Saturday, August 8, 2009

Which Family Tree Maker version to use?

On my recent post Family Tree Maker 2010 <=> Ancestry Member Tree Synchronization, David commented:

"I am new to FTM and have a tree in of about 625 records and would like to purchase a hard copy of the FTM software. There are several versions to pick from. 2009 basic, deluxe, platinum, etc. and now 2010. What would you recommend? My main focus is my in-laws have a HUGE data base that I would like to import into mine and I was told by that the only way was to do it through an FTM product."

David, if you currently do not have any genealogy software program and want to ensure that your Ancestry Member Tree, and your in-laws Ancestry Member Tree, can be downloaded to a genealogy software program with as much retained information as possible, then Family Tree Maker 2010 is probably your best choice.

The reason for this is that the company owns Family Tree Maker software and is trying to provide an easy conversion from the online Ancestry Member Trees to FTM 2010 software on user computers, and vice versa. The user can download an Ancestry Member Tree, with attached media items (meaning images, audio, video), except for historical data records collected from databases, to Family Tree Maker 2009 and/or 2010. The user can also upload an FTM 2009/2010 database, with attached media, to a new Ancestry Member Tree.

With any other genealogy software program, the user is limited to a GEDCOM upload to or a GEDCOM download from to the other genealogy software. In a pure GEDCOM action, there are no media items transferred.

There are some things to consider:

* You need to make sure that the family tree databases you mention are in the Ancestry Member Trees, and not in the One World Tree or World Family Tree collections. Ancestry has these three sets of family trees, with the Ancestry Member Trees the collection that can have attached media.

* When you upload a GEDCOM file or an FTM 2009/2010 file to Ancestry, you must make it a NEW family tree. You cannot add more information onto an existing Ancestry Member Tree except by inputting it item by item using the keyboard. If you frequently make NEW Ancestry Member Trees, you may end up with a number of similar family trees on if you're not careful. You should delete the older ones if the newest one has the most recent changes to your database. Of course, any tree you delete on means that you will lose any media that you have attached (from your computer or record databases) to the deleted tree. That is why the upload/download feature between Ancestry Member Trees and FTM 2009/2010 is so important!

* Note that what and Family Tree Maker software are doing is not a true synchronization, where if you change data or records in one of them then the other is automatically updated somehow. That is not happening yet - but it is what many users want, and Ancestry may be working on ways to implement it.

* Every user needs to pick whether to make all of their changes to data and records in the Ancestry Member Tree database or in the genealogy software database. Then they must occasionally upload or download to the other in order to make them the same database. I choose to make my changes on my desktop computer because FTM 2009 (and any other desktop software) is much easier to use to add, edit, delete, display, save and print information than in the Ancestry Member Tree. Genealogy software has many more useful features than any online family tree system, including Ancestry Member Trees.

* Using FTM 2009/2010 as the primary data entry resource means that you will need to back it up once in awhile. That is one of the best things about the FTM 2009/2010 <=> Ancestry Member Tree data exchange - the AMT is a backup database not stored on your home computer. If your computer crashes, then you have a recent backup of your database (and attached media) on the computers. This is one reason why I'm going to buy FTM 2010.

* You will need to purchase Family Tree Maker software. You mentioned different "versions" of FTM 2009 - basic, essentials, deluxe, platinum, etc. These are bundles of the same software package (in this case FTM 2009) with extra items added on - genealogy books on CDROM, FTM user manual, and various subscriptions. You can find these "sales" at or and other discount websites. You need to decide how much "extra stuff" you want with your FTM 2010. To buy FTM 2010 now, you can go to The retail price is $39.95. If you do a Google search for "family tree maker 2010" you may current sales bundles at Amazon and other websites. I saw the FTM 2010 Essentials (just the software, nothing else) on sale today at for $29.99. The discount sites will probably bundle FTM 2010 with books on CD, an Ancestry subscription, etc. I've had good results using these sites and have saved money on software and on subscriptions.

* You said that "... I was told by that the only way was to do it through an FTM product." That is probably a true statement IF your in-laws tree is only on Ancestry Member Tree and has many media items attached to it. If they don't have any media items attached to it, then a GEDCOM download of the file should be readable on any genealogy software with a GEDCOM import function. If they have their file in some other software, then they can create a GEDCOM file and send it to you and you can import it as a GEDCOM file into your own genealogy software program (including FTM 2010).

I know this is a lot of information, but the issue is very complicated. I wanted to give you a complete answer so that you can ask more questions, make a good decision and obtain genealogy software that suits your needs. I also thought that other readers might be interested in the answers to your questions! It is possible that other software companies will come to an agreement to permit media uploads and downloads to or from Ancestry Member Trees, but I doubt that this will happen in the near future. Why? Because the Ancestry <=> FTM "synchronization" provides FTM 2010 with a unique and excellent sales point in the marketplace.

Russ Worthington is also addressing questions like this, and demonstrating how to work between and Family Tree Maker 2009/2010, on his Family Tree Maker User blog at Check out Russ's work - he does a great job of explaining things in a step-by-step process.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is extremely helpful. Thank you for your complete answer!