MyHeritage is a social network and software for genealogists. Launched in 2005, MyHeritage has since accumulated 33 million users worldwide. The company helps people build family trees, share them with their relatives and stay in touch with their loved ones. They are the most popular free family tree website, according to ProGeneologists.com. Family Tree Builder, their geneology software program, is the most popular free geneology application.
MyHeritage started as a free software program. With Web 2.0 taking a more dominant role, the company understood that people wanted to share their family tree and therefore it evolved into more of a network where people could collaboratively build and share their family trees, photos, receive birthday notifications, plan family events, or even send gifts to their loved ones.
The site has unique free genealogy tools such as Smart Matches, which compare any person in your tree with the whole database and show the user other people researching the same ancestors. This can help researchers discover long-lost branches of their family, many generations apart. Some of those stories can be found on their blog. Generations of families have reunited across continents, languages, and cultures.
The most important genealogy product on MyHeritage is a simple piece of software called Family Tree Builder, which is really easy to use even for those not very experienced in the genealogy world. They also offer a more advanced Premium version for those who are really into genealogy. This week, they have just launched the latest version of Family Tree Builder (currently available for Windows-only).
Family Tree Builder is the most popular free geneology software. With more than 5 million downloads so far, Family Tree Builder is the world’s most popular free genealogy software, allowing seasoned pros and beginners alike to build family trees, research their family history, add photos and videos, and obtain unique Smart Matches with other family trees worldwide.
With today’s release, their software just got even more user-friendly. Some of the new features of Family Tree Builder include:
- Maps – Family Tree Builder 4.0 features a new module that shows you all of the places mentioned on your tree. Even more important, perhaps, given changing geographical borders and political boundaries, is a feature that suggests how to improve your data and fix spelling and consistency mistakes in place names. For example, a family tree contributed by many members of an extended family might refer to Dumbrowa, Dabrowa, and Dabrowa Bialystocka, and someone might think that these are all different locations when they refer to the same Polish town, but not the similiar-sounding Dabrowa Gornicka. The maps module is free for all users, with size limitations lifted for Premium and Premium Plus members.
- Photo Albums – Photos and photo sharing are an integral part of MyHeritage. Family Tree Builder lets geneologists organize their photos into albums with simple drag and drop. When you publish your tree to MyHeritage’s website, your photo albums remain intact.
- Slideshow & Screen Saver – Family Tree Builder can display your pictures as a slideshow or screen saver that displays your family photos when your computer is idle. It also integrates with MyHeritage’s tagging and facial recognition features.
- Family Toolbar – An integrated toolbar integrated with MyHeritage.com, the toolbar provides the world’s first Family Chat that lets you chat with family members whenever they are online. It also lets you visit your family site in a single click, get birthday reminders and perform powerful genealogy searches.
- Recovery – When you restore a family tree that was published online, your photos will be recovered.
- Family Tree Builder also includes a new tool that finds family members that are probably deceased but not mentioned as such in your tree.
- Multilanguage support – Family Tree Builder supports over 34 languages, both making it useful for a worldwide audience and also more useful than competing programs as many people’s families span multiple continents and languages over the generations.
“In recent years we’ve seen a growing number of people who want to learn more about their ancestors and where they came from,” said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage.com. “With the new map module, people can get an appealing visual representation of their family’s life journeys. They can also map the addresses of family members, quickly find all events and photos associated with a particular place and even standardize place names using smart suggestions. This provides a fascinating new perspective for millions of people interested in their family history.”
The new family toolbar provides direct access to family sites on MyHeritage.com, adds powerful genealogy search and features Family Chat – a text, audio and video chat system built specifically for family use. Members also receive useful birthday reminders on the family toolbar without leaving the Web page they are on.
Family Tree Builder’s family tree display is much easier to use than some of the competing commercial software. For example, you can display at least seven generations on a single screen, as well as marital status and other personal information, without the page feeling cramped. In addition, it’s far less resource hogging than the competing Family Tree Maker.
It’s impossible to find free family tree builder software as powerful and user-friendly as Family Tree Builder. In fact, the paid version has more interesting features and a nice simple UI, without the memory hog, of its leading competitors. Family Tree Builder is definately an incredibly useful tool to have in the amateur or professional geneologist’s toolbox.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Mario F. Ruckh, Director of Marketing at MyHeritage, when I was in London last month. Above is Ruckh’s take on MyHeritage (shot with a Flip Ultra).
Ayelet Noff is a partner in Socialmedia.biz and founder and Co-CEO of Blonde 2.0, an award winning digital PR agency with branches in Boston and Tel Aviv. Contact Ayelet via The Blonde 2.0 website , email, or follow her on Twitter and Google Plus.