Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Migrating away from Family Tree Maker


Yes, I know that Family Tree Maker (FTM) isn’t going away soon.  It will be around for as many years as its loyal users are willing to hang on to it.  But it will be static. Future improvements in technology and database design will not be reflected in FTM. And, according to the December 9, blog post, there may be “degradation of features over time”. I compare it to driving an Edsel or a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. They may still be drivable, but they’re pretty much obsolete.

Technology comes and goes. Does anyone but me remember 8” floppy discs?  How about Lotus123?  Word Perfect?  

Ancestry’s announcement timing was extremely poor for the abandonment of FTM.  The news came out less than 30 days from the withdrawal of the product!  That is ridiculous.  There would have been much less commotion if they’d announced it in September or October. I have great empathy for those who purchased the product as Christmas gifts.

As a replacement, I’m looking at both Legacy and Roots Magic software. It will take a while to learn each one and decide which I prefer. Maybe I’ll end up using both.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


For the next several days, I’ll be spending a lot of time on in spite of my opinion of the company.

Until now, I haven’t felt the need to follow up on all those shaky leaves – they’d still be there when I got around to them.  But now I intend to migrate completely away from Family Tree Maker so I need to get all the information I can get before my final FTM/Ancestry sync. My current (one month) subscription expires on December 31. The plan is to be mostly fluent in either or both Legacy and RootsMagic software by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

I’ll decide later whether to prune my Ancestry trees down to just cousin bait.

R.I.P. Family Tree Maker’s December 8, 2015 announced decision to retire Family Tree Maker (FTM) software has their users in an uproar. Many of us have used this genealogy software since long before Ancestry bought it.  Many have used nothing else to document their research.  Responses range from anger to dismay, a feeling of betrayal of trust, and downright begging for a reversal of this decision.

On December 9, 2015the Ancestry blog posted a second message that was meant to be reassuring, but seems to have had the opposite effect.  It read like a patronizing pat on the head telling us that everything will be OK. 

User comments are scathing!  

In an earlier post, I noted my disaffection with  That disaffection grows.

At the bottom line, is a big business. The goal of any business is to maximize profit and keep revenues growing. They are working hard to achieve those goals.  The redesign of the website is aimed at users of mobile devices.  They need to keep up with the marketplace in order to attract and keep new subscribers.

Existing users and subscribers who cannot or will not move at Ancestry’s pace are simply collateral damage.  It is strictly a business decision.

We are assured, however, that FTM will be supported through the year 2016 and will continue, after that, to run as it does now barring the user upgrading to a future Operating System that may not support its aging design and structure.


That assurance is belied by this quote from the December 9Ancestry blog post:
Q: “What happens to the family tree I’ve created using Family Tree Maker? Will it continue to be accessible?
A: “You will continue to be able to access your data through the desktop software beyond Jan. 1, 2017, however over time there will be a gradual degradation of features. You can always export your tree and save it.”

Gradual degradation of features?????

I’ve been half-hearted in my efforts to learn the Legacy family tree software I bought a while ago; and RootsMagic has made an offer I couldn’t refuse so I’ll be trying that, too, as a replacement for FTM.  It has always been just too easy to keep using the old familiar stuff.

Online, I’ll probably keep my trees on but maybe not update them there. I’ll bring my online trees on up to date. I don’t like the online sites where other people can change my data.

I will continue my policy of buying a one-month subscription to when it seems useful. My December subscription will allow me to investigate my shaky leaves and get everything I can into FTM before migrating to new software.

Change happens.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Love/Hate Computers

I had a catastrophic disc failure this past week.  

  My laptop was at least 5 years old so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that it finally gave out.  When the technicians opened it they also found internal damage resulting from several overheating events over the years.  Looking at the cost of a new disc plus labor to get it working again was discouraging.  My solution was to purchase a refurbished laptop for just a little less than the estimated cost of repair; and send the old one to the scrap heap.

Fortunately I’d done a backup about a week and a half earlier.  Backup is one thing, restoring is something else again.  It worked – mostly.  I seem to have most of my critical data. The key word is “most”.

“Hate” isn’t really the right word. It’s more like frustration and anxiety. How much will I have to recreate from scratch?  Do I have all the CDs I need to get back to where I was? Did I save all the .exe files for software I downloaded?

The answer to that last question, unfortunately, is no. There are a couple I didn’t save so I’ll need to go back to find the right IDs and passwords so I can download them again without having to pay for them again. Lesson learned. ALWAYS save it locally.

It has been a few very frustrating days but I think I’m mostly back in business. Today is Sunday – I think I’ll just watch football and play solitaire.