Genealogy Software

What to Do About the Discontinuation of Family Tree Maker


What to Do About the Discontinuation of Family Tree Maker


Ancestry.com recently announced it will discontinue making its acclaimed FTM (Family Tree Maker) software, and there are a lot of angry customers. Their blog is full of comments from displeased people. Ancestry has not offered any suggestions for alternate solutions. The only explanation the company has offered is that it does not see any profit in desktop software going forward, and so will focus on online offerings. This means people who have used Ancestry.com solely to build their family tree will have to keep up an annual membership to the site to be able to access all the work they have done on their family tree. The information on the site will also be stored in the cloud, so if the cloud or Ancestry ever goes down or out of business, people stand to lose their family trees. This can sometimes represent decades of work.

There are others who use the online feature of the FTM desktop software to connect with Ancestry.com and automatically find records and download them to their family tree. It saves a lot of time in collecting and cataloging research. Since FTM will not be available for purchase after the end of the year, this means no more upgrades to the software, and Ancestry.com will stop supporting it after January of 2017. This is a big deal in the genealogy world, since FTM has been around since the mid-1990’s, and was one of the first family tree software programs available. It was made by a company called Broderbund back then; it was only later that Ancestry.com purchased it and added it to their company. Some customers have been using this one program for nearly twenty years to record their family history and genealogy information.

Locating an alternative is going to be a priority for FTM users, and a dramatic change for many of them, especially the ones who have been using it since the beginning. Without support from Ancestry.com anymore, and with many people being uncomfortable with the idea of putting their genealogy information in the cloud, with a third-party company, alternatives are the only answer, and getting used to a new way of recording information on their family tree will be a necessary evil.

The tough part of finding an alternative to FTM is that no other family tree software is compatible with it. Ancestry.com, and Broderbund before it, made certain of this, to ensure they kept customers. The idea of manually transferring what may be tens of thousands of names and thousands of pages of notes from FTM to another genealogy software program is daunting at best. Here are some ways to make transferring your information easier, as well as alternative software programs that are just as good as FTM, and, according to many genealogists who use them, even better.

 

Make a GEDCOM File

While FTM files are not compatible with any other genealogy software, you can convert those files to GEDCOM files. GEDCOM files are compatible with many different family tree software programs. Being able to transfer your information, including photos and media files, without having to copy it all over by hand, which could take months or longer to do, depending on the size of your family tree, is a big deal, regardless of what software you choose to transfer them to.

To make a GEDCOM file with FTM, you open your family file in FTM, then use the main menu to select “File>Export File>Entire File.” You’ll get a “Save as Type” popup menu. Select GEDCOM from this menu. Click “OK,” and the GEDCOM version of your FTM family tree will go onto your desktop. When you install a new family tree software on your computer, you can just drag the file to the new program’s desktop icon and deposit it there. You should then be able to access your family tree information in the new program when you open it. All you need to do then is learn how to use the new program.

 

Good FTM Alternatives

While no other software will be able to connect to Ancestry.com and automatically grab copies of records from it for your family tree (you’ll have to do it by hand), there are a few other programs with the in-program capabilities of FTM. In fact, some message boards where this issue is being discussed say some programs are actually better than FTM when it comes to in-program functions.

Some programs you may want to try, that have high ratings and excellent user satisfaction, include Legacy (by far the most popular alternative choice being discussed online), Reunion, and RootsMagic. You may want to try more than one before deciding on the program you will use in place of FTM from now on. It’s important to get a program you will enjoy using, and that does what you need it to do. Most programs offer a refund if you return it within a certain period of time, so this gives you an ideal way to try alternatives to FTM and discover the new one you like best. Just be sure the software supports GEDCOM files, then start exploring to find your new favorite family tree desktop software.


Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)

14 Comments

  • I just wasted $95.00 up grading to the 2017 update to FTM. Now it’s going out of businesss. MacKiev can expect to receive the two disks and the download to my computer uninstalled.
    The 2009 version will work find for me, for the time I have left. I will make hard copies for my kids and they can do what they want about further research.
    FTM user since day one—Thomas S Stempson

  • I also had been using FTM since mid ’90’s and have been very disgusted on this decision by Ancestry.com. I have started trying a couple of these different companies, that have been mentioned, even paid $ and have not been thrilled! Guess I was so used to FTM it’s hard to switch. Even the ones who are “compatible” still require lots of repeated work! Then I have just found out that “Software MacKiev” is now supporting and taking over FTM. I sent them a request and got a reply from them the very next morning!!! Impressed! They gave me options of getting my files off my old laptop to my new one and supporting FTM. Anyone else heard of them and know anything??? They are suppose to come out with their version this week! Thanks!

  • Personally, I think ACOM is making a huge mistake. They will have lost the connection with their subscribers.

  • I am not a proponent of Ancestry because I can’t afford it since I retired. I had an account for several years, and I still use it for research.

    I think we need to recognize that Ancestry has done a tremendous job for genealogists in that they have made many records available that we might not otherwise be able to access. They pay for bulk records that are found in countries that rely on the money to preserve their heritage. They are not giving it away for free. Ancestry has to pay people to get or make a copy of those records, so they need to charge for their memberships. Also, how many people do they hire to maintain the website? Therefore,they are for profit.

    That being said, familysearch.org has a free online program that does what Ancestry does and if you go to any of their Family History Centers, you can search Ancestry for free and use it to easily add to your history.

  • Thank you . OK , I need to buy a software program like FTM or other, load it into my laptop & download all my info from Ancestry to a file on the software??? Or, do I create a file on my laptop first and then download that file to my new software? Please forgive my ignorance , and thank you so much. I am learning so much from so many places.

  • A GEDCOM file is a genealogy database in a “universal” format that virtually all genealogy software programs can read and/or write. You must have a genealogy software program to use the GEDCOM file, as looking at the raw data it would just be gibberish. Most on-line sites also allow you to upload your tree using a GEDCOM. To me saving your work periodically to a GEDCOM ensures that regardless of the various software companies and website that come and go, you will always have your information.

  • Can you explain to me, in terms a novice can understand, just what a GEDCOM file is, and how it would work. Thank you. I have learned so much from ancestralfindings newsletters.

  • This is so sad, since ACOM came out of the Mormon Church, so to say, as the originals were members there and five of the executive level folks still are….. to DO what they have done since they KILLED the MyFamily Sites, KILLED the Genealogy.com Family Forum Boards, and other items, IT really boils down to ACOM now being a FOR PROFIT CORPORATION and the bottom line is now all that they care abt. and will care abt…… For one must consider that if they continue to grow? and if they can get a majority of “annual” membership fees, just think how much MONEY that is would be in the yrs. to come!! HUGE, BILLIONS of…… So for me, this is a sad case of GREED and we all in our local county and states NEED to make SURE that ACOM does NOT get total and exclusive RIGHTS to the genealogy data in our C.H.’s and State Archives!! They have already DONE THAT in some cases and IT NEEDS to BE STOPPED NOW!!! For if allowed to BE, they will become the only PLACE that one can access genealogy data, files, original records, trees, etc. in the future!!! THAT would be totally WRONG IMHO!!!!!!

  • I had tried many programs over the years but I like FTM the best. I was not pleased with the new online version because it was harder to get just what info I wanted. I had the dos version and then the last was 5.0. When my laptop crashed i tried the newer one. There are a lot of good things with it but clumsy to use when just looking around.

  • Ive been using ftm since 1985. Ive chosen rootsmagic….and it is compatible, ftm files can be imported into it. It will still mean many hours of work, and will mean much slower research and documentation of what I do find. It was a stupid move on Ancestry s part, and makes my subscription less valuable and almost encourages people to go elsewhere with their subscription dollars.

  • No other program include the feature of automatically downloading the data, Ancestry has keep that proprietary.

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