Is a third option for transitioning from FTM on the horizon?

I know the transition from FTM doesn’t fall within the primary purpose of this blog, but I’ve always covered the technology of genealogy, and I think the FTM transition has been an important story in genealogy, and has a lot of interesting implications.

I previously reported on the retirement of FTM, what options were out there for transitioning away from FTM, and most recently about Ancestry’s selling of FTM to a third party (Software MacKiev) and licensing it’s APIs to another company (RootsMagic).

In my earliest post on the topic of FTM’s retirement, I mentioned a discontinued product called AncestorSync that had been created to move data between different genealogy programs and services. The need for something like AncestorSync existed (and still exists) because the only way to transfer data between genealogy programs and services has been to use a GEDCOM file, whose standard was last updated back in 1999. GEDCOM hasn’t evolved with genealogy programs, and because of that it cannot transfer everything we collect in our genealogy programs to another program or service without losing some data. Not every program or service interprets GEDCOM the same way either, which leads to other programs like data corruption.

This is why the FTM transition is so interesting. As if to prove how big of a problem all of the above is, we’ve seen multiple genealogy software companies modify their programs to better import GEDCOM files from FTM. So far GEDCOM is the only option available, but by the end of the year there will be the two options I recently mentioned – an updated FTM under new ownership, and a version of RootsMagic that can import FTM files directly. That two companies other than Ancestry will now have software capable of importing FTM files directly, is only because Ancestry no longer views these companies as competitors. Up until now, it wasn’t in Ancestry’s interest to allow any third-party company to be able to read the FTM file format other than themselves.

So we know have two groups of options for former FTM users. We have a slew of genealogy software companies that have updated their programs to better import FTM-generated GEDCOM files, and we have a second smaller group (pair) of companies that will be able to read FTM files directly. That brings us to the third possible option, which I mentioned way back in December, and again just up above – AncestorSync. Years ago when AncestorSync was being introduced I happened to meet the CTO of the company producing it, Dovy Paukstys. We were at a genealogy conference, and he was showing off his product. When FTM made their announcement, I fired off a tweet to Dovy, wondering if AncestorSync might be resurrected. AncestorSync fell off the radar two years ago, and Dovy had moved on to other things, but I figured he would know what happened to the technology.

Back in December I hadn’t heard a response, and didn’t think much about it until a couple of days ago when Dovy finally responded:

dovy tweet
So it seems there might now be another option for FTM users on the way. The goal of AncestorSync, as I recall, was to allow the transfer of data between programs and services while retaining all the information. AncestorSync had modules for each program or service it supposed, and allowed you to move data around between the different modules. Initially the services and programs supported included Geni, MyHeritage, FamilySearch,  ourFamilyology, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic, PAF, Ancestral Quest and FTM. I do remember work was underway on The Master Genealogist (since discontinued) and MacFamilyTree.

Of course, if a new standard were to emerge to replace GEDCOM, a program like AncestorSync wouldn’t be necessary. As efforts like GEDCOM X and FHISO haven’t yet managed to come up with a format that can handle better interchange of data and get it accepted by the genealogy software ecosystem, AncestorSync might yet fill the void.

Ancestry comes up with solutions for FTM users

I previously mentioned the cancelation of Ancestry’s Family Tree Maker (FTM) software, and also wrote about options for transitioning to other programs for FTM users. One of the things that surprised me was how Ancestry had not seemed to think about the users at all and how they would move on beyond FTM. They had long claimed that FTM was the most popular desktop genealogy software, and yet they’d let this large user base to drift in the wind, so to speak. The right way to have done it would have been to figure out a transition plan, found a buyer for the program, or opened up their APIs to other programs, etc. all before getting out of the desktop software business.

In my original post, I hoped they would come up with solutions in the year between their announcement and the final discontinuation of the product. It seems that now they have. It would have been better to have done this before their announcement, but at least they’ve done it.

Ancestry announced on their blog that they’ve come up with two official transition options for FTM users.

FTM_2x
Now officially Software MacKiev Family Tree Maker
The first solution is that they’ve sold the actual FTM program to Software MacKiev, who had already been producing the Mac version of FTM for several years. Now they will be responsible for both the Mac and Windows version of the program. Software MacKiev is a well-established software developer from the Ukraine, with offices in Boston, MA as well. Software MacKiev is known for producing the current Mac versions of some early software programs like The Print Shop (originally published on the Apple II) and Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (originally on DOS).

Ancestry-New-Leaf
RootsMagic’s announcement about working with Ancestry
The second solution is that they’ve allowed a third-party genealogy software company, RootsMagic, to access the same APIs as FTM. This means that the RootsMagic program will be able to search Ancestry.com, get Ancestry hints, sync data with trees on Ancestry.com, and perhaps most importantly for FTM users, will be able to directly import FTM files instead of needing to export first to a GEDCOM file. While RootMagic does mention syncing with Ancestry, they have specifically left out Ancestry’s trademarked term TreeSync. This makes me wonder if they will be able to sync in the same way that FTM syncs, or if they will need to upload the entire tree each time there is a change.

It remains to be seen if Ancestry plans to offer access to their APIs to other genealogy software companies. In my post on transitioning from FTM, I listed eight different desktop genealogy programs, all that could potentially partner with Ancestry for the same access, with the exception of Family Tree Builder, from MyHeritage. It wouldn’t make sense for Ancestry to work with MyHeritage since it is one of Ancestry’s major competitors in both online trees and more importantly online research. I suspect Ancestry will probably not add new partners this year. They’ve already said RootsMagic will support Ancestry by the end of the year, and I imagine they want to get that working well before adding new partners.

The real question going forward is how two third-party companies are going to move forward with accessing what were previously private Ancestry APIs. Software MacKiev has already worked with these APIs, so they’re ahead of the game. What happens when one company or the other needs a change in the API? or when Ancestry changes something that breaks an API? What about when Ancestry adds a new feature that would be helpful if accessed via the APIs – will Ancestry be adding it to the API? Ideally all three companies (Ancestry, Software MacKiev and Rootsmagic) have some kind of committee in place to handle these issues. If Ancestry expands access to their APIs to more companies, these issues will only become more complex, so I hope they’ve figured out a plan for these issues already.

So thank you Ancestry for coming up with solutions for your FTM users. Yes, it would have been better to do this before your announcement in December, but better late than never.

101 Most Popular Jewish Boys Names in Israel in 2014

Following yesterday’s posting of the 101 Most Popular Jewish Girls Names in Israel in 2014, I here present the most popular boys names. These names are taken from just-released information from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Names have been translated and/or transliterated into English as necessary. In some cases, if the name is used in English in both forms (translated and transliterated), they are both presented in English.

The table below can be sorted by name in either Hebrew or English.

RankName (Hebrew)Name (English)Number
1נוֹעַםNoam1608
2אוריUri/Ori1477
3דָּוִדDavid1408
4יוֹסֵףJoseph1344
5אֵיתָןEitan (Ethan)1275
6אִיתַּיItai1274
7אֲרִיאֵלAriel1252
8דָּנִיֵּאלDaniel1191
9יְהוֹנָתָןYehonatan1130
10מֹשֶׁהMoshe1017
11אַבְרָהָםAbraham908
12יוֹנָתָןYonatan (Jonathan)887
13עִידּוֹIdo878
14יְהוּדָהYehuda (Judah)856
15אִיתָמָרItamar851
16יָאִירYair825
17עוֹמֶרOmer695
18יִשְׂרָאֵלYisrael (Israel)695
19אַלּוֹןElon673
20יַעֲקֹבYaakov (Jacob)666
21יִצְחָקYitzchak (Isaac)637
22עָמִיתAmit607
23הַרְאֵלHarel606
24אַלְיָהEliya603
25מִיכָאֵלMichael597
26עִילָּאִיIlay592
27גַּיְאGuy563
28חַיִּיםChaim551
29נהוראיNehorai540
30שְׁמוּאֵלShmuel (Samuel)534
31בֵּןBen496
32שְׁלֹמֹהShlomo (Solomon)477
33אָדָםAdam475
34נְתַנְאֵלNetanel475
35שִׁמְעוֹןShimon (Simon)469
36לָבִיאLavi468
37רְפָאֵלRaphael456
38מֵאִירMeir452
39לִיאַםLiam450
40אַהֲרוֹןAharon (Aaron)434
41נָדָבNadav431
42יוּבַלYuval422
43יוֹאָבYoav418
44אוֹרOr415
45נִיתַּאיNitai403
46בִּנְיָמִיןBenjamin391
47עִידָּןIdan382
48מָרְדְּכַיMordechai382
49מְנַחֵםMenachem377
50לִיאוֹרLior374
51יִשַׁיYishai370
52רוֹעִיRoi366
53מָאוֹרMaor356
54אֵלִיָּהוּEliyahu353
55אָבִיבAviv350
56עוֹמֶרִיOmri332
57יַנַּאיYanai326
58נָתָןNatan (Nathan)323
59הללHillel/Hallel322
60דּוֹרDor319
61מַתָּןMatan319
62אֶבְיָתָרEviatar312
63אָסָףAsaf296
64אוֹפִירOphir295
65איילEyal291
66שַׁחַרShachar283
67יָהֵלִיYaheli259
68אֲבִיאֵלAviel258
69אוּרִיאֵלUriel252
70אוֹפֶקOfek241
71רוֹןRon222
72אֶלְחָנָןElchanan220
73נוהNava216
74נְבוֹNevo212
75יָרִיןYarin211
76יַהַבYahav211
77עוֹבַדְיָהOvadia (Obadiah)208
78אוריהUriah202
79תּוֹמֶרTomer201
80בְּאֵרִיBeeri201
81דְּבִירDvir201
82יִנּוֹןYinon200
83צְבִיZvi198
84אֱלִיאָבEliav196
85דָּןDan194
86תּוֹםTom191
87שִׁילֹהShilo190
88שַׁיShai186
89נַחְמָןNachman185
90אֲמִיתַּיAmitai184
91רוֹםRom183
92שָׁלוֹםShalom182
93נֵרִיָּהNorah181
94אֵלעָזָרElazar181
95לִירוֹיLeroi179
96יוֹתָםYotam175
97אוֹשֶׁרOsher173
98עִילַיIlay172
99אֵלעָדElad168
100אֲבִישַׁיAvishai167
101יְדִידְיָהYedidya165