What Is It?
Ancestral Author Plus is a desktop application (Windows, macOS), built on open standards, that helps craft high quality, professional genealogical documents from GEDCOM files, images, text, and other source material. It is very simple to use. With simple drag and drop operations you can create documents that contain Title Pages, Tables of Contents, Name Indexes, hyperlinked Descendant Reports, Ancestor Reports, Source Citations, Image Galleries, and much more. Documents are created in either of two formats: Portable Document Format (PDF), or in the Open Document Text (ODT) format. The former is useful for quickly and easily generating documents that can be shared with others. The latter is an international document standard with can be edited, modified, viewed, and/or converted to Adobe PDF format with LibreOffice, or OpenOffice – both powerful, free, open source document processors.
Ancestral Author Plus provides almost unlimited flexibility in creating genealogical documents in any style that you want – perfect for creating professional quality genealogy reports and books to distribute to family members, post on the internet, or share with other researchers.
How It Works
AA has a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to organize the content of your document. Start by dragging a Title Page into the document, then a Table of Contents, then (say) an introductory chapter providing historical background on the subject, then a Descendant Report, and so on. You can rearrange document items just by dragging them into a new position, or delete them by pressing the delete button.
The following types of document items are supported:
- Title Page (with title, image, byline)
- Table of Contents (automatically generated)
- Chapter/Section Headings
- Descendant Reports (from GEDCOM)
- Ancestor Reports (from GEDCOM)
- Every Person Reports (includes all people in GEDCOM)
- Image Galleries (multiple images automatically laid out on pages)
- Text with Embedded Images
- Sources and Endnotes Section
- Name Index
By dragging these onto the layout panel you can organize the document anyway you want. Generate the document by pressing the Create PDF or Create ODT button. Once the document is created, you’ll be given the option to view the document using LibreOffice, OpenOffice, or a PDF viewer. If you generate an ODT document, it can be edited and modified in any way you want. A PDF file can then be created with a few menu selections from LibreOffice (or OpenOffice). See here for an example PDF.
AA Plus 3.1.8 has the following features:
- Reads industry standard GEDCOM 5.5 format
- Generate documents in PDF or Open Document Text (ODT) format
- Multiple different GEDCOM files can be used in the same document
- Simplified user interface for straight forward document creation
- Browser for exploring GEDCOMs, finding people, choosing report subjects
- Names are automatically hyperlinked for easy traversal of genealogical relationships
- Full support for international character sets
- Support for any installed font
- Source citations included as a separate Sources and Endnotes section, or as footnotes on each page
- Name Index automatically created
- Phrases used in the output text can be modified by the user
- Almost unlimited flexibility in controlling the order that information is put into the output document
- Options to control alternating margins; page numbering; GEDCOM note, event, and fact formatting; heading, title, and text fonts, and many other aspects of the output appearance
- Support for embedded fonts in generated PDF documents (useful for creating bound books through service bureaus)
- The output document can be edited, providing unlimited control over it’s appearance
Easy Drag & Drop Document Creation and Modification
The document is created by dragging document items into an outline view (called the script) that shows the structure of the document. Chapters are easily rearranged by dragging up or down; descendant reports and ancestor reports can be inserted anywhere in the document, and can easily be moved to a new position, simply by clicking and dragging. Document items are easily deleted.
With these kinds of visual operations, it’s easy to create the desired structure for the output document; and to modify it once it’s been created.
Support for International Characters
Names can contain international characters – there are no limitations on the languages or character sets that can appear in the output document, or in generated PDF files.
Easy PDF Generation
PDF files can be generated directly by pressing the Create PDF button.
Alternatively, Open Document Text output can be created by pressing the Create ODT button. The text can then be spell checked, edited, extended, and modified in any way you want using LibreOffice or OpenOffice. From there, generating PDF is simple:
- Open the document in LibreOffice or OpenOffice (AA will do this automatically)
- Select menu item File → Export As PDF
PDF files generated by LibreOffice retain the hyperlinks, and can optionally embed the fonts as required by book making services. In addition, they can be watermarked, password protected, digitally signed, and can be restricted from printing or changing.
Builtin GEDCOM Browser
Ancestral Author Plus has a built-in, highly flexible GEDCOM browser that makes it easy to search for individuals in a GEDCOM. It supports:
- wildcard searches on given names and surnames
- searching on birth dates and/or death dates
- searching on place names
- searching on any text that appears in the notes for an individual
- restricting searches to the ancestors or descendants of a given individual
- restricting searches to previous search results
- ordering search results by birth date or death date
In addition, the GEDCOM browser displays family group sheets in a hyperlinked format, so that parents, spouses, and children can be visited with the click of a link. A history of visited individuals is maintained, and it’s easy to return to a previously visited individual.
The browser is perfect for exploring a GEDCOM, becoming familiar with family relationships, and easily finding the person you want to appear at the root of a report.
Extensive Control Over Output Document Text and Format
- Phrases used in the output text can easily be changed. This gives control over the spelling of words used in the output (for example baptised, vs. baptized), and allows you to change commonly used phrases and words, such as:
born → b.
died → d.
- Output sentences can be ordered in any way. For example, notes can be placed in the output document before the list of children, or after. Events can be placed before or after notes. There is almost unlimited flexibility in how the output sentences can be arranged.
Editable Output Document
One of the great advantages of Ancestral Author Plus is that it generates documents in the Open Document Text international standard format, easily viewable and editable in LibreOffice (or OpenOffice). You can tailor the appearance of the document to meet whatever requirement or preference you have, with an unlimited degree of flexibility. Examples include:
- Adding family association logos and tag lines to page headers/footers
- Importing pre-written chapters, image galleries
- Merging documents
- Changing text justification
- Changing heading styles
- Changing table of contents or index appearance
- Controlling the spacing between lines of text
Examples of how to do many of these are included in the help file.
Drag GEDCOM to Desktop Icon
The simplest way to use AA Plus is to drag a GEDCOM file onto the AA Plus desktop icon. This will automatically create a document with Title Page, Table of Contents, Every Person Report (with all individuals in the GEDCOM), Sources and Endnotes section, and a Name Index for every person in the report. This will quickly and easily translate the information in your GEDCOM into a PDF (or ODT) file.
For a sample, click here.
How to Download It
Ancestral Author Plus is free to try. It runs on Windows 7, 8, and 10 computers, and on Mac (macOS High Sierra or later). Click the button below to download the trial version.
The trial version of Ancestral Author will emit a watermark across individuals in the report. If you like Ancestral Author, you can purchase a registration key ($34.95 US). By entering the registration key, the trial version of AA Plus is converted into the fully functional version, and the watermark is eliminated.
How Does It Differ From Ancestral Author Classic?
Ancestral Author Plus is the next generation of Ancestral Author Classic. It has an improved user interface that makes it easier to enter and modify document items (chapters, descendant reports, etc). It can generate output documents in either ODT or PDF format, whereas Ancestral Author Classic can only generate PDF. There are more ways to customize the output document – output phrases can be changed; information/sentences can be rearranged, and output in any order; formatted text can be imported (with lists, citations, italic, bold, and underlined fonts, etc); and the output document can be freely edited to achieve any result. In addition, through LibreOffice or OpenOffice, AA Plus has more flexible PDF generation capabilities. Finally, AA Plus supports international character sets.
There are still a few Ancestral Author Classic features that have not yet found their way into Ancestral Author Plus, including support for importing text with images, and forcing headings to start on an odd page. These features will be added soon, along with the ability to read Ancestral Author Classic script files. When Ancestral Author Plus includes all the features of Ancestral Author Classic, Ancestral Author Classic will be retired.
Until then, Ancestral Author Classic will be maintained as a separate product, with two planned releases per year. If you have already purchased Ancestral Author Classic (i.e. Ancestral Author version 2.9z or earlier), you can upgrade here for a reduced fee.