For up-to-date information about family tree posters, please read my post from March 4, 2009. The post below, which was published on November 5, 2007, contains some obsolete information.
I hope you’ve had a chance to check out the family tree posters we launched last week. If so, you’ve noticed that you can use most of the same tools you’ve been using to create your family history book. The chart automatically pulls data from your online family tree. You can add and edit text, images and embellishments just as you would for a book. And the images you’ve already uploaded for your book are automatically available for your poster. These posters display six generations of family tree information. We’re currently offering one size, 24 x 18 inches, but we plan to offer 16 x 20 inches and 24 x 36 inches in the near future. We also plan to offer additional formats so that you can create a poster with only four generations or with as many as eight or nine generations.
With so much data on one page, you’ll find it difficult to edit your tree without mastering the zoom function. Fortunately it’s super easy to use. When you click the Zoom icon in the top left corner, a little box appears with a red panning tray in the center. The box is essentially a miniature version of the entire chart, while the red tray is a miniature version of the part of the screen you’re seeing at any given moment. So you just move the red tray to the area of the page that you want to see up close.
I’d like to respond to a few questions about specific features of the book building application. We received an e-mail from a customer asking if there is a way to split a book into two books. He has created a book that includes two lines of his family tree, and a cousin is interested in getting a copy of the book with only one of the lines. At the moment AncestryPress doesn’t let you split a book, but you can get the same result by making a copy of the book and then deleting the pages you don’t want from the new copy.
Joan mentioned that she is having trouble selecting a specific person from her online tree as the starting person for a book. Joan, you can designate anyone in your tree as the starting person. Do you have more than one tree? If the person you’re looking for isn’t showing up, it’s possible that you’ve inadvertently selected the wrong tree (the trees are listed alphabetically, and AncestryPress defaults to the first one unless you select the one you want). It could also be that you have a long list of names and the one you want is so far down the list that you aren’t seeing it. When you type in the first letter of the person’s name, you’ll see a list of all the people whose names start with that letter. If the name you’re looking for is near the bottom of that list, it may not appear on your screen until you narrow down the list by typing in a few more letters.
Joan also asked about using PDFs in AncestryPress. Currently the only types of image files you can upload are JPGs and PNGs. You can convert a PDF to a JPG by opening the file in Microsoft Picture Manager and clicking “Save As.” This gets a bit tricky if the PDF is more than a page long, however, so you may need to first open the file in Adobe Acrobat and break it into separate pages. If you find text on the web that you want to include in your book, in many cases you can just copy and paste it directly into AncestryPress as a text box. If you still have a subscription to Heritage Quest, that may be an easier solution. Before you copy text from any website, remember to pay attention to the copyright restrictions to make sure that you’re not infringing on any copyrights.
Pat, the beautiful cursive font you saw in some of the examples of the Family, Military and Immigration templates is not one of the fonts we offer through AncestryPress (we don’t have a license to it). You can bring in other fonts for specific words or phrases by creating an image file in JPG or PNG format and uploading it to your Images tray, which is what the designer did who created those examples. If you don’t have access to an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Fireworks, you can just create the text in Microsoft Word, print it out and then scan it as a JPG.
Joycelyn, I’ve noticed too that the reordering pages function is a little buggy. I’ll pass your comment on to the developers so we can get that fixed. Wraparound text is on my wish list as well. Unfortunately making text wrap from page to page is quite an involved process, so it isn’t something that we can offer in the near future. We’re currently doing some market research to find out which potential new features are most important to our customers. The feedback we get from survey and focus group participants—and the comments we’ve been getting through the blog and the Feedback link—will help us determine the product development roadmap. In a poll we took during the webinar, about a third of the participants indicated that they’re interested in creating a narrative family history book. That’s a significant number, but we’ll need to weigh it against the level of interest in other possible enhancements and output options.
In case you missed the AncestryPress webinar last week, you can view the event archive by clicking here. The program is about an hour long, including a 45-minute presentation and a 15-minute Q&A session. Before you view the program, be sure to click the “Test Your System” link to make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements. There’s also a link to download Real Player, which you’ll need to play the video clips.
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NOTE: AncestryPress is now MyCanvas
In October 2008, AncestryPress was relaunched under the name MyCanvas. It is still a free, online software program provided by Ancestry.com. For current information about products and features, please see my more recent blog posts.