Friday, March 4, 2011

Reader's Genea-Rant #2 - "Family Tree Maker 2011 sucks..."

An anonymous reader commented on my post Family Tree Maker 2011 Announced:

"I originally had the 2005 version and loved it. The 2011 version sucks it is unbelievable confusing. I have no idea when I am on my computer and when it has jumped me to the web. I am well educated and this is the most nonintuitive and poorly laid out software I have seen. It is just tooooooo complicated and non intuitive with pathetic help. If you want to take classes and spend a few weeks figuring it out, fine."

My upset reader did not ask me for suggestions or recommendations, he only wanted to rant and have me publish it as a warning to others.  Frankly, I've heard many similar complaints from readers and society colleagues, and have had similar thoughts myself.  If he had asked me, I would have said:
The 2005 version of Family Tree Maker (and version 2006 too) was an excellent program that I used as my main genealogy software until this year.  It was easy to use, very fast, and not too complicated.  However, I heard that it was out-of-date and that they could not add more features to it easily.  In addition, their competition had added many new features that weren't in FTM 2006 and before.
Family Tree Maker 2008 was the first version using the totally new programming that included the mapping, standard locations, source citation templates, and other features.  Unfortunately, 2008 dropped some of the great features of 2006 (and before), and many of them they have been added back into the program since 2008. 
As you noted, FTM 2011 is very busy, complicated and slower, when compared to 2006 and before.  The menus, the screens, the the other functions are all different.  The program has a definite learning curve.
It also has a good Help function - on the Menu bar.  You can click on that, enter a search term in the box, and see exactly how to do anything you want to do with FTM 2011. 
In addition, offers free Webinars (Web Seminars), including some on using Family Tree Maker 2011.  View their archived webinars at is also an online tutorial for FTM @011 at  You can watch the webinars and tutorial at your leisure in the comfort of your home, there's no need to go out for quality instruction in using the program.
You mentioned that it "jumps me to the web" when you don't expect it to.  That should happen only when you click on the "Web Search" workspace button, or click on the "View" menu and select "Search." 
My advice to you is to check out the webinars and the online tutorial, and use the Help menu when you need a hint as to how to do something.  It's a very powerful program, and every user should take the time to learn about the features and capabilities.
Disclosure:  I am not an employee or contractor of or Family Tree Maker.  I received a gratis copy of Family Tree Maker 2011 in order to provide software reviews.  I use it, but I don't love it.  It is not my software of choice at present, due to specific source citation and GEDCOM issues.


KevinW said...

I actually like FTM 2011! But I agree it is not very intuitive at all, and has too steep a learning curve. Besides there are much better programs out there. I use Legacy as my main software, but like FTM 2011 for interacting with

Amy McDaniel said...

In my experience, each program has different strengths. I like to use FTM 2011 as a front end for

Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

I was on the phone with Ancestry a few nights ago with some questions about printing reports with FTM 2011. They were able to help me print what I wanted, although it was not intuitively obvious from the program how to do this. They also wanted to know my long list of complaints and suggestions. The operator told me that when they get enough suggestions they will be included in the next upgrade! I was thrilled, and I'm making a list and I'll call back soon. They also listened to my suggestions for online Ancestry, and even asked me questions back! I guess they just need input! Call!

Cindy said...

I also really like FTM 2011. While I may be a bit biased because I've been using this software since version 6 and haven't ever tried other brands -I did find a bug in the relationships when I first installed 2011, but this was corrected in the first update offered. I don't have trouble with it and when I did, the problem was addressed immediately. I agree with Heather that they need our input - and we should give it. The turorials are great, certainly if you're a newer user of the software. All that being said, I also agree that there must be an easier way to get what you want from the software in some cases. I've been cleaning up my 'places' which has been a major undertaking, and have found myself frustrated with the way I must do it in some cases, even having it not like a place name but when I re-enter it exactly the same it takes it. This doubles the work and I'm sure there are other areas as well.

Liz said...

I love my FTM 2011! I upgraded from an older version and feel like I went from a Vega to a Cadillac! I doubt any program is "perfect" and will please every single person. A lot of it has to do with what you are used to. For my purposes, Family Tree Maker works.

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of FTM 2011. The relationship indicators suck. They need to allow for non-married relationships. Not everyone who has a child is/was married to the other parent. This adds bogus information. As if doing genealogy research is not confusing enough this just adds to the problems. This needs fixed and I for one would not / could not recommend FTM until this problem is fixed.

Anonymous said...

My FTM 2011 was working fine for 4 months (although I do agree it is confusing and not at all intuitive) until a few weeks ago. Now when clicking on the leaf to see the hints, rather than being able to see the information within FTM and having the option to ignore or merge, it immediately goes to the page of the person whose info seems to connect to yours. support was useless - sorry for your problem, we'll report it to the programmers, but we can't do anything for you.
It is infuriating that they have a lock on the research materials. They're glad to take your money, but tough luck if you have issues with their defective products.