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Ancestry Pro-Tools

Genealogy social media has been awash in the past couple of weeks about Ancestry.com’s newly launched Pro Tools. Initially, it seemed only to be available in the USA but I was able to buy it a couple of days ago. It was a few different prices but now seems to be fixed. Here’s my review.

Cost: $10 plus taxes (which came out at €11.50 for me) per month. So that’s a pretty hefty cost if you want it permanently. It renews automatically each month unless you cancel, though when I click to cancel it, it appears to want to cancel my whole subscription, so this needs refinement.

What do you get: I’ll review each of these separately.

  • Tree Checker
  • Charts & Reports
  • Tree filters

Tree Checker does what you think it does: it looks for errors in your selected tree. When I first opened it, I got a “tree not indexed” error but when I checked back a day later, it now reports 69 errors. Categories shown are “possible duplicates” and “other possible issues”.

The first person is the wife of my 5th great-granduncle and the issue it flags is that she might be the same person as Catherine Bettys, who is also the problem list. CB is my 5x great-grandmother, so she’s the mother-in-law of the other Catherine and not remotely the same person. It doesn’t give me any reason why it thinks they might be the same individual. The next person, Kate Clissold, well, Ancestry thinks she and her differently named sister might be the same person…sigh. It’s not all bad though: it has found some floating people (not linked into any family). Once you open the potential error, you can remove it so it does go away (unlike those potential ancestor hints in the ThruLines which are wrong!)

It’s going to take me a while to go through all those potential errors but am I bothered? My main tree is offline in an old software called GenoPro which I adopted about 20 years ago and have stuck with. It’s got a nice visual layout which I find really good for display connected DNA matches. GenoPro has a built-in tree checker, as do all major family tree software programs. Another great FREE tool for doing this is FTAnalyzer. So if Ancestry is your main/only tree, then it is worth buying this once a year and using it to check over the tree. However, I wouldn’t call this a Pro tool. This is an elementary tool, and it should be standard in a subscription. MyHeritage has their version as standard & I ran it for comparison (my tree there is also under-developed when compared to offline). It found some vampires that I hadn’t marked dead & 3 floaters.

Charts & Reports: similar to the tree checker, this isn’t a Pro tool. It’s a report generator and I found it fiddly to use. It defaults to the home person, which is me. in my tree. I can generate a few different types, as shown below. In all cases, you can change the number of generations shown and choose from 2 (not very) different styles. You can download as a pdf or print it.

Descendancy picks a person and goes through all their descendants picking out key facts from the tree.

Ahnentafel displays a list with numbers. Some people like to use this system but it was probably more helpful in a pre-computer era.

It wasn’t really clear to me what Register was until I generated it.

Family Group Sheet is a phrase older genies are probably familiar with and again comes from a more paper-based era of research.

I hardly ever bother to generate a report. When I write reports for my clients, it’s all prose and I never use something like this as a template, so this tool has almost no value for me. Note that even though the category mentions charts, I don’t see any way to generate charts, just reports. However, if you’re actually in your tree, there are some new filters and ways to display, including the fan chart, beloved of so many. It wasn’t at all obvious that this was here now. There’s also a map view which can show you where people lived in proximity to others. This one is quite cool but you would need to put specific addresses into it to get best use. I tend to only put the city in on my online tree so it just generated a bunch of direct ancestors who all lived in Dublin.

Summary: get it for a month, use the tree checker, then cancel. I don’t think it’s worth the price of a permanent add-on and I think most of these tools should be included in a subscription already.

2 thoughts on “Ancestry Pro-Tools

  1. Thank you for this review! I haven’t tried it yet, but came to about the same conclusion. Ancestry’s online trees are woefully lacking in tools provided by tree-only programs, and by using a tree program that syncs with Ancestry, I suspect most of those $10 a month features could be performed by syncing the tree, using the tree tool to fix things and generate reports, then syncing again. That does take a little extra time, but for 120 a year, I’ve got the time! Now if I was aactually a professional genealogist, it might be useful. However, from what I’ve read, I suspect that they would find an online tree at Ancestry less than ideal because it lacks so many features.

  2. Thanks for your evuation. I use TMG and had deduced the same regarding the ProTools. Nancy L, California

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