Modern Software Experience

2008-07-08

Legacy Charting

pre-release

Millennia introduced Legacy Charting on 2008 Mar 4. Back then, Legacy Charting was a free Pre-Release edition. As stated, the Pre-release expired on 2008 Jun 15, but you can still download Legacy Charting to give it a try.

Standard Edition

Millennia now uses the same licensing model, a Standard and Deluxe Edition, for Legacy Charting as they are using for Legacy Family Tree; the Standard Edition is free, the Deluxe Edition unlocks all features. The Standard Edition has one limitation: it will displays just four generations.

Deluxe Edition

Millennia is not selling Legacy Charting on its own. Legacy Charting Deluxe is only offered as a feature of Legacy Family Tree 7 Deluxe. I consider Legacy Charting to be its best feature.

.Legacy Family Tree does not only read GEDCOM files, it also imports directly from Legacy, RootsMagic, PAF and Family Tree Maker databases, it imports fast and it displays fast. Legacy Charting is a great add-on to any of these program, and Millennia should hurry to start selling it on its own.

license

The current version of Legacy Charting recognises the Legacy Family Tree license. That technical limitation may be why Millennia is providing the Legacy Charting Deluxe license as a feature of Legacy Charting Deluxe. Legacy Charting should recognise its own separate license, not tied to Legacy Family Tree, for Millennia to start selling Legacy Charting Deluxe licenses separately.

Standard limitation

The Standard Edition’s limitation of displaying at most four generations may make sense to marketroids, it does not make sense to users who want to evaluate the product. The inability to work with large trees makes it impossible to evaluate its performance. Performance matters; if a program takes a minute to repaint a tree if you briefly had another window overlaying it, it is practically unusable.

metafile

The best limitation would be to limit output to bitmaps, and only provide vector graphics and metafile output in the DeLuxe edition, but Legacy Charting currently does not provide metafile output at all. It does not even support Encapsulated PostScript (EPS). Legacy Charting should support output to formats such as Windows MetaFile (WMF), Corel Draw (CDR) and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). Scalable Vector Graphics is a web standard, so that’s the ideal format for use on websites.

dots per inch

Some limitations that would make sense for the current edition are limiting the supported paper size to A4, or limiting the resolution of the bitmaps it creates.

The first pre-release of Legacy Charting created bitmaps at one resolution only, I think it was 150 dpi. The current version defaults to 150 dpi and lets you set the resolution as low as 50 dpi and as high as 600 dpi. That 600 dpi nicely matches the resolution of many laser printers, but you’d need 1270, 2540 or 3386 dpi to get everything out of the machines used by a commercial printers – or a metafile format (hint, hint).

international settings

Although I already mentioned this in my first look at Legacy Charting back in March, and even send an email to Geoff Rasmussen to alert him to this mistake, Legacy Charting still does not respect international standards, your international settings, or your printer settings, and never displays distances in millimetres, but always inches. That’s wrong.

international

Legacy Charting is not international at all. Everything about the user interface and the help file is Amglish, and you cannot load any other locale. I sure hope the next version will fix that.

import performance

I already wrote that Legacy Charting’s import performance is fantastic, but it bears repeating. The import speed is so high that varies noticeably with system load, but on my desktop, the import generally tops then thousands INDI records per second. It imports my infamous 100k INDI file is a matter of seconds, not minutes or hours.

Legacy Charting’s megabytes-per-second import speed makes all the difference between a tool you tend to avoid until you really need and one you casually grab to have a graphical look at your database.

fan chart

Legacy Charting’s fan chart has a become a favourite with me. I load the file, select the proband (that is genealogesque for home person) and get a quick compact overview of all ancestors, and it immediately shows me where the most important holes in my data are.

To quickly find that hole in my database, I’ve set the fan chart appearance to include the reference number as a box item.

reload button

The first update of the Pre-Release introduced the Reload button. Millennia mistakenly calls it the Refresh button, but it is not refresh button, it is a reload button. Many programs support refresh without a button – just hit F5, but as far as I can tell Legacy Charting seems to lacks a command to refresh the screen. The reload button keeps all settings, but reloads the database, and that is nice if you just made correction or additions.

unreliable

The only problem is that the reload button is not reliable. Perhaps it only works with certain chart types, or with a small number of generations or when you have not zoomed in. I have not investigated the exact circumstances, but fact is the button often fails to bring in the new data, and even pops up message boxes informing you about access violations.

It is not a big problem, as the program does not crash and manually reloading the data by creating a new chart is pretty quick, but it is minor annoyance.

less than 12 generations

Legacy Charting does not support more than 12 generations on a fan chart. First of all, that limit is too low. I need 13 or 14 generations to show the ancestry of a random Dutch kid as based on BMD records. For patricians and aristocracy, I’d soon need 15 or 16. Beyond that, what remains are mostly a few individual lines, not worth wasting an entire circle segment on.

Legacy Charts limits to 12 generations, but it is not even really 12. I have zoomed in as far as possible, but there is no text in the 12th circle segment at all. If you use gender-based colours, Legacy Charting does colour the background to indicate you have an individual there, but there is no text. So it seems that Legacy Charting limits your charts to 12 generations, but does not really support more than 11 generations anyway.

The 12-generation limit is specific to fan charts. The ancestral chart will display a 17 generation line back to Pierre Crommelingk born around 1475, but the chart becomes either very wide or very tall, and thus unwieldy - a fan chart so much more practical for a quick overview.

small type

The reason for this limitation is the program’s inability to display small type on screen. You’d probably need a magnifier to read the printed text, but other than that, a 600 dpi printer should print the text just fine. I have found one way to get the 12th generation on screen; increase the size of boxes, and thus space available for text. And the text remains visible, even when you zoom out, so I am guessing that the program’s display cut-off is based on its estimate of the readability of the text, perhaps even specifically of the text at its original default150 dpi resolution.

zoom

The zoom feature is too limited. The maximum zoom is 250 % and that just is not enough for the edge of a 12-generation fan chart; if there were any text there, you would be able to see, but you would not be able to read it. For a 12-generation chart, Legacy Charting already needs to sport at least a 5 x or 10 x zoom.

refresh speed

A 12-generation fan chart has 4095 boxes (yes that number is correct, remember that the proband is generation 1, not generation zero), and taxes the redraw capabilities a bit, but refresh speed is acceptable. I notice delays up to a few seconds, but never any worse than that. Millennia should try to improve the refresh speed, but Legacy Charting is fast enough to remain workable. You can switch chart types, zoom in, zoom out, or just apply a theme in a few seconds. Scrolling is not instantaneous, but you can wait for it.

colours

One thing I’ve come to notice after using Legacy Charting for a while is that I really don’t like any of the colour themes. Most of them are too dark to print well on a greyscale laser printers.

The colour gradients that Legacy Charting supports are gradients per box. That may look nice in a typical wall chart, but in a fan chart, the per-box gradient is pretty painful to behold.

Editing colour themes to make your own is pretty easy, and you can give them any name you like – which begs the question why the ready-made colour themes have uninspired names like Colors 1 and Colors 2 (the misspelling of colour is authentic, remember that Legacy does not support English, but Amglish only).

There are three colouring systems; by gender, by quarter and by generation. When you opt to display by generation, you can only choose the colours you’d like for five generations, after which the colours repeat.

One disappointing limitation is that you can only set the colour of the box background this way. Not only does the colour of the text inside the boxes remains the same for all boxes, the colour of the lines between the boxes is the same for all as well. That is okay for a typical ancestral chart, but a fan chart needs a different graphical treatment.

The biggest limitation is perhaps that you cannot combine colouring systems; set some things by gender, other things by quarter, and yet other things by generation. If Legacy Charting where to support such flexible colouring, you’d be able to create truly beautiful (and hideous) wall charts.

Internet

Every time you start Legacy Chart, it tries to connect to the Internet. There is no option to turn this off, and no ability to perform the update check when it suits you to do so.

conclusion

The limitation that Millennia picked for the Standard Edition makes it impossible to evaluate the performance with big trees. Millennia should pick another limitation.

Legacy Charting does not respect international standards, does not respect your international settings, and does not support multiple languages. The program is Amglish throughout and does not even support English.

Legacy Charting output is currently limited to bitmap formats. Legacy Charting should support output to metafile formats, to allow editing in graphic programs and best print results.

Most ready-made themes and colours look fine on screen, but are too dark for printing on greyscale printers, and do not look so hot on fan charts either. The uninspired names of the packaged themes may be forgivable in a pre-release, but are unacceptable in a final release.

It would be really nice if the themes provided more control over the colours and if we could combine colouring systems, set some things by gender, other things by quarter, and yet other things by generation, or at least offer export to some graphics program to let you customise it all.

The fan chart should support more than 12 generations, at least 14, preferably 16. The screen should display text for all the individuals on screen. You may need to zoom in to see it or read, but it should be there, irrespective of whether it shows up in an export to a 150-dpi bitmap.

That a new program has limitations does not surprise, but even with its current limitations, Legacy Charting is such an attractive program, that Millennia should update its licensing code to start selling Legacy Charting Deluxe to PAF, RootsMagic and Family Tree Maker users.

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