Multimedia support in FTM for Mac – a bit lacking

Continuing my attempt to transition my family tree from Reunion to FTM for Mac, I wanted to discuss FTM’s handling of image listed in the GEDCOM file.

So first, I like the fact that FTM has a Media tab where you can view all images in your family tree file. That is something I’ve wanted from Reunion for a long time. That said, it seems FTM’s handling of the imported images is a bit sub-par. For starters, even though it has the correct path for each image file, it can’t seem to find them. Reunion exports the standard Mac (and UNIX) file path to each image, which in my case begins with a tilde (~) indicating that the file is in a sub-folder of my home folder. FTM doesn’t seem to know what that means. It lets you either search manually for the file or have FTM search for it. Either option works, but it would take forever for me to do this for each image.

Reunion has one very nice feature when a file goes missing (like if you move it to a different folder) where it lets you find the new location, and then it looks at all the other images that were in the same folder and updates them as well. This is a big timesaver and something FTM should emulate. THis in combination with the Media view that FTM offers would make a large task like changing all the image locations much easier to manage.

Truth be told, however, this task shouldn’t be needed at all by FTM – if it understood file paths properly this wouldn’t be an issue.

Taking a look at the GEDCOM file itself I can see that Reunion does something very nice – it exports the image cropping information. Frequently when using an image for a specific person you crop the image so it only shows that person. This is particularly true for the ‘primary’ image that one uses to represent the person in the tree. One can also use one group photo to crop out individual face shots of many different people. Showing the full image in a small window where you only want the head would be fairly useless. It’s not clear to me if the _CROP tag that Reunion uses is part of the GEDCOM standard or some kind of generally agreed-upon way to share that information, but it seems to me that FTM ignores the information. Worse, and the likely reason, I can’t figure out any way to crop photos in FTM at all.

I have a lot of complaints about Reunion’s handling of media. I think it should offer to keep a library of thumbnails or even web-resolution images itself, so that it doesn’t need to spend so much time doing image conversion when doing things like creating a web site based on your tree. I think it needs a central media view where you can manage all the images in your tree and make sure all the files can be located, etc. I think some integration with iPhoto would be nice. I think being able to tag photos with information on the people in them and the location information would be incredibly useful. Even with all of these complaints, FTM seems surprisingly inadequate when compared to Reunion in this area.

3 thoughts on “Multimedia support in FTM for Mac – a bit lacking

  1. Philip,

    Is it possible that Reunion uses GEDCOM 5.5.1 and not 5.5?

    When generating a GEDCOM file from Family Tree Maker (any version) Media information is NOT included.

    There are some test results on a file from Roots Magic 4 to Family Tree Maker that addresses this issue.

    Roots Magic 4 uses GEDCOM 5.5.1.

    Here is the link with those results.

    The BetterGEDCOM project is well aware of this Media issue and is a short coming of the current GEDCOM “standard” 5.5.


  2. Reunion at least claims in the file that it is exporting 5.5. I’m sure it must have adopted some of the 5.5.1 changes, however, since it support Unicode.

    In any case, FTM does actually import the information on the images. All the images in my tree from Reunion are in the FTM tree, or rather FTM knows about every image.

    If I go to the Media browser, or the Media tab with a person screen, I can see that there are images, and if I click on it, I’m told it’s missing and that I can either search for it manually, or let FTM search. If I let FTM search it does find the image and then that image is associated to the right person, etc.

    Basically, the problem here is that FTM imports the data on the media files initially, but doesn’t understand the Mac file path so it can’t find it based on the file path. Instead it forces you to search for the file, and to do that for every image.

    Oddly, it doesn’t always create a thumbnail of the image in the image browser. Some have thumbnails and some show an icon representing a JPEG image. Why some show up and some don’t I’m not sure.

    I’m having a hard time transitioning to FTM due to these problems. I’ve complained to the Reunion folk about some of their media handling issues, but their media management seems brilliant compared to FTM for Mac.

    Then again, maybe I just haven’t learned enough about the program yet. For example, in Reunion I can associate a photo with a person and then select a portion of that image to be associated with that person. i.e. if I have a family portrait with 10 people in it I can add that photo to each of the ten people’s records and then select the person in the photo for each person’s record. I can also select one photo to be the ‘preferred’ photo for that person, and that is the photo that will show up next to the person’s name in charts, etc. Can FTM do any of this?

  3. Interesting that the update released yesterday to FTM for Mac says it now ‘supports GEDCOM 5.5.1’. I wonder if it might do a better job now.

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