Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'm NOT going to try FTM 2008 now

The FamilyTreeMaker web site home page now takes you to a splash page for FTM 2008, but provides no link for a download. It does provide a link for FTM 16.

You can download the Beta version of FamilyTreeMaker 2008 at http://beta.familytreemaker.com/. The announcement comes with warnings:

Announcing Family Tree Maker 2008, the next generation of the world's best-selling genealogy program. Family Tree Maker 2008 is coming this August, but you can give it a try now by downloading and installing a beta of the program. Simply click the link below to download the beta.

Before you continue please note the following:

* This is a beta program; therefore there are no guarantees that the program will perform correctly, nor are there any warranties of any kind.
* Since this beta version is still in development it may crash or fail to function correctly. Though unlikely, installing the program may also negatively affect the operation of your computer.
* Files created in this beta may not open in the release version of the product. * Always keep a backup of your data in another genealogy program (such as Family Tree Maker 16).
* The beta will stop functioning on August 24th. If you have entered information into the program that you would like to preserve please be sure to create a GEDCOM export before the 24th of August.
* The beta download is very large (170 MB). Please note that a considerable amount of time may be required to download the beta.
* The minimum system requirements for running the program are:
Operating System: Windows XP/Vista
Processor: 500 MHz Intel Pentium II or equivalent (1 GHz or faster processor recommended)
Hard Disk: 400 MB for installation. Additional space required for data files.
Memory: 256 MB of RAM (512 MB of RAM recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution (1024x768 resolution recommended)
Internet: All online features require internet access


The Beta site at http://beta.familytreemaker.com/ shows several screens for a Family Page (with a pedigree view), a Person Page (with a color-coded timeline, including historic events), a Places Page (with a map), and a Media Collection Page (with a collection of photos).

The Menu Bar has Plan, People, Places, Media, sources, Publish and Web Search. The look and feel of the format is completely different from all previous FTM versions.

Change is required for progress to be made, but not all change is progress.

Why should I spend my time and computer memory to download FTM 2008 just to have it go dormant (and stay on my hard drive) on August 24 (unless I buy the program)? That's only 6 weeks away. If I made comments or suggested modifications, would they be able to include them? I doubt it. I am going to let others download it, test it, find the bugs, etc. My opinion is that this public Beta release is intended to create a buzz among users - that users will test it and like it and FTM 2008 will get significant "word-of-mouth" advertising before the official version is released.

The conditions for me to buy it in the future will be contingent on the capability of the software to perform the following tasks efficiently and accurately:

1) Ability to add Facts and Sources easily in an accepted professional format (such as in Elizabeth Shown Mills new book, Evidence! Explained ... )

2) Ability to create within genealogy reports the embedded Field Codes required for word processing documents to create Tables of contents and Indexes. I want to be able to edit the genealogy report after creating it but then be able to easily make an index.

3) Ability to create a simple Ahnentafel - just numbers, names, dates and places. All FTM versions to date cannot do this - you have to make an Ahnentafel Report then edit out the children and other phrases to get a simple Ahnentafel report.

4) Ability to create a GEDCOM file compatible for any earlier version of FTM.

5) Ability to read a GEDCOM created from any other software, without adding any text to the notes (for example, I just made a GEDCOM of a database, and when I opened a New file with that GEDCOM, all of the notes had the line "[seaver.ged]" in them. That is unacceptable).

What about you? What are you looking for in FamilyTreeMaker 2008? What conditions do you have for buying it?

UPDATED 7/11: Kathi at the Ancestor Search blog has downloaded FTM 2008 and posted a list of her likes and dislikes here. Nice job, and I hope she continues her evaluation.

I will post links to additional reviews when I find them.

I modified my paragraph about why I'm not going to download it and test it.

UPDATED 7/13: Dick Eastman's post has many comments on it from folks who have downloaded and tested FTM 2008.

There are ongoing discussions and tips on using FTM 2008 at the FTM-TECH mailing list - the July 2007 Archives are here.


Anonymous said...

Randy- it does NOT disappear...IT stops functioning...those are TWO totally different things on a computer...and since the FILE is so BIG that is a lot of space for a program that does NOT even WORK. Think I will skip the Beta and probably the final version too...I want something that meets my NEEDS not someones bottom line

Anonymous said...

Randy, the whole point of a beta is to collect feedback for the purpose of incorporating it into the product. If they weren't going to incorporate any fixes or changes into the product, then there wouldn't be any point in having a beta. Does that mean they're going to add an entirely new function that isn't there now if you suggest it? Probably not, but that doesn't mean they won't consider adding it later. I definitely plan to install it and kick the tires a bit. The more people who try it out, the better the chance of finding and fixing bugs before it is released. And the more people who send feedback about features that are missing, the more likely they are to add them down the road.

malium said...

Be aware that as of now, one feature being discontinued in the FTM 2008 version is the ability to search database CDs (Family Archive CDs) despite the fact that the parent company still sells these discs.

It's a good example of why it's important to look at beta software and offer your feedback - if this kind of thing matters to you.