Ancestry Announces The Retirement Of Family Tree Maker

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Family Tree Maker

Yesterday I received an email notice from Ancestry that as of December 31st, 2015 they would no longer be selling Family Tree Maker.  Support for the program will continue until January 1st 2017.
You can read the full details on Ancestry’s blog.  From what they say during this time features like tree sync will keep working and major bugs will be fixed.

So What Does This Mean?

If your a user of Family Tree Maker you might not care because your not planning to run out and switch your genealogy software.  On the other hand you might feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you.  You know you have only 1 year of support for your software left and after that time if you run into compatibility problems with Windows or Mac your out of luck.
I have to admit this was a very big shock to me!  Although I don’t use Family Tree Maker as my main genealogy software it is a popular product and loved by many.
This change wont have a huge impact on my every day genealogy, however it will be like turning the clocks back a few years in some ways.  RootsMagic has been my main genealogy software for years.  I also keep a copy of my family tree on Ancestry.  It used to take me a lot of time to copy and paste updated information from one tree to another.  They were almost never in perfect sync.

My Experience

My experience with Family Tree Maker started with the 2011 version.  I was so excited to get it because I loved the look of the software.  It was visually appealing and modern looking.  Sadly when I received it I found it almost unusable.  It took a long time to open and crashed constantly.  So I decided to stay with what had been working for me.
Then they came out with Family Tree Maker 2012 and I decided to try it again, not as my main genealogy software but as a way to sync my tree with Ancestry.  I often exported branches of my tree from RootsMagic and imported and merged them in FTM then uploaded the changes to Ancestry.  It saved me so much time!  That is when it worked.
The down side was that the sync has been so buggy.  More then once it’s caused large groups of multiple copies of people, records and media in my Ancestry tree because it crashed while syncing.  If you’ve gone through that, then you know just how frustrating that is!
My hope is that Ancestry will licence their API to other genealogy software companies so programs like RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree etc. can sync with users trees on Ancestry.

If you use Ancestry Family Tree or Family Tree Maker

1.  Family Tree Maker is not going to stop working over night.  If you want to buy a copy you can do so until December 31st 2015.  It will be supported for major bugs until January 1st, 2017 and according to Ancestry tree sync will function during this time.  After that I don’t know because Ancestry hasn’t released that information that I have seen.
2. If you have a family tree on Ancestry the only way you can extract ALL of your information is to use Family Tree Maker to download a copy of it including your media and source media.  You should know that any user can download their media but only users with a paid subscription can download source media.
3.  For the long term solution you should start testing other genealogy programs.  You might be able to use Family Tree Maker for years to come yet, however if you have bugs after Jan. 1st, 2017  Ancestry will not support it.  You can export a gedcom from Family Tree Maker and import it into any genealogy software with gedcom support and still have your media etc. attached.  You will have to do some data clean up but it’s better then having to re-enter every person.
There are many genealogy programs to chose from.  RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Builder, Gramps, RootsTrust are just a few that I’ve tried and liked.

Kim Mills

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