad practices such as uppercasing last names and its defaults settings do not seem thoughtful.

Wizardry

A good Wizard is deceptively simple. Apparently, Millennia was deceived - and underestimated how hard it is to make a Wizard That’s helpful instead of annoying. It also seems that the developers made the mistake of letting the Millennia marketroids specify some screens, to push adverts in your face.

The whole Woeful Wizard experience would be considerably less annoying already if the Start-up Wizard was a real Wizard instead of door-to-door salesperson with a funny hat and an ill-rehearsed routine. People that are smart enough to download and install software are smart enough to find the "Unlock Legacy Deluxe..." menu item on the Help menu.

The entire install and start-up experience with the double assault from two dictatorial wizards in need of a lobotomy is surreal. This install and start-up ensures a truly bad first impression, and the uninstall does not seem to have been tested at all.

Here is a tip for Millennia: The Standard Edition is your best possible commercial for the Deluxe Edition already, do not turn it into nagging adware.

tip

Here is a tip for Millennia: The Standard Edition is your best possible commercial for the Deluxe Edition already, do not turn it into nagging adware. Never let the marketroids dictate any part of your product again. Just make the product your users want. Make the availability of a free course the first tip, the availability of a printed manual the second, and note the availability of these items on the order form, but do not soil a Wizard with advertisements.

user interface

The Legacy 7 user interface disappoints because it is essentially the same as Legacy 6 and not at all like Legacy Charting, and because mistakes have not been fixed.

An annoying misfeature of Legacy is that it tries to force you to open a file. Legacy shows no respect for you choices, but will open the last file you worked on, even if you closed it, and if there is no such file it will throw its Start-up Wizard in your face. Millennia seems unfamiliar with the idea that user should be in control.
Several issues give the impression that Legacy did not test enough.

language adjustment

The menu shown without a file open is not as it should be. It does not even allow changing the language. When you do change the language, Legacy terminates for you to manually restart it.
The Dutch translation itself seems fine, but Legacy's internationalisation does not work properly. It is especially noticeable with the German interface, that Legacy does not adjust to the chosen language as it should; but adjust the language to Legacy by bluntly chopping letter of words.

Legacy comes with an Amglish help file, and not even an English one. Translation of the reports strings to other languages is easy to do, but seems limited to Windows ANSI.

Standard Edition

Deluxe-only features are not greyed out in the Standard Edition, you will get some kind of message instead, which varies from one feature to another, and does not seem have received much thought. The program often lets you make all kinds of options before refusing to execute the command.

user interface mistakes

Overall, Legacy's interface seems fine. It certainly is not as messed up as The Master Genealogist, but it is has no shortage of user interface mistakes. Even something as central in day-to-day usage as the Index View does not work as a Windows user expects it to work.

wrong defaults

Legacy’s GEDCOM import had uppercased the first letter of name prefixes such as van de. There are two errors here. The first one is that the Format names and places option does not work right. The second is that it is turned on by default. The default should be to import, period, not to change anything.

The help file is extensive, but its quality seems spotty.

Geography

The large geo database is for lookup only. You can select from the list, but cannot verify your database against it. The county verifier is much more interesting. Its speed is reasonable, but it does not handle question marks gracefully, the scrolls bars on the preview window do not work right, and the entire interface is awkward. I encountered one error in the county database itself. The real issue is that county verification is not smart. It will report a problem, but not even a hint of a solution. Legacy put the county verifier on the Tools menu, but it only produces a report, so it should really be on the Report menu.

GEDCOM

Legacy Charting features a fast GEDCOM import, but Legacy 7 does not feature the same. Legacy’s GEDCOM import has not improved over version 6. It is still the same mess of too many dialog boxes, messageboxes and needless delays. None of its many problems, such as the poor import log, erroneous error messages, and its arbitrary limitations have been fixed. The import log does not list its import failures. The GEDCOM import still suffers from poor user interface, mislabelled buttons, a ridiculous pause and annoying pop-up messages. Somehow, the import is even slower than before. GEDCOM export is slow too.

Unsolved Problems

The mediocre GEDCOM import is not the only unsolved problem. Legacy 7 still does not support Unicode, but remains limited to Windows ANSI, and that continues to limit its ANSEL and UTF-8 support. Reporting of Potential Problems is still embarrassingly slow, checking the sort order of children still does not work right. It still complains about children born shortly after their father’s death and it is still confused by guardians.

The Tree Finder does not seem to work right, but that may be caused by Legacy’s limited GEDCOM import capability. It is rather slow too.

Features

Legacy has no shortage of features. Its menu is overloaded, but remain fairly logical.
I really love the Swap Husband and Wife feature; all genealogy programs should have this. Some of the new checks added to Potential Problems are quite nice, but I immediately encountered false positives.

I consider Legacy Charting to be Legacy 7’s best feature. The most important new feature of Legacy Family Tree is its SourceWriter. It is a bit of a straightjacket, but the quality of the resulting citations is worth it. Only complaints is that there is nothing to help you upgrade existing citations.

The new Map My Ancestors should be named Map My Ancestor (singular). It requires that Internet Explorer 7 be installed and you must allow Internet access, or you get rather user-friendly error messages.
Problem is that it does not recognise correctly specified places. The problem appears to be that Microsoft Virtual Earth lacks proper municipality support, but Millennia remains at fault for selecting this inferior service.

technology

Legacy is still based on the aging FoxPro platform, and Millennia has not announced how they plan to move ahead, but Legacy Charting was created with Delphi.

Far more serious than its user interfaces issues is that Legacy 7 still does not support Unicode. Legacy 7 is an all-round program, but its features matter little when it simply cannot handle your data.

conclusion

Legacy 7 disappoints with the same old user interface, same mediocre GEDCOM import, and lacklustre performance. Millennia has left many known defects and existing user interface mistakes unfixed. Many defaults are still plain wrong or questionable.

Small defects in a few new features do not trouble me much, but the many unresolved long-time issues are cause for pause, and I am not happy about the reduced performance or worsening user interface. Millennia really needs to focus on these things for its 7.1 release, lest release 7 becomes the start of a downward spiral.

Legacy Family Tree is far from as hopelessly user-unfriendly as The Master Genealogist, but it could benefit greatly from some serious attention to its user interface. Something like Legacy Charting’s dashing good looks would be nice.

Far more serious than its user interfaces issues is that Legacy 7 still does not support Unicode. Legacy 7 is an all-round program, but its features matter little when it simply cannot handle your data.
That Legacy’s import log does not honestly highlight failure to import data but silently mangles it instead is reprehensible.

I do not advise using any non-Unicode program as your main genealogy program. That said, existing Legacy users will find the many new and improved features worth upgrading for. Existing Family Tree Maker 16 users would also do better to upgrade to Legacy 7 then to pay for a downgrade to the extremely troublesome Family Tree Maker 2008.

Legacy 7’s many new data integrity checks are a particularly Good Thing. These checks are not without some issues, but they are the most extensive checks I know about, and you do want to spot any errors before others do. Legacy 7 may be worth buying as a second program to get your hands on its extensive checks and Legacy Charting Deluxe.

updates

2008-06-13 Legacy Charting Deluxe fix

Legacy Charting continues to display "pre-release" after installing Legacy Family Tree 7. A fix has been made available as an update. After applying that update the version will be 7.0.101 and the title bar will say "Deluxe".

2008-07-07 Source templates for the UK

Legacy version 7.0.0.53 adds SourceWriter templates for the UK.

2008-07-08 More about Legacy Charting

A second look at Legacy Charting: More about Legacy Charting,

2008-08-07 Legacy 7.0.055 style filter

Legacy version 7.0.0.55 adds the ability to filter the Master Source List by style type, so you can see which sources are in Basic Style and which ones are SourceWriter style.

2008-08-18 German and Swedish variants

Millennia claims availability of Legacy in German and Swedish as a new feature. That sounds puzzling, as both languages are included in Legacy 7 already, and both language-specific websites mentioned in their news release have been around for a while too. The real news seems to be that the help file has been translated to to German and Swedish, and that it will suggest German and Swedish resources. The news release does not tell how existing users of Legacy 7 can obtain these updates.

2008-12-22 Legacy videos download

The What’s New in Legacy 7 and Legacy for Beginners Flash videos can now be downloaded for offline viewing.

GEDCOM import speed

2008-05-22 Legacy Family Tree 6.0.0.190

file1 MB GEDCOM100k INDI GEDCOM
time1m30s49m35s
time in seconds902.975
INDI per second54,0233,64
bytes per second11.732,1713.041,81

Legacy 7.0.0.25 (Pre-Release)

file1 MB GEDCOM100k INDI GEDCOM
time1m57s1h04m06s
time in seconds1173.846
INDI per second41,5626,02
bytes per second9.024,7410.088,25

Legacy 7.0.0.45 (Release)

file1 MB GEDCOM100k INDI GEDCOM
time1m38s1h01m05s
time in seconds983.665
INDI per second49,6127,30
bytes per second10.774,4410.586,46

product details

propertyvalue
productLegacy Family Tree
version7.0 (7.0.0.45)
organisationMillennia Corporation
websiteLegacy Family Tree
priceStandard Edition: free
Deluxe Edition: US$ 29,95
upgrade: US$ 21,95
requirementWindows 98 or better
notemapping requires IE7
Verdictdisappointingly unchanged
RatingMediocre

links

Millennia

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