Monday, May 23, 2011

AncestorSync is coming - I have questions

I didn't post or comment two weeks ago when AncestorSync was announced (the press release is here), but learned a bit by reading the press release and hearing about it from Earl Mott on the Geneabloggers Radio Show last Friday (Embracing Technology: Where to Turn Next). 

The AncestorSync website looks like this (two screens below)

There are some interesting quotes on this page, including:

"AncestorSync™ allows you to seamlessly download, upload, or synchronize your family tree from your online pedigree to your personal genealogy software on your local computer, and back again. You choose your genealogy software, you choose your online pedigree, we'll do the rest."


"You deserve to choose a genealogy software that fits your needs. We're working hard to cover all the bases. AncestorSync™ currently supports: Ancestral Quest, Legacy, Mac Family Tree, PAF, RootsMagic, The Master Genealogist and more on the way"


"Online Pedigrees help you to collaborate with people from all across the world and find valuable source documents. Why would you limit yourself to only the resources you can find? We'll do the difficult part so you can do genealogy."

The site indicates that it currently supports the newFamilySearch Family Tree,, and Our Family*ology online family tree systems.      

The claims seem to indicate that:  I can use AncestorSync to access my genealogy software (one on the list above) and an online database (one that I have a tree on and on the list above) and synchronize the information in one from the other. 

This raises many questions in my mind, including:

*  Is this a computer program that resides on the user's computer and accesses the online tree website, or is it a website that accesses the user's software, file folders, and the online tree site?  It sounds like the latter - a "service that lets you synchronize the genealogy work from your online pedigree to your desktop program."

* is a site with a freemium subscription - will users need a Pro subscription to use AncestorSync?

*  Will AncestorSync eventually support other genealogy software programs like Family Tree Maker, Reunion, Family Tree Builder, etc.?

*  Will AncestorSync eventually support other online family trees like Ancestry Member Trees, WeRelate, WikiTree, AppleTree, GeneaNet, and other online tree systems?

*  Will the user be able to select the persons and facts/events to be synchronized?  Will they have to select persons, facts and events? 

*  Will the user be able to upload whole databases to the online system, or vice versa?  Can a user download a whole database into a new software file?

*  Will all information in the genealogy software programs be able to be synchronized?  E.g., name, dates, places, relationships, notes (with formatting), sources (with EE-quality fields), media (from user file folders or links to subscription sites), to-do list, research log, etc.

*  Will the synchronization happen automatically (say when the program is closed, or when the online tree is closed), or will it have to be intentionally started (when the user pushes a button)? 

*  Will there be a separate version of AncestorSync for each online tree system with each software program (e.g., will there be, say, a specific Geni to RootsMagic program) or will the user be able to use it for any software program and online tree combination?  If it's for a specific site and/or program, will each version cost money?

*  Why should a user use AncestorSync with newFamilySearch when RootsMagic, Legacy and other software programs already can access and use newFamilySearch?  What benefits are there fro owners of the FamilySearch affiliates? 

*  I can see why online family tree sites are interested in the AncestorSync service - they won't have to program their website to accept the different formats created by the software programs.  Although most online trees already have GEDCOM uploads/downloads, the AncestorSync seems to offer synchronization without GEDCOM, which may have advantages. 

*  Is AncestorSync working with the genealogy software companies to develop their product? 

*  What product liability will the software companies have if someone uses AncestorSync to download some or all of a tree from an online tree website and the user's database becomes corrupted? 

*  If collaboration occurs in an online tree and wrong or corrupted data gets added to a user's database, or worse yet - the user's correct data is deleted - who is liable? 

What other questions do my readers have about AncestorSync?  Tell me in comments, or in email ( and I'll add them to my list above.

AncestorSync has a pre-order special of $10 according to the website:

"We're exited to introduce AncestorSync at NGS 2011. As part of an introductory offer, we are opening up pre-orders for AncestorSync™. The first wave of AncestorSync™ will come in June of 2011. Pre-Order to be among the first to utilize this fantastic tool."

The first year is only $10 - but the site does not say what the subscription price for subsequent years will be.  The site notes that:

"Initial release of AncestorSync will include download only from the web. Full synchronization will be released later in 2011."

My opinion is that this synchronization system may provide significant advantages for users that want to keep their genealogy database stored on their home computers with one or more online family tree systems. The user then retains ALL of the reporting and charting features of the software programs (which are lacking in online trees) and yet get all of their information online (with all of the "cousin bait" benefits) with the backup benefits of having the tree stored online.

AncestorSync use should increase significantly when full two-way synchronization is available.


Focus Grandma! FOCUS!! said...

Thank you for this Blog, Randy! I am very excited to continue to learn about AncestorSync and look forward to more Blogs


Cherie Cayemberg said...

Great blog, as usual, Randy! I was thinking how very ambiguous it sounded. It does leave so many questions unanswered and in doing so kind of makes me a bit wary of it.

Geolover said...

How could the two promotional comments have been made without using the software or whatever this is?

Does this require uploading a home-genealogy tree to the site, then using it as the base for updating?

Is this mainly a tool for taking stuff from other trees (basically a search engine) -- is this what is meant by "collaboration"? If not, what is meant exactly by "Collaboration" - some sort of messaging or IM system in the site that one and one's collaborators pay for?

JireneGen (Jirene's Genealogy) said...

I'm hoping that it will someday sync with trees. Also, it says you can only sync to one online tree (like NewFamilySearch). That would be a bummer - and possible deal breaker for me - if it only syncs with one online tree.