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Family Tree Maker 2017 Review

Family Tree Maker 2017 Review

Household Tree Maker* (FTM) 2017 was formally launched 16 July 2017. The 19 months since December 2015 when Ancestry.com introduced the retirement of Household Tree Maker have been a bumpy street for the venerable family tree software. All help for FTM and connectivity with Ancestry have been to have ended by 1 Jan 2017.

Nevertheless, in February 2016 Software program MacKiev, the Mac model’s developer, introduced that that they had bought FTM from Ancestry and would proceed improvement of each the Mac and Home windows variations. On the similar time, they promised free updates for house owners of the then-current variations. Whereas the MacKiev dot-one variations have been placed on sale inside 2 months, they weren’t formally launched as free updates to the present variations till 30 Dec 2016. At the moment, connectivity with Ancestry was additionally prolonged till its alternative might be rolled out. Ancestry connectivity, together with TreeSync, the power to synchronize an FTM tree with one at Ancestry, was turned off on 29 Mar 2017, with its alternative, referred to as FamilySync, to be turned on 31 Mar. The information about FamilySync contained a little bit of a shock: it might solely be out there in FTM 2017, the subsequent iteration of FTM, which was to be launched coincident with the deployment of FamilySync. Customers of FTM 2 & three for Mac and 2012 & 2014 for Home windows would not have any connectivity to Ancestry. In the event that they needed such connectivity, they must pay to improve to FTM 2017. Paid upgrades for software program are commonplace within the business so are to be anticipated, however often such upgrades include precise enhancements and new options. FamilySync is a alternative for a earlier function, TreeSync, though it could be an enchancment. FTM incorporates three truly new options. Nevertheless, a few of its options appear to have been downgraded, whereas the consumer interface hasn’t seen a serious facelift in a number of years.

Fig 1 FTM 2017 Enhancements

Opinions might differ concerning the stability of enhancements to downgrades, however this text catalogs my evaluation. I’ve already evaluated how nicely FTM handles GEDCOM, so I’ll solely talk about modifications since then.

Enhancements & New Options

The core performance of FTM has not modified; the consumer interface (UI) has not modified a lot since model 1 for Mac and 2010 for Home windows. That’s good in a method, since there’s nothing a lot new to study, however there are drawbacks, too (extra under). MacKiev touts 4 main enhancements, every of which I’ll talk about in flip:

Fig 2 FamilySearch Attainable Matches

1. FamilySearch integration 2. FamilySync three. Shade Coding four. Photograph Darkroom. Fig 1 FTM 2017 Flyer

FamilySearch Integration

FamilySearch is likely one of the main family tree document suppliers, so integration can be an excellent factor if it labored in addition to integration with Ancestry. Earlier variations of FTM allowed merging knowledge from FamilySearch and different web sites utilizing the online clipping function, however looking and merging from FamilySearch are comparable, although not the identical as, Ancestry (Fig 2).

Fig three FamilySearch Supply Quotation Too Lengthy

A number of issues exist with the Supply Citations from FamilySearch:

– The Supply Quotation to be added is just too lengthy (Fig three)
– The precise quotation that’s added is totally different; whereas it’s not too lengthy, it isn’t fairly in a advisable format (Fig four)

Fig four FamilySearch Supply Quotation Not in Instructed Format

– As an alternative of 1 quotation being added for the FamilySearch document itself, a number of citations are added, together with 1 for FamilySearch and one for every of the citations at FamilySearch (Fig 5 & 6)

Fig 5 FamilySearch Supply Quotation Duplicated


Fig 6 Supply Citations from FamilySearch Are Duplicated in FTM2017

There must be just one appropriately formatted supply quotation for the FamilySearch document. Right here is one instance based mostly on Proof Defined by Elizabeth Proven Mills:


“Household Tree,” database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org : 01 March 2017), Abraham Rundle (PID L838-RDC); contributed by numerous customers.

The entire URL ought to solely go within the Net Handle field, not within the Quotation Element, and every of the citations from FamilySearch ought to NOT be added.


I haven’t seen an excellent rationalization for why Ancestry determined to switch TreeSync. Initially they have been going to get rid of it with none alternative, however after a public outcry, they determined to switch it with an software program interface (API) that works with each FTM and RootsMagic. RootsMagic introduced they anticipated to roll out their integration with Ancestry in April 2017 in a free replace to their present product, RootsMagic 7 (it was truly launched in June). This can be a utterly new function for RootsMagic, so this can be a distinction with FTM, which included their alternative function as a paid improve. Nevertheless, like FTM, RootsMagic additionally skilled a delay in releasing their replace, though it was solely two months late as an alternative of two and a half.

Fig 7 FamilySync Uploads in Background

One particular enchancment in FamilySync is that a number of copies of FTM can by synced with one Ancestry tree; TreeSync might sync just one FTM tree with one Ancestry tree. Subjectively FamilySync appears to be quicker than TreeSync. It does the preliminary steps of the sync within the foreground, after which the sync window closes and the sync completes within the background in order that the consumer can proceed working (see Fig 7).

Fig Eight FTM 2017 Sync Climate Report

One other potential enchancment is the brand new Sync Climate Report, which might be helpful, however solely whether it is stored up-to-date. In any other case, it should simply be an annoyance to click on by way of each time the consumer syncs their tree (Fig Eight).

So FamilySync is actually a alternative for TreeSync, with a number of enhancements. It’s fascinating to match FamilySync with one other implementation of the Ancestry API, that from RootsMagic. RootsMagic launched a video displaying how their Ancestry integration seems to be and works, and you may attempt it out within the newest model, even their free RootsMagic Necessities version.

Fig 10 TreeShare ModificationsFig 9 FamilySync Change Log

Though there are similarities in how FTM’s FamilySync and RootsMagic’s TreeShare work, TreeShare gives extra exact management over modifications. First, RootsMagic has a pleasant color-coded show of the modifications (Fig 10) as an alternative of a text-only change log (Fig 9). Second, customers can settle for or reject single modifications at a time as an alternative of both accepting or rejecting all in a batch. For instance, in Fig 11, the consumer modified a delivery date and deleted a dying occasion in RootsMagic, however when reviewing the modifications, he might settle for the start change and reject the demise change, as an alternative of getting to simply accept or reject each.

Fig 11 TreeShare Settle for or Reject Modifications

Nevertheless, in terms of Ancestry hints, that are a brand new addition to RootsMagic’s Net Hints function, I feel that FTM continues to be barely higher as a result of RootsMagic doesn’t have a built-in net browser to view the precise report, as FTM does. In FTM you possibly can view each the trace and the picture, if any, proper inside the Net Search workspace, however in RootsMagic, it’s a must to open the hyperlink to the trace in your net browser to view it.

Shade Coding

Fig 12 Colour Coding

Shade Coding is a brand new function in FTM that lets you assign as much as 4 totally different colours to an individual and their ancestors. It can be used for filtered lists. The colours present up within the Tree view, in addition to within the Index (Fig 12). Different purposes have had an identical function for fairly a while. For instance, Reunion lets you Mark individuals, to incorporate these in search outcomes. Legacy Household Tree 9 has an identical colour coding (they usually didn’t even trademark “Shade Coding”). Colour Coding can undoubtedly be helpful, particularly for filtered lists. Marking is among the options of Reunion that I missed once I switched to FTM. The power to save lots of filtered lists in FTM 2017 could also be much more helpful than Colour Coding, though the 2 options work properly collectively. For instance, if I need to filter an inventory of all individuals in my tree who died in New York between 1659 and 1999 so I can seek for them at Ancestry, I can now save the filtered record so I don’t need to create it once more the subsequent time I open FTM. Colour Coding labored nicely for me, so I don’t have any complaints about it.

Fig 13 New Photograph Darkroom Button

Photograph Darkroom

Photograph Darkroom is a function new to FTM that may darken pale black & white pictures. The function is assigned to a brand new button within the Media workspace (Fig 13). There are three ranges of restore, relying on how pale the unique is: Mild, Average, and Intensive. You’ll be able to examine the earlier than and after earlier than you save the modifications, and it’s also possible to restore the unique (originals are stored in a separate folder contained in the Media folder, which is an effective factor).

Fig 14 Pale Photograph Restore Software

There are additionally separate settings beneath Superior Settings for Brightness, Distinction, Saturation, and Sharpness. I discovered that the device made a slight however perceptible distinction on a really pale photograph (Fig 14). My solely grievance is that it was onerous to seek out the Assistance on the software. A seek for each “photograph darkroom” and “pale photograph” produced no outcomes. Nevertheless, I discovered each search phrases within the Companion Information (I’m glad to see it’s been up to date), and as soon as I knew the place to look, I might drill down within the Assist file and discover them (Fig 15).

Fig 15 Photograph Darkroom Assist

It’s virtually as if MacKiev modified their collective thoughts about what to name the software, since they discuss with each “Photograph Darkroom” and “Pale Photograph Restore Device,” however they do the identical factor.

Different Enhancements

Aside from the saved filtered lists that I already talked about, a lot of the different modifications to FTM appear to be behind the scenes. An important change is that each the Mac and Home windows variations now share the identical codebase. Which means their options are virtually similar, and when the developer wants to vary one thing, they need to often solely need to do it as soon as, as an alternative of twice. So far as I do know, the one function distinction between the 2 platforms is that the Home windows model permits charting and publishing plugins, whereas the Mac model nonetheless doesn’t.

Different essential modifications pertain to FTM’s dealing with of GEDCOM. MacKiev president Jack Minsky beforehand dedicated to creating FTM as compliant with the GEDCOM 5.5.1 commonplace as attainable. Modifications in FTM 2017 that transfer on this course embrace:

  • Utilizing UTF-Eight encoding by default and eradicating invalid character units
  • Exporting “Reason for Demise” as a part of a demise occasion as an alternative of a customized tag
  • Importing and exporting lat and lengthy coordinates
  • Exporting concatenation tags appropriately
  • Importing ANSEL character set appropriately
  • Importing tag “RESN privateness” as personal details
  • Importing and exporting baby order appropriately

FTM 2017 nonetheless has room for enchancment on GEDCOM 5.5.1 compliance, however at the very least it’s making progress. Most different builders aren’t even making an attempt to enhance their compliance.

One different last-minute enchancment that was added to FTM 2017 is a function they name the “FTM Co-Pilot Program,” which was an out-growth of their Check Drive program. This function is meant to verify in with the consumer after 48 hours of use and “run an non-compulsory diagnostic check to verify that every part has gone as deliberate,” in accordance with the discharge e-mail from Jack Minsky. Moreover, unique check drivers will apparently get precedence service in MacKiev’s 24/7 Reside Chat.

Fig 16 Potential UI Enhancements

Areas for Enchancment

The enhancements in FTM 2017 are certainly the figurative “2 steps ahead,” however in some methods it made no progress, and even regressed, beginning with the UI, which hasn’t modified a lot because the 2010 variations. It’s starting to look previous and drained. I’m not advocating change for change’s sake; the usability and accessibility of the appliance might be improved, each for energy customers and customers with disabilities. As a non-expert on this space, I supply two examples of issues that could possibly be improved:

  • Improve the distinction between disparate parts of the UI so they’re simpler to differentiate. For instance, the Filter button in Fig 16 is nearly indistinguishable from its background.
  • Deal with the Net Search workspace extra like the online browser that it’s. I’ve by no means used an internet browser that didn’t embrace normal navigation keyboard shortcuts:

Whereas MacKiev is at it, they might give FTM a much-needed facelift.

A number of modifications MacKiev did make to the UI I discover annoying. One such change is that the straightforward icons indicating media hooked up to sources (Fig 17) have been changed with thumbnails (Fig 18). I don’t see this modification as an enchancment.

Fig 17 Icons on Sources FTM threeFig 18 Thumbnails on Sources FTM 2017

It disrupts the great, clear look of the UI. As well as, the thumbnails truncate a few of the textual content on the sources, which I discover extra helpful than the thumbnails. However that’s only one man’s opinion.

One other space during which FTM 2017 might enhance is its lack of ability to open and convert variations of FTM information older than 2008 for Home windows or 1 for Mac. FTM 2017 ought to have the ability to open & convert ALL prior variations of FTM, not simply 2008 to the current. If RootsMagic can import variations 1 via 2014, then so ought to FTM. It’s ridiculous that customers with previous variations should first convert their information utilizing the Household Tree Maker 2005 Starter Version (as defined right here). FTM ought to be capable of automate this course of in order that it’s clear to the consumer.

Fig 19 Inexperienced Leaves Solely If Tree Uploaded to Ancestry

The final change I need to point out (you may discover extra), which I contemplate a downgrade, is that customers should now add their timber to Ancestry in the event that they need to get inexperienced leaf hints (Fig 19). Up to now, customers might get Ancestry hints whether or not their tree was uploaded or not, however no extra. I created a brand new tree in FTM 2017 and, positive sufficient, there have been solely hints from FamilySearch. I think this modification was pushed by Ancestry. Since Ancestry not owns FTM, there’s no want for them to offer FTM particular remedy. What higher method for Ancestry to get extra free content material than to pressure the hundreds of FTM customers to add their timber? It’s fascinating to see that RootsMagic customers additionally should add their present desktop timber if they need Ancestry WebHints. Please remember you can make your timber personal and even hold them out of Ancestry’s index in case you don’t need different customers to see them.

Who Household Tree Maker Is For

Individuals with Ancestry accounts: whereas RootsMagic has damaged FTM’s monopoly on Ancestry connectivity, FTM continues to be an excellent choice, regardless of some issues with FamilySync, particularly for present FTM customers who don’t need to change.
Individuals who care about GEDCOM 5.5.1 compliance: FTM continues to enhance on this space, with extra promised enhancements to return.
Mac Customers: FTM continues to be the best choice for Mac customers when it comes to efficiency, options, GEDCOM compliance, and net integration. Whereas different purposes have higher eye sweet, their GEDCOM compliance particularly is poor. I feel an analogous case could possibly be made for Home windows customers, as nicely, however I’m not a Home windows professional, and there are a number of robust contenders within the Home windows market, so I gained’t wade into that debate.
Customers of FTM variations older than three or 2014 would in all probability profit from upgrading, since there have been appreciable efficiency enhancements and bug fixes.

Personally, I match into the primary three classes, so I’ll proceed to make use of FTM, regardless that I can’t assist feeling barely disenchanted with model 2017. It definitely incorporates some enhancements and new options, however they’re nearly balanced out by the issues with FamilySearch integration and the stagnant UI. I must assume very onerous about paying the complete worth of $79.95, however I feel the improve worth of $39.95 is value it.

Disclosure: I paid the promotional improve worth of $29.95 for the Mac model of FTM 2017. I additionally reviewed a Check Drive of FTM 2017 for Home windows to make sure it was equal to the Mac model. I didn’t obtain any compensation from any get together for scripting this evaluate.

*Notes: Household Tree Maker, FamilySync, Colour Coding, Photograph Darkroom, TreeSync, FamilySearch, and RootsMagic are logos or registered logos of their respective house owners. This text was edited on 17 Dec 2017 to incorporate the paragraph about FTM’s lack of ability to open previous variations of FTM information.

The Household Tree Software program Options Collection

Half 1: Easy methods to Scrub Your Knowledge
Half 2: The right way to Get Your Tree out of FTM
Half three: RootsMagic 7
Half four: Reunion 11
Half 5: MacFamilyTree Eight
Half 6: Household Tree Builder Eight
Half 7: Heredis 2015
Half Eight: Gramps 5
Half 9: iFamily for Mac
Half 10: GEDitCOM II
Half 11: Legacy Household Tree Eight
Half 12: Ancestral Quest 14
Half 13: Household Historian 6
Half 14: Ought to You Stick to Household Tree Maker?
Half 15: Brother’s Keeper 7
How Properly Does Ancestry.com Deal with GEDCOM?
Household Tree Maker to GEDCOM to Different Apps Crosswalk
The Perils of Following the GEDCOM Normal
Why All Family tree Apps Ought to Help GEDCOM 5.5.1

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