Most popular girls names in Israel, by city, for 2014

Israel’s Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) released some statistics on names given to children in 2014. The report (in Hebrew) they released is a bit of a hodgepodge of information, giving the most popular Jewish boys names for the country in a table, but not giving that information for girls. There are some nice charts showing trending names. One interesting one is on the rising popularity of the girls names Adele and Romi:

trendingnames-adele and romi
That’s Adele in green, Romi in red, and Roni (maybe Ronni would be a better spelling) in blue. Roni is a name that has been around a long time, and I’m guessing they put it in to show the contrast to Romi, which twenty years ago basically didn’t exist, and is now becoming very popular. Adele is obviously skyrocketing in popularity, and it’s not hard to figure out why, considering the worldwide popularity of the singer by that name.

While there was no simple table of the most popular girls names (I assume that will be released soon), there was a fascinating chart of the most popular girls names broken down by city. I’ve reorganized the chart to make it a bit easier to read, and added the English versions of the names. When there is an established translation of the name I used it, if there is no English version I used the most popular or most logical spelling for the Hebrew name. Click on the table to see a larger version of it:

Popular Girls Names Israel by City, 2014
There are a few interesting things in the name lists. For example, I know that overall the most popular girls name is Noa, and yet in the 14 large cities they showed, only three of them have Noa in the top spot. The two cities that Noa doesn’t show up in are the two largest (in terms of births), Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Of course, the names may show up below the threshold used in this chart (the top eleven) and may even contribute more to the name’s popularity than the cities where Noa shows up as number one. This is because the number of girls given the 11th most popular name (Hanna) in Jerusalem was 132, while the number of people who received the number one name in Rehovot (Noa) was only 36. It’s possible that there were more than a hundred girls in Jerusalem that received the name Noa, which would be roughly three times the influence on the national result than Rehovot’s contribution, even if it was much further down the list.

One name that showed up several times is Agam. That name makes me think of the artist Yaacov Agam, famous for his 3D art, but it’s likely the name comes from the same place Yaacov Agam took it from (his original surname was Gipstein), which is the Hebrew word used for Lake (or pond, or pool). The word shows up once in the bible, in Psalm 114, used as part of the Hallel prayer recited on major holidays and on Rosh Chodesh (celebration of the new moon each month). In Psalm 114, the phrase is:
Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; Who turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters.
Without the full set of data, it’s not possible to glean so much information about the cities themselves, but you can get a sense of which cities have faster growing populations. One would guess from the fact that Bnei Brak has less than half the population of Tel Aviv (the two cities border each other), but has more births that is growing significantly faster. Of course, it is possible that the data is simply showing that in Bnei Brak people chose from a smaller pool of names, or that certain names were so popular there than they show up in larger numbers in these lists, but the overall birth numbers are not skewed as much. I suspect both are true (that Tel Aviv has a wider variety of names, and that there are more births-per-family in Bnei Brak which is more religious than Tel Aviv).

It will be interesting when the full dataset is released to see how some of the names fall out. What the report does show is that the top girls names overall were Noa, Tamar, Shira, Maya, Yael, Adele, Talia, Abigail, Ayala, and Sarah (just not in a nice table). Note that Noa is on the decline and Tamar on the rise, so if current trends coninue it’s likely Tamar will beat out Noa next year or soon thereafter.

I hope they release a similar breakdown of boys names by city, as in my experience the full datasets are only for the country, not broken down by city, so if they don’t release it in a similar report, there won’t be any way to figure it out.

[Update: I’ve created a chart for boys names using the same cities.]

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?

Ancestry just killed off Family Tree Maker

It appears that Ancestry.com just killed off their desktop genealogy software Family Tree Maker. They will continue to sell it until December 31, 2015, and will cease supporting it on January 1, 2017. That means people who use the software can continue using it for another year, and Ancestry will continue to support features like TreeSync (which allows users to sync their FTM tree with their Ancestry.com tree).
Family Tree Maker Box Personally, I was never a huge fan of the software. Of course they never fully supported the Mac platform, but I tried all their Mac versions, and even beta tested the second version for them. I had two major complaints with the software. The first was that it was buggy. That might have just been the Mac version, I’m not sure. The second, was that the user interface was very counter-intuitive to me. there were other problems, like its handling of images, and other minor complaints, but it seems pointless to go over them now. The main reasons I continued to try using it was the potential for syncing with Ancestry.com, and for sharing files with other relatives who used it, but it was never my primary genealogy software.

Unless I’m mistaken, that leaves MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder as the only desktop genealogy software left that is paired to an online family tree site.

Interestingly both Ancestry and MyHeritage have added Mac versions of their desktop software in recent years. The only other major genealogy software to make add Mac support recently has been RootsMagic, which used the same Windows-emulation technology as MyHeritage to port their Windows software to the Mac.

I don’t know the market share of all the different genealogy programs out there, but I imagine there will be a mad scramble to try to grab abandoned FTM users. I don’t know what market share FTM had overall, but my impression is that is was significant. I don’t know if any other genealogy program is able to successfully import data from FTM files without losing any data. I imagine developers of other programs are now looking at how to improve their importing.

One technology for importing FTM files was GenBridge, which was a library developed by Wholly Genes Software, the creators of The Master Genealogist (TMG) software. GenBridge was licensed to several other genealogy software companies to allow importing of different formats, although Wholly Genes Software discontinued TMG last year, and presumably GenBridge was discontinued with it. It would be interesting if GenBridge was discontinued right before FTM users needed the capability.

I remember a company a few years ago that was developing software to sync between different genealogy programs as well as online services. The company was called Real Time Communications and the product was called AncestorSync. That product never really made it out of beta as far as I can tell (I’m pretty sure the company closed around 2012 or 2013 at the latest), but I wonder what happened to their sync technology. Someone might want to brush off some old code if it’s still able to convert FTM files.

I’m not sure Ancestry has handled the ‘retirement‘ of their desktop software so gracefully. A lot of people are undoubtedly upset about FTM being discontinued, and whether or not they will have support for a year, they still have a lot of work ahead of them to get their family trees transitioned to new software. I wonder if Ancestry’s hope is that users will just sync their trees to Ancestry’s online trees, and forget about desktop software altogether. That’s certainly the easiest option for a lot of users, but they lose a lot of the advanced features that come with desktop software (like charts, reports, media handling, etc.). I hope Ancestry will show a little more compassion for their users and provide more options in the coming year for getting their data out of FTM and into other full-featured programs. Time will tell.