Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Family Tree Maker 2012 TreeSync - Questions Answered

In my post yesterday, Family Tree Maker 2012 TreeSync - Differences Between Online and Desktop Trees, I listed some of my concerns and asked some questions about the noted issues.

Duff Wilson, a Family Tree Maker Product Manager, responded in Comments with answers to my questions.  They were (keyed to my bullet points):

As you indicated, the core data in linked trees is synchronized in both directions. Some types of data that are unique to Ancestry Member Trees or Family Tree Maker, although not synchronized, can continue to be used fully in their native system. With respect to some of these items, I wanted to respond to your questions.

1) Regarding the statement that Ancestry records that are merged into Family Tree Maker are not re-uploaded to Ancestry as part of the sync process. This is referring to Ancestry records that are merged and attached to source citations directly in FTM or on Ancestry. Since these are directly linked to the records that are already on Ancestry.com, there is no need to upload them again. Record images that are downloaded and attached manually would be uploaded because they are not directly linked to the Ancestry record online.

2) Non-person notes in your FTM file will remain in FTM. They are simply not synchronized to Ancestry. If an FTM tree is later created from the online tree, the non-person notes are not in the online tree and will not be part of that download. Because the data stored in the two tree systems is not identical, neither is a complete backup of the other. We recommend that people continue the practice of creating periodic backups in Family Tree Maker.

3) While media items attached to source citations are common, media items attached to sources are not. When present in FTM, these source media items are uploaded during the sync process and are attached to the citations associated with the source.

4) The stories created in each system are fundamentally different and are transferred to the other system during the sync process for read access. Stories created on Ancestry are saved in a common web format as .htm files, while stories from Family Tree Maker are saved in a common desktop format as Rich Text (.rtf) files.

Some of these limitations will likely be improved with future enhancements.

I greatly appreciate Duff's quick and informational responses that answered my questions.  

Astute readers will note that if the original tree was created in FTM 2012, then the information in the FTM 2012 tree will not be completely uploaded into an Ancestry Member Tree (AMT).  If a user adds information to the AMT, then a sync will bring it to the FTM tree, which will still have the information not in the AMT. 

Of course, if a user downloads the original tree from Ancestry.com, then the FTM 2012 database will be identical after it is downloaded.

But what will happen if the synchronization fails, and the Ancestry Member Tree has newly added, edited or deleted information not in the former FTM 2012 tree?  Downloading the AMT into a new FTM 2012 database will then lose the information previously in the FTM 2012 database.  Will synchronization ever fail?  I hope not, but my logic scale always has a "bad stuff happens" section on it. 

My takeaway here is that I should probably keep the FTM 2012 tree as my primary tree to add, edit and delete data, since AMTs will not have ALL of the information in the FTM database.  That works for me.  Being able to add data, sources and media to an FTM 2012 tree, and then syncing it to an Ancestry tree, makes the most sense to me.  It keeps the Ancestry tree updated.  However, there will be many users that will use their Ancestry Member Tree, using whatever platform they have (computer, tablet, smart phone, etc.) to make the changes.  It's inevitable.

Russ Worthington, on his Family Tree Maker User blog, has been going through each of the items identified as being different, between FTM 2012 and Ancestry Member Trees, in my earlier post, showing them item by item in separate blog posts.  All of these posts are in his FTM 2012 label posts. 

As far as I know, Russ is the only genea-blogger currently showing screen captures and details from the latest Beta version of Family Tree Maker 2012. 

The released version of FTM 2012 is due in mailboxes within the next week.  I will probably write some blog posts about the new features after I receive it.


Tom P said...


Great discussion. I am particularly interested in your comment about keeping the FTM2012 as your primary tree. I travel and have been copying my FTM tree over to my laptop and updating and adding. Then when I return home, I copy it back to my desktop. With FTM2012 and treesync, that causes some concerns. Since as I understand, the sync is only between the AMT and one FTM2012 tree, can I still do the same or should I just use the AMT while traveling which would be easier. What are your thoughts?


Geolover said...

Randy, you say "Of course, if a user downloads the original tree from Ancestry.com, then the FTM 2012 database will be identical after it is downloaded."

Guess that depends on what you mean by "database." PDF files (say, an ancestor's Civil War Pension Application File) will not be downloaded to FTM2012. Web links will not be downloaded (say, a link to a cemetery reading or headstone photograph). Military pages will not be downloaded. There may be other items yet to be discovered; there are other known incompatibilities that will appear if such a tree is then uploaded as an AMT.

People who think their AMTs are safe repositories for items they don't want to store on their computer or in limited-storage 'cloud' file-storage sites will learn differently if they strip them away in downloads to FTM2012.

Unknown said...

Hello Randy,
I'm a Mac user but I use Windows solely for FTM.

Has anyone posed the question will the Mac version of FTM (with Treesync) be able to sync to the same Ancestry database that is/was created by the Windows version? I would like to get rid of the Windows version and only use the Mac.


Anonymous said...

you said: "But what will happen if the synchronization fails, ..." Just like hard drives eventually failing, you should count on it. It's already happened to me. The error message says "An error occurred while synchronizing this tree. You can try again later, but if this message recurs, you may need to unlink your trees and upload a new linked tree from Family Tree Maker"
According to their support site, the 'try later' reference is to address slow internet conncetions.
I had made some changes to my AMT tree and didn't want to rekey those changes. I unlinked the trees and then had AMT synch to a new tree in FTM. Suspecting there were differences, I backed the old and new FTM trees up and did a merge, but that was no help in showing me what might be in the old file that's not in the new.
Lesson Learned: make the FTM tree the gold source and use the ATM tree as a display copy.

Loretta said...

Can I safely rename my FTM2012 file and not lose my information?

Anonymous said...

An update to my last post on failed synch between ATM and FTM. I have discovered two issues as a result of ATM creating the new FTM tree:
1. the new FTM file has 49 Citations that are not linked to a Source. I went back to my old FTM file and all Citations were linked to Sources.
2. Duplicate Source Citations. An example: I had one Source Citation of a marriage document. I linked the one Citation to six people: the bride, groom, bride’s two parents listed and groom’s two parents listed. With the new tree created by the synch from ATM, this Source Citations is listed six times, one for each person. This has caused my Source Citation list to expand exponentially.