The genealogy community is all a buzz due to the announcement two days ago by Ancestry.com that they would be retiring and no longer supporting their software program, Family Tree Maker. As a FTM user, this news was very upsetting to me. I have spent many hours of my life building my family tree online with Ancestry.com, using FTM. You can view their announcement at their blog site, http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/12/08/ancestry-to-retire-family-tree-maker-software/.
Since the announcement, I have calmed down and the initial panic has worn off. I have decided to sit this out for a while before I make any major changes to the way I do my genealogy work. After all, we have until January of 2017. I know other family tree software companies will use this time of panic to make sweet offers for the panicked masses of FTM users to switch to their products, which is tempting I admit. But for now, I will wait it out and see what else happens or comes about.
First though, I have to say to Ancestry.com that your timing on this deal is pretty crappy. You won’t be offering FTM for sale after Dec 31, 2015 and you announced this on Dec 8, 2015. Seventeen days before Christmas. I’m sure most people, like myself, are already budgeted to the max. I bought the program and downloaded it to my laptop, without ever getting the setup disk. So of course I would like to now buy the disk so that if my laptop crashes, I can at least add the program back to a new computer. That would be $79 I wasn’t expecting to spend with such short notice, right in the middle of the holiday season. My children thank you. They will now have to believe again in Santa Claus if they want their stocking filled up.
The reason I use the FTM program is because I need to print my work out, run reports, see cousin relations, etc. I also use the program, to catch errors, and make mass changes at once. Here is an example of a report I always use when researching. I keep this right in front of me when working on a line, this way I know all the players and dates for reference.
The main reason I will sit this out before switching to another software program is the tree sync feature that FTM offered with Ancestry.com. I spend many hours working on my family tree. Sometimes I work from Ancestry.com, and sometimes I work directly in the software, offline. When I go back online, FTM automatically syncs my data from the software to my tree online. That means, any changes I made on Ancestry.com is downloaded and updated to my software program, and any changes I made in the program is uploaded to Ancestry.com and my tree there is updated. This means I do not have to do double the work, and my tree is exactly the same in both locations, online and offline.
At this point if I switch to another software program, any changes I make to my tree, will have to be manually made in two places. In the program, and on my ancestry.com tree. In the past, before I used FTM tree sync, this meant I would get on a roll, working away on Ancestry.com and not even really remember what all I had changed, and then have to remember to make the same changes in the software program. Inevitably, this meant I would forget to make one or two of the changes and then my data is comprised and not correct, and doesn’t match in both places.
And yes, I know I can just do my work on Ancestry.com and then extract a gedcom, upload in my program and then they match. I don’t want to go through that every time I make changes. I want a program to sync with Ancestry.com. Hopefully, one of the other programs will step up and make the sync with Ancestry.com a possibility, and if they do, that is who I will switch to.
The other major problem with them discontinuing the program, is all the reporting that the software program has, that Ancestry.com does not have. I use these reports daily, in one way or another, and ancestry.com only offers reports that you have to pay to get. I’m definitely not paying them to print out a copy of the work I have done myself. Never will that happen. In fact, if they would just add the reporting abilities to their website, then I would be more than happy to do most of my work online on their website and then back up my tree to my computer any time I make changes.
This announcement two days once again fostered my fear of what will happen to my family tree when I am gone? How do I keep my work up to date, all together, less confusing and easily accessible to my descendants or any family members that are interested? What if the one way I have decided to keep my information becomes obsolete and all my work is lost before another family member becomes interested?
I know for a fact, all this paper work I have lying around, will probably just get trashed when I am gone. My kids are not going to look at all the data I have collected in these binders and boxes. My hope was to get all this information, photos, maps, letters, diaries and etc, integrated into my tree, easily accessible on the computer and then maybe someone would be interested if it was all easily searchable and organized all together. I know, I know, you are laughing at me right now. No family historian ever really accomplishes this. But I had planned to die trying. LOL!
So, my new goal for 2016 will be to come up with a plan for all my work, and figure out the best way to save all this for future generations so that it doesn’t end up in the dump when I die, or better yet, die out with an obsolete computer program.
In a way, I guess this is a big thank you to Ancestry.com for waking me up enough to realize that my work will not survive solely in a computer program, with reports lying around in binders.