Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dear Randy: How should I transfer my FTM 2011 database to RootsMagic?

NOTE:  This is another post lost during the Blogger blackout for some reason.  It was originally posted on Wednesday, 11 May.

In a comment to my post  Source Citation Merging in RootsMagic 4 - Uh Oh!, reader Jann asked:

"Randy, Janet Hovorka gave us your name and website on the Webinar this morning for Sourcing/Citations. She is a big fan of yours. Thank you for your research. I am changing from FTM 2011 to RM4 before the Jamboree this year. I have a lot of data that is not to the correct form --as yet. I want the right program for me and I feel its RM4. I have a question. Should I transfer my tree through a Gedcom or directly from FTM to RM4?"

Dear Jann,

Thank you for your question, and your kind comments (and Janet's too!).  The answer to your question is pretty simple - you cannot directly import an FTM 2011 file into RootsMagic 4.  Therefore, it will have to be transferred through a GEDCOM file.

Be aware, though, that there are at least two significant problems with transferring a GEDCOM 5.5 file created by FTM 2011:

1)  The "Notes" section will have words run together in every line.  This is because FTM 2011 does not use the CONCatenenate and CONTinue GEDCOM tags correctly.  For example, here is the first paragraph of my notes for Isaac Seaver in FTM 2011:

"Isaac Seaver was called Isaac Seaver 3rd throughout his lifetime because there were two other Isaac Seaver's in Westminster while he was a youth, including his uncle and step-father, Isaac Seaver 2nd, the second husband of his mother, Abigail (Gates) (Seaver) Seaver."

Here is the same paragraph imported via GEDCOM into RootsMagic 4:

"Isaac Seaver was called Isaac Seaver 3rd throughout his lifetimebecause there were two other Isaac Seaver's in Westminster while hewas a youth, including his uncle and step-father, Isaac Seaver 2nd,the second husband of his mother, Abigail (Gates) (Seaver) Seaver."

Note the spaces that are missing in three spots?  All Notes will feature this problem.

2)  Extra characters and words are added to source citations.  Here is a "Reference Note" source citation created in FTM 2011:

Systematic History Fund, Vital Records of Westminster, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849 (Worcester, Mass.: F.P. Rice, 1908), New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts, Page 83.

When the FTM 2011 file is imported into RootsMagic 4 through GEDCOM, the "Footnote" is:

Systematic History Fund, Vital Records of Westminster, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year1849 (Name: Worcester, Mass.: F.P. Rice, 1908;), Page 83.

Note the lack of a space between "Year" and "1849," the added "Name:" term in the publication information, and the extraneous semi-colon after "1908."  The repository is in the FTM 2011 citation, but not in the RootsMagic 4 citation (although it is in the "Repository" section in the RootsMagic Source Citation template. 

I showed during the Seaver Source Citation Saga that these problems are caused by Family Tree Maker 2011 when creating GEDCOM files - see Peeking at Family Tree Maker 2011 Source Citations in the GEDCOM File - Post 1, and the extraneous source citations problems even occur when uploading the FTM 2011 file (with "Free-form sources") directly to - see FTM 2011 Citations Uploaded Directly to  Note that the "Template sources" in FTM 2011 translate to correctly, but the "Free-form sources" do not. 

One potential way to avoid the source problem is to create "Template sources" in FTM 2011, transfer them to an Member Tree, and download the tree via a GEDCOM file into RootsMagic through fine into RootsMagic 4.

If you have Notes and Source citations in your Family Tree Maker 2011 file, then they will be mangled a bit any time you transfer a GEDCOM file from FTM 2011 to RootsMagic 4.

That was probably "Too much information" for Jann, but it's an enduring problem with Family Tree Maker 2011 that should be quickly corrected (if not sooner!!) by  

I've had private emails wondering if has sabotaged the FTM 2011 GEDCOM files for business reasons - so that users have to use FTM rather than buy a new program.  I don't believe that, since the problems have existed for years (at least since FTM Version 16, and probably from FTM Version 5) and nothing has been done about it.

1 comment:

Eileen said...

This was an interesting question. One I've struggled with for several years.

In addition to messing up my citations, I've noticed that when I export from FTM 2011 as GEDCOM and then import that GEDCOM into another program, I lose all of my media links.

My workaround is to export my FTM 2011 as FTM 2009. The Master Genealogist (TMG) will directly import FTM 2009. When I do this my citations are not as badly messed up and I retain all my media.

I then export the TMG database as GEDCOM 5.5 and import that GEDCOM into Legacy or Roots Magic.

This apporach allows me to take advantage of some of different features of the various programs and allows me to create compatible files to share with others--all without losing all my linked documents and images.