Tag Archives: macfamilytree

Managing the FTM transition

FTM TRANSITIONIt’s certainly an interesting story about Ancestry dropping their desktop genealogy software Family Tree Maker (FTM). Ancestry themselves claimed the software was “The #1 Selling Family Tree Program”. It would seem unusual that the #1 selling program would be discontinued. It’s possible FTM was some kind of loss-leader to get people to sign up to Ancestry.com, although it seems odd that they would need to lose money on the program. Other genealogy programs seem to make money. It would seem logical then that the transition is strategic, in order to get more people to use their online family tree product, which as part of their overall service, generates much more revenue for them. As a strategic decision, however, I think they made a mistake in not transitioning the features many genealogists rely on in desktop software to their online offering first, features like charts and reports, as well as better backups of data than the GEDCOM available from Ancestry’s online service.

Their initial blog post announcing the ‘retirement’ of FTM has so far generated over 8500 comments. A second follow-up post has generated another 950 comments so far. Cleary, people have concerns about how Ancestry is handling the transition.

Other companies, of course, are not sitting still. Pretty much every other major desktop genealogy software company has made announcements trying to get disaffected FTM users to switch over to their software. Here are the announcements I found:

Ancestral Quest (Win & Mac*): Ancestral Quest competitive upgrade for Family Tree Maker
Family Historian (Win): Family Historian Welcomes Family Tree Maker Users
Heredis (Win & Mac): Important information about genealogy
Legacy (Win): How to import Family Tree Maker into Legacy PLUS your questions answered
MacFamilyTree (Mac): Family Tree Maker discontinued – Switch to MacFamilyTree and Switch from Family Tree Maker to MacFamilyTree and import your family tree
MyHeritage Family Tree Builder (Win & Mac*): FTM Users: Join MyHeritage and get Family Tree Builder with an Unlimited Size Family Site for Free
Reunion (Mac): Moving your tree from Family Tree Maker to Reunion
RootsMagic (Win & Mac*): Family Tree Maker Upgrade
* These Mac versions run in Emulation using CrossOver or similar technology. This means they are essentially the Windows versions running on the Mac, with no special adaptation made to the user interface to fit Macintosh interface guidelines.

My impression was that RootsMagic was the first to come out and announce a transition plan, even launching the site ftmupgrade.com with instructional videos within a day of the announcements. Most companies have offered financial incentives to switch now as well. Ancestral Quest is offering $10 off their normal price, Family Historian is offering 20% off, Heredis is offering 50% off, MacFamilyTree is offering 50% off, MyHeritage is offering an unlimited size family tree (normally their free tree is limited to 250 people), and RootsMagic is offering their full version for $20 (instead of $44.90). Most of these deals are limited in time, so if you’re interested in taking advantage, definitely check out the programs soon.

It seems everyone suggests exporting a GEDCOM from FTM and then importing that GEDCOM. Only FTM 2012 and later support exporting media with the GEDCOM file.

One problem that seems to be common among those transitioning is how FTM handles source citations. FTM allows media to be linked to source citations, which are in turn linked to a master source. Many genealogy programs use a single master source, but not individual source citations for media. This is confusing some imports, and is not being ignored by the other software companies. I’ve noticed Reunion mentioning that they are working on a fix for this in their forum. I’m sure others are also working on this problem.

Do you use FTM? What are your plans for transitioning? Are you planning to switch to Ancestry’s online site, or moving to a different desktop program? Have you already switched? What has been your experience so far?

Mac genealogy software updates

Two Mac genealogy programs were recently updated. (Update: MacFamilyTree also offering a discount, at $29.99, 40% off, through October 27.)

Heredis 2014The first is Heredis, now called Heredis 2014, and available through the Mac App Store at 50% off through November 3, at the price of $29.99 (instead of the normal price of $59.99). The updates for this version are listed as:

    SEARCH WIZARD.
    • This highly innovative feature allows you to take a look at where you are in your research and highlights known or missing items from your genealogy. It suggests different ways forward and proposed various online research tools targeted to websites such as Heredis Online, Ancestry, My Heritage…

    EXTENDED FAMILY VIEW.

    • This new and more comprehensive view of your family shows its composition as a whole: siblings, remarriage, stepchildren, step- brothers and step-sisters, children from other unions of the different partners… noting or not when they belong to the direct lineage.

    FIND RELATIONSHIPS.

    • It presents all the ties that may link two people. Within seconds, this exciting tool analyzes all the connections in your genealogy file to find how two people can be linked, whether they are relatives, or they have common ancestors or they simply have other links (godmother, heir…).

    MIGRATIONS MAP.

    • Trace the movements of a whole family just a few miles away or at the other end of the world on the Migrations map. Pins are numbered to show the sequence of movements and display the list of events recorded in this place.

    HEREDIS ONLINE.

    • Share your discoveries on Heredis Online, the new service for publishing your genealogy data and research on the Internet. You will have a website dedicated to your genealogy, searchable by your family and your friends. Start your research also on Heredis Online directly from your Heredis software over hundred million of people in the online family trees. Get in touch with your cousins!

    MANAGEMENT OF BRANCHES.

    • Memorize the status of your family branches, with ancestors as well as descendants. You may filter only the branch ends, or only complete persons, or only those persons for whom further research is required. You can hide already complete persons or sort by modification date. New charts show the progress of your research.

    DESCENDANTS VIEW.

    • Work on the Descendants View that displays the descendants of the primary person for the number of generations you will determine.

macfamilytree1The second application updated is MacFamilyTree, now at version 7.1. Also available via the Mac App Store, for $49.99 ($29.99 through October 27). The updates for this version are listed as:

    Completely new Web Site Export

    • Configureable Themes
    • Live preview
    • Direct FTP upload (secure connections supported)
    • Includes Videos, PDFs and Audio Media
    • Improved user interface
    • Free upload to our web service MacFamilyTree.com

    Statistics Map (using Apples new Maps, requires OS X 10.9 Mavericks)

    • See where your ancestors lived the longest or married earliest
    • Play slideshows of your ancestors living places across the globe
    • Detailed physical or satellite maps

    Chart Backdrops

    • Add background images for all charts
    • Includes 50+ backdrop images
    • Import your own images as backdrops

    Improved FamilySearch integration

    • Revamped FamilySearch user interface
    • FamilySearch Discussions added
    • FamilySearch change history is now available directly from MacFamilyTree
    • >Improved FamilySearch integration in the Interactive Tree

    Private Information

    • Mark Persons, Events, Families or Sources as private
    • Exclude private information from charts, reports and GEDCOM export

    User Interface

    • Refined user interface
    • Improved navigation
    • Entries count is displayed above each list in the edit mode
    • Sections added to family list
    • Sections added to places list
    • Associated To Do items are now displayed directly for each person, family, event or source.

    Other

    • Optimized for Mavericks AppNap
    • Faster database opening
    • Better To Do management including larger To Do browser
    • PDFs are included in Person Report
    • Improved Interactive Tree including changed coloring for better readability
    • Better Date Parsing and Date Reformatting
    • Improved GEDCOM Import and Export

Genealogy Software for the Mac

This week I’m attending the IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Boston. Last night I attended the Mac BOF (Birds-Of-a-Feather) meeting. It was packed from one of the room to the other, thanks to the hard work of Doris Loeb Nabel and other volunteers.

I first attended a Mac BOF meeting back in 2011 in DC. Like two years ago, both Duff Wilson from Ancestry and Daniel Horowitz from MyHeritage spoke briefly about their future Mac offerings. Both, by the way, are planning new Mac offerings by the end of the calendar year. Ancestry is planning a new Mac version of FTM that is closer in feature-parity to the Windows version than previous versions. Wilson also noted that the price of the Mac version, which is currently higher than the Windows version, would likely come into line with the Windows version. MyHeritage is working on the first Mac version of FTB, which will also not have all the features of their Windows version. MyHeritage wants to get a version out, but doesn’t want to wait until all the features they have built over the years in their Windows version, have been coded for the Mac. Hopefully both companies will bring their Mac version into sync with their Windows versions over time.

One of the things I noticed at the meeting was that many of the people did not know about all the Mac genealogy software available. Most knew about Reunion, and Family Tree Maker, but many did not know about others. I thought it would be useful to take a quick look at the genealogy applications available for Mac. Most of these I’ve discussed in the past to differing degrees, but this is probably the first time I’ve listed them all together. The list consists of most Mac genealogy software (in alphabetical order) that have been updated in the past year (and I’ll point out a few that have not been recently updated recently at the end). If I miss any that you use, post in the comments.



Not a traditional genealogy program based on people – Evidentia is based on recording sources and building a case to prove claims. Costs $24.99 on the web site (although currently on sale, 20% off through August at $21.25).


A very powerful genealogy program, GEDitCOM II‘s main drawback is its antiquated interface. GEDitCOM II has a few power features that no other genealogy program has, such as scripting with Applescript, Python or Ruby, and outputting a book in LaTeX format. These are not features most genealogists will ever use, but for some advanced users, these features definitely set it apart. Costs $64.99 on the web site.


GRAMPS is a free and open-source genealogy application originally developed for Linux, but now also available for Windows and Mac. I’ve discussed GRAMPS in the past (here and here), and now there’s a new version out, version 4. Free from the web site.


Developed in France, Heredis is popular in Europe and is available for both Mac and Windows. I’ve mentioned Heredis in the past but have not done a full review. Two interesting features Heredis has are its illustrated charts and book publishing. Free companion app for iPhone. Available on the web site, and via the Mac App Store, for $59.99.


Recently updated to version 7, MacFamilyTree has a very modern user interface, and lots of options for charts and reports, and can integrate with FamilySearch family trees (the only Mac software that can that I am aware of). Syncs with MobileFamilyTree, a paid app, on iPhone and iPad. Normally costs $59.99 on the Mac App Store (only), but currently on sale for 50% off for a few more days (until Aug 11).



Reunion is a very popular genealogy program for the Mac, with advanced reporting and charting capabilities. Relatively easy navigation through your tree. A very active support forum. Paid separate companion apps for iPhone and iPad. Costs $99 on their web site, and from some retailers including Amazon.

There are also some other genealogy programs like iFamily for Leopard, myBlood, ohmiGene, and PA Writer II. Not all of these are updated frequently, and I’m not as familiar with them. I also took a look at the various genealogy applications available through the Mac App Store back in February. This includes a few I don’t mention here, including the app Memory Miner, which is not strictly speaking a genealogy program, but a ‘digital storytelling’ application, and can import GEDCOMs to help assign names to people.

What program do you use? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it. Have you been thinking about using one of these programs, but not started?