Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ancestry.com Announces Retirement of Family Tree Maker Software

The Ancestry.com blog just made this major, stunning, announcement:

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Ancestry is proud to have made a significant investment this year to bring valuable new content and records to the Ancestry site. In 2015, we’ve made 220 million searchable historical records from Mexico available, more than 170 million pages from the largest collection of U.S. will and probate records, among others. We’ve also introduced new features such as Ancestry Academy and major advancements for AncestryDNA. 
We remain dedicated to helping people gain new levels of understanding about their lives, and who and what led to them, harnessing the information found in family trees, historical records and genetics. As a company, we’re also continually evaluating ways to focus our efforts to provide the most impact and best product experience for our users through our core offerings.
True to this focus, we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015. 
Our subscription business and website, on the other hand, continue to grow and we are doubling down our efforts to make that experience even better for our Ancestry community. 
Ancestry will continue to support current owners of Family Tree Maker at least through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync™, will continue to work, and Member Services will be available to assist with user questions. We will also address major software bugs that may occur, as well as compatibility updates. 
These changes are never easy, but by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on continuing to build great products for our loyal Ancestry community. 
If you have inquiries regarding Family Tree Maker, please reach out to our Member Services team. We’ll also provide updates on our blog as needed leading up to January 1, 2017. 
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I must admit to being almost speechless.  I never expected this to happen.  I expected an announcement by RootsTech 2016 that there would be a Family Tree Maker 2016 with more bells and whistles than the 2014 software program, perhaps with interaction with the FamilySearch Family Tree.

Based on this announcement, it appears to me that:

*  Family Tree Maker will not be updated unless there are major software bugs occur.

*  There is a real possibility that FTM will not work with a major computer operating system change to Windows and Mac computers.

*  There is a real possibility that the next Ancestry.com website format change will kill the TreeSync feature, which is very useful to many users.

*  As long as Ancestry.com can read GEDCOM 5.5, users will still be able to upload their FTM tree to Ancestry.com, but the media will not upload.

*  If sales of Family Tree Maker is halted on 31 December 2015, then researchers with only an Ancestry Member Tree will have no way to download their tree with record images attached.  This will be a major issue on 1 January 2016.  

*  What genealogy software will step up with a conversion program to take an FTM database and enter it into their software program?

*  Ancestry.com has decided to concentrate their future family tree effort on mobile applications and online, and that desktop genealogy software is obsolete.  

It must be real since it's not April first.  Just wow!

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2015/12/ancestrycom-announces-retirement-of.html

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver


Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Or contact me by email at randy.seaver@gmail.com.



31 comments:

Jim's Girl said...

Wow! When I discovered last week that the current versions of FTM don't work with Windows 10, I figured I'd just wait for the 2016 edition. I guess not. Hmm. What to do? What to do?

J. Paul Hawthorne said...

This is very stunning indeed! I've been using this software before Ancestry even owned it. I must admit most of my time spent is actually on the website though. This is purely a business decision.

Linda Stufflebean said...

I got the email, too, and FB already is filling up with comments. Ancestry's way of doing business is becoming more and more annoying unless one is interested in a subscription that continues to become more and more expensive or a DNA test kit is wanted.

Dave Lyon said...

I'm sure they've thought through it even though I don't get it. One thing I'd love for them to do is license TreeSync as an API. For example, if they'd let RootsMagic incorporate TreeSync so you could sync your RootsMagic db with Ancestry-- awesome. But I think Randy's right that they don't want to have keep TreeSync up forever either.

Jim's Girl- I use the current FTM on Windows 10 and it works just fine. Where did you hear it doesn't work?

Pam said...

I thought it was a bad joke when I read the announcement, but it is not.

Randy - I've read your blog for about a year now and have been interested in your postings on software and your software reviews, although up to this point, it has been an hypothetical issue for me. We've used FTM since the 1990s. I think there will be MANY, MANY FTM users who will now be looking for an alternative desktop software for their family trees. Reviews and advice would help us. I do not want to rely on a family tree on a commercial site - where it is out of my control. I really like the flexibility of FTM report functions, allowing me to tailor reports for different purposes and do different checks, and maintain a task list, etc. And, I have finally figured out how to do decent EE source citations - just when they pull the rug out from underneath us!! Now we need a decent, comparable, or better, alternative. Your advice - and advice from other bloggers (via your Best of the Blogs) - would be most welcome.

Russ Worthington said...

Randy,

My only comment is that by the time we need to deal with an update to our Operating Systems on our computers, WE won't be on Computers. Microsoft has said that Windows 10 was it's last.

Like you, I teach locally. One of my classes, at a Senior Center keeps pushing me to using Mobile Devices. Yelling and screaming, I am learning mobile devices.

BUT, I have not plans on changing the way I do research. FTM2014 and an Ancestry Member Tree.

Russ

Unknown said...

The mobile versions are awful. I have 12,000 people in my tree. I need the desktop version to generate reports, calculate relationships between people, synchronize trees, and find duplicates. I guess I will be trying to find something else during this year.

Mary Foxworthy said...

Has Ancestry indicated that it will provide reporting and charting functions that are on FTM? Guess I'll get more serious about getting up to speed on Legacy.

Keith Riggle said...

I agree with Dave Lyon, it would be nice if Ancestry released an API so other desktop software could connect to Ancestry. I use this feature in Family Tree Maker daily. And until Ancestry has all the functionality of FTM, I'm not giving it up.

As for "What genealogy software will step up with a conversion program to take an FTM database and enter it into their software program?" None of them can unless Ancestry releases an API for FTM or otherwise opens up the database structure, because it is closed and proprietary. Fortunately, FTM can export links to media files in its GEDCOM files, so that may not be necessary. I have successfully imported a GEDCOM created using FTM into RootsMagic, and all of my media (including source images downloaded from Ancestry) were still intact. Like most genealogy software, FTM has some issues when creating GEDCOM files, but there are several GEDCOM validity checkers one can use to see where the problems are.

Diane Gould Hall said...

I was absolutely speechless when I saw this announcement. I switched from FTM to Legacy years ago. I don't personally like the FTM program. That being said, there's millions of users. I feel bad for them. I pray that we will not all be stuck using apps to keep our trees. I don't want my tree on an app on my iPad or iPhone. Yes, I have Famillies, in order to carry my Legacy tree with me. However, I do all my work on my desktop. I don't like using laptops or iPads for my research entry, sourcing etc. This is really a big announcement and I certainly never saw it coming. The new Ancestry website is horrible and we will be stuck with it very soon. Maybe they are just going to go to go out of business? I don't know what's going on.

Old Gal said...

Have used a FTM version since first one came out. Things change - not for the best. And as for Ancestry, for time being, they have lost me due to the changes on tree. I have made repeated comments against it to them about how bad the pages look. Course, they surely have "young" people in there who think they "know the best." I still own pen & paper and notebooks. I can research on Familysearch and log it like 40 years ago before any of us even knew the word "computer."

michaelwmccormick.com said...

A couple years ago FamilySearch ended support for their desktop genealogy software called PAF. Today Ancestry.com announced plans to end support for their Family Tree Maker software. I've used both. I like using several online trees and desktop programs. I was hoping someday there would be software that syncs with several online trees like syncing my data to Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage from one software I can use to manage my single copy. Instead big players are dumping software. This feels like a problem for serious genealogists who want the backup, robust features, speed, and control of having their own file. We can still have our own of course, but the dream of easier syncing between online and offline seems to be fading. It feels like bad news to me. However, if someday Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, and other online tree providers, provide an API for tree syncing like FamilySearch does then an independent software provider could fill the market demand for an offline home base copy of a person's genealogy that can be synced to all the trees. I'm afraid hope is fading, but it is still possible. Ancestry.com does not have to provide the software, but only support such an API. I'm thinking GEDCOMX.

Leslie P said...

Randy,
RootsMagis has already posted about an upgrade/conversion offer and free user guides and training material. They also say they have direct FTM import, so... the program you and I both use seems to be opening their arms for the FTM refugees, just like they did for the TMG folks.

Unknown said...

Please help us find alternatives. I'm disgusted by this move and would be glad to quit ancestry.com and find better desktop and report creating software.

Jacquie Schattner said...

I teach beginning genealogy classes and part of the course is to review several data software programs. I recommend FTM, because it is owned by a corporation. And after Master Genealogist retired, I pointed out that a corporation owning it rather than a small family owned company, it would last. Well, I was wrong. Now I think that Ancestry realized that instead of a one time $69.99 payment for FTM, to use most of the features we now use, it is far more profitable to force a subscription for $189/year annually. I will be interested in seeing which database company will step up and either take over FTM (as mycanvas did for the photobooks) or develop their programs for a smooth transfer of information and media.

declutteringthestuff said...

Looks like Microsoft started the trend of cloud based serves with Office 365 for an annual fee and Ancestry thinks they can do the same with FTM. So sad! At least Office has a download to allow you to use it offline. Maybe Ancestry will do the same but for some reason, I doubt it.

mbm1311 said...

I was waiting for you to comment and was happy to hear from Cousin Russ. I have a Mac and over the years I tried Reunion, Roots Magic and FTM. FTM works with my brain. I keep thinking there must be more to this story. If they were going to sell the software part of the business, I would think the announcement would come in the same release. i'm checking out My Heritage this year. It seems like they are good completion for ancestry. I have had a good experience with ancestry and it was time to make a change.

Geolover said...

With all the unfixed bugs and memory-hog limitations of FTM, the loyalty of its user-base is amazing. The Ancestry blog announcing abandoning the program now has over 3900 comments -- is that a record for less than 24 hours?

Lynn David said...

Simply the dumbest idea ever.

Famberry said...

Interested to see if Ancestry will listen to their users this time around. Here is our open letter to them:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=768999576545683&id=238279096284403

James Alexander Knighton said...

I was seriously considering moving from FTM to GRAMPS because I love the way GRAMPS handles data. The one thing holding me back was that the information was lost in the GEDCOM format and constantly uploading it to Ancestry would be a pain, whereas FTM has the TreeSync feature.

Now I have a reason to. Looks like I'll be moving my working file to GRAMPS and doing some major cleanup. GRAMPS generates a complete family tree website so from now I'll probably put my data online through that.

T said...

What will ancestry be a year from now? I won't be using it. I have the software but how long will I be able to use that? And what is the point of using it now if it's not going to work in a couple of years? This is the end of my tree on line unless I can find a site that will sync my desktop with my online tree. Ancestry's greed is the bullet that will kill it. The horrible web site has driven people away; probably not as many as threatened, but we'll be going. Every time someone has to work around an ancestry upgrade will be one more reason to leave. When it doesn't work there is no point in trying to use it. My tree has 2619 photos. I'm scared to death they will be lost or that I won't be able to figure out who they should be associated with after ancestry folds. I wish I would never have used their site.
I looked at GRAMPS a couple of weeks ago. Time to experiment with it.

Tracy Saks said...

I was very disappointed after reading the Announcement from Ancestry.com. I use my Family Tree Maker mainly for cleaning up my tree. It helps me find duplicates easily. Not just duplicates of people, but duplicates of EVERYTHING. If Ancestry plans on making this change, I hope they add tools to clean up locations and duplicate facts. I have been making this request in every beta questionnaire I fill out.

Eddie Hulme said...

This is madness and money grabbing. I use the desktop version on my windows 10 laptop. I use tree sync. Online versions just dont work with large trees. The user interface just doesnt do it.

Eddie Hulme said...

This is madness and money grabbing. I use the desktop version on my windows 10 laptop. I use tree sync. Online versions just dont work with large trees. The user interface just doesnt do it.

Susan Clark Neese said...

My FTM 2014 works just fine with Windows 10!

Claire said...

I have been waiting to buy a desktop software and have a lot of records and notes saved online in Ancestry.com Can anyone give me some advice: do I need to spend the $$ to buy FTM to download all that I have saved in ancestry. If I export a gedcom, the info will be limited, right? Is there any other software I can download from ancestry.com into that would preserve some of my work?

Thanks.

Russ Worthington said...

Claire -- a GEDCOM file does NOT include any images

Unknown said...

I'm in the same boat as you. It looks like Legacy will connect with ancestry and family search. I haven't tried it yet, but most of my web searching says Legacy is the best

Sarah Adams said...

http://genealogy-software-review.toptenreviews.com/mobile/legacy-review.html

Sarah Adams said...

http://genealogy-software-review.toptenreviews.com/mobile/legacy-review.html