Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Ancestral Author?
- Why would I want to generate a PDF File? My
genealogy program already creates Word and WordPerfect files.
- My genealogy program creates HTML files too. Why is
PDF better than HTML?
- Why is it better to use Ancestral Author to create
PDF files when I can just use my favorite genealogy program to
create Word (or RTF) files, and then use a PDF printer driver to
create PDF files from the Word (or RTF) files?
- Do I need special PDF tools from Adobe to use
- What is the Ancestral Author Wizard?
- Can I edit the PDF file that Ancestral Author
- What version of PDF does Ancestral Author create?
- What version of the GEDCOM standard does Ancestral
Author support? What GEDCOM tags are supported? What genealogy
programs has it been tested with?
- What kind of computer will Ancestral Author run on?
What is Ancestral Author?
Ancestral Author is a Windows XP/Vista program that
constructs Adobe™ Portable Document Format (PDF) files from
GEnealogy Data COMmunications (GEDCOM) files, text files, JPEG image
files, and other sources of user input. It is used to create family
history and genealogy books based on the information stored
in your GEDCOM file. It also uses text files, image files,
chapter/section headings, and other user directives to create a
document structured exactly the way you want. Ancestral Author
automatically creates a name index, and a list of sources. The end
result is a beautifully crafted genealogy "book" that you
can print out, or send over the internet to relatives, friends, and
others interested in your work.
For more information about the GEDCOM format, click here.
Why would I want to generate a PDF
file? My genealogy program already creates Word and WordPerfect files.
PDF files have a number of advantages over Word and WordPerfect
- First, your readers don't need to own Word or WordPerfect to
read them. All they need is the free Adobe Acrobat Reader which
can be downloaded here.
- Second, PDF files can be viewed on any type of computer,
including Apple Macintosh, Linux, Microsoft Windows, etc. PDF
documents are truly portable.
- Third, the PDF files created by Ancestral Author
are hyperlinked so that you can easily navigate from
parents to children and back. No need to flip pages or scroll
through the document. Just click on the name of the child, and the
page with that child is brought directly to view. The index is
hyperlinked too. Click on a name, and you are brought directly to
the page on which that person appears. This feature makes it easy
to follow the genealogical relationships.
- Fourth, Ancestral Author makes it easy to
create a title page, no need to cut and paste in a word processor.
You can create and include your own separate chapters (e.g.
Acknowledgement, Forward, Preface, etc.).
- Fifth, you can publish your genealogy on the internet. Though
somewhat slower than HTML files, PDF files are fully navigable
from within a standard web browser (as long as the reader has
Adobe Acrobat installed).
- Finally, once you get the document to look the way you want, you
can easily regenerate it with the click of a button. This makes it
trivial to update your document with new information in your
My genealogy program creates HTML files
too. Why is PDF better than HTML?
Truthfully, PDF isn't always better than HTML. If you are going to
publish your genealogy on the web, HTML might be a better format.
However, PDF files have one big advantage.
They can be printed on a standard printer, resulting in a nice looking
paper document with title page, chapter headings, index, and so on.
This is perfect for people who want a hardcopy bound document. It is
also an ideal format for sending through email. The recipient can
easily print it out, or browse the document directly on the computer.
HTML files are very difficult to print, especially if there are many
pages. Furthermore, their appearance in print is not always
Why is it better to use Ancestral
Author to create PDF files when I can just use my favorite genealogy
program to create Word (or RTF) files, and then use a PDF printer driver
to create PDF files from the Word (or RTF) files?
Well, if you understand this question, then it means you have
considerably more knowledge about computers than most people. There
are two answers:
- Ancestral Author is a lot easier. No need to
use cut and paste with multiple programs and multiple steps to get
the job done,
- Ancestral Author creates PDF files with hyperlinks. The PDF
documents created with the above technique do not have hyperlinks,
and therefore lack one of the principle advantages of PDF
Do I need special PDF tools from Adobe
to use Ancestral Author?
Absolutely not. The only extra software you need is the Adobe PDF
Acrobat Reader, freely available from Adobe by clicking the icon on
What is the Ancestral Author Wizard?
Ancestral Author uses a particular style of user
interface called a Wizard. If you have any experience
with computers at all, you have probably used wizards many times. The
principle feature of a wizard is its ability to guide you through a
series of questions and choices. When all the questions are answered,
you click a FINISH button, and the program goes to work performing
it's task. The Ancestral Author wizard asks you what
you want to put in your document, e.g. title page, chapter heading,
descendant report, name index, etc. You select these items, one at a
time, as many as you want. When you are done, you press the FINISH
button, and Ancestral Author creates your PDF file
Can I edit the PDF file that Ancestral
You can't directly edit the PDF file created by Ancestral
Author, but there is a shareware program called PdfEdit
which has worked well for many Ancestral Author
users. You can download a free trial version of PdfEdit
here. You can also
purchase the full version of Adobe
Acrobat, which gives you capability to edit and manipulate PDF
files in a variety of ways.
What version of PDF does Ancestral
PDF Version 1.2. The PDF documents generated by Ancestral Author
have been fully tested with the latest versions of Adobe Acrobat
Reader, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
What version of the GEDCOM standard
does Ancestral Author support? What genealogy programs has it been
Ancestral Author supports Revision 5.5, the latest
revision of the GEDCOM standard. In practice, it will read earlier
revision GEDCOM files, but the algorithm it uses to extract source
information works best if the GEDCOM is in 5.5 format. For a
comprehensive list of GEDCOM tags supported by Ancestral Author,
click here. Ancestral
Author has been tested with Brothers Keeper 5.x, 6.0, PAF
5.1.12, The Master Genealogist Gold Edition 4.0, Family Tree Maker,
and Family Historian. It will work with any genealogy program that can
export standard GEDCOM files. If you're not sure it will work on your
own GEDCOM, download a trial
version of Ancestral Author, and give it a spin.
What kind of computer will Ancestral
Author run on?
Ancestral Author will run on the following Microsoft Windows
- Windows 2000, Windows XP, 128 MBytes memory, 5 Megabytes of free
- Windows Vista, Windows 7, 500MBytes memory, 5 Megabytes of free disk space.
- Windows 7 64-bit, 2Gigabytes memory, 5 Megabytes of free disk
The Adobe Acrobat Reader should be installed. If it is not
installed on your computer, click the icon below.