Modern Software Experience

2008-03-04

Legacy Charting

new application

Millennia Corporation, the makers of Legacy Family Tree, announced the immediate availability of Legacy Charting, a program to create large wall charts of your family tree.

system requirement

Millennia has create a separate website, but neither that website or the applications help file seems to contain the system requirements. It obviously needs a 32-bit Windows version, and after some digging I found that the announcement claims support for Vista, and lists Windows 98 as the lowest possible Windows version. It does not require Legacy Family Tree.

name game

The name may be logical, but Legacy is also selling the Legacy edition of Progeny Software’s Charting Companion, known as Legacy Charting Companion. The Legacy Charting name is so close to Legacy Charting Companion that confusion seems inevitable.

It also invites direct comparison between these two competing products. This is not such a comparison, this is just a first look at the new Legacy Charting.

free download

The current version, the Legacy Charting Pre-release is available for free download. I immediately tried to download it and noticed that the download page does not work unless you enable JavaScript. The download is about six and a half megabytes.

expiry date

What the download page does not state, but you probably want to know beforehand is that the pre-release version is fully functional, but expires on 2008 June 15.

This strongly suggests that Millennia is planning to release Legacy Family version 7 on or before 2008 June 15.

installation password

Those who download Legacy Family Tree are familiar with the setup program requiring a password, which Millennia mails to you. I always thought that this was to ensure your email address is valid, but the Legacy Charting download page actually presents the installation password.

setup

password

Installation requires you to input the password, and allows you to choose a directory, but was otherwise pleasantly uneventful.

dialogs

As soon as the setup has finished, the program starts up. The first thing you see is a message box informing about the expiry date. Once you’ve clicked that out of the way, you get a dialog requesting to confirm default settings, followed by another.

Internet

As soon as clicked close, to get rid of these and start exploring its features on my own, my firewall warned that Legacy Charting was trying to access the Internet.

Legacy Charting does not warn it is about to do that, and does not explain why it needs Internet access. I will tell you: when you allow the Internet access, Legacy Charting checks for updates and downloads the latest Legacy News, just like Legacy Family Tree does.

version numbers

The about box presents a few small surprises. It does not give Legacy Charting’s version number as 1.0 or 0.99, but as 7.0.071. Millennia has apparently decided to keep the Legacy Family Tree and Legacy Charting version numbers synchronised.

about boxes

Another surprise is that there appear to be two about boxes, or, to be more precise, that the splash box and the about box are not the same. The about box you can access from the menu lists the full version number and built date. The splash you see when you start up the program has 7.0 as part of the graphic and list the copyright as 1995-2008. I don’t think that is a mistake, I think it is an indication that Legacy Charting shares code with Legacy Family Tree.

using Legacy Charting

basics

Legacy Charting is a charting application. Charting is all it does. You cannot create or update a tree in Legacy Charting. You must have a tree created in another program.

language support

This first Legacy Charting does not support multiple languages in any way, and the user interface is not English but Amglish.

menu system

The menu system feels decidedly non-standard if you are use to Windows XP, and it certainly isn’t a standard Windows menu as Legacy Family Tree 6 offers. This is not a Millennia innovation, it is the Office 2007-style ribbon.
There are no drop-down menu at all. Instead there are tabs where you would expect the top-level menu and there are controls along the top of each tab. These controls are not mere buttons, but mini dialog boxes that may contain Windows controls. The overall feel of the interface is a bit browser-like. The ribbon takes up quite some vertical space, but can be minimised.

There is a customisable quick access toolbar on the menu bar. The system menu is still there, and it is in the usual place, the upper left corner, you just may not recognise it because of the unique look. Just click the logo to access it.

When you do, you will notice that this menu does not follow your Windows font settings, but uses unusually large fonts instead, and that the list of recently accessed files is hidden there as well.

file extension

Legacy Chart files have file extension *.lwc, which I guess to be an abbreviation of Legacy Wall Chart. Some other applications that uses the same file extension are Living Word Commentaries, LittleWriter and LMSoft Web Creator. None of these are extremely popular applications or genealogy applications, so this is not likely to create any confusion.

compatibility

file formats

It will come as no surprise that Legacy Charting works well with Legacy Family Tree. Millennia says that it is compatible with Personal Ancestral File (PAF), RootsMagic, GEDCOM and Family Tree Maker. They do not qualify these claims in any way, so that presumably means that it is compatible with all versions of these. This would be surprising for new products from new companies, but Millennia could leverage its experience developing Legacy Family Tree to give Legacy Charting a running start.

Alas, it turns out that Legacy Charting is not compatible with all versions of the listed products. It certainly is not compatible with Family Tree Maker 2008. Now, FTM2008 is a problematic product, but that is not the point here. FTM2008 was out before Millennia started advertising Legacy Charting, so the advertising is misleading and complaints about the incompatibility are warranted.

native compatibility or import capability?

What the press release does not say, is whether Legacy Charting is compatible by supporting these formats natively or through import only. I tried a few formats and found that it does not just support these programs, but their file formats, without a need to import.

reading speed

I started by trying a small GEDCOM of just three and half MB, the royalfam.ged file created by Samuel Howard Sloan. I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of a dialog box that prompted to select an individuals from a list of 8753 individuals in less than a second. The selection box correctly defaulted to individual number 1, Anastasia Nicholovna Romanov.

I was so impressed by this speed that I immediately tried my 100k INDI file. It took Legacy Chart about 12 seconds to process the approximately 38 MB and present the selection dialog.
That is a reading speed of about 8.338 individuals per second and more than 3 MB per second.

That is so good that I decided to try it on the largest GEDCOM file I currently have. It is a Legacy GEDCOM file of more than 300 MB that contains close to 750 thousand individuals.
The dialog box appeared after 20 second, but it was still empty. It was populated after 48 seconds. Importing 741.768 individuals in 48 seconds is 15.453,5 individuals per second. Importing 332.531.365 bytes in 48 seconds is 6.927.736,77 bytes per second - close to 7 MB per second.

This reading speed puts Legacy Charting in the top bracket, where you hardly care about the actual speed anymore, but are satisfied to know that it is fast indeed, that you never have to wait long, and most files are read near-instantaneously. Some other vendors I will kindly refrain from mentioning would do well to pay attention to this example.

fast and modest

I had the Task Manager open while Legacy Charting was reading the file, and any memory increase while reading the 300+ MB file was in fact so minimal that it was not clearly noticeable. The system remained responsive too; Legacy Charting’s CPU usage in Task Manager stayed below 50 % all the time and I noticed no delays switching from one application to another.

I am aware that the application memory usage numbers in Task Manager do not reflect everything, and I have not explored what Legacy Charting is doing exactly. So, I do not really know how much memory it actually used, but I do know that many other programs simply crash or demand so much memory that they cause swapping, and Legacy Charting did neither. This reader is not just fast, its memory demands are modest too.

Legacy Family Tree 7?

I hope that Millennia developed these fast reading routines for inclusion in Legacy Family Tree 7. Legacy Family Tree version 6’s import speed is moderate - neither as slow as TMG nor as fast as RootsMagic 3. I am anxious to see whether these apparently newly crafted reading routines enable Legacy Family 7 ’s import speed to match or beat that of RootsMagic 3.

Chart Styles

charts

The news release claims 18 different types of charts. That number is correct, yet inflated. The difference between some of them is so small that I tend to consider them the same chart type with slightly different options.

I’d say their six different chart types in a total of 18 different styles. That is not just something I just came up with, that is even how Legacy Charting’s own Chart Creation Wizard presents these. The six chart types are Ancestor, Descendant, Hour Glass, Bow Tie, Fan and DNA.

DNA chart

Legacy believes they are first company to support large-scale DNA charts, yet their samples charts do not highlight this unique capability, nor do they offer a sample file for you to explore this char type with.

Ancestor chart

For this first look at Legacy Charting, I explored the Ancestor chart. The style names are well chosen. The styles for the Ancestor chart are Standard, Overlap, Perfect, Upward, Father’s and Mother’s. The standard style shows only the ancestors in your file, while the perfect style includes empty boxes to show a perfect tree. The standard style is left-to-right while the upward style is top-to-bottom. The standard keeps a distance between the boxes for each generation, the overlap style is more like brickwork, to fit more generations in the same space.

generations

Once I had an ancestors chart, I immediately started to play with Generations control on the ribbon. The generations control contains an up-down control to select the number of generations. I was curious to find out how fast the update would be and was pleasantly surprised; update of the layout is fast; even after adding as much as the 16th generation, update took less than a second.

toolbar

Once you have selected a style, the tree appears near instantaneously. This tree will generally be so big that you cannot read the text, but you can zoom in and out, using either the scroll wheel or the zoom buttons on the tool bar along the left side of the window. You cannot just click on any individual to move just that individual, but there are buttons on the toolbar that allow you to change the drag action to the the individual and all its ancestors, all individuals in the same generation, or dragging the entire tree. The program response to all these actions is snappy, this is truly an interactive program.
You can also select a group of boxes to drag just those individuals - and if the toolbar is set to drag generations or ancestors, it will drag all individuals in the same generation as any of the selectees or all ancestors of the selectees. That’s nice.
The only complaint I have that the cursor does not indicate what selection mode you are in and that the highlighting of selected individual does not reflect it either. It is a bit strange to select three individuals and then drag half the tree out of place.

19th style in one minute

The interface does not place undue restrictions, but lets you move boxes around as freely as possible. In fact, it took just a half a minute to change the Ancestor Standard chart style into a 19th chart style which I call Ancestors Chronological. I just selected each generations and moved them to the other side.

By the way, I do not suggest that Millennia implement this as a separate style, but that they allow flipping all existing styles between Chronological an Anti-Chronological.

features

privacy

One of the more important ribbon controls is the Privacy control. This allows to suppress details for living persons and provides an option to replace their name with "Living".

Legacy Charting consider text between double brackets ([[ and ]]) as private and allows suppressing that text. It also allows suppressing private individuals, and that automatically includes lines from those individuals. These are handy options, that support Legacy Family Tree features. I have not tested how well this option support similar features in other applications.

Appearance

The Chart types and styles are about layout, and exclusion of private information. The appearance tab is about appearance. This where you find the options to spice up your chart.

The one thing that may feel a bit awkward is the absence of OK or Apply button in the modal dialog boxes, and their refusal to disappear on an Esc key press. Just double click anything to apply it and just click anywhere within the window to dismiss the dialog .

Legacy Charting has options for the background and foreground colours, box size, box shapes etcetera. You can select a background image, and decide to tile, centre or stretch-to-fit it. Legacy Charting comes with a small selection of background to get you started.

The Appearance tab is also where you decided just what items you want to display in each box. You will normally want display name, dates and places, and perhaps a picture, but you pick and choose as you like. Creating a tree with dates but without names to play a guessing game at the family reunion with is entirely possible.

themes

You do not need excellent aesthetic judgement and a good sense of colour coordination to make the most of this. Legacy Charting comes with ready-made themes to apply to your charts. You can simply use these or take them as a starting point and them adapt as you see fit. The Chart Theme dialog box is a bit basic and could invite more experimentation by offering a palette of theme previews. Still, creating your own theme is as easy as saving the modified theme under a new name.

The themes include colour settings that override whatever you have chosen, but there is a separate colour dialog that includes preset colour theses and the ability to create your own.

The ability to add text and pictures anywhere, outside the tree boxes and apart from the overall appearance, is not on the Appearance tab, but on a separate Insert tab.

date format

The date format defaults to that used in GEDCOM. According to the help file, the date format can be set through the Date tab on the on General option dialog. According to the help it is the fourth tab, but when tried to explore it, only the View, User Information and Folders tab where present. It is just not there.

publishing

The aim of this program is to publish wall charts. The charts are shown on top of a grid. Each box in this grid is a printer page. The status bar shows how many pages the current layout takes and what size each page is. Disappointingly, the size display does not show this as "A4 Portrait" or 210 mm × 297 mm, but disrespects both international standards and the Windows settings by showing it as 16.52" x 116.93", and there seems to be no option to get Legacy Charting to do the right thing.

The ability to print on standard A4 printer most people have at home is meant as a preview feature. It allows you create a large chart with your own printer, to get an impression what the finished product looks like.

export file formats

The idea however is that, once you are satisfied with the chart, you export it to a file, and then offer that file to a printing service. Legacy Charting supports export to the PhotoShop PSD format for this. It does not support Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) or CorelDraw (CDR) formats.

Legacy Charting also supports export to PDF, and various image formats: BMP, JPEG, PNG and TIFF. Note that these are all bitmap formats.

Legacy Charting does not support vector formats such as Windows MetaFile (WMF) or Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). This is disappointing. Once text has been reduced to a bitmap, no amount of zooming will improve its readability, so unless you make very large bitmaps, it won’t look very good. Chances are that when choose a size at which the text looks reasonable, its size prohibits casual placement on your website. The web standard SVG format is just the ticket, but Legacy Charting does not support it.

The export to PDF is not merely some bitmap image embedded in PDF container, the text in the boxes is truly text, it can be selected and continues to look fine when you zoom in.

mail it

I feel pretty sure that most family members would like such visual PDF files much more than the textual RTF overviews I currently generate from PAF. To make it easy to use Legacy Charting for such things, it includes a email command that generates the file and then immediately generating an email with that file already attached in your default email program.

One ribbon control that does not work in this pre-release is Order Chart. In the final version, this button will allow you to order a printed chart from Millennia.

Legacy Family Tree 7

repeat

I start by collecting all remarks about Legacy Family Tree 7 so far in one place and then add few more.

planned release date

The pre-release version of Legacy Charting is fully functional, but expires on 2008 June 15. This strongly suggests that Millennia is planning to release Legacy Family version 7 on or before that date.

bundled

Legacy Charting will be bundled with Legacy Family Tree 7, and Millennia will probably keep their versions numbers closely synchronised.

shared code

The 1995-2008 copyright notice suggests that Legacy Charting is sharing code with Legacy Family Tree. Legacy Charting’s reading routines are fast, and I am hoping that Legacy Family Tree 7 will use the same routines. That would make version 7 considerable faster than Legacy Family Tree 6, perhaps as fast as or faster than RootsMagic 3.

ribbon

Legacy Charting uses the Office 2007 style ribbon interface. So, it is reasonable to expect that Legacy Family Tree 7 will do the same, to consider Legacy Charting a first look at the Legacy Family Tree 6 user interface.

notes

tech notes

Legacy Charting appears to be written in CodeGear’s Delphi and make use of components included with Delphi. It also uses Pierre le Riche’s open source FastMM replacement memory manager. It uses libpng, the official PNG reference library, version 1.2.14 and comes with Microsoft’s GDI+ version 5.13102.1260 for graphics support. It uses WPCubed GmbH’s wPDF control version 3.1.2.0 for PDF creation.

pricing

The current pre-release is a free download. The final release will be a included in Legacy Family Tree version 7. However, as the product works with other genealogy applications, you’d expect Millennia to set a price for Legacy Charting as a separate product, but no such pricing information is available yet.

conclusion

getting started

Installation is easy. The ribbon menu may take some getting used to, but once you get past that issue, the menu is quite clean and logical.

fast reading

Legacy Charting supports GEDCOM and various genealogy application formats natively, its reading speed is nothing short of impressive. It does not hog the system while reading and its memory usage was not noticeable in Task Manager. I have not stress-tested them, but my first impression is that the Legacy Charting’s reading routines rock. This represents a serious technological investment. Kudos.

snappy response

The reading routines are not the only thing that is fast. The entire Legacy Charting experience is snappy. This is a truly interactive program.

chart types

Millennia claims that Legacy Chart supports 18 chart types, I say it supports 6 different chart types in a total of 18 styles. The visual feedback through cursor and selection highlighting needs a bit of work, but the controls are so good that it took me just half a minute to create a 19th style.

disrespect

Legacy Charting does not respect neither international standards nor Windows settings. Printer page sizes are always displayed in inches instead of millimetres, even if you did not change Windows settings from metric to "U.S.". In the pre-release, the option to set date format seems to be missing in action, but it defaults to the reasonable and non-confusing GEDCOM format.

limited formats

The list of supported export file formats is limited. The support for bitmap image formats and PDF is nice to have, but a program for printing large charts should really support EPS, and the web standard SVG is much better option for websites than any bitmap format.

overall impression

This is a pre-release. A few things are missing, and I got an invalid pointer operating trying to exit the program. Still, overall, the program made a very positive impression. It deserves both thumbs up for not demanding excessive resources, but simply being fast and easy to use. This is a nice.

updates

2008-03-26 version 7.0.077

Millennia has released version 7.0.077 (well, 7.0.077.467 to be precise). This is still a pre-release version, but offers several fixes and one new feature. New is the refresh button that will reload the same file again, and thus include all changes made in your genealogy program. Millennia fixed an update issue with the display of paper sizes, but still does not respect international standards.

2008-05-12 version 7.0.093

Millennia has just released version 7.0.093 (version 7.0.093.654 to be precise). This is still a freely downloadable pre-release version. The new version supports name prefixes and suffixes. It also allows you to set the resolution of exported bitmap formats, from 50 to 600 dpi. This update fixed some defects, but still does not respect international standards.
The expiry date for the pre-release version is still 2008 June 15.

2008-06-13 version 7.0.101 release fix

Those who got Legacy 7 Deluxe should have gotten Legacy Charting Deluxe, but Charting kept saying it is a prelease. Millennia has released a fix in the form of an update.

Until 2008 June 15, you can obtain the fix by updating from within the program. I tried downloading the full correct version from the website, but if you try that you still get version 7.0.094.654. You must auto-updated from within Legacy Charting to obtain version 7.0.101. It downloads SetupLegacyChartUpdate.exe into Application Data\Millennia\LegacyChart7 and then executes it. After the update you have version 7.0.101.764 to be precise, and the program title includes the word "Deluxe". From 2008 June 15 onwards you will receive a message directing you the Legacy Charting website to download and apply an update.

2008-07-07 Printing Service Live

Until today, the button to print a chart using Legacy’s Wall Chart Printing Service did not work. The service is live now, and shows the cost, including shipping, for the selected size and paper type. It does not work right. The paper size is shown in inches, and standard formats like say A2 seem to be unavailable. The price for the wall chart is show immediately, but the shipping cost is not shown until you click the purchase button to enter a country. Legacy Charting should let you a choose country without clicking the purchase button, and show cost for the various shipping methods available. And, well, while you are online, it might just as well show you the cost in Euros.

You must update to the latest version, 7.0.116, before you can use this feature. Consider that the low dollar may make the price seem relatively attractive, but that you will have to splurge on a frame for their off-standard paper sizes.

2008-07-08 More about Legacy Charting

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

import speed

file1 MB GEDCOM100k INDI GEDCOM
time⅓s12s
time in seconds 12
INDI per second12.155 8.338,92
bytes per second3.167.685,00 3.233.282,75

product details

propertyvalue
productLegacy Charting
version7.0.071.394 ("Pre-release")
companyMillennia Corporation
websiteLegacy Charting
pricefree until 2008-06-15
requirementsWindows 98 or later
notesLegacy Family Tree not required
VerdictFast & Easy.
RatingNice.

links

second look

Millennia

do not confuse

technology