Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software

If you are using Family Tree Maker, you probably need to start looking for another genealogy program. Kendall Hulet, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Ancestry, posted an article to the Ancestry Blog today stating, “We’ve made the tough decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015.”

The announcement is available at http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/12/08/ancestry-to-retire-family-tree-maker-software.

This announcement shouldn’t surprise anyone. For several years, Ancestry.com has supported TWO interfaces: a web interface at http://ancestry.com that looks at the company’s online databases plus the Family Tree Maker software installed in Windows and Macintosh computers that looks at the same online databases plus allows the user to add more information with the option to keep the new information private or to share it online. In effect, Ancestry.com’s biggest competitor for some time has been Ancestry.com! It’s tough when you compete with yourself.

Next, Ancestry.com traditionally has announced new upgrades to Family Tree Maker every September or October. This year, there was no such announcement. That led to some speculation that a major change was underway.

Of course, the entire computer industry is moving away from software and databases installed in desktop and laptop computers. The trend is to iPads, Android tablets, Chromebooks, and other devices that store both data and programs in the cloud. Such storage typically is more secure and more reliable than keeping programs and data in a free-standing computer where it is sensitive to hard drive crashes, user errors, and other problems. (You do have multiple backups of your data, correct? With cloud-based services, multiple backups are made for you automatically.)

The cancellation of desktop and laptop programs isn’t new. Adobe already has switched many of its products to cloud-based equivalents. (Details may be found at https://www.oracle.com/cloud/index.html.) Microsoft’s Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) has been available for some time in two versions: the traditional desktop and laptop version and the cloud-based version called Office 365. (See https://www.office.com.) I suspect the desktop/laptop version of Microsoft’s Office will go away one of these days. Google Docs has already become a strong competitor of Microsoft Office and is free for personal use.

Email software used to always be installed in the computer. Email programs including Eudora, Thunderbird, Pegasus, and others used to be installed in almost everyone’s personal computer. Now those programs have largely disappeared, replaced by cloud-based programs (Gmail, HotMail, Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, and others).

In the genealogy world, Personal Ancestral File was canceled years ago and The Master Genealogist also disappeared some time ago. Now Family Tree Maker is suffering the same fate. I doubt if today’s announcement will be the last one we read of a Windows or Macintosh genealogy program being canceled by its producer.

Another sign is that almost no new, full-featured genealogy programs for Windows or Macintosh have appeared in recent years. All the programming efforts now seem to be devoted to mobile apps for tablets and cell phones or cloud-based applications. I suspect we will see more Windows and Macintosh genealogy programs disappear within the next few years.

I see this as a positive step. Cloud-based applications open up possibilities of collaboration with other genealogists as well providing safer and more reliable databases that don’t disappear with a hard drive crash. Of course, changes always make many people uncomfortable. Users of Family Tree Maker are now facing discomfort.

The fact that Family Tree Maker is being dropped shouldn’t be a major problem for anyone. There are numerous alternatives. In fact, if anyone prefers to stick with a desktop or laptop program, there are many good ones available for Windows, Macintosh, and even for Linux. Changing to a different product certainly will be inconvenient, of course. There will be a learning curve to overcome. However, the use of GEDCOM files will transfer the data. Some manual clean-up is usually required after a GEDCOM data transfer, but that should still be a lot less painful than re-typing everything!

Current Family Tree Maker users have three options to choose from:

1. Keep using the current version of Family Tree Maker for some time. It will not stop working any time soon. Perhaps an upgrade of the Windows or Macintosh operating system will break something in Family Tree Maker someday, but that probably won’t happen for a while. There is no need to rush to a new product. Perhaps a bigger risk is that support from Ancestry.com for the now obsolete Family Tree Maker will end on January 1, 2017. If you have a problem after that date, you will not receive support from Ancestry.com.

2. Switch to a different desktop or laptop genealogy program. There are many excellent genealogy products available for those systems. I plan to publish a number of articles about available Windows and Macintosh products over the next few weeks.

3. Start transitioning to a cloud-based genealogy service. There are two versions of cloud-based genealogy applications available: one method where you share a database with thousands of other users and the other method where you maintain your own private database in a cloud service where no one else can access it without your permission. Family Tree Maker users probably are already familiar with Ancestry.com’s web interface. They may choose to use that. However, that certainly is not the only choice available. MyHeritage.com, The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding, webtrees.org, WeRelate.org, FamilySearch.org, WikiTrees.com, Heredis, and others all have excellent web-based products as well. Again, I plan to write about the cloud-based genealogy services over the next few weeks.

If you are looking to switch from Family Tree Maker to a different product, I also suggest you stop and consider your long-term solutions. Do you want to switch to a different desktop or laptop application? If so, what is the life expectancy of THAT program? You could switch to a cloud-based program, but I will warn you that those programs have both great strengths and major weaknesses. For instance, most of today’s cloud-based programs do not have nearly the variety of printed reports that are contained in most desktop and laptop program.

Every genealogist should evaluate today’s offerings and also try to look into a crystal ball to see what lies in the future as industry trends keep shifting. As for me, I am moving to the cloud. My coming articles will explain why.

263 Comments

I switched about 10 years ago from Family Tree Maker to Legacy Family Tree, and I couldn’t be happier. Legacy has always been easier to use and very powerful. There are many free how-to videos on their website, and their support staff respond quickly and clearly whenever I’ve wanted to do something and couldn’t quickly figure out a way to do it. For example, I wondered if there was a way to find out how many 1st-cousins my grandmother and grandfather each had (they came from large families) and it turned out there was an easy report to run. Users can create a GEDCOM from their FTM file, download and install the free basic version of Legacy, and import the GEDCOM to Legacy and voila, they’re in business.

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    Martin Quartermaine December 9, 2015 at 7:36 am

    I just want to reiterate the comment by Nancy. As an experienced Legacy user I tried FTM a couple of years ago as it seemed that a programme that synched with Ancestry was going to be useful. I used it for a while, however I discovered that FTM apart from being expensive to maintain, was just not as good as Legacy. Legacy is the best programme out there and there is very little chance that it will disappear at any time soon. The level of support for Legacy users is incredibly good and the updates are frequent and free. As for Cloud apps, there are two assumptions, which mean that they will not be a good alternative, a) a monthly sub b) a good quality internet coverage. With Legacy there is no sub and there is a free software version, although the paid version is very cheap and better. It also links and synchs directly with Family Search, although I don’t use that option personally. Also it is completely separate from the internet, which means it can work offline. For FTM users I would highly recommend doing the switch. In fact the main problem afterwards will be dealing with the regret of not having switched earlier

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    I have also heard good things about Legacy. Wish there was a version for Mac as I own a MacBook…..

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    Legacy runs on newer Macs with Windows installed under Bootcamp, Parallels or Fusion.

    Like

    One of the best genealogy programs for the Mac platform is Reunion that has been developed by Leister.

    Liked by 2 people

    FamilyTreeMaker 7 with Companion Edition used to have Descendant Fan Chart with photos which was great. I just cannot find this chart anymore in FamilyTreeMaker 2014/2016 or in any other current genealogy software. Anyone to my rescue?

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But can I export the hundreds of notes and sources (which took years to record) from FTM to GEDCOM? Never mind photos. What a pain. What is Ancestry going to shed next?

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I have no problem with cloud based technology and use Dropbox to back up all my family history documents and photos. However, the reason I purchased FTM in the first place was that it gave me the ability to work offline. There are places I visit in Australia that have limited or no internet service. I use Ancestry mainly for the primary source material /records, and as a synched back up for my FTM, not for other peoples often error riddled trees.

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    I agree that cloud based technology is a problem when researching in other countries. Most libraries in England will not let you use their internet. I research there frequently and cannot be without an offline program. I also use Ancestry mainly for the primary source material and I sync my tree from FTM. It is a major problem not being able to access my tree when not online.

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My main problem with using the cloud is variable and unpredictable internet access.
I mainly use FTM for its charting options as it is easy for me to create a pedigree or descendants chart then export to pdf to take along to my local printer. Hey presto! – a professional personalised chart on heavyweight paper within an hour or so all ready to put in a postage tube to send off to my client.
I don’t need internet access to do any of that so when the internet connection keeps disconnecting (because of black friday sales for instance) I can still work and access my notes.
Unfortunately there is no one Family Tree program which does everything I want it to. Most are far too complicated and I really don’t want to have to start again with something which could disappear along the way anyway. This could be a real problem for professional genealogists if all the pc based programs eventually go the same way as FTM. We need something secure to protect clients’ privacy and using FTM as a standalone program disconnected from Ancestry was my solution.
And the GEDCOM file transfer format is surely inadequate and way out of date? I thought they were working on its replacement?
Thank goodness my files are also backed up to paper and we have a couple of years notice to assess all the options.
On the plus side it may mean a move away from formulaic genealogy reports to something a little more interesting. A chance to start again and assess what we really want and need from a family history program and what it should offer us in terms of flexibility and privacy.

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    The customized family history reports provided by FTM are a HUGE issue for those of us who do serious genealogy work. So far as I know, no one else offers anything comparable. Please correct me if I am wrong. I am left gasping today as I ponder what to do next.

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The cloud services all sound good until you have monthly subscriptions to pay for each! How do you do that on a retirement income???

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    —> How do you do that on a retirement income???

    The same way you have been paying for genealogy software and the frequent updates of those programs.

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    The same way you have been paying for genealogy software and the frequent updates of those programs.

    I don’t know what kind of software you’re using where updates run you $300/year, the current cost for a USA-based Ancestry cloud service. And that’s just the one.

    As for software, there are many excellent choices out there, some free (“Gramps”). What I grieve is the Balkanization of everyone’s work as we all seek out and find alternatives. Ancestry was pretty darned close to one-stop shopping. Going forward, I definitely see crlin’s point – how many subscriptions will I eventually need to cough up? And if I can afford it, great. But what about that match I’ll never see because my cousin couldn’t afford it, or could but was unwilling to figure out where and how to host the stuff going forward?

    Yes, a lot of things are going to the cloud. But not everyone’s there yet. It’s crucial to be able to take my laptop in where I may not have access to the wifi and do my work offline.

    Boneheaded move, or brilliant anticipation? Time will tell, but I lean more towards “boneheaded.”

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    —> I don’t know what kind of software you’re using where updates run you $300/year, the current cost for a USA-based Ancestry cloud service. And that’s just the one.

    Ancestry isn’t the only online genealogy service but is the most expensive. I’d suggest you check out some of Ancestry’s cheaper competitors.

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    Disagree on that Dick. The standard edition of Legacy is free and is quite adequate for most people. I eventually purchased the Deluxe Edition at a sale price (I notice it is currently on sale at $19.95). Updates are free. When there’s a major upgrade I can choose whether to pay a fee to upgrade, but it isn’t necessary. You clearly don’t understand what it’s like to live on a retirement pension. Any extra ongoing cost means going without something else.

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    Shannon D,

    Ancestry “was pretty much one-stop shopping”? So is Wal-Mart, but most of what they sell is cr@p.

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Ughhhh. I am so angry with the makers of Family Tree Maker. I have used it from its inception. Who in the world knows what program will be next? I am afraid of the cloud. Too many people have access to it and there have been so many problems with it. Any suggestions for a new program that will allow me to transfer my info from FTM? Thanks…

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    —> Any suggestions for a new program that will allow me to transfer my info from FTM?

    There are probably a dozen or so such programs. I hope to write about many of them in the coming weeks.

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    Dick, Ancestry charges a high annual fee that greatly exceeds the cost of a stand alone applications. I suspect that most users do not opt for the new version every year and incremental updates are generally free. So, paying for Ancestry is much more expensive and mane not so easy for someone on retirement income.

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    —> So, paying for Ancestry is much more expensive and mane not so easy for someone on retirement income.

    Ancestry isn’t the only online genealogy service but they are the most expensive. I’d suggest you check out some of Ancestry’s cheaper competitors.

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    Roots Magic is a stand alone program that can import FTM databases. I don’t know if they can import everything. They have a good deal going on right now. $20 for CD and a book! $5 for Shipping and handling. They have a free “light” version you can download and play with. They are online,

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    Yes, I have been a faithful Family Tree Maker subscriber for many, many years and I can not feature changing to something else and like others have commented COST is an issue. So I have no idea what is the best or how I go about changing to another program. Does it mean that all of my NOTES and PICTURES will not transfer to another program?

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Thanks Dick. That would be great. Should I buy the most recent version of Family Tree Maker and at least be okay for a couple of years? Or would it be best to go ahead and switch now. I have always loved FTM. Sad…

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    —> Should I buy the most recent version of Family Tree Maker and at least be okay for a couple of years? Or would it be best to go ahead and switch now.

    I don’t think there is any simple yes or no answer to that. Everyone has different tastes and preferences.

    I have my preferences but I know that not everyone agrees with me. If everyone agreed on “the best” course of action, it would be a very dull world.

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    I still use FTM 2006 which, while it doesn’t sync to Ancestry, still works fine on Windows 10. Yes it means I type some stuff twice, but I take the opportunity to use Ancestry to support my tree, and only put stuff on my Ancestry tree when I’ve checked the information for myself, so hopefully I’ll still be able to continue to use my ancient 2006 version – will I?

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    I have upgraded my FTM every year, but still use the old FTM-16, and it is still working despite upgrades to my computer. That software was user friendly and all the stuff you never/rarely use was tucked away in the software basement. I have bought Ancestral Quest, Legacy, Roots Magic, Branches, My Heritage and find all are so complex to learn that I give up for a few years until I try again. Where is Steve Jobs when you need him?

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I like using several online trees and desktop programs. I was hoping someday there would be software that syncs with several online trees like syncing my data to Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage from one software I can use to manage my single copy. Instead big players are dumping software. This feels like a problem for serious genealogists who want the backup, robust features, speed, and control of having their own file. We can still have our own of course, but the dream of easier syncing between online and offline seems to be fading. It feels like bad news to me. However, if someday Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, and other online tree providers, provide an API for tree syncing like FamilySearch does then an independent software provider could fill the market demand for an offline home base copy of a person’s genealogy that can be synced to all the trees. I’m afraid hope is fading, but it is still possible. Ancestry.com does not have to provide the software, but only support such an API. I’m thinking GEDCOMX.

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I have only been using FTM for a couple of years (having transitioned from TMG just before *it* end-of-lifed, *sigh*), and having always strived (striven?) to keep my data product-independent, fortuitously I’ve never synced down from Ancestry.

However, online syncing to Ancestry with FTM is one of the key benefits of using FTM, and one that many FTM users will have a hard time living without. In addition, Ancestry’s web interface (and the redesign even more than the old version) is a poor substitute for doing real genealogical work. It is — to be polite — inconvenient. Similarly, the iPad app, while great as an adjunct tool, is not well-suited as a primary research tool.

Legacy, apparently, does sync with FamilySearch, so I may look into moving my trees off Ancestry and using Legacy instead.

The problem is going to be exporting my data out of FTM. The Legacy website recently noted two “quirks” in FTM’s GEDCOM support: that FTM incorrectly exports facts under the LOC tag, and that older versions of FTM don’t correctly support media links. Are there any other gotchas in FTM’s GEDCOM support that we should be aware of when transitioning?

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    There are indeed other “gotchas” in Ancestry’s / FTM’s GEDCOM support. Here are two that bother me immensely:
    – ancestry’s GEDCOM export (that is creating a gedcom of your online database) has a bug that causes the “comments” to be exported with all sorts of gibberish. Fortunately, this problem does not affect the FTM data file itself. But it means that I cannot use a gedcom created by ancestry.com of my online database to prepare a descendants’ report using Ancestral Author (since all of the comments [notes] in my online database show up as gibberish in the Ancestral Author PDFs). [The problem here is with ancestry.com’s gedcom – not with Ancestral Author.]
    – FTM 3 (the Mac version) generates a GEDCOM with a date format that is not consistent with the gedcom standard (it reverses the month and the day) This results in the dates being read as a text file rather than as a pure date. Some genealogy programs will treat these “text dates” as real dates; other genealogy programs will not. Those genealogy programs (like Reunion) who do not treat the dates in a FTM3 gedcom as a date (because FTM3 exports it the wrong way) end up having problems (for example, they cannot sort children by birth date).

    Those are just two problems to add to your list (note that the second one may only apply to FTM3 (Mac) – I don’t know if it apples to FTM 2014 (Windows)).

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    Jim wrote:

    — – FTM 3 (the Mac version) generates a GEDCOM with a date format that is not consistent with the gedcom standard (it reverses the month and the day)

    I can not reproduce this – I have just entered a date for my christening into Family Tree Maker 3 for Macintosh. I entered it as

    2/5/1955

    which Family Tree Maker converted to display as

    5 Feb 1955

    and then exported to the GEDCOM file as

    2 DATE 05 FEB 1955

    This seems entirely correct and legitimate to me.

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    As for the GEDCOM export with incorrect date format — this happens if you have set the FTM 3 Preferences>Dates/Names/Places>Date Display Format to “Month Day Year”. This setting also affects GEDCOM export on Mac (which shouldn’t be happening, and I already reported this to developers). However, the fix is easy — you just need to revert this setting to default state: “Day Month Year”. In this case all GEDCOM dates will be exported correctly.

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Dick,

I’ve enjoyed your articles and analyses for many years and usually agree wholeheartedly with you. Tonight, however, with all due respect, I think you’ve missed the boat in your assessment of the announcement that ancestry.com made today.

Here’s why.

Everything you say about the cloud is true: it offers backup safety, more collaborative opportunities, etc. And, there are definite advantages to being able to check my data using phones and tablets and any computer that is connected to the internet.

But all of that was completely true yesterday. Today’s announcement is not giving us anything we didn’t already have before today’s announcement. But it is taking some things away from us.

Same thing with your options. What you present as options are indeed options. But, even with these options, today’s FTM / ancestry.com user is not going to be as well off a year from now as he was yesterday. I am able to use FTM and treesync (your option 1, which goes away in a year). And, I am already able (using GEDCOM) to use another program (your option 2); today’s announcement hasn’t made that any better or any easier. Finally, I already have today whatever benefits the cloud offers (your option 3).

Overall, it seems to me that you are trying to spin today’s announcement as something that is good. But the “good things” or the positives you use to support your conclusion already exist so I simply don’t see how they support your conclusion that today’s announcement is a good thing for the genealogy community. [And as of a few minutes ago, it appeared that thousands of users were agreeing with me.]

And it seems to me that you are also ignoring a number of negatives. For example, if I keep my tree primarily on ancestry.com, how do you propose I print out a paper copy of a register report to send to my grandmother who doesn’t own a computer? Sure, I can probably do it 18 months from now, but it likely won’t be as convenient or as easy as it is today. To give another example, I frequently will add people distantly related to my online tree using the shake leaf hints. Treesync means I do not have to input that data a second time. But often the people I add come in with place names that need cleaning up (for example, sometimes the states are abbreviated, sometimes they are not). I can resolve those place name issues fairly easily in FTM, but there’s no way to do so (at least no way to do so easily) in my online tree – that just isn’t a “tool” that is offered anywhere except in FTM. To give a third example, suppose I want to find a distant relative who was born in a Specific County in a Specific State. I can easily do that in FTM; I do not believe it is possible, however, to do a location search in an online ancestry.com database. Maybe that will change as ancestry.com improves its website, but maybe it won’t. I could go on and on and on.

I suspect that ancestry.com has big plans for the website and that it is anticipating making a lot of positive changes between now and January 2017 that may moot some of my concerns. But that could be wishful thinking on my part. There certainly were no specifics in today’s announcements that give me any comfort in that regard.

To sum up: while I can’t dispute anything specific you say in your post, I am disappointed in it. At least to me, you have used your bully pulpit and your considerable influence to at least convey the impression that you think genealogy users are “better off” after today’s announcement than they were before this most recent decision by ancestry.com. For the reasons stated above, I do not believe that to be the case.

Thanks for hearing me out – until today, I really have enjoyed virtually all of your many helpful postings.

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    Thank you for your lengthy and well thought out comments. Indeed, there is a lot of truth to what you wrote. However, I don’t see today’s announcement as a “good thing” or a “bad thing.” Instead, I see it as an inevitable thing.

    Change is always uncomfortable. I suspect there will be many uncomfortable changes in the next few years.

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    “the “comments” to be exported with all sorts of gibberish”
    Are you possibly referring to RTF (Rich Text Format) formatting codes?
    As for books & reports, you can export your data from Ancestry.com to GEDCOM, and import it into a charting program such as Charting Companion.

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    The point that this isn’t a “good thing” or a “bad thing” but instead, merely the “inevitable” thing and that “change is always uncomfortable” still seems to miss the essential point, or at least doesn’t further the useful conversation about things that are coming to a critical mass.

    The serious genealogy users of Ancestry.com and FTM , many who were also the long-time LOYAL customers of Ancestry who helped populate the cloud with some of the most complete and accurate trees, who prized the highly desired sync function, were looking for changes – both incremental changes to the online interface that would add some of the unique and useful functions and features found in FTM to the online version, the hoped for changes for an improved, more stable and less buggy FTM client software – and this is key – fulfilling the “dream” that technology now makes it possible to have, for example, not only synced up FMT offline and online trees, but even beyond that the ability to sync the online tree with ALL of their devices – whether desktop and mouse (for serious users who need to work with the details), laptop (for users who need a mobile workhorse), or the newer tablet and phone platforms, which have there own particular advantages and uses.

    Everyone is looking for GREATER functionality and improved ease of use with all the promise of the new technologies – BUT INSTEAD, the crux of the disenchantment, Ancestry.com is REMOVING functionality and degrading ease of use. This is carried over into the “new” Ancestry.com online interface, where there is LESS functionality than the old, and the new interface appears to be poorly designed and implemented in ways that is is significantly or noticeably poorer in terms of ease of use, efficiency, user experience.

    What could have been a “Win, Win, Win” for the users, loyal customers and Ancestry if the management team had taken a slightly different tactical and strategic approach (incrementally improve the more or less satisfactory “old” online interface by adding a couple dozen useful features that folks have been asking for already in FTM), expand the sync function to all devices (and improve the stability of FTM and fix some bugs), perhaps even open up syncing of FTM with other platforms and data sets, and THEN also spend some resources to create a separate, distinct mode for an online “Tablet” and/or “Phone” interface that users could switch between (e.g. as Windows 10 offers), most EVERYONE would have been happy, I dare say pleasantly surprised, delighted and even thrilled.

    Instead of focusing resources to improve the user experience across the board, the Ancestry.com product and marketing team has REDUCED functionality, removed long used features, made the new online interface less appealing and not better to work with (noticeably worse), and in significant ways betrayed customer trust.

    Given that Ancestry.com had all the elements of the dreamed for synced-cloud to all devices solution and others do not, this is a really significant missed opportunity to make hoped for changes that would, yes create a new learning curve for everyone that may be uncomfortable, but in ways that could have not only improved the functionality and experience, but also would been a tremendous boost to the serious researchers, genealogists and groups of many types across the industry.

    Beyond the visceral disappointment of loyal customers and power users to see a retrograde change reducing functionality in essential ways, such a disappointing missed opportunity by the “market leader” to have made a real difference across the industry.

    I look forward to your reviews of cloud and offline client options in the market, and hope you touch on some of these customer and user focused critical points as well as the future technology architecture or infrastructure modes as they relate to developments across the genealogical landscape – and if anyone (or partners) is integrating them into a seemless experience that expands features and options rather than reduces them, improves usability rather than degrade the experience (let alone address management strategic choices that takes things away).

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    Mary Dresser Taffet December 9, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    As a longtime user of FTM (since the earliest Windows version way back when in the 90’s), I’m not thrilled about the announcement either, but I would like to state that it * IS * possible to use Ancestry’s search interface to limit your search to people born in a specific county in a specific state — I do it frequently.

    Personally, I’m hoping that (1) Ancestry will open their API(s) to third parties to allow software from other vendors to be interactive with the online trees the same way that FTM is now, and (2) some other party will see value in FTM and buy the rights to the software from Ancestry.com. If #2 doesn’t happen, then I’m going to be experimenting with both Rootsmagic and Legacy, and perhaps others, to see how well I can smooth out the transfer of data between programs. As someone with 17 years worth of Perl scripting experience, I intend to write a script that I can use to clean up the FTM quirks in the intermediate Gedcom file to make the import as easy as possible on the other side. I’ll probably work on that anyway over the next year.

    Like

It has been 2 1/2 years since FTM had a new release – free updates since then have been bug fixes, and even then they didn’t bother fixing the issues with some features of the ‘books’ they allegedly could build from reports. A number of us are not surprised that the change is taking place, though the other products are definitely not ready to fill the bill. The Ancestry online version produces next to nothing in report format. They’d have a LOT of work to get that worth using for many of us – iPad is OK to take along for reference, but not much more. I’m still taking data back to v.16/2006 to update a family history book because the current FTM cannot handle it. Please – I ask that reviews of other products include an indication of the variety of reports and whether there is something available to produce a collection of reports and photos with a table of contents and index – ‘book’ in FTM terms.

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—> How do you do that on a retirement income???

The same way you have been paying for genealogy software and the frequent updates of those programs.

Dick, this was kind of a snarky response to those of us living on fixed incomes and who don’t pay for FTM’s “frequent updates” simply because we can’t afford them every year. Besides that, the price of FTM was FAR cheaper than monthly cloud fees have been or probably will be in the future.

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    Cloud fees vary. There are likely some free that may serve your purposes.

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    Dick,
    I must agree with Linda. As Linda inferred – many retired people have tight incomes and cloud services will continue to rise in prices. Another way to rip another shekel from the consumer.

    This is nothing new for Ancestry who instead of improving several categories on their website such as newspapers, they want you to pay for a separate website. They have a name for this kind of marketing. As cancellations hit Ancestry throughout the next year they may march to another tune. Are they willing to abandon the Senior base which is their bread & butter who use FTM? If this base move to Legacy, RootsMagic or Ancestral Quest their will be a greater reason to unsubscribe.

    By the way Ancestry is getting a 96% negative rating concerning their Blog announcement about FTM. Take a look!
    German
    PS: PAF didn’t go away – it continues as Ancestral Quest as most former PAF users know. The original AQ company had it’s roots in the development of the original PAF.

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    I agree with Linda and Fay. I’m not on a fixed income, but I do work in a low-paying field (genealogy librarian, ironically). To cite a recent example, in November I bought a new computer. I had the option of subscription-based Office 365 for $99/year or desktop-based Office for a one-time fee of $150. Considering I used my last edition of Office for 10 years and I expect to get 10 years out of the new edition, which pricing scheme do you think I chose? With my income, every place I increase my spending, I have to decrease it in another place. Used to be I could say, “Oh, I can’t afford the new version of ____ right now, but when I get my tax refund/Christmas gift money/find money in the street, I’ll buy it then.” Now I have to figure out where $X is going to come from every month for (potentially) the rest of my life. I have quit using services I have used for years over this, and I will continue to do so, because as much as I love these services, I can’t choose between them and groceries.

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    Over and above the cost of ongoing subscription fees, there remains the issue that *without* them, we entirely lose access to the specific documents we have *already* paid for and saved to our trees.

    It’s all well and good to keep paying the fees, assuming one can afford them, but what about when/if we reach a point where we may no longer want to continue active research, or perhaps become unable to? How will we be able to preserve everything we’ve already done for others? And for our own future reference?

    I’m not talking about ongoing research access to the databases, just retaining the copies of documents and images we have already saved.

    There just *has* to be some way to secure access to all of that without having to pay astronomical ongoing monthly fees. FTM has been it. Without such a tool, a lot of our research efforts will be lost and wasted.

    Wendy

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Dick, as a Family Tree Maker 2014 user, I was disappointed by Ancestry’s announcement, but not entirely shocked. In fact, this is the second year in a row that Ancestry had not announced a new version (the 2014 version came out in late 2013), although I had recently read a rumor of a Family Tree Maker 2016 that seemed more than just speculation. Clearly it was not.

The traditional software sales model is suffering, as many consumers are now used to getting apps for free or for extremely low prices that are continually updated for free as new incremental versions are released. Even on Windows PCs, obtaining apps from a dedicated App Store is slowly becoming more commonplace. Family Tree Maker would have to be completely rewritten to adapt to this model, and it’s hard to see how it could be much more than an interface to Ancestry.com (essentially like the free tree apps Ancestry already offers on several platforms).

Personally, I am not interested in going full cloud on my tree. Online services have been known to fold or substantially change their terms of service making even cloud-based trees vulnerable. I prefer a hybrid where my data syncs to the cloud, but can also be managed offline. To me, that still necessitates some form of local software, although it could easily be an App Store type of app instead of the traditional desktop application. In fact, I would probably prefer an App Store type of app for a number of reasons.

Incidentally, an Office 365 subscription actually installs traditional desktop versions of the Office applications, while also making available lighter-weight web-based and App Store alternatives. Its subscription model, though, I think does speak to the future direction of application retailing.

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So from what I gather, please correct me if Im wrong, FTM will still work on my desktop just no longer sync to my online tree.

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    You can continue to sync with your online tree for “at least” another year, through 1 Jan 2017.

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    Only one of my six trees has been syncing since all of the Ancestry (bad interface) changes … have been unable to fix. Just one more indication to me that Ancestry.com does not care about genealogy … just $$$s.

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    WOW….. another some one who is seeing the LIGHT and what they are abt..but will there be enough? to make THEM HURT?????

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    I have had a couple of instances of inability to synch a database – some recovered, a couple not. Delete the old one from Ancestry and upload a new one if you want one there. As to $$$, they have had trouble with the feature and possibly have found it expensive to maintain. If they open up to other products, it’s more likely it will be an upload only, as the older Rootsweb features. That can be mapped in the manner of a GEDCOM even if a GEDCOM is not required – but I’m guessing a little here. (Scott … what is it with your apparent need to *hurt* someone? This is a software product. Those who want to will disconnect from Ancestry and possibly move to something else. Put away the lethal hardware, please.)

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Dick,
I have read other comments similar to yours regarding the future of our programs on our own computers. I am a Legacy user (switched from FTM years ago), so I’m not directly affected. However, I would hate to think that the future for genealogy is nothing but the cloud. I use Dropbox and Carbonite, oh and Evernote. All cloud based. However, I want my own tree on my own computer. I back up to two external hard drives in addition to Dropbox and Carbonite. I also have trees on Ancestry. I have iPads and iPhones too. But, I don’t want to do data entry or research on them. I want to sit in my home office, at my desktop with two monitors and my coffee next to me and conduct my research. I love technology, but this talk about nothing but apps and clouds is not making me happy at all. I hope this isn’t true and is just knee jerk reaction to current events. Thanks for listening.

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    “I want to sit in my home office, at my desktop with two monitors and my coffee next to me and conduct my research. ”

    Amen to that! (And I do exactly that — there’s nothing like two screens: my Legacy program in one screen, and the sources in the other screen).

    I want to be in complete control of my own genealogy data, be able to access it offline, etc. (Of course, I have both local and cloud back-ups, and it’d be nice to sync, or at least upload to the cloud) . . . but I don’t want to have to depend on a cloud service and/or be online to be able to access my own data.

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Excellent and well thought out comments here. Dick when you write, please address software for Mac. Over time I tried Reunion and Roots Magic that works on the Mac. Neither of those appealed to me. I would want the cleanest gedcom transfer and soft ware that’s intuitive and not clunky like software for PCs.

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Brother’s Keeper 5.2 for DOS – forever!

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    I’m up to BK 6.3 I think. I have FTM 2010, but really don’t like it, never have. BK works just fine for everything I need.

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Being a Legacy user, I am largely unaffected by the FTM announcement – at least in the short and medium term. But the talk of cloud solutions and desktop solutions in an either-or scenario ignores one of the great advantages of the cloud, even in its current, early, incarnation.

My Legacy database is stored in the cloud (using Barracuda Copy), and is synced with a copy on my laptop. So I have full access when I’m offline; I have frequent backups with no effort from me, and I have a database which I can share with invited guests who only need to be running legacy. I have what I need, and the only cost is the one-off purchase of Legacy software. Invited guests can access my database for free, using Legacy’s free version.

Cloud storage has progressed well beyond the benchmark of a couple of years ago – Dropbox’s 2Gb of free storage. I have 20Gb free with Barracuda. There would certainly be others out there offering similar free plans. I see this sort of arrangement as the future (say 10 years – that’s a loooong time in IT terms!) for me, because I prefer the security of having my own database, rather than entrusting its storage solely to a third party. Put that down to 46 years in the IT industry.

As inconvenient as the announcement is for FTM users, you still have numerous options – and the “do nothing” option will be perfectly valid for some. But for others, please re-read all the comments above, and then think about a hybrid solution similar to what I have described above, and similar to what a couple of earlier responses alluded to.

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Having things in the “cloud” is all very nice, but I insist on having the genealogy data I have so painfully accumulated over the years being fully accessible to me through my personal resources (without the internet) at any time. I have attended the reunions of several branches of my extended family, and brought my laptop to access the old family tree in places where there was no cell phone coverage, much less internet access. (I am such a boot-and-suspenders guy I also had a working laptop in my car’s trunk just in case the primary laptop acted up). A full desktop version of family tree software is one of the few recurring computer-related expenses I am willing to pay a reasonable amount for. I started out with Family Tree Maker about the year 1999 when I discovered how easy it made family history. The company lost my loyalty about 2010 when I bought a previous upgrade at Costco, and discovered that the upgrade couldn’t be installed without an error message and that it refused to import the previous FTM version’s database properly. So I returned it for a full refund, and switched to RootsMagic, several versions ago.

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Wikipedia to the rescue for Comparison of Genealogy Software! It’s at least an overview of various things each does.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_genealogy_software
I don’t have anything “in the cloud” because I distrust it (backups on more than one thumb drive). Who’s to say the corporation that hosts the cloud-based info won’t go out of business or be bought out by a larger corporation who changes things or makes my private tree public?
I did get an FTM years ago because of extra CDs, tried to enter data, and I never did figure out the logic behind FTM – not to mention the fact I couldn’t make a web site of my info and put it where I wanted to. Nothing in FTM ever made sense.
I still love my Reunion 7. The formatting to enter data makes sense. The printout of Family Group Sheets (called Person Sheets, altho I don’t know why) is a near-exact duplicate of the paper forms I used to use pre-computer days, and the Misc Info where I list all my Source data nearly matches how I used to keep my info in a notebook. It all makes perfect sense. BEST of all, I can make an entire web site (info, pictures, etc.) of my data with two clicks on a menu…, and put it on a web site of my own choosing, not where a genealogy program is pre-programmed to put it.

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    You are the first person to comment about using Reunion. For the Mac users, Reunion has been out there a long time and has a strong, consistent customer base. I am a FTM user who will eventually have to switch to something else. Mac OS upgrades will probably make FTM obsolete in a couple years. So in the meantime I can go back to MacFamilyTree (which I used for years and still have), Legacy, Reunion or ??? Are there other Reunion users out there to chime in on their experiences? My local genealogical society actually has a Reunion Users group, another sign of its enduring customer base.

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    For us MAC & Reunion folks, I suspect we just keep using our in-home systems and perhaps pay MORE ATTENTION to the BUILDING genealogy sources for family names and county names, even some now relating to state names that are appearing on FACEBOOK and start communicating and sharing that way or thru our personal emails….. JUST LEAVE Ancestry to their MONEY grubbing ways and move on!!!!!

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Very sad to hear this news. I started with Ancestry.com way back when they had their own family tree program called Ancestry Family Tree. That went away and along came FTM. I have used FTM for many years, still use my 2007 version. I have been trying to learn Legacy, a plan as another back up. I am so use to FTM that I would prefer to stay with it. I do not like the things that Ancestry.com has been doing over the past few years. I really dislike their new “story” version, most of it didn’t work for me. I contacted Ancestry.com, which was also a hassle, they keep trying to hide how to reach them. Sad, I like that I could sync the info I found either way, and had an offline way to work on whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I also have to deal with internet issues. I guess it is all about money for them nowadays.

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    Ancestry Family Tree didn’t really go away; it became Ancestral Quest. Although the software has undergone many enhancements since its AFT days, you would probably recognize the basic interface. It comes in both free and paid ($30) versions and can be downloaded from http://www.ancquest.com/download.htm

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At the moment I use ancestry iPad version to use the shaky leaves, very convenient, and easy to use and I readily sync to my FTM FILE, BUT NO WAY WOULD IT BE MY PERMANENT CLOUD BASED PROGRAMME. I regularly create a gedcom and upload to my favoured product, Tribal Pages.

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The cloud may be great for shared storage, but it’s not great for actually woirking on that Data. Browser based technologies are not quite at the same level of capability as their desktop equivalents. “Adobe already has switched many of its products to cloud-based equivalents.” Umm, no – Creative cloud allows sharing of the data, an to a certain extent g guns such as Photoshop or Premiere do.
This is just a very lazy step by Ancestry, who despite what must be a huge income, won’t invest time in keeping their product current.
Over 4,000 comments on their blog post at the moment – I’ve not read them all – there were 150 when I posted last night, and not one of those was positive. Assuming only 20% of the userbase would take the time to comment, that makes a lot of users.
And they’ve only decided to support it for one year – that’s a pretty bad commitment – even Microsoft are better than that 🙂

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It seems to me Ancestry are going backwards, they have ruined the website by fixing what didn’t need to be fixed, (much of it now doesn’t work and old features missing) and now this announcement. FTM may have been ‘buggy’ but it was a good program to keep on the laptop and add details to when out and about with no internet access, then able to update the online tree without re-typing everything. It has, for many years (I have been researching for over 20 years and using it and others since FTM started), been one of the top genealogy applications on the market, I hope the other genealogy software companies and websites take this as an opportunity.
In addition Ancestry is patting itself on the back for all the additional support and records it has added, but it seems to forget that it has a worldwide consumer base, not just USA, I for one won’t be renewing my worldwide membership.

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Dick,
Thanks for being on top of it. My main problem is going to be I’ll miss the easy synching of documents and images, as that’s not a GEDCOM standard. Luckily some of the other software I already use recognizes an FTM export with the images and docs, so all is not lost there. The rough part is going to be moving over to another service like Heritage were the synching is there but the image adding is a bit more difficult.

Another thing they are not thinking about, some of the more serious researchers and I like to consider myself one, are part of the backbone of the data that is truly loved, the family bibles, photos, documents, etc. that we all have graciously contributed for others to have. Without that, to me, there is no real “hey this is a real thing from a real person from that relative”. Once a lot of people like myself and many others stop contributing, their database will weaken (to me anyway), and if a lot of these people leave, well, there ya have it. They seem to be making a choice of going for the bucks by ceaseless promotions on TV, sucking in people who think they are just going to be able to whackadoodle all the way back to a King or something. And these people get giddy and just connect back and forth using each others trees as a “source” with no real source. Too many junk trees like this as it is, and it’s going to get worse.

But it seems they are satisfied with that. I can’t get back what I’ve contributed, but I for one will not be uploading a single other document, Unless they come up with this simple option:

I don’t need FTM or synching, if they will allow the GEDCOM download online that is currently there to also include the documents/images we have attached in some form or fashion. Other than that, I would be forced to put a picture on both my PC software, and also upload to Ancestry. You can see how this doubles effort and could quickly lead to your PC tree and online tree not matching.

At the very least, they should just leave the synching in place with the 2014 software. It’s all it’s really good for anyway, as I consider FTM to be mediocre as a PC based genealogy software.

Look forward to your further updates.

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Change is NOT inevitable. A lesson yet to be learned by product designers in many fields is that “Just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done.”

Ancestry do not appear to have done any analysis of how family researchers work and think, or who they are. Many are of an older generation who are suspicious of the reliability of new computer based systems and are (rightly) reluctant to use them until their reliability AND security is well proven. And many will have seen the inaccurate data that Ancestry has allowed to be posted and replicated on public trees. So there is no basis for trusting the company.

For anyone with any understanding of the direction computing is taking, and of the global availability of access to the Internet (and charges for using it), mistrust is enhanced by an Ancestry statement that provides no indication of how and when the web based service will be developed to overcome its many shortcomings. Storing data in a cloud is not technically difficult. Writing sophisticated programs in hypertext is. Although I’m no lover of Microsoft, it seems to me that they got closer to the right solution by making Office 365 a subscription service with continual upgrades but putting the emphasis on the operating software being hosted on the user’s machine because that offers a high level of capability in a way that is less complex than providing the same sophistication in a web based environment (Office 365s web version is Office-lite), and it ensures its usability when access to the Internet is difficult or unaffordable. Ancestry’s web site, despite its recent visual design overhaul (which has added nothing of any substance to its usefulness), remains FTM-lite.

If Ancestry had really thought about their customers instead of what seems convenient for the company, I’m sure they would have come to a solution similar to Microsoft’s. As it is, Ancestry will lose a lot of regular annual subscribers, and will become one of those services that family history researchers buy into for a short time – and only then if there is data held by Ancestry that is not available elsewhere (and most genealogical data is held by public bodies who would be subject to criticism if they restricted access to it through deals with a single commercial database service, which is what Ancestry has become).

And what will the effect be on the goodwill that Ancestry currently enjoys – and benefits from – by persuading thousands of people to do their work for them by indexing records free of charge?

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I got FTM as a gift and never used it much so I don’t have a horse in this race, but I can’t really blame Ancestry for moving in this direction. On the other hand, Ancestry is clearly handling this transition very poorly. You don’t get 4,600 angry reactions to your announcement in the first 12 hours if you’re doing it right.

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After beginning my personal genealogy about 1970 and finishing it about 2000, I decided that I liked genealogy so much that I would pursue an area genealogy of a place where some of my early ancestors and relatives had lived since the 1600s to the current day, as well as Surname Study. After using FTM with great genealogy libraries in Los Angeles, I then moved to using FTM in conjunction with its ability to link into the (mostly) great resources of ancestry.com. At this point, at the age of 71, no desire to relearn the wheel, and my personal genealogy finished, my thinking is that I will stay with FTM as long as they allow ancestry.com to continue to merge ancestry databases into FTM. In the meantime, I will simply reduce my involvement in genealogy and probably leave genealogy altogether after they completely sever the ability to access ancestry databases from inside of FTM. If I had better health, I would probably refocus my energies on walking through cemeteries for Find-A-Grave, but my health prevents me from doing that. I’ve recently “discovered” the great resources of books available in E-Book form and have already acquired about a dozen books on Google Play and Amazon Kindle and will start reading those and advancing my knowledge in the area of history and, particuarly, World War II. I have lots of other options besides relearning genealogy programs.

As for what I find lacking in ancestry:
1) Won’t load a 77,000 person file into ancestry. My file did have about 10,000 images, but only about 20 of those were photos or my own scans – all the rest were from ancestry databases. I have had to split my file into sections to upload to ancestry.com – and that didn’t include the numerous peripheral relatives that I have in my ftm file. For example, parents of spouses, and complete families of a person married 4 times and the complete spouses and families of those spouses – are all lost in these filtered split files.

2) The FTM filter has been particularly helpful in my surname study as members of this family from the 1600s have moved all across the fifty states and I try to tie a person in California back to the East Coast family they could conceivable be from to start researching there.

3) Ancestry cannot handle blended families when merging US Censuses 1880 and later. This drove me crazy and stopped me cold from I thought I might take a look at actually doing my work in ancestry instead of FTM. Many of my families are blended families, with step-children in many families. FTM had a beautiful structure for selecting parents of step-kids to import records of those step-kids that ancestry doesn’t have.

I could go on and on with features that FTM had that ancestry, and would be hard pressed to think of even one feature of ancestry that FTM didn’t have. It will be missed. I am ready to move on with my life to other areas of interest than genealogy.

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Express your complaints and concerns to Ancestry.

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    At this point (12/09/15 9:31 am) over 5,056 people have!

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    And……Good Luck trying to express complaints and concerns to Ancestry! They have made a way (the “Community” and “Blogs”) for people to voice their concerns, problems, and questions……but they (Ancestry) don’t have to respond. A re-vamp and replacement of the entire company staff (management….CEO to phone support) needs to happen.

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FTM will only work properly after Jan 2017 IF the users have access to a fully patched installer, which probably NONE of us currently have. Hopefully Ancestry will provide access to download a fully patched installer so that we can keep using FTM for an additional year or so until we can transition to another product

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Two assumptions are being made by Ancestry and many others. First, that everyone has universal access to high speed internet services. Not at all true. Second, that everyone has acres of money to spend on genealogy, not true. The lady above was correct that many,many people live on fixed incomes and are already having a hard time just paying for essentials.Ancestry, in it’s continuing effort to reach a younger demographic may be making a poor decision.

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In the articles you are planning on writing about other programs, I would appreciate it if you could address how we can transfer our photos and documents which are attached to people and facts/sources. A GEDCOM won’t do that.

As an Ancestry subscriber and FTM user for decades, I am extremely disappointed in their decision, and not just because it makes me “uncomfortable.” FTM allowed me to be very, very accurate in attaching sources to every fact. I hope in your future articles you will be able to help us learn which programs will allow us continue to be accurate as easily as FTM. Ancestry’s online trees are awful about correctly attaching sources to the right facts (not to mention that they often delete facts now). And I, too, do not want a cloud tree to be my only family tree. I appreciate having both a desktop tree and a cloud tree, preferably synced. Any help you can give us in our research of new solutions would be wonderful.

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    Aileen,
    I agree 100%. I have lots of sources, attached documents, and photos that I will need to transfer to another program, and definitely need some advice on the best way to do it. I think Ancestry has made several extremely bad decision lately, and they’ve lost me because of it. I’ve already cancelled my subscription to the “new” Ancestry, and will be moving to another computer-based genealogy program. I liked the sync feature, but I want all my data to be on my own (backed-up) computer, and I want the reporting features you don’t get online. Such a stupid decision!

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Like others, I’m very disappointed in Ancestry.com’s decision to discontinue support for FTM. As someone who works in the software industry, I find it hard to believe all the features of FTM will be sufficiently replaced by online tools – today’s world is about simplifying experiences for users, and to be honest a lot of real genealogical research is not so straightforward to simplify.

However, a thought did occur to me that I haven’t seen in other comments, which is I think it’s likely that needing to continue support for FTM’s features – particularly those that interact with the website – is probably holding Ancestry.com back from some improvements they would like to make. Also, I would wager there is a lot of legacy code written in some programming language no one wants to work with anymore, or was written in a way that is unsupportable without a complete rewrite, which is a difficult investment for a company whose primary focus is on a cloud-based technology. I’m still disappointed, but I understand a bit what was probably happening behind the scenes.

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    The current version of FTM was completely re-written in C# in 2008. It is .NET-based, modern and very well structured.

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Web hacks are a daily concern. There are chunks of my tree – particularly the current present-day chunks that I haven’t uploaded to Ancestry…because of privacy concerns. I don’t like handing all of that over to an online profile.
I also live in an area with very unreliable internet. Cloud based with no desktop ‘unplugged’ functionality is of little to no use to me (Not sure what Ancestry has up their sleeve in regards to this).
I pay for a full Ancestry subscription annually – I don’t relish having to increase that part of my budget. At this point, I update when I choose to do so.
I agree – change is inevitable. I know that this change has opened my eyes to changing to another genealogy software platform.

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Here’s one more unhappy genealogist! I love the sync between Ancestry and FTM. Use it all the time. I just heard Dropbox is being “dropped” so who’s next in the cloud to go? I have tried Legacy software and it is too complicated for me. Maybe I’ll try Roots Magic but that doesn’t remove the sting of this announcement from Ancestry. Seems like we have lots of work ahead of us when we finally have to leave FTM.

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You talk about the “cloud” a lot and I understand the reasoning behind it and I understand it is the future. However, in the present, I live in a rural area in a county where there are less than 20,000 people in the entire county, and I have a real problem. I use a mifi from Verizon, and only have 5G a month, for $50. I almost always go over, making my bill around $70 a month. I have no choice! The satellite company will not put a dish here, because, we have a metal roof and they will no longer mount a dish on a metal roof. Our house is two-story, which makes it is impossible to get a clear signal (plus the hundreds of tall trees). I am not alone in this problem and for us there is no cloud in our future. I can’t even watch a 3 second video without it eating up my data allowance. In fact, third world countries have better internet service than we do. So, the cloud means death to those of us living in rural areas that can’t afford or can’t get satellite. But, that’s okay, we are just tax paying Americans who support the system, and shouldn’t expect anything in return!

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    I understand your pain on unreliable and slow Internet service. Not only am I only serviced by AT&T DSL (Ugh) I also do not have good cell service at my house. I had to cancel Verizon early because they confirmed there was no cell service at my house. Cloud will not work for me.

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Dick. You expound keeping data in multiple places, in multiple formats, so that it will be recoverable from somewhere should we need it, and yet, you are saying that desktop genealogy programs will and should become a thing of the past??? Really??? Having my 30+ years of genealogy work in a desktop program (20 years of which has been FTM), backed up to the various places I use PLUS having it on Ancestry covers ALL the bases. And being able to easily sync between Ancestry.com and FTM was huge! As many have said, internet access can be spotty or non-existent, even in your own home, let alone in that out of the way record repository. Serious researchers do not just research online. Between the move to a ridiculously childish interface, and now this, it seems to me that Ancestry is pandering to the genealogy hobbyist at the expense of the serious researcher.

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I am going back to the old days ways. I am writing all my research into several books that I plan to self publish. Software crashes, software discontinued, attached by hackers is a pain. Plus, there is always an updated version and more costs. Love Ancestry.com, but wish they would listen more to their customers.

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I am an old dinosaur. When I started my genealogy research I documented everything using Family Tree Maker which was updated frequently and usually for the worse. Finally Version 16 came out. It had everything I wanted, especially the ability to publish many sorts of trees and reports. What I liked best was the ability to make an all-in-one tree. My entire file can be printed out at one time. I still use this version. Soon after, Family Tree discontinued all of these niceties and became like Ancestry only to be bought out by Ancestry.
I’m not happy with most progress. It’s become an excuse for money grabbing.

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THIS is just another example of the GREED of the folks who run and manage Ancestrydotcom…….. THEY are after only the MONEY from folks who do genealogy, and THEY are hard at work buying up others, getting signed exclusive contracts with local and state govt. and probably even the Fed.’s that WE don’t know abt…… THEY want to be the ONLY SOURCE that one can go to do continuing or future genealogy unless one wants to go back to the good old days of personal travel and on-site research. That may be fine but some thing is being LOST here in allowing ONE COMPANY to become the BULLY in this field for us!! Sure $300 a year is cheap compared to TRAVELING but IT IS the principle of the matter…… Ancestrydotcom is just plain doing thousands of folks wrong, and this canceling of FTM is just one more step THEY have taken, since THEY dropped OUR PAID FOR MyFamily Sites and the Genealogy.com Site. which HURT lots of researchers and the general family researcher!! I personally HATE THEM for what THEY have done and are doing to genealogy research. Folks like Dick E. seem to believe that THEY are the best thing for genealogy since sliced bread was invented, but I will beg to differ with him and others who believe that on major ONE SOURCE FULLY PAID for on-line company is the way to go!!!!!!! But of course lone voices in the wilderness are never heard or listened to!!!!! So BE IT!!!!!!!

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    —> Folks like Dick E. seem to believe that THEY are the best thing for genealogy since sliced bread was invented…

    I strongly disagree with that statement. If you look at the past articles in this newsletter, you will see where I have constantly reviewed and recommended software programs and web sites created by and operated by Ancestry.com’s competitors.

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Ancestry’s online trees are a good place to reach out to other researchers, but as a primary location for storing genealogy data it is huge FAIL.

Ancestry’s family tree interface is clunky, slow and has none of the features I value in my desktop software, such as: reporting options, flexible and comprehensive source citing, and the ability to work offline. I created an online tree at Ancestry (by exporting a GEDCOM) so that other researchers could connect with me, but there is no way to keep it updated without manually entering all the changes I’ve made in my desktop software. At Rootsweb I could overwrite an outdated tree with a new GEDCOM upload, but Ancestry doesn’t allow that…and no one seems to be using Rootsweb anymore.

Looking for good desktop software? Check out Ancestral Quest. A basic version of the software is free, but the additional features in the paid version is well worth the $30 cost. Available for both Windows and Mac.

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This is to the people who have maintained a FTM file on their PC’s, laptops, tablets and who knows what else. The sky is not falling for you – your program and its contents will be safe for years to come (as long as you keep good and multiple back-ups)

Both my husband and I are STILL using FTM version 11 issued in 2003 – yes, 2003! I’ve posted this before so won’t go into the extra details but here is what you need to know. It (as other FTM issues will) works in XP, Windows 7 – both 32 & 64 bit AND my husband has it working just fine in Windows 10.

POINT: Cut the panic mode that all is doomed, whatever stand alone FTM program version you have will continue to work, NO NEED to change programs unless you want to or choose to.

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    It may still run as a stand-alone program, Barbara, but it will no longer synch, or allow online research – which means no saving of documents and photos accessed online, either. Those are very, very big issues.

    Wendy

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    WHO? really cares? Part of the problem is that some one? wants every one to put every thing into the “cloud” and WHY? Is it for the betterment of that effort or is it for MONEY??? And as for the “cloud” a lot of folks have gone to Facebook and created genealogy related items there, for both family names and many county names…. IT may be that FACEBOOK will become the NEW CENTER for research and NOT Ancestry nor the Cloud… tho FB will make it a little harder to research, share, and communicate by our NOT having our PAID FOR MyFamily Sites and the Genealogy.com Family Forum Boards…. so hopefully Ancestry will PAY a PRICE for their so-called logic and GREED for MONEY!!!!!!!

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    Reply to Wendy.
    You are quite right, my program won’t sync nor did it ever and given that I’ve worked for years on my family history I’ve never felt the need to Sync my file with an online version. I do agree that if one is doing that the Sync should work both ways – to and from your PC to the Cloud! Linking documents etc. without saving them to ones PC is just plain foolish because one never knows when things like this will happen. I learned the hard way on a few things over the years but it only took one good crash to ensure nothing like that would happen again. I have master back-ups of everything six ways to Sunday.
    I do get it that this is a major (very major) mistake on the part of Ancestry and it wasn’t too long ago they made another blunder which should have been the heads up for everyone to be planning for something like this.
    Dick always says back-up, back-up, back-up – and I echo this, but I also say if you want control of your data, start with keeping it safe and then sharing the parts or the whole of it when and with who you want.

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    Barbara, do you have any idea where I could acquire a copy of FTM version 11 that was issued in 2003?

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    Reply to Georgia
    My best suggestion would be to check on E-Bay and I can also say that the FTM 2006 was also noted as an excellent version. Also try out some of the free programs i.e. Roots Magic and Legacy which both have free versions to download which don’t have ALL the bells and whistles of the paid version but more than enough to get a good feel as to whether you like the program or not.
    Just heard yesterday that Legacy.com will be having a Webinar on January 13th, 2017 for beginners using Legacy. It is free but you do need to register for it.

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    Any chance that you can tell me where to get a copy of version 11?

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    Reply to Georgia
    As mentioned EBay for a used copy is your best option to finding an older version of Family Tree Maker.
    I did a search on EBay.ca and found only the 2006 version which is a good one. It is listed as “Family Tree Maker 2006 PC CD create research history program genealogy records + ”
    EBay.com may have more offers with shipping only within the USA.

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    Georgia, out of curiosity, why are you looking for such an old version of Family Tree Maker?

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I am in shock. I have invested 15 years recording my Family History using FTM. Now it’s going away, and I am at a loss as to what to do next. I will continue using FTM, as it’s all I have for now.
Shame on Ancestry.
Dick, looking forward to your recommendations in future columns.

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I agree with some of the above comments. Cloud may have many advantages but you must be online to use it! Not convenient on a trip, where Internet is down in rural areas, where there is no Internet access in seasonal rental homes. I think I hear you saying there is no problem continuing to use FTM as long as you don’t need their support. Please give us options for Internet service and non Internet. thank you.

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What I find troubling about Dick Eastman’s response is the idea that the internet and therefore cloud services are always available. Not true.

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Marilyn Kay Maynard December 9, 2015 at 10:15 am

I for one will not miss FTM even though I purchased it as new versions became available, used it offline occasionally and kept it synched to the online version. I tended to think of it as another backup option rather than as the preferred method of building my family tree. FTM was usually slow to open and had few advantages that I could detect in my use of it. I am not a paid researcher, do not think that my discoveries are proprietary, and I do not think my privacy is being invaded simply because I’m building my tree online and in the cloud. I am simply an individual who enjoys spending time seeking information about my ancestors and learning where I fit in the great big family I have unearthed.
I would simply add that change is a part of life that we must live with and adjust to. I would not be involved in this pursuit if I were still living in the 1970s and having to do everything that I currently do manually. I appreciate having access to Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilySearch and numerous other sources all made possible by the use of the “Cloud.” I for one embrace the changes and advances in technology that these companies are pursuing and making available. So “goodbye” to Family Tree Maker and on to the next new option.

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Dick, I will be watching for your reviews on other software.
For now, I will keep using FTM until I reach an issue that requires (non) support from Ancestry.
It is likely that I will just give up genealogy in general.
I’ve documented my immediate family (3200 people) and have reached the limits of what documentation is available in Ireland (back to about 1810). I am satisfied with what I have, and no one else in the family is interested, there is no one to pass my research on to.
The handwriting is on the wall. Time to go.

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    Colleen – we’re probably not related, but let me plead to you on behalf of your as-yet unborn relatives not to “go”. Even if no one now living in your family is interested, that could change in an instant. Some of my relatives never used to be interested, but later became interested for the strangest of reasons. That could happen to you. And, I guarantee that someone who may not yet be born will someday benefit from your work.

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Having thought about this during my long commute today, I am still bothered by Ancestry’s announcement, but not as much. Here’s why:

1. FTM is (in my opinion) an inferior program to its competitors. This is true for FTM2014 (Windows) and FTM3 (Mac). Legacy and RootsMagic are better in the Windows world. Reunion, Heredis, iFamily, and MacFamilyTree are better in the Mac world. I actually own all of these programs and only use FTM for a couple of things: (a) as a bridge [to sync with Ancestry and then to create a GEDCOM with links to my media so that other programs will contain that when they import the FTM gedcom); and (b) to make my place names consistent (they get mucked up every time I add an online record).

2. So, by retiring FTM we are not (in my opinion) losing anything other than (a) the ability to EASILY get changes made to my online tree made to my offline tree [“PROBLEM 1”] and (b) the ability to EASILY add to my offline tree the media that was added to my online tree [“PROBLEM 2”]. Neither of these are insurmountable obstacles. But, in 2017, it will require a LOT more time to incorporate changes made to my online tree to my offline tree. [We are also losing the ability to easily get on to the online tree media we add to the offline tree, but since you can’t print any decent reports on ancestry.com, this one doesn’t bother me much (although it may mean that others who add a lot of images to their offline trees won’t get the images up to their online trees, which means I would have fewer media items to “poach” from others).]

3. Thinking aloud, here’s a possible solution to Problem 1 that hopefully other genealogy software users will incorporate. Presumably, Ancestry will always permit you to generate a gedcom (without media) of your online tree. Could Problem 1 be fixed if (for example), Legacy could read that gedcom and then “compare” it to what is in my Legacy database and note the changes (permitting me to accept or reject them one by one)? Perhaps Legacy and RootsMagic and others ought to be looking into that option (if it is something that could be done).

4. I don’t see easy (quick) solutions to Problem 2 beginning in 2017. I suppose you could do your work with two screens and whenever you save an image to your Ancestry tree on screen one, you save it the same person in your Legacy database on screen two. Cumbersome and not as good as what we now have, but it would work I suppose.

Again, I haven’t thought all of this out but what we need to be thinking of is what changes can other software developers (Roots Magic, Legacy, iFamily, Reunion) be starting to think about to make to their products in order to position themselves as the go-to software that will help Ancestry users get changes made to their online trees made easily to their offline trees. Those changes won’t occur overnight so it’d be great if we could encourage them to start thinking about them sooner rather than later.

Just my $.02. My hope is that Dick will take these ideas to the next level in future postings.

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So many people have made so many good comments.

My issue is that even with Ancestry’s online competitors, they are not cost effective. I tried one but without an annual subscription, you are limited in how many people you can have in your tree. I tried the annual subscription, but with so many aspects to this service, the expiration date I had on my calendar [so I could cancel before the auto-renewal] was wrong. My date was for the expiration for the ‘web site’ associated with the service – which I never used. So, I see the auto-renewal on my credit card 2 months before I thought I needed to cancel. Took 2 months to get them to reverse the charges [even though I noticed it 1 day after]. That’s 2 months of interest I had to pay on that amount.

In addition, the competitor had so many ‘extras’ that were included that I didn’t need, yet couldn’t turn off [stupid website]. Never mind that it didn’t notice that I have every census record for every person there is. The only ‘matches’ it was finding was information I already had.

I prefer the desktop version for all my sourcing and reporting needs. Never mind all the media and stories I’ve included! On my limited budget, I would ‘subscribe’ for one month each year to access the new data. I’m at the point in my research that most of what I need is not online – so having annual subscriptions to online databases is not cost effective for me.

Also, being on a limited budget, and having had FTM since the early days. It was cost effective to upgrade every other time or more for about $30 compared to $200+ annually for online programs.

Very much a step back for those of us doing offline research, and those of us who are beyond the availability of online records. And as some said, the reporting features lost!!

I will take some of the other commentators advice and check out Legacy. I do know that whatever I choose, I will have to re-input 20 years worth of research, documentation, media, stories, etc. Probably about a year of work ahead of me [and I’m not retired, so that is all my free time].

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The biggest problem that I have with ANY cloud-based service is that there is highly private and not-to-be published data in my tree. I promised some folks who are still living that it would never, ever be published in their lifetime. There is no way that i want that information out there on some unknown server, available to all sorts of hackers. Yes I know things can be “secured”, but the only true security is to NEVER upload it to a cloud. A “cloud,” after all, is just a computer that is not in your home. When I do searches via FTM, it includes information from PRIVATE trees. I just can’t incorporate the data in my tree. But it does show them. If my tree is truly private, it would not show up anywhere. Only a desktop version can keep private data private.

Another problem that I have is that my desktop tree includes MANY pictures, attached files, and other references that i do not have time to copy to another program. My tree is so big that Ancestry’s syncing process has NEVER been successful. It is over 2 GB. I cannot upload my tree, and I’m not about to start over on a tree with over 9000 names in it.

Finally, the desktop version has a multitude of features that are not available online. FTM specifically has Locations, where you can tidy up how the locations are referred to. Reporting is another big thing that online sites do not have much of. The reports available online are quite simply pathetic. If the desktop version hadn’t been so useful, I would have given it up years ago before my file got so huge.

Ancestry does not listen to their users. No one likes the new online format, and despite their “force it on them and they will get used to it” philosophy, I know I never will. And now this. There are just too many other options out there nowadays. I think it is time I cut my ancestry apron string after nearly 30 years of dedicated use. I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve seen from other long-term users who now feel completely disenfranchised. How sad. How truly, truly sad.

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Ancestry’s announcement about retiring FTM has shocked it’s subscribers. It’s blog page http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/12/08/ancestry-to-retire-family-tree-maker-software/ is filled with protesting users. Not a sympathetic comment to be seen!

Yes, keeping a software development team employed isn’t cheap, especially when the code is old. (In the software world this is termed a ‘legacy application’!) But the development team has been run down already. It took 4 weeks to issue a patch which caused FTM to crash in ‘Family View’ (Pedigree view was OK) after Windows 10 was rolled out. This should have been thoroughly tested BEFORE Win 10 release. I believe this announcement has occurred after the team is substantially disbanded.

However, the main issue for subscribers appears to be the features of FTM that are not implemented on the website or the tablet apps. Large customisable views, reports and checking, ability to have ‘private’ facts which don’t get uploaded to the web are just a few.

Multiple copies of genealogy data is mandatory in my book, but people like to keep a ‘master copy’. Many Ancestry users kept that in FTM – rightly or wrongly. They now face the task of migrating that to another location, understanding the limitations of GEDCOM import/export and then checking to see that there is no ‘lost’ data. This will make for very unhappy bunnies. Many are suggesting they will – and have – abandoned Ancestry subscriptions altogether, calling the decision ‘commercial suicide’.

Dick, I do think this announcement deserves more of your coverage than simply posting it on your (otherwise excellent) blog!

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I got FTM for one reason–the syncing capability that allowed me to keep backup copies of my tree on my PC and external drives. This news gives me time to concentrate on getting as much of my tree done as I can in 2016, then make one last sync and export it to some other software. Frankly I don’t like FTM…it’s clunky and not intuitive for me. I’m grateful to the other commenters here for giving me ideas on how to revamp how I interact with my data.

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Let me start out by saying I am also disappointed in the announcement. I love being able to sync my tree up using FTM, and the additional functionality and simplicity FTM brings to some tasks.

But I work in IT. Those people who are thinking “I want to be able to sync up my trees to my local desktop/laptop for years to come” don’t seem to understand that you local desktop/laptop will not be around for years to come. There is almost no profit in making them these days, and there will come a time (5 years possibly, almost certainly within 10 years) when the types of laptops/desktops we see today will be obsolete. The types of computers I used to support 18 years or so ago are gone.

Life changes. Computing changes. Today’s cloud-based offerings are a sign. Those, too, will change. As mentioned earlier, this was inevitable — earlier than I would like, yes, but it was eventually going to come, and will for everyone else, too.

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Dick…Now’s the time all our subscriptions with you really pay off. {Not that your subscription isn’t already worth it ten times over, but a thrilling “call to arms” is always stirring} Nevertheless, a detailed help article on “old” GEDCOM vs. current GEDCOM 5.5.1, how much we actually will lose when we try this ESPERANTO version of our files to transfer, etc., would be wonderful background.

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Two points:
1. FTM on line may be a little limited right now, but since this will be their only product going forward, they will certainly devote 100% of their R&D budget into improving it, especially if the competition is always improving, too.
2. We have to think of who and how will all my research be discovered/used by future generations. With a home program, a hardcopy report has to be given to a library for safe-keeping, or it has to be entered by someone (after my death) into a web tree of some kind. Therefore, why not input into the web now, as you go along, where it can be found and used by future researchers?
I like the Legacy program but I wish its integration with the web was more complete – – It allows integration with LDS files but misses a lot of the info.

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Let’s not be under any illusions about why this is really being done: to drive as many FTM users into purchasing annual subscriptions as possible. This is not about improving service, not about making the experience better, it’s about shaking free what corporate budget analysts have called dead weight even if in reality they are the bread and butter customers of the company. This is not an improvement in any way and offers no upside to the end user that wasn’t already out there. I really can’t see there ever being the output flexibility in a web-only application. There never has been that I have ever seen in any application that went to an online only format. Charting and reports will be, at best, remain an afterthought in this new paradigm.

This is purely a finance-based decision, and has nothing at all to do with “improving” anything but their bottom line. Entering lots of data on a tablet’s tiny keyboard running a slow, ugly web interface will never be an acceptable alternative for many people, myself included.

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Dick, I am someone who sees lack of printed reports as a “major weakness” of cloud-based programs. So please keep your readers informed if you find any cloud-based programs that have improved their printed reports. Thanks.

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I will probably just move on to another software and mourn the loss of the TreeSync feature, if they severe that connection, but I strongly disagree regarding cloud based computing being the future. I am always open to new technology and have my stuff spread all over the cloud just for convenience and backup, but some tasks are better kept to your own equipment. I use both a desktop database and website trees. There is so much more freedom in desktop software. Cloud based is always limited and cumbersome. Have you tried Office 365? I spent more time trying to figure out workarounds than I did with the actual documents and spreadsheets. Example: I have some documents encrypted but I can’t open them with the smartphone/tablet app or in OneDrive. Cloud based apps are always a dumbed down version to allow use on limited resources. Internet access is another issue and it would frustrate me to not have immediate access to my data. BUT, my biggest concern is privacy. I have a lot of media and information I would NEVER share/copy to the cloud. Some of the biggest names in data storage have already been hacked, and probably a lot more times than users have been told. I feel an obligation to my living peeps to keep their information locked up tight! So, no, I don’t believe desktop software will be a thing of the past.

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Sad. I don’t like the online ancestry program. It is difficult to research only using that. Without having all the information in front of me to compare its too easy to make snap/poor decisions and that will compromise the quality of the data added to the tree. I have only limited info in the online tree for people I’m actively searching for. Mostly because I don’t like the online version. I’ve made the trees private to prevent incorrect hookups to my data but someone who doesn’t have the birth records etc and then I get bad hints. VERY ANNOYING. Also annoying is finding data that is private and the person doesn’t respond. I’d rather not find it!! I suspect there will be much more of that. I would much rather have put time into research rather than the mammoth task of converting using time I don’t have. In all honesty I’ll end up printing everything in my tree (about 3500 people all researched not just imported from somewhere) to keep as a reference. That’s a lot of paper, ink and time . So much for current project of scanning my binders of research including birth certificates etc. and attaching them in the FTM. If I can’t actually attach the information to individuals in the tree I’ll just scan to have a backup but that will require me to develop a whole new method to organize. This may be inevitable but I don’t have to like it and it is not better and no matter what will be more expensive. I’ve been a world member or Ancestry since the early 2000s and less and less get new research from the ancestry site but rather using other resources. For that reason alone I had been questioning my ancestry membership. I’m not making any snap decisions but this requires thought about how much I want to continue with research.

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Bingo, and a short-term finance-based decision at that. I’m one of those who’ve been fortunate enough to be able to subscribe – for years – to their subscription-based service. A good part of that value comes from people who don’t necessarily subscribe, but who are kind enough to share their photos, stories, and research notes that are not otherwise available. When those people withdraw from the Ancestry ecosystem, my subscription becomes a lot less valuable to me. I am not a fan of throwing good money after bad…

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The old way of making money in software was to publish a good product and then have corporate users subscribe to an annual maintenance contract at about 15% of the purchase price to get rights to patches and new versions. For consumers, you’d sell an upgrade at 1/3 to 1/2 of the full purchase price that would add new features that people wanted.

Of course, all of this cost money to do – you had to have a programming staff, project managers, designers, testers and people who actually knew what was going on in the field. And if you started issuing buggy releases that caused problems and didn’t add a whole lot of functionality (sound familiar?), people would stop buying the upgrades. Sooner or later, your expenses exceed your revenues.

It appears that the new way to make money in software is to convince people that they should spend hundreds of dollars a year to keep their data on-line in your cloud, and then make it difficult to regain control of it.

I cancelled my subscription to Ancestry in 2014 and have been using Family Search since then. It meets my needs and it’s free. I have tons of lines I can research with the records they have on-line.

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The only problem with cloud based programs is that we live in an area where the internet is flaky and we often can’t get on. For that reason I like a program on my computer so I can always get access to it. FTM was great because the sync facility halved the time spent entering data on my tree,

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think many of the problems that people are commenting about can be eliminated if they always save a copy of the document found on Ancestry to their personal computer as well as attaching it to their Ancestry tree. I am a faithful user of Reunion since its inception and still have a tree on Ancestry where I link acceptable documents and info. But I always save a copy to my personal computer of the census, probate record, etc, also. Then I add the data to my Reunion file. I have my genealogy files all saved to a Dropbox file, but they are also on my personal computer that I can use where no internet connection is available.
As a registrar for several lineage societies, I know how often people need to have a copy of these documents to submit with lineage application.
And maybe that grandchild will have a school assignment (had it happen to me when he wanted photos of military veterans for a Veterans’ Day project) asking for a copy of a g-g-g grandfather’s Civil War documents. Much easier to get it from your own computer than find it linked to an online tree.

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    I have everything indexed on Excel and hard copies saved in a file folder. Need to buy another since I’ve run out of room.

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Remember ‘New Coke’? Wasn’t long before the masses demanded the ‘Original Coke’ back again. Let’s wait a couple of months and see whether the masses will win before we switch to Pepsi. (However, my analogy tends to fail since all of these beverages are unhealthy.)

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Sorry, but anyone who thinks storing their family history entirely on a (subscription or otherwise) internet server belonging to someone they have no relation to .. simply has their heads in the clouds.

I still have places here on terra-firma that I need to visit, and that’s where I’ll stay until my tree branch bud withers & dies. But that’s just my I-Y9161 haplogroup talking. As you were.

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I wish to keep my genealogy file of some 4,000 individuals private. I will and have shared with distant cousins. I do not wish to have unrelated individuals stick one of their ancestors into my file. This is the case in my paternal line. An individual, I know who she is, copied my information at a Gen. Society and put it on the net. She bragged to me she had 100,000 people in her file. Somewhere along the way some one inserted an additional and unproven son to my paternal 2X great grandparents. This unproven and wrong son is prolific in Ancestry’s Family Tree section. Also, when genealogy.com bought and shut down Genforum irritated me. A sign of future. I did not use Genform for proof but I was able to contact people that were researching the same families and we could help one another. I have not tried Genforum in many moths but when I last did it was completely unusable. I, also, find the new format of ancestry horrid.

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Dick,

I hope you address what I see as the biggest problem with using the cloud-based programs, including ancestry – the INability to be able to search for specific “stuff.” I often want to find all the “Janes” married to “Does” born before XXXX and I have not found any way to search the online info.
I use Reunion on my Mac and love its search function.
If any of the other cloud programs have such search capabilities, I’d be interested in hearing of it.
Thanks.

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I can’t believe someone isn’t going to lose his job for making this decision.

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    Why should any one lose their JOB, they did NOT lose it when they CLOSED down the PAID FOR MyFamily SITES and or the Genealogy.com Family Forum Boards which THOUSANDS of people used and had been using since 1998…. IF they were allowed to HURT that many genealogy researchers and families, why should some one be fired for closing out FTM????

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I think this is a ploy to raise the price

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    No, not for FTM, but to FORCE folks doing on-line research BUY into their yearly HIGH PRICE for access to all of Ancestry’s records… THEY want to and are becoming the BULLY in the genealogy field!!!!!

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In protest I’ve made my Ancestry Online Trees private and also checked the box at the bottom of the page to prevent them from being searched. Stop feeding the monkey.

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I have 69,000 people in my tree (FTM) Plus 28,000 photo’s, documents etc. How am I going to get all of that into another tree? I am 69 the only “cloud” that I see are outside my window. I don’t understand the one’s you are talking about. I have been working on my tree for over 30 years and don’t know what to do now unless Ancestry will sync with another Genealogy program. Ancestry you have lost my money “been with them for over 10 years”
Regards
Gavin

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    That is what needs to be done….. folks need to bail OUT of Ancestry, cause them to go BROKE, no longer be a for-profit public company and maybe? then the Mormon Church will kick those members in the ass and DO some thing different with Ancestry…. until then, well, PAY them their MONEY and or don’t do much research….. not if you want access to the BULLY in the field!!!!!

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I’ve never seen the sense in paying a subscription to access the collection of family information I’ve made for myself. So I’ve avoided building a tree on Ancestry, though I use FTM 2012, which allows tree-sync. When my laptop hard drive dies, as it’s sure to, I shall simply install FTM on the next one with the disc I carefully kept. The data is backed up on a separate drive and on paper. If FTM isn’t perfect, I’ve gradually learned its ins and out and can use them to best advantage, so I see no need to switch. As Barbara, above said, FTM will go on working without Ancestry’s support in the mode I’m using it in.

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This is a bad decision by Ancestry. The reason I say this is just look
at the reaction of its users. I have read a good many of these comments
and the anger, disappointment and sense of betrayal is palpable. Users
are seriously, seriously annoyed (I would use a much stronger word if I
could…) at Ancestry and are voting with their feet. I have already
pulled my online family trees and will not be renewing my subscription.
Many are, and will do, the same.

Like many comments here, I agree the cloud approach is being over-sold.
It is a not the one-stop shop, the universal panacea many believe. It
can not match what PC/Mac software can do today. And there are other
approaches. As note above Microsoft sorted this out, as did Adobe. I
have monthly subscriptions to both and are very happy with them.

I did take a look at the leadership team of Ancestry. You can see the
team
here
. If you read there biographies none of them, I repeat none of
them have any experience in genealogy, other than their current roles.
They are all business people. Nothing wrong with that, but they clearly
don’t understand their users and the hours and hours they spend of doing
family history research and documentation. I would be surprised if any
of the leadership team actually use any genealogy software.

Ancestry are probably big enough to survive this massive alienation of
their user-base. I hope their competitors see this as an opportunity and
take appropriate advantage.

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    True, and Ancestry was started by members of the “church” and some are still there in both ways….. IT is all built, both of them, ON GREED in my book, and so I don’t subscribe to either and won’t ever!!!

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Just weighing in with the two reasons I use Ancestry/FTM. I would never have gotten as far as I have with my research if not for the ability to save time doing source citations by using Ancestry and I do think they are the easiest online genealogy resource out there and certainly have the largest database of good source material. I sync up my tree with FTM any time I go to see family members because inevitably we meet in places with no wifi access. Not many (if any) people have access to the cloud every time they need it. Until that happens, folks still need software on their device.

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The bigger reason for this is that Ancestry is after making more money by forcing the cloud based system than selling FTM and people don’t normally upgrade ever version. Once Ancestry gets you into the cloud how and where will you be able to move your data to? Most likely you won’t be able to get your data back.
As for everyone moving to the cloud this is highly incorrect. Most large companies will never move to cloud based services like Microsoft Office 365 or Adobe because of security reasons and the cost. I am an IT manager for a large government agency and we would never consider allowing our employees to use Adobe or Microsoft cloud services to create and store our documents. We just upgraded to MS Office 2010 this year which is two versions old.

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    Yep, it is all about the internet surge to make all owners of computer programs into ‘renters-only’
    Every time a lower level tech (underpaid) is in charge of making backup copies of all the cloud servers (big warehouses full of big server-computers) then the underpaid tech considers what can be sold to make more money for his/her own pocket so they get what they can to sell on the Undernet or other places such as the celebrity photos stolen from the apple icloud.

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I bought FTM on a whim during a flash sale in 2013, I believe, but I’ve never even installed it. A need for it has never come up. When it comes to digital copies of my genealogy work, I use Geni. The collaborative nature is so much more effective for me than working alone, I get to upload unlimited documents and pictures, I get to cite every data field and connect them to a document, there’s a great timeline feature, the display/interface is wonderful, the curator system means having international genealogy experts available for free consulting help, etc.

When you make your posts about FTM alternatives, I hope you’ll consider using it as an opportunity to talk about collaborative genealogy and how this could be the perfect time for resisters to finally take the plunge. It’s not the Wild West they think it is.

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Does ancestry’s elimination of FTM in favor of ancestry online tree mean that if I should someday decide not to pay an annual ancestry membership, that I will lose all access to my ancestry online tree?

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    —> Does ancestry’s elimination of FTM in favor of ancestry online tree mean that if I should someday decide not to pay an annual ancestry membership, that I will lose all access to my ancestry online tree?

    Yes. But there is an easy solution. From time to time, download a GEDCOM file of your information from Ancestry.com’s online family tree. That will save your data in your own computer’s hard drive or flash drive or any other place you wish. That data can later be imported into any genealogy program or service of your choice.

    Keep in mind, however, that GEDCOM is an imperfect solution. It does a rather good job of saving names, dates, and locations. It usually does not save digital photographs, audio files, or other multimedia items. For those things, you will need to manually save copies through some other process.

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    No. A correction. Unless Ancestry changes policy, you can have a tree without a paid membership, so if you discontinue your paid membership, your tree is still yours to view and maintain. There are paid features that will go away. Go to your Ancestry tree pages and review the conditions. Better yet, set up a non-paid account in addition to your full account – do some testing to see what you have and don’t have. A relative and I did that.
    Some people have posted that GEDCOM 5.5 can download the images and documents you have posted. I have not tested that, but if it is a concern, you should test that as well.
    As to the linked images you have attached through Ancestry, likely those are not available without a paid account. You should download those and link/document appropriately. Even a structure change on Ancestry’s computers can break those links – it has happened and sent them into recovery. Don’t panic. You have a year to test and to make the changes you feel are necessary.

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    YEP!!!! that is what IT means…. keep paying their HIGH PRICE yearly price or do without….. THEY are NOT out to do YOU any favors other then taking YOUR MONEY!!!!!!

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    I don’t think that is true. Amongst all the anti Ancestry hyperbole, here are a few pro Ancestry comments. I am fairly certain that you don’t have to be a subscriber to access your own tree and work on it, although most other research tools won’t be available. Ancestry has some of the best research resources which are easy to use. The search tool is by far the easiest and best amongst the various online search engines out there, including Familysearch and FMP. So while the research part of Ancestry is outstanding, it is certainly true that their Tree side is very mediocre, with little to encourage people to invest time on it, especially now that FTM will be discontinued. However, I believe that the Ancestry Trees will now be made much more powerful and useful, which can’t be a bad thing. The one aspect that Ancestry really needs to improve and urgently is its public relations, which is shown by their lack of respect to FTM users and in general dealing with queries and complaints.

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The stress, duress, and sense of betrayal and breach of trust felt by Ancestry.com and FTM users is multi-faceted, but the crux of one essential issue relates to the syncing functionality which will be completely discontinued on Jan 1, 2017.

This is one of the most useful and time-saving features that users have gotten used to and now is unexpectedly and suddenly taken away, without any replacement offered. Whether doing research online or inputting data and facts offline into FTM, syncing made sure that both the trees in the cloud and the dataset offline were matched and accurate. Now its back to doublework, doing it twice, without the consistency check. And it included photos and record images that are not transferred in a GEDCOM download, all accurately and automatically linked.

The sync function automatically, in the background with no effort whatsoever (while the user has a cup of coffee or goes to bed), downloads and uploads all the records, documents and photos that have already been linked. But no longer. Now everyone has to download or upload each separate record or photo by hand – extraordinarily time-consuming – and this creates an annoyance and irritation that wasn’t there. Given that a few clicks originally attached the records and this syncing kept the links intact while working in the background, now the time and effort to do the same thing is an order of magnitude greater. Simply wasted time and irritation that could be spent on more useful tasks.

All this in the context of the forced migration next week to the “new” Ancestry online user interface that is inferior in countless ways to the current interface, and most users have reported they simply hate it to boot for a multitude of articulated reasons.

Syncing is the key. If users now have to download every image and attach to their local software by hand, this will be very annoying and time consuming.

Given the vehement pushback, an update blog post from Ancestry now says they will look for partners who would offer the syncing capability, and they should “Stay tuned”

While this may be a poor substitute that might be barely adequate to quell some of the blowback, it may be that Ancestry is planning to drop syncing in 2017 to save money in their server infrastructure. Syncing costs servers and support dollars. If that is their motivation, then they are not likely to allow Legacy or RootsMagic to connect and sync.

Repeat: syncing is the issue. Users will have a year for Ancestry.com to come up with a good solution, but given the disastrous breach of trust already not only on this essential and relatively unique feature, one cannot be optimistic.

Given that this was their key competitive advantage – indeed an element of a competitive “core competence” that distinguishes them in the eyes and experience of their customers — a core competence that Ancestry management does not realize they have! — and this is one feature that brought many users to Ancestry and kept them from ever considering defecting and happily paying the not-so-cheap subscription fees to boot, so it is small wonder that masses of otherwise loyal customers feel completely betrayed, demand a reversal of this decision or at least an alternative from someone else.

They Ancestry management team and product development team have shown that they have no idea how their customers think and what they need and want, or if they did, demonstrated brazen disregard and disrespect for their deep, loyal customer base of serious genealogists and family historians who are on a person mission.

In today’s world such behavior can seriously damage a brand, not to mention show the hypocrisy of Ancestry’s claims to care for the customer and promote the larger genealogy community. Or if not intentionally hypocritical, I suppose one could simply chalk it up the the “core incompetence” of the management team.

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    Kenneth Powell, you are so right! Syncing is the key distinguishing feature of FTM vs. other software out there. By eliminating that capability, Ancestry may have just shot themselves in the foot. I believe this is a case of the people own Ancestry are not genealogists themselves, and are not in tune with what their loyal customer base wants/needs. They are strictly profit-driven by the numbers, which has been the demise of many a company in lots of different industries.

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I wrote earlier about still using Version 11 purchased in 2003 so if you will bear with me – I think I am understanding that with Versions that have the Syncing feature one can not only Sync one way to Ancestry but back again to ones desktop application? May I also presume that this would bring along the source documents you have in your online tree to your desktop FTM? If this is the case, those using the programs with the Sync feature have no need to use a GEDCOM to retrieve their data.
To clarify a point of the GEDCOM – it won’t bring in things like pictures, videos, but it DOES include notes – at least from desktop versions which is all I can commit to based on not using the “Cloud” for my database entry method.
At this point I will also suggest that people would be wise to have a copy of their program on a disk/stick whatever as well as any patches and service packs required saved, so you have the ability to reload anytime in the future.

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I guess I am one of the few who is not particularly surprised about this announcement. I got some really bad advice from Ancestry when I was having syncing problems so my on-line and synched FTM are a mess anyway. I have used FTM for PCs for quite a few years then had to wait forever for them to come out with a Mac version. In the meantime I used IFamily which is no longer actively improved (but I think still supported). Its a very nice interface,not too many bells and whistles but very nice.

I am over 40 years into paper records so I have not got very far at digitizing my sources so that is a big issue for me. I am almost glad I will be starting from scratch and can do it systematically.

So here’s where I am and I think it reflects many MAC Users. There are far fewer choices to begin with and only a couple that are actually built for a MAC rather than the ones that are PC based and basically use a work around. The former would include IFamily, Reunion, MacFamilyTree and Heredis. The more popular but really modified PC programs are Roots Magic and even to a lesser extent FTM.

MacFamilyTree has a lovely interface but poor customer reviews. It is based in Germany, Heredis is I believe one of the most popular in Europe and is based in France. Again a lovely interface. Reunion I still need to do some more research on. Looks like it is by far the most expensive but its been around a long time —at one time was one of the few MAC based programs. They are not offering any price reductions so nearly 405 times the cost of Roots Magic.

When you do review the programs for MAC I do hope you will get into the nitty gritty. For me that is function, performance, as well as aesthetic and the learning curve.. Someon elsewhere suggested its probably worth the effort to download the trials of a few and see what is “intuitive” FOR YOU. We differ in how we work and in keystrokes and workflow. At the end of the day you need to look at the functions you need and use most. Not some possibilities you’ll probably never get to.

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    I would like to emphasize Wheatonwood’s comment at 2:48 PM. I have the Mac version of FTM; and given that a venture capital company now owns Ancestry.com, it is time to recognize that we have different values and need to get divorced from FTM. So, being a Mac user of FTM, and not an expert in either genealogy or in computers, I would like to know my options for dumping FTM and moving on. Which Mac-compatible programs offer:
    1) Similar capability in publishing charts,
    2) Ease of accepting Mac-FTM-generated Gedcom’s,
    3) Synch with FamilySearch, and
    4) Offer an option to post your tree online and synch with your tree.
    Finally, what about the parent company who is responsible for the software? Do the leaders have similar values as genealogists, i.e., to what expect are they appreciative of what we are trying to do or are driven by the almighty buck? Are they likely to be in it for the long haul?

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It is not true that “no one is using Rootsweb any more.” I use Reunion 10 which happily recovered & uploaded my GEDcom just fine from Rootsweb after my old PC died in 2013, taking with it my FTM2005 database. I have Reunion on my iPad as well and keep my GEDcom updated there, too. I have maintained my tree on WorldConnect Rootsweb since about 2005 and update it at least weekly, sometimes more frequently. I love how it is organized and indexed. I have no documents nor photos, etc., online, only my GEDcom. I created it specifically to be able to share information easily (and for free) with other researchers. I have over 12,000 names and lots of documentation, all added by hand over time. I refused to upload my tree to ancestry because I read in the small print that they reserved the right to do whatever they wanted to with MY tree and I had strong objections to that. Seems like they are claiming that right and I’m grateful I don’t have to worry about it!

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    One very smart man….. wheatonwood…. I too have a Mac and Reunion, like both, the only Max products I deal with….. and I uploaded a tree to Ancestry long ago, IT did not take long for IT to get really screwed up… learned real fast that one does NOT make any tree, PUBLIC let alone at Ancestry!!!

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FYI

The following San Diego California FamilySearch Library hyperlink has links to the free and paid versions of each of these programs. This includes the venerable PAF 5! Click on the following link:
https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/San_Diego_California_FamilySearch_Library#Patron_Software_Resources

I encourage people to try the free versions then make your informed choice.

Sales stop for Family Tree Maker on 31 Dec 2015. Support ends 1 Jan 2017. But the program will live on with users for years to come. Why? Because it will still work for them, less some minor features. Just like PAF.

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This young “dinosaur” is still using FTM 2005. Have successfully transferred it from previous versions of Windows to my current Windows7. I don’t need or want all these new bells and whistles on newer computers/tablets etc.
As long as I have my install disk (I keep it in the safe deposit box for safekeeping LOL) for any new computers, I’m good. I’m assuming my FTM05 will still be working just fine on 1/1/2017.

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My FTM 2005 file still works fine through 3 different computer upgrades. I don’t have an online tree at ACOM. I don’t “do” anything in the cloud. I don’t need (or want) all the new “bells and whistles” everyone is trying to cram down our throats. Guess my FTM will still work fine on 1/2/2017.

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I haven’t read all the replies so maybe someone has commented on this…

A main point in Dick’s article is that this is all the trend…moving from desktop installed software to SaaS provisioned from the cloud. Indeed it is but in the examples given (Adobe, Microsoft) and many others, the companies are actually trying to make the cloud version of their software as close to the desktop version as possible so that a user is actually using the “same” software provisioned differently. Microsoft subscription service even offers a download so desktops and devices have the “real” software along with the web-provided versions. Ancestry.com is making no such attempt to make the on-line experience the same as FTM. They aren’t even close. So in the context of the debate around this announcement, I don’t accept the argument that this is just the way software is going and we need to understand. Ancestry is ending a software product that they don’t have a substitute for. And if they think that Ancestry.com is a substitute, they are either ignorant or completely disconnected from their customers…almost as if they don’t use their own products for if they did, it would clear.

Maybe they are in financial trouble and they have had to make hard decisions. Can’t blame them for that. But they are positioning this decision as one of strategic thinking and following the industry trend of SaaS. Because of that, they provoke ire and earn criticism.

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    As one of those that ACOM really HURT along w/ thousands of others when they close down OUR PAID FOR SITES at MyFamily and wiped out the Genealogy.com Family Forum boards in the advancement of ACOM’s money making desires….. I hope they go BROKE!!!! and that some one with more character and common sense abt. the CUSTOMER comes along to replace them, the FASTER the BETTER!!!!!!

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    Bill, I agree that Ancestry’s decision doesn’t neatly fit the cloud model that Microsoft and some other companies have pursued. My guess – and it is only a guess – is that the genealogy software world is overcrowded with traditional desktop applications making profit margins too thin to maintain FTM as a vibrant part of Ancestry’s portfolio, at least as Ancestry envisions it.

    My impression of the announcement we have gotten so far is that it may not be the complete picture of Ancestry’s targeted future state. If their vision is simply to drop FTM and have their user base switch to the Ancestry.com web interface largely as it exists today, that certainly does leave many FTM users without a home. But it may be that Ancestry has some announcements yet to come, and that some more-substantial SaaS product is in the works. Honestly, I don’t see any hint of that, which is disappointing. But it is a possibility.

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    Aylaria, You may well be right about the crowded marketplace but the strong survive those situations and my impression was that FTM was among the best. Which leads to your second point which I very much hope is true. But, to announce this unpopular decision without also announcing other plans is so obviously wrong, that I doubt they something. We can only hope, though!

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    Unless Ancestry are already in the process of bringing something new out. I think they are crazy to forego a great system like FTM and I must admit I love my FTM and just this year downloaded it from online onto my new Mac. Is this the same with MacFamily Tree ??? am I able to download once bought ??

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The switch to the cloud by ancestry, Adobe and Microsoft is all about changing to a subscription model where they make more money. It’s that simple. Of course they will. Admit that…

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    Of course, Ancestry.com has always been a subscription service. I agree that subscription models do typically provide a better revenue stream for the provider. But they can provide benefits for the consumer, as well. For instance, the Microsoft Office 365 Home subscription includes five licenses so that it can be used on multiple devices for an entire family. Additionally, the customer always has the most-current version and the latest features available for the price of the subscription. There are alternatives, so customers who dislike the subscription model or think it doesn’t meet their needs can go elsewhere, which in turn helps to keep the pricing structure in check. In most cases, a subscription model needs to be a win-win option in order for it to survive.

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I have done the transition to RootsMagic and ran into a major problem. If you have used the Description field in the Fact you may lose some of your information. The import into RootsMagic truncates the information if you have too many characters. I tested the GEDCOM 5.5 file and imported it back into FTM 2014 and the information WAS there so the import into RootsMagic is where the information is being lost. I have written a detailed report of my experience on my FaceBook page and set it to Public so others can read if interested.

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This is specific to MAC users but may be important to some PC users as well. I have spent about 20 minutes or more on each program in my current consideration list. All but
Reunion and MacFamilyTree are also available for PC. For ease of use right from the get go I have to go with MacFamilyTree. It’s simply beautifully laid out for my brain and intuitive. Two things are your friend double click and the gear icon at the bottom. Although one of the reviews says there is no option to print charts and books that is not true. And there is a Problem Spotter alert, plain as day and easy to use. There’s some fun statistical features too. And even a game—if you wanted to test yourself or kids. I have absolutely no interest in any of these companies, and I was perfectly willing to jump on anyone’s bandwagon. I just have to say it was beautiful the first time I tried it—then I tried Roots Magic and Heredis and Reunion. So far I keep going back to MFT becuase listen I got a MAC for home use after using PC ant one work and at home and MAC at my other work. I just love the clean, beautiful functionality (except where there is no MAC version). This program like Reunion was built for a MAC and it clearly shows. I have not purchased any yet but so far I am leaning heavily in the MFT direction.

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My problem is that I live in a location that is classified as remote rural even though it is less than an hour from one of the largest cities in Florida. That means I do have DSL part of the time but not reliably. My cell phone doesn’t work from my home 75% of the time and no one is improving service here. Cloud is not an option. There are hundreds of thousands of people in my type of area. Many have even worse service than I have. We are being abandoned by these companies. That is why we are angry.

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My problem seems to be that I have FTM 2011, and that doesn’t have the Gedcom feature, right? So, how will I be able to transfer my data to another program? I do my work on my own computer, with multiple back-ups, so I am interested in something that stays at home. Also, I’ve spent countless hours entering information in my Notes, showing a person’s life: birth, census with family over several decades, marriages, deaths, and even the typed obituaries whenever possible. This show a person’s life, and also is the documentation for facts that I’ve used. How will I get that transferred?

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Guess I was given incorrect information. That gives me hope after all! Thanks.

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    FamilySearch will display in ANY web browser. I use a Macintosh and don’t have Internet Explorer available. I use FamilySearch oftcen without difficulties. I suspect you have a
    Pop-up blocker or something similar installed in your computer.

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Yes, Cloud services are appealing and the future for many IT services. But please consider, nobody guarantees you, that your Cloud provider will be there in 5 or 10 years from now. This was recently expressed at a Cloud conference I visited. Always make sure, your Cloud provider gives you the ability to have a local copy of your data or you have the ability to export it. You might need to change Cloud provider in the future. After having invested hundreds and thousands of man-days into the family research, I don’t want to rely solely of one Cloud company.

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    “nobody guarantees you, that your Cloud provider will be there in 5 or 10 years from now”

    It is a truth universally acknowledged (with all due apologies to Jane Austin) that nothing in the computer industry lasts forever, including FTM, and thus it is never a good idea to marry yourself to any single solution. Those whose data is all in their Ancestry trees are now coming to grips with that reality.

    Like Mr. Eastman, I run my own private cloud server, which means no subscription fees and it will be there as long as I am.

    For those not proficient enough to do the same, I’ll note that Dropbox, as but one example, provides automatic sync between your cloud account and your local PC, maintaining up-to-date copies of all your Dropbox files locally, so that if Dropbox goes away, you still have your local copies.

    In general, keep your data in the cloud for convenience. Keep redundant backups locally for security.

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I don’t understand why everyone thinks that pictures and other scanned documents do not transfer to a GEDCOM. I don’t have any problem with pictures or any other data transferring, and I’ve created dozens of GEDCOMs of my files.

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    @Rose: “I don’t understand why everyone thinks that pictures and other scanned documents do not transfer to a GEDCOM.”

    Through v5.5 the GEDCOM standard supported two methods of including media files. One was by directly embedding them; the other was by including links to the files. Directing embedding could potentially result in huge files and long transmission times, and was never widely implemented. Support for direct embedding was dropped in draft standard 5.5.1.

    There is a hybrid method, called GEDZ which simply packages a GEDCOM with media links along with the media themselves into one (possibly huge) zip file.

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    So Nathaniel — or Dick — what is a GEDZ file and how does one export it or make it from FTM?? Big question and what could be a simple answer…

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    GEDZ files were simply GEDCOM files that included data and multimedia files all zipped (compressed) together in one file. GEDZ files were invented by the programmers of Family Tree Maker some years ago and I think they were dropped in later versions of Family Tree Maker. (Can someone else verify that?) Ancestry.com’s web site used to, and maybe still does, accept uploads in GEDZ format. To my knowledge, no other genealogy product ever used GEDZ files.

    There is a brief, one-line mention of GEDZ files in Ancestry.com’s how-to information at http://trees.ancestry.com/pt/learnmore/gedcom.aspx

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    Thanks, Dick, for your fast reply. FYI…the Ancestry link you provided apparently works in the OLD Ancestry on line. This is day 1 of New Ancestry on line. It doesn’t work directly. I did the search manually, though, on the search page the link reaches and it appears that GEDZ is something that FTM makes, not something you can “get” from your on-line files.

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I am a serious about my genealogy. I do not like ancestry’s treatment of the people who provided them with mounds of data. I for one would never try to work on my tree online. Connections are slow in some places and nonexistent in other places. Browsers become unstable. Phones and tablets are too small for my liking. I have for years enjoyed Family Tree Maker and will continue to enjoy it until my brother can no longer fix my computers that support the software. I, about once a year, print my tree and all information as so to have a hard copy. I can’t imagine anyone working on genealogy seriously wouldn’t do the same thing. I also back all my information onto a thumb drive and I have it synced in ancestry. Times do change but come hell or high water my hard earned data will be available for my descendants to enjoy. So no matter what I have to do to continue my research I will do it but I can tell you it won’t be working on any online tree whether ancestry or otherwise. There are just too many instances that the internet doesn’t work for me so If I have to go back to pad and pen so be it.

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Just switched FTM with 123,000 people to Legacy 8 and everything went fine. Only had 8 errors to fix.

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I’m another dinosaur – I use FTM 2006 Version 16 on Win 7. I do own a copy of FTM 2010 but never really liked it in spite of the obvious advantages, so I’ve never experienced the syncing even though I’ve been a paid subscriber to Ancestry (dropped out two years ago even though I have several trees there). I ignored Win 8 but Win 10 seems attractive, so I was delighted to read here that some users (Sue) say FTM 2006 works with it, something that the Ancestry agent I talked to on Monday said it would not. I was discussing with her the upgrade price from FTM2010 to 2014 and what would happen if FTM2016 came out when she disclosed Ancestry’s plan of dropping the software. Imagine my surprise when I opened Sunday’s newsletter and found Dick’s articles on this subject and all the comments. What a fantastic resource to guide my future steps on choosing (or not) an FTM replacement. Thanks a lot Dick and all who took time to comment, I’ll be very much looking forward to the upcoming newsletter articles.

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Way back in the last century when I started my research, I was a PAF user. Over the years, I moved on to a few other programs – always in search of the “perfect” one. With TMG and now FTM biting the dust, I admit I’m a bit nervous about selecting a program that will have staying power and not make it necessary for me to become familiar with another program’s bells and whistles. When I was last on a PC, I used Legacy and was quite happy with it – although for the longest while I toyed with trying TMG and was sure I would eventually take the plunge. Scratch that idea! Then my PC crashed and I decided to make the move to an iMac (I’m still torn by the possibility of going back to a PC, although with an iPad and iPhone, I may be in Apple Land to stay). Rather than put Legacy on my iMac, I tried iFamily (it was nice, but maybe too different?) and then I tried Heredis. RootsMagic never attracted me, for some reason – still doesn’t. Anyway, I’m now using Heredis 2015 (even though I purchased FTM for Mac, I never warmed to it). Heredis is good and seems to have almost all the features I want. Still, I keep wondering if there is something else I should be trying – Reunion 11, for example. And I’ve heard good things about Family Historian, which would need a program crossover to run on my iMac. I don’t hear much about Heredis 2015 – anyone out there have more experience with it and views on how it compares to Reunion or Family Historian? I dream of settling on a program once and for all, of stopping the search for a greener-pasture genealogy program, and finally getting my 40 years of research in order! I’m looking forward to what Dick has to say about moving to the cloud (not dying, but taking advantage of the latest in genealogical computing technology!).

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    Michael I tried Roots Magic, Heredis, Reunion and MacFamilyTree. I do think if you run parallells Family Historian may be a good option. I really like some of the functions available on MFT not found elsewhere. This is sort of a nice retrospective on MFT which shows how responsive they have been over the years http://www.syniumsoftware.com/macfamilytree/history. I think that speaks well for the company that they are always incorporating new technology and users needs. Kelly

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    Thanks for your comments, Kelly. I gave MacFamily Tree a brief try, but it’s worth looking at again. What was your experience with Reunion and Heredis? The possibility of using Family Historian still interests me, although I’m wondering if it’s a step backwards to use a PC program on the Mac. It’s not that I am a super loyal Apple user, just that I don’t know know enough about the technology to know if it complicates syncing and being able to access my information on an iPad, smartphone or other computers. I’ve got a lot of reading to do!

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    Michael, Reunion surprised me that it seemed stodgy and at almost 4 times the price of Heredis or MacFamily just nothing special. It was fine but then when I read the cost of upgrades runs $40 or so I thought no way. Heredis was cool but the thing was I just kept going back to MacFamily. I found it easy on the eye, loved the layout and it seemed designed for a MAC (which Reunion and MacFamilyTree are exclusive for MACs) then I found some of the mapping functions and statistics that the others do not offer and beautiful charts especially the Fan ones….It is, like Heredis, designed overseas (Heredis in France and MacFamilyTree in Germany) so there are some issues with locations but overall I just felt at ease and comfortable with MFT. I suggest each person try for themselves and compare features—what you use most and what layout works for you. In five minutes I could find my way around. (not so with the others I tried). The online manual is very good and I can’t wait to have more time after the holidays to get to work. The bottom line was I found it fun. I was able to sync my tree to FTM3 then export a GEDCOM. Put it in a new folder. Then copy all the media files from the FTM generated media file and put them in the same folder and then import into MFT. Over 600 media files and 10,000 people successfully came along.There’s lots of location cleanup, and the fact that middle names seem to populate the first name field (I may leave them there to use the middle name field for DNA—although they have already responded to my suggestion and put a DNA field in their to do list….) There were several on the FB Surname Distribution Maps group that either already used or were impressed. I don’t think it is particularly well known and some of the on-line reviews are downright inaccurate. Since it was the company’s first software and they it have been around a long while and the company is full of young faces I expect it will be a round for some time. I am tired of changing…

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    My question would be, how does the Mac Family compare to Reunion, which I do have on my MAC….. are they close to the same?, not? could one say that one is “better” then the other?

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I would be curious to know how many people who’ve commented here and signed the petition have made the bigger commitment by cancelling their Ancestry subscriptions. I cancelled mine and included a note that I was doing it because of the abrupt FTM announcement. Are others doing the same? They’re not going to care unless they get hit in the pocket.

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    I was disappointed by Ancestry’s announcement, as I have been a long-time FTM user. But I don’t plan to cancel my Ancestry.com subscription unless and until it no longer provides value for me, or I can no longer afford it. I have to believe that Ancestry has a very clear picture of how many FTM users also use Ancestry.com, and whether or not that ecosystem serves its vision for the future direction of the company and its products. And apparently it does not. Maybe in the next year something will come about that will spare Family Tree Maker from the digital dustbin – I hope it does. But if it does, I personally doubt that cancellation of Ancestry.com subscriptions will be the reason.

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    Cancelling my subscription to Ancestry would be cutting off my nose to spite my face. I don’t have to be happy but as long as they provide a value for my money I will continue to use them—even if they make decisions I don’t like. They same is true of other vendors I use.

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    I too did when they KILLED the MyFamily Sites and Genealogy.com along w/ the others….. the other yr…. there are other places have the same VALUE to offer and even tho it might take me a bit longer … I refuse to support this GREEDY Corporation!!!!!

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Then perhaps paying hundreds of dollars per year is worth a new version of Ancestry that is not functional and basically worthless? Good Luck!

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I agree that Ancestry dropping FTM is a good thing for different reasons to Dick. When Ancestry was taken over a while ago it was obvious that the company buying it had no interest and did not care about Genealogy. There interest was in the database and the income from subscribers. They do not care about FTM or its users. I only use Ancestry because of the ability to search directly from FTM and download information into FTM. I have always shared my tree as I like to help other people who cannot afford the resources I can. I also find that by sharing I often learn valuable information. Do I care if some people blindly copy information from my tree. No.
I find Ancestry’s database bloated and full of information that is no or little use to researchers. They seem to fill searches with meaning less information. Any corrections to their transcriptions are never checked and just added in and can be completly wrong. They do not care and never have.The good news is that I can now drop Ancestry as the reason for using it is to disappear. I will miss the online trees as they can be useful guides. There are other online databases available which are cheaper than Ancestry plus there is still the original sources plus family history societies who have lots of records. I still use microfiche records.
One thing Ancestry has probably overlooked us the majority of people researching their family trees are the older generation as they are the ones who have the time.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the number subscribers to Ancestry. This decision may hurt their pocket and value to a potential buyer

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    ronatfin, I’m trying to understand from your comment why you think Ancestry dropping Family Tree Maker is a good thing. It sounds that you’re saying that while you used FTM, you felt obliged to use the Ancestry.com web site, which you think is full of junk data; but now that FTM is disappearing you can drop your Ancestry subscription. Is that what you are saying? Why would you have ever wasted your resources on Ancestry.com if you are now happy to drop it? Using Family Tree Maker never obligated you to use Ancestry.com in the first place.

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Aylarja
I use Ancestry because I can access it through FTM and download information into FTM. It saves a lot of typing which I am not good at. I also use Findmypast which I find has better transcriptions plus more records which are relevant to my tree, The search engine is far superior and the subscription is more reasonable. You can search by county/parish which works reasonably well. Ancestry search filters do not work. It was the ease of using Ancestry with FTM that made me stay with it but I found the unnecessary results to searches very annoying. You search for birth records and end up with marriage and death records. Search for Census records and get hundreds of electeral roll records which usually are of little use unless you already knew the person lived there.You search for travel and all you get is loads of criminal records for which there is no way of telling if it is the correct person, they just the same or similar name. Ancestries aim seems to to provive as many records relevant or not. I could go on. I still used Ancestry because I might find something and its ease of use from FTM. Take away that ease of use then I think it is very poor value for money

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    ronatfin, Fair enough. That sounds like a reasonable assessment to me, although I would ask whether you apply some of the filter settings in your Ancestry searches? You can also search specific collections, which would narrow down the range of records you get back. Also, I’m not sure that I still see the “good” in FTM’s ultimate demise. Maybe something better will yet come out of it, but as things stand now, I think it is a net loss for many family history researchers who currently use FTM.

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My old computer is dying a slow death, so saved up and bought myself a new laptop for Christmas. I’ve been using FTM since almost it’s inceptions and decided it’s been a few years since I upgraded (2103), so now would be a good time to do that too and this is when I discover this headache. So here’s the thing, I’m not all that old but caught the bug early. A lot of us out here have been doing real research in microfilm archives and dusty libraries (and even by US mail) long before online sources caught up with us. When FTM came along, I was happy because finally here was tool for me to have quick local access to my stuff without having to lug around my paper binders. When the online resources were added, another bonus. And that’s what it is to me, a very powerful tool. I upgraded a couple of times over the years when I could afford it, and even had Acom for a few years until I could no longer afford it. During that time I was able to add records that I couldn’t travel to due to time and finances. I was disappointed when I had to discontinue Acom and found that all of the records added during my subscription were no longer view-able. I felt like I paid for those resources but so be it, Acom are stingy sobs. Lesson learned, I re-sourced them individually and saved directly to MY computer. I also uploaded and shared a lot of treasured family portraits and information because I think genealogists should collaborate and had benefited and appreciated finding gems from other distant relatives and those that went before me. Sot yeah, I basically feel like Acom built themselves on our backs.

But bottom line, when I’m standing out in a remote cemetery or in some basement archive, more often than not I have had no internet access. I also hate the app/online interface – it feels like it was built by a high school student for a class project. (I’m a high school secretary; I know the skill level. But that’s another story.) Anyway, I want to go to my laptop, quickly look up a name, and figure out where it fits on my tree right then and there. And that’s how FTM works for me. If I did find something to add, it was sooo easy to sync when I got home. I simply can’t, and won’t, rely on a cloud/wifi/second party to house my master information. I know it’s been compromised and misused by “armchair” genealogists, but that’s their problem. What I hand down to my descendants is documented and true. I am somewhat tech savvy, but have had too many instances where websites/internet/service was “down” even if temporarily. I’ve worked too long and it’s too important to me to not be able to view or show it to others anywhere I want, even without internet access. My data has redundant backups, but I’m now stumped on what I’m going to replace FTM for that purpose on my new laptop.

P.S. As a side note, I’m highly suspect of the value of those fancy Ivy League degrees some of the current FTM board has paid good money for. They failed to learn the fundamental business concept of “know your customer base.” They may make a few quick bucks in all of this, but have created a PR nightmare, lost customer trust for a well-established name and long-term sustainability is probably jeopardized. And sorry this post is so long…

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    Yep, I have to agree with Chris D., the ACOM folks did a huge dis-service and HURT a lot of family researchers and genealogy folks when they decided to SELL OUT and let the company become a MONEY machine in the hands of hedge fund, bankers, and greedy capitalists….. Like Dick and others say you can keep on using FTM on your computer, just make sure you get the latest version but you and others are out in the cold when IT all stops in 2017. I don’t know how to solve that problem, but it does seem that a lot of folks have moved items to and are finding connections and contacts on the many genealogy pages that are appearing on Facebook… they are appearing for counties and states, even some overseas places too… IT will be harder this way, but other the using a lot of other “free” sites, I don’t know how one can gain access to so many original documents in one place! But of course THAT is not / was not the GOAL of the “new owners” of ACOM. All they want are enough “customers” to make the company so valuable that THEY can SELL IT again and walk away with a large fortune for all of the board members! IT IS sad that genealogy in the U.S. has become nothing but a MONEY item for those who have control of the important documents for genealogists!!! I spent 40 yrs. traveling the roads, building my own site at MyFamily.com and THEN to be treated like this…. well for me IT will be a cold day in hell when ACOM gets any more of my money!!!!!!!

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I like the cloud too, but, now I’m thinking I may have to find a replacement for Ancestry.com as well as Family Tree Maker (never thought too much of FTM anyway – actually I am an ages old Master Genealogist user). Since the sale I think Ancestry.com has been declining; now every time I try to look at a record I get “Oops, we’ve hit a snag. Sorry you’re having trouble with the image. Try the Basic Viewer instead.” Plus the site is extremely slow these days. I’m definitely planning to bail after my $330/yr sub runs out this year – at least from the pay sub. I’m looking at Family Historian (any comments?) – not cloud but what to do? Of course it may take me a year or more to transfer data that won’t download via GED (any suggestions?). [also I agree with Scoot Trent above!]

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    I agree with your comments and one other thing I have found in the last yr. is that when I go to “county govt. sites” that are on line, a good majority of them have some kind? of contract agreement with ACOM, and instead my being able to LOOK at their records (which they no doubt have put on line on their own COUNTY website and in those listings) that when I “click” on them to SEE them here at home, I GET SENT automatically to ACOM and I can NOT see them unless I sign up for their free trail period or already have a “contract” with ACOM too!!!!! THIS is killing a lot of on line acces from our homes via our devices!!! THIS SHOULD NOT be allowed or DONE by our county govt. agencies!!! Oh I know why, the Counties are getting some “cash transfer” no doubt from ACOM for this exclusive access, but to me that should not be!!

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    Digitizing paper records or even microfilmed records is expensive, apart from the substantial effort involved in transcribing handwriting for indexed searches. If it is to happen, someone has to pay for it. Would you prefer the alternative that county records never be digitized?

    But the kind of resource you are asking for is basically what you’ll find at FamilySearch.org – all of the work is done by others, and at no charge to you. There are far more non-digitized records in the Family Search Library, and, by extension, through one of numerous Family History Centers. Very many county records are available there. The obvious alternative is to travel to the county seat and manually look up the records you want. Of course, some places won’t allow you to do the hands-on research yourself, and others will charge you for copies. Add in travel expenses, and the cost of paying someone else to provide the digitized records to you seems very reasonable, in my opinion.

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    THAT is not the issue, every one well understands that, and YES I spent the greater part of 40 yrs. traveling, finding, paying for all the costs involved in getting the records I wanted and many I would end up NOT needing. In ALL those cases I went to a C.H. or Historical Society or County Library or State Archvies-Library that WERE supported by others, by all of us thru our / their TAX DOLLARS and the FUNDS I and others gave to those places for the access and papers we received. I had and still have no problem with doing that!!! BUT NOW that the world is going to digitial and many counties and states are spending the TAX PAYERS money to do that…. THEN IMHO, those records once they are put up on THEIR websites or county/state sites and announced to the general PUBLIC thru many and various means that they have those records in that form, THEREFORE NOT requiring any citizen to have to travel to see and receive paper copies of such, THEN once that is done, IT should be illegal and IT IS unethical then to sign a PRIVAT contract with ACOM, or any other entity that would REQUIRE the citizen to go and PAY that entity MONEY to see such digital items!! When going to a COUNTY or STATE or NATIONAL web site or page with the intent to access those known records in digital form and use them for my efforts in doing continuing genealogy work, then neither I nor any one should be LINKED to a ACOM page, or to the page of any other entity and TOLD then that we can see those COUNTY / STATE / NATIONAL records by BUYING and / or PAYING for access thru a 3rd. party…… SORRY, you do not see the issue!!
    Other wise WHY? are we, any of us as taxpayers paying taxes to any GOVT. agency to make and preserve these items at all….. I would much RATHER pay that govt. agency for access or for the copies that I down load, then to be TOLD via an “auto” link that those records can NOW only be access thru ACOM or any other online vendor!!!! NO county / state / or national record(s) of any KIND should only be available vis a PRIVATE Corporation or group, IF those records have been taken digital by the USE of the citizen’s TAX DOLLARS!!!!!!!!

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    My guess is that tax dollars are not used to digitize most of these county records. If a private entity contracts with a county government to digitize records simply for convenient access by customers of that private service, I don’t think that entitles a person who is not a customer of that private service to have free access to those records. If documents continue to be available through traditional means, then you are no more inconvenienced today by having to travel to that location to get copies than you would have been twenty years ago. If hardcopy records are no longer available, then I would assume the county has chosen not to maintain such records beyond a certain retention period. But your best bet is to search FamilySearch.org to see if they either have digitized copies available, or if they have microfilmed the records.

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    Sorry, but that is still avoiding the issue. If ACOM or any other private entity has paid any govt. agency for the right to take their records digital, then that is fine with me….. BUT when you go to that govt. agency at any level and on THEIR county/state/national web page or web site or whatever you want to call it, and THAT location says that they have their records in a digital format and that IT MAKE IT look as IF they are NOW just as available to any citizen, there or from any where else, JUST AS IF that person walks in their front door and can access those records, either by looking at the ORIGINALS or as in the CASE in Guilford Co., NC C.H. where those records have gone digital and any one can sit at a computer in THEIR office or at one’s home and see the digital COPY of the original, THEN THAT is fine and right and ethical as that agency deals with the citizens!! BUT if one were at home on one’s personal “whatever” and then one goes to a county, a number of which I have, and one sees the SAME little “note” that GIVES the impression that their records are being treated in the SAME manner as the ones are, say, in the Guilford Co., C.H. and THEN when one clicks on that icon and is instantly taken by a hidden LINK to ACOM or any other private company then THAT is a LIE, a FALSEHOOD that is presented to the “citizens” as A TRUTH……. when IT IS NOT!! These two methods are NOT equal and any govt agency which does this other type of arrangement with a “private corporation” SHOULD be required to so “say” on their system(s) if the citizens(s) can access that system via a personal “whatever”…. to NOT DO so is still a LIE and a FALSEHOOD….. that is all I’m saying… DO NOT ACT as IF the average genealogy person can access and see and perhaps down load data (papers) from YOUR agency….. IF THEY CAN”T and CAN ONLY do IT by having to have a PAID (their own) contract/access with a private corporation!! YOU are NOT seeing the forest for the trees!! YOU seem to believe that IT is ok for govt. agencies to ACT this way!! AND the OTHER factor is that IF a govt. agency has contracted with a private corporation to go digitize their in-house records and THEY have gotten MONEY from that “private corp” and STILL have NOT opened that access to the private citizen(s) by having them on the agency’s system, and have SAY or SAID that they TOOK the MONEY and had this done, so as to NOT burden the local taxpayer at whatever level with THIS COST, then THAT TOO is very wrong, unethical and should be ILLEGAL!!!!!!!!! NO GOVT. agency of any kind should be allowed to go digital with their records and still prevent the citizen(s) and certainly those of us who only want access to certain genealogy record, from accessing those digital records!! I KNOW YOUR always “excuse” is that the citizen(s) can alway SPEND their own money to STILL go and see the original PHYSICAL record(s)….. BUT WE as citizens and as a COUNTRY are moving into a different age where every thing will be or will come in digital a form and IF a GOVT agency is going that way, then fine, but THOSE DIGITAL records should be just available to ME or to YOU, in just the same way as IF either of us walked thru their front door!!! THAT is the solution to this LOCKOUT, not going to the old “well you can travel there” EXCUSE!!!!!!!!!!

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    Scott, you argue that I avoid the issue, but I think the reality is that I am not agreeing with you, and that is what you interpret as avoidance. To the degree that I understand your argument – and it is a bit rambling – it seems that you feel that any time a government agency digitizes its records, whether directly or through a private entity, the public should be able to access those records without paying for them. The net result of what you demand, as best as I can understand it, would be that no government records would ever be digitized because virtually no government agency will have the funds available to digitize them and then provide them at no charge to patrons. When you are transferred to a for-pay site to obtain records digitally, it is because you are paying for a service, a convenience, that the local agency does not have funds available to give to you for free. And almost certainly that service is managed by a private entity because the local agency doesn’t have the staff or expertise to provide the service itself. So, if you want the convenience of home access to records, you need to pay for it. If you don’t want to pay for the convenience, don’t expect to get it for free.

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    I think everybody’s right here. Correct: Nothing would be done if we had to wait for local specifications and funding for scanning. HOWEVER…it is a public historic asset. Solution: Specify that search and noncertified copies be available at convenient, reasonable and customary prices. Limit document requests (after searches) to return a single document at a time to eliminate wholesale downloading. Finally, make an “appropriate” number of free terminals (or access points) available for free at a site local to the data that is reasonably secure and available for free (such as a public library, historical society, etc.).

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    In my 40 yrs. I did very rarely get any document I wanted free, or totally free, if all I did was to drive some where and use paper and ink and copy what I wanted… but you know you can’t do much genealogy that way as it takes far too long… so YES we all pay for the copier use and the paper, most times as high as 0.50 cent per page. I have dropped close to a 100 dollars in visits so many times I don’t dare count them….. all I’m saying is that IF the documents have gone digital and are SAID to be available at that C. H. or archive location via such a posting on their page, then I and you or any one else should be able to go there and get a wire transferred version of that! IF that agency can not “afford” to do that via using local taxes, then fine, but just as they DO with you or me or any other when we are physically in that agency, then LET US PAY THEM, and NOT lock us OUT just because we do not wish to have a $29.00, or a $99.00 or $129.00 or a $199.00 or even a $300 dollar subscription with ACOM or any other PRIVATE entity. For IF what they want is money, then find, just KEEP access locally and NOT with a 3rd. party private company. JUST because a private company wants control of those documents and gets IT is NOT a reason to KEEP the citizen(s) from having access via the govt. agency that contracted for the above reason(s)!!!!!!

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    Scott, again, what you are truly demanding is fewer digitized records, because local agencies will be unable to provide them to you within your expectations at a cost that they can afford and which you will consider reasonable. Why not willingly accept at least the option of obtaining them digitally even if a particular private service is required to obtain them that way? If you don’t subscribe to that service, and have no interest in doing so, no doubt you could always request the assistance of someone who already pays for the service. Truly, the approach that will prove win-win for genealogists, online providers, and local agencies is for you to adjust your expectations: You gain nothing if local agencies were to decide against digitizing records because they can’t do so within the parameters you demand, and you truly lose nothing if they offer an additional service of digitized records through private providers that you choose not to use.

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Wonder — in the sense of science fiction — if we may in a few years be looking back and saying, “yes, those were the golden years of software and the internet.” That is, as money interests learn better how to take advantage of us. We probably should have gone open source: I wonder if there is an open source genealogy community out there? But then, Ancestry does have all those resources – finding them piece by piece is going to take a lot more time. I also wonder if the agreements that Ancestry made with the census bureau and other public agencies have any protection for us poor minions working in the gen mines.

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Does this mean I won’t be able to use my Family Tree maker any longer? I have the 2010 version and have never had any issues with it. I don’t care that I can’t link up with ancestry as I haven’t had a subscription with them for years. I am farther back in my lines than they have information for.

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    —> Does this mean I won’t be able to use my Family Tree maker any longer?

    The Family Tree Maker software that is presently installed in your computer will continue to operate normally for some time. Someday it may stop working when Microsoft or Apple make changes to Windows or Macintosh OS X. Nobody knows when that will happen but chances are that everything will operate for another year or two, possibly for 5 or 10 years. No guarantees.

    What will change is: (1.) you cannot purchase new copies of Family Tree Maker anymore and (2.) the automated synchronizing of data with Ancestry.com’s online web site will stop working soon.

    The recommendations are to either (1.) switch entirely to storing your data in the cloud, either on Ancestry.com or another cloud-based service, such as MyHeritage.com, or (2.) switch to a different genealogy program that stores data in your own Windows or Macintosh computer, such as RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, AncestralQuest, Reunion, Heredis, MacFamilyTree, or any of a dozen others.

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I have found that Ancestral Quest Basic is a good alternative for people who are looking for a safe, inexpensive, private, and useful way of creating digital records. I give it out free to many of those people I help as a “genealogist.”

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My best bet is for everybody get rid of Ancestry and find another way to store your family tree. FTM 2014 and Windows 10 doesn’t play nice together. Too many problems and Ancestry will drop support and then what? Ancestry should maintain FTM 2014 and fix any problems that it has and keep it working with Ancestry.

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I am currently trying out various free family history programs in preparation for a discussion at my family history group. Some I am trying on my old stuff running Windows 7 and some on my new laptop running Windows 10. I am using files transferred from FTM using the Gedcom 5.5 format. And I have made sure that all of my tree files have been backed up both as FTM files and as Gedcom . So I am looking forward to Dick’s future posts on this subject.

Experience has shown us that all software is transient and we spend a lot of time trying to futureproof our data. If the product of all our hard work is so vulnerable maybe we should be thinking of ways to disseminate and preserve it within the family as well as store it in the cloud. Why not write it up as a print book? Print out those scans of old photos with the story behind them. You don’t have to do it as a massive tome just take a person at a time and tell their story. Start a blog about your family history. Display the results of your research in your home for family to see. And guess what – I bet you find something new to research in the process of thinking about them.

Think of the demise of FTM as a catalyst to working in new ways. We can’t change it so in the process of adapting to it make sure we get something positive out of this.

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I am the custodian of the Corbet One Name Study, a role I took on 8 years ago, along with boxes of material and a huge database on Brothers Keeper.
I tried and could not come to terms with that program and in the end GEDCOM transferred most of the file to FTM; this had been my favorite program since the DOS days.
So, for the last 8 years I have been developing the records, building families, adding image files and now have 66,000 individuals. This file is constantly being worked on with supporting documents added.
I know my 2014 version of FTM is going to be “supported”, but it is slow, prone to crashing and I am looking for an alternative, spurred by Ancestry’s decision. What can I use that will safely take the 40 years of accumulated work?
Dick, I look forward to your assessment

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@Aylarja: You wrote that no government agency has the funds to digitize its public records. That is not true. It is a matter of prioritizing. Washington State has many many thousands of records, dating back into the 1800s, digitized and online, and it is adding thousands more every month. Access to those records is entirely free via the Internet. If people want to order copies of those that are available in that form, it is easy to do so right from the digital archive site and it is not expensive. It is absolutely great!

Some states and counties care about making public records available to the public and some don’t. Washington State is the most advanced at this point, but it isn’t the only one. Frankly, in my opinion, all government agencies should do the same because this is the 21st century and digitizing libraries and archives is the norm, as well as the means to protect records from deteriorating until they are unreadable.

I understand Scott Trent’s complaint, and I agree with him. Public records belong to the public, and we already paid for them with our taxes. We’ve already paid for them to be processed and stored, and we, the public, own them. It is wrong for government to force citizens to enrich private sector companies in order to obtain copies of public documents. It is appropriate to charge us nominal fees to cover the costs of finding, printing, and mailing us hard copies, but not enough to make a profit since we paid for the creation of the document with our tax monies, and government agencies are non-profit organizations that belong to us, existing only to deliver services we need.

The public officials who push for “solutions” that allow private sector for-profit companies to enrich themselves by accepting what they offer and then forcing the public to pay them to access what we already own as citizens, are anti-government officials who forget why The People’s Government exists in the first place, and therefore resents funding agencies and resents the citizens who need and use those agencies. Such public officials should not work for government or be elected of government offices.

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    @mountainraingoddess, I do not think that “no government agency” has the funds to digitize records. The context of those previous comments was primarily county records, where I suspect funding will often be tighter than at the state or federal level. I absolutely favor forward-thinking agencies digitizing their records and making them as available as possible. As a consumer of such records, I am always pleased to find records that are readily available over the Internet. But for cash-strapped agencies at the local level, I would rather they make arrangements with a private company to digitize their records and provide them for a fee or even behind a pay-wall than to not digitize them at all. Remembering that many subscription services are available at no charge in libraries and LDS Family History Centers, the fee often boils down to the price of convenience. So if a government agency at any level has the funding to digitize its records and make them available at no charge to its patrons, more power to them! I love obtaining free records as much as anyone. But if an agency doesn’t have the funding available for this, I would rather they make some kind of digitization agreement with a private service than to keep those records forever bound to dead trees stored in basement filing cabinets, even if I have to pay some kind of fee for those records out of my own pocket.

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    Oh my, oh my, FINALLY a CITIZEN with some common sense!! SHE needs to be elected PRESIDENT>>>>> WOW, thank you so much for seeing the REAL picture and the TRUTH of……. I salute you!!!!!!!!!

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I have FTM for a PC, but I no longer have a PC so I just went online to buy for my Mac and learned they no longer sell it. I am not sure how to access in info. and get all the info. to import into a different software. Any ideas??

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What would happen if all the FTM users pulled their trees from Ancestry?

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Hi Dick.
I have used FTM since 1997.

If I in 2016 switch from FTM to a different desktop or laptop application,
as you point out – what is the life expectancy of THAT program?

So then I have to choose between :
1) Continuing to use FTM (have used FTM since 1997) until it no longer works with new versions of Windows or other things.
2) Or moving to the cloud today.

What would you advise me?
Maybe I could just jump out to the cloud immediately?
And if I so do – as FTM users already familiar with Ancestry.com’s web interface, I see that will probably be the best choice for me – as you pointed ?
I look forward to your coming articles explaining why moving to the cloud.

I see that FTM on the blogg January 27, 2016 wrote:
“Kristie Wells Hi everyone, I wanted to let you know an update is coming from Ancestry’s product team and senior management (expect it in the next couple of weeks). I cannot give any hints as to what it is, but as someone who personally uses Family Tree Maker, I am pleased with the news. Thanks for your patience. Thanks for your continued commentary and feedback. And please stay tuned! “

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    —> If I in 2016 switch from FTM to a different desktop or laptop application, as you point out – what is the life expectancy of THAT program?

    Sadly, there are no guarantees of the life expectancy of any program, genealogy programs or any other kinds of programs. However, there is almost always an upgrade path of some sort.

    I never used Family Tree Maker as my primary genealogy program. Instead, over the years I have switched from one program to another, always looking for the “perfect genealogy program.” I never found it, however. Lately, I have been slowly migrating my genealogy data to the cloud. I do believe the cloud is the future but it is not yet mature. The cloud-based genealogy programs do not yet have all the features of the leading desktop programs, such as RootsMagic, Reunion, Legacy Family Tree, Heredis, AncestralQuest, MacFamilyTree, and the others. I believe they will eventually offer all those features and more but that promise is still several years away.

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Hi Dick.
Thanks for your quick reply
Now with the new FTM options available, can one way (of many) be continue using FTM
and from FTM save my online tree on ancestry.com.
And doing this until the cloud-based genealogy programs (as ancestry.com) have all the features of the leading desktop programs.
Then I get to worlds, until the cloud-based genealogy completely takes over.

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Hi,
Is it possible to export my data form cloud FTM (to GEDCOM file) or something similar so I can use it in other programs too?
My database contains 337 people and I don’t want to write them manually to another program Legacy. Or is there some other way?

Why I would like to use another program, because I can not print from cloud FTM?!?!

Thanks,
M

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Thanks Lisa, but how? Where can I find this GEDCOM file?

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What are they thinking? Take your money and its good by. Typical of the yanks as they have stuffed up everything they have done so we shouldn’t be surprised.

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    Anne, your post is an excellent example of what is called “trolling” – making inflammatory statements that add little or nothing of actual value but which serve only to “stir the pot” of emotional responses. Beyond that, Ancestry.com, though US-based, is owned by Permira, LLC, a European private equity firm based in London. And most critically, since Ancestry.com has now sold Family Tree Maker to MacKiev, your comment is immaterial. MacKiev has invited user feedback for improving FTM, which offers you and others an excellent opportunity to improve it from its present “stuffed up” condition.

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Where did all my data go for the THREE personal family trees I enter year ago! WHAT now – start over?????

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I never use online programs. I don’t trust “the cloud” to keep my data private and secure.

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Hi,
I am totally agree with Aylarja: Now should anyone using FTM used the option at “The Software MacKiev Company” submitted feedback on Family Tree Maker.
You can find it here:
http://www.mackiev.com/familytreemaker/ftm3/ftm_feedback.html?ext=yes

And we should all look ahead and now stop the complain at Ancestry.com, when we talk about FTM.
From 2016-02 there are NEW owners of FTM, and I think that they should get a really chance in 2016 to show what THEY can improve on FTM.
For me, I CHOOSE to be optimistic about the future of FTM – with MacKiev !!

A completely different things is the ongoing discussions about ancestry program and data on the PC or in the clouds. And that discussion will probably proceed.
Those of us who want our genealogy data on our own computer, we can continue using FTM – as long as FTM exist.
“For at least another half a decade” – see the interview below.

See the interview 2016-02-09 with Software MacKiev President Jack Minsky:
“We do not disagree with Ancestry’s assessment that the overall PC market in general is declining – pickup itself. But in pockets that Matter to us, that’s not the case. The Mac community, one of our core markets, continues two grow. And in another core market, K-12 schools, desktop computers still dominate the installed base and will continue two do so for at least another half a decade – because schools keep their equipment a very, very long time.”
Here you can see all this interview:
http://www.tamurajones.net/NewFamilyTreeMakerFuture.xhtml

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I have been using FTM since about 2000 and used it to build a ‘book’ with a combination of text, pictures, and reports from FTM. When I created it in 2000, it was a 60 page PDF and almost too big for most email systems to handle. Now, 15 years later, I’m wanting to do a major update and can see it becoming well over 100 pages.

So, I started thinking that rather than do it as a ‘book’, maybe a smarter idea would be to ‘publish’ it as a web site that I could host and just send the link to family members who might want to look at it. (I’m not a professional genealogist .. primarily ‘one family’ focus). But I was unable to determine whether FTM is capable of this and other than one comment many pages back about Reunion being maybe able to do this, I haven’t seen the ability to create your own website (as a way of ‘publishing’ your research) as even of interest to anyone.

Am I alone in thinking that this could be the way of the future? Websites typically run on somewhat standard software (many times on open software); can be relatively portable; can run in the cloud or can be hosted privately; can support various forms of media (text, photos, charts, etc); use easy to navigate controls; etc. The big drawback is the effort required to build/run one .. but if Reunion (or ‘insert your favorite here’) could be made to ‘publish’ a basic but functioning website package .. perhaps with a simple security frontend .. then I see that as a way forward to not only keep control of our own data, but also make it easy accessible to other family or researchers. Granted, if your grandmother doesn’t have a computer, then that’s not going to work unless she can find access at a library or internet cafe. And I’m assuming you could still work offline with your favorite package but have it update (or simply recreate) the website as needed, then I think it would address the offline requirements.

I plan to have a look at Reunion’s capabilities in this regard. Anyone have any other suggestions? Anyone think I’m nuts for even suggesting it?

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I was more than a little annoyed when I forked out for FTM only to get the announcement, less than a month later, that support for it was ceasing. I do not think that was a fair move. Now, there is a notice that new software (from Nova?) will be adjunct to it. Not quite sure how that will work. I am a little suspicious. Anyway, I will need to put in a support call because my FTM hasn’t worked in three days, for reasons I cannot figure.

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Possibly a unique problem here. I owned FTM years ago, then put most of my stuff on PAF and tossed FTM. Death of a spouse set me back on research for a few years. Now, in addition to my PAF files – that I’ll be moving to Legacy soon, I found some FTM files on a backup disk. No idea if they were transferred to PAF. They seem small – FBK/FTW files are 498 kb, 1,337 kb, 868 kb and 425 kb. Sometimes, I would upload Misc. files, so don’t know if these are important. Of course, since the files are not in GEDCOM, I can’t open and look at them, or transfer them to Legacy. Ideas? Or, should I just hope they’re junk and toss them. Your help is appreciated. Thank you

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Sarah Walker-Hitt April 18, 2016 at 3:13 pm

I had an older version of Family Tree Maker. I have a back-up cd of my information on it. I no longer have that computer or installation discs. What can I use to install my information?

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As much as I like the idea of cloud data for family trees, there comes a point when with an international family, I don’t want to pay the astronomical monthly fee to ancestry all the time. The idea of cancelling and joining ancestry off and on when I want to do research is cumbersome. It should be something that Ancestry offers though.

There are things I DON’T like about the cloud though … it means I have to have internet access … which doesn’t happen in a lot of the places I go and people I visit who would be interested in what I’m finding.

So, I’m going to find a family history prog that I can live with on Windoze and use Ancestry on and off as a research tool. I suspect they won’t like that … but if enough of us do it, maybe they’ll do something about it. I’m not spending full price to host my tree when I’m not doing research!

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I switched to ancestry.com a while back but thought we had to have Family Tree Maker to “back it up.” Is this not correct?? Also, Do I need to keep all my Family Tree Maker CD’s like Social Security Death Index, etc. or are all of the CD’s available through ancestry.com if you have a membership? Thanks so much for your help!!

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    —> I switched to ancestry.com a while back but thought we had to have Family Tree Maker to “back it up.” Is this not correct??

    There are two or three ways to “back up” information on Ancestry.com. One method is to use Family Tree Maker as you described. Another method is to download a GEDCOM file and then import that file into any other modern genealogy product. You might want to read the “how to” information at http://www.gouldgenealogy.com/2015/04/how-to-download-a-gedcom-file-from-ancestry/

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    Thanks so much! What about all the CD’s?

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    —> What about all the CD’s?

    The CDs can only be read by older versions of Family Tree Maker (later versions do not read those CDs) or by Family Tree Viewer, a free Windows program created by the makers of Family Tree Maker. Family Tree Viewer is really a demo version of one of the older versions Family Tree Maker although it includes the capability to read the CDs. It can be downloaded from several places on the Internet (do a Google search) but strangely is not available from the FamilyTreeMaker.com web site.

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Les Davys. les.davys@vodafone.co.nz
I have searched and recorded for 40 years for the last 6 using FTM 2010. I’m rather disgusted with Ancestry particularly as this week the program won’t open because of a failure to close correctly last time. I’m told to “compact” the file by going to “tools” menu. Impossible because the file won’t open. So I can’t GEDCOM to a new program and I haven’t printed everything so that I could start typing again (to Legacy say ?).
I’ve got recent backups on the HD. Any suggestions???

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    Les, you don’t need to open your FTM file in order to compact it – at least if FTM 2010 works the same way that FTM 2012 does. Just open FTM without opening a database file. Then go to Tools > Compact File, and select the affected database file.

    Also be aware that much has changed since Dick posted the message about Ancestry ending FTM. A company named MacKiev (which has produced the Mac version of FTM for several years) has since purchased Family Tree Maker, and already has a rebranded FTM 2014 on the market, with announcements of patches and upgrades in the works. As a previous FTM owner, you should be able to upgrade to MacKiev’s FTM 2014 at a reduced price.

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    Thanks Aylarja. I tried again, unsuccessfully, to open the program but got the same message regarding “compact”. I have uninstalled FTM and reinstalled but keep getting the same “compact” message. If I try to open a file from my backups which I have kept regularly I get the same “compact” message. So I can’t GEDCOM to another program or print anything to type into another program.
    Thanks for your comments and offerings. Les

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    Boy, sure looks like A.com has messed up a lot of folks in their GOAL for more MONEY!! Of course not enough as they still made a profit this past quarter….and still have millions of people paying them money!!!

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This is a mess. I have the same concerns as most of you, syncing, reports, printing, GEDCOMs, transferring, cloud privacy, working offline, finding something to match FTM capabilities, finding and learning a new program, et. al. The only good thing I see, and I say good reluctantly, is I am being pushed away from Ancestry, something I should have done long ago. I like the easy access to documents. But the pop-genealogy fad has absolutely polluted things. I thought ‘site your sources’ was Rule #1. I started genealogy before resources were all over the internet. I plan to packing up and spend a little more time finding reliable information that is toting a source with it.

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OMG! I am just starting out on genealogy, and have just read all these comments above. I was on the point of buying FTM 2016. but now I am really confused, and don’t know which program to use. There seems to be no consensus.amongst all you experts. Can anyone offer advice on what program I should buy?

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So what happened to all the FTM user websites?

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My grandson and I have built a tree on ancestry on line, I have the Version 7 of Family Tree Maker on my computer, Can the online version be transfered into Ver.7 using gedcom

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On the sale of Family Tree Maker, both Windows and Macintosh versions,
to The Software MacKiev Company by Ancestry.com …
> Software MacKiev has its headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts.
> Specifically, it has offices at 30 Union Wharf on Boston’s waterfront
> in the historic North End. However, Wikipedia notes that Software
> MacKiev has its main workshop in Kiev, Ukraine (more than 300 employees).
> In 2016, after 6 years of development of Family Tree Maker for Mac
> versions, Software MacKiev acquired the whole Family Tree Maker
> brand from Ancestry.com.
Putin has his evil eye on reclaiming the Ukraine and if that happens you can bet your bottom dollar that backdoors will be placed in FTM by the resurrected KGB, then they will have access to the ancestries of millions in time for future pogroms. Dont think for an instant that your data will be safe! Alternatively, for Mac users, MacFamilyTree (MFT) is developed in Germany. Dunno if that is much better but there you go … what other options do we have since most software development within the USA has been off-shored anyway. At least MFT ties in with familysearch.org so you can have your cloud tree in Utah which is backed up in deep vaults in the Wasatch range (arguably the best archival storage you can find these days).

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    Now that is a conspiracy theory that never crossed my mind, not even once. All of our ancestors put in such jeopardy! Sounds like Putin has solved the time travel problem, as well…

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    cute comment about “time travel” but maybe a bit naive… two or three things come to mind… (1) racial profiling (re: Hitler and Stalin pogroms against those with Jewish ancestry; during WWII they grabbed some people with Japanese ancestry and put them in camps; a Trump or white supremacist uprising might want to know if you have Hispanic, African, or Native American ancestry) and (2) leverage (typical tradecraft to figure out who your more immediate relatives are in order to pressure you into doing or not doing things). Not just ancestors but think more immediate relatives, as well. And (3) general information gathering, building up the big picture database(s) to be put to many possible uses. What the heck are groups like Fancy Bear doing gathering everything they can up about our policiticians, activists, et. al., if they arent caching it all somewhere in case it could be useful or profitable? The more you know about your enemy …

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Sorry that I have not taken the time to read ALL the comments so this may be redundant. I currently use FTM 11. Any chance I will be able to upgrade to the new product? I like the idea of storing with Ancestry but being able to work off line. Recommendations?

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    Donna, you can purchase an upgrade copy for $29.95. Here is a relevant Q&A from MacKiev’s FAQ:

    I own an older version of Family Tree Maker. Can I get a discount on an upgrade?

    Yes! If you already have FTM 2012 or Mac 2 or earlier, you can download an upgrade to the latest version for just $29.95 (vs. regular price $69.95). To receive an instant upgrade offer by email, sign up for the FTM Mailing List at http://www.familytreemaker.com.

    For the record, I find MacKiev to be a breath of fresh air in openness with its customers compared to Ancestry. I have real hope that FTM will be revitalized in the coming years with long-needed fixes and new features.

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