About Keith+

Keith has been interested in family history and genealogy ever since his grandmother convinced him they were descended from one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (alas, it wasn't true). He's worked on it seriously since about 1998. He's also a technophile and has always tried to make his job or life easier by using technology. So of course he's interested in the intersection of technology and genealogy. He loves to try out new software, mostly for the Mac, but will stoop to firing up Windows on his Mac, as well.

Posts by Keith

Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 Update

I opened Family Tree Maker (FTM) for Mac 3 today and found an update waiting for me. The version number was 22.2.3 (I had 22.2.1, so I guess I missed one). Here are the update notes:

This update includes the following new features and enhancements:
Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite specific bug fixes
Duplicate person alert
Manage (add, edit, delete) historical facts
Application Name change to “Family Tree Maker 3”
Task List Report – New Custom options
Print Plan workspace tasks as filtered/sorted in display
Fan Chart – New options (full circle, semi-circle, quarter, etc.)
Pedigree chart – New option to include spouses of primary individual
Relationship chart – Option to use short place names
Outline descendant report – Option to list only direct-line descendants
Option to omit home country in charts/reports
Allow bookmarking of spouse
LDS ordinance display in the family view
LDS ordinance – Include initiatory and confirmation
Numerous other bug fixes

I’m happy to see that Ancestry.com is still developing and improving FTM3. I have found it much more stable than the previous version, but it’s still missing a few features that the Windows version has, and there are a few minor irritations yet. I wonder if the name change signifies anything? After all, version 3 files are cross-platform compatible.

When I clicked the button to update, I noticed that FTM3 closed and backed up automatically, as usual. If you do the update (which you probably should if you plan to upgrade to Yosemite), you should also make sure you have a current backup. I was then asked if I wanted to retain the current file and convert a copy (Figure 1).

Figure 1. FTM3 Update Convert File

Figure 1. FTM3 Update Convert File

I picked this option, even though I had a backup, because auto-backups are overwritten every time you close FTM. A few seconds later my file was converted and my tree opened. Immediately the media started processing again (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Media Processing

Figure 2. Media Processing

This seems to happen almost every time I open my tree whether new media completed processing the last time or not. Processing seemed to take longer than usual this time, and when it was finished, I received a message that 134 media had not completed due to a process error (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Media Process Error

Figure 3. Media Process Error

I clicked the link  and they tried to process again, but I was still left with the error. So I closed and reopened FTM3, the media processed again, and this time I got the “Media Complete” message (Figure 4). Hopefully this will work for you, too, if you receive the process error.

Figure 4. Media Complete

Figure 4. Media Complete

OK, I’m off to try out some of the new features and will write more about them at a later date. Please leave a comment if you have any issues with the update (in addition to contacting Ancestry Support, of course).

Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 New & Enhanced Features

In the first part of my review of Family Tree Maker for Mac (FTMM) 3 I noted that the application now has virtual feature and price parity with the Windows version. I also covered some of the problems from previous versions that have carried over into the latest version. In this, the second half of my review, I’ll go over what Ancestry.com touts as the new and improved features.

[Read more...]

Family Tree Maker for Mac 3 Released, Brings Feature & Price Parity

It’s been over two years (24 Oct 2011 on Amazon) since Ancestry.com released version 2 of Family Tree Maker (FTM) for Mac. Ancestry.com, and the developer of FTM for both Mac and Windows, Nova Development, spent most of 2013 improving the then-current versions rather than releasing a paid upgrade. I applaud them for their decision, given the many problems with version 2012, especially its TreeSync™ feature, which enabled changes made in FTM trees to be synced with their Ancestry.com counterparts and vice versa. Ancestry.com released the 2014 version of FTM on 10 Sep 2013, but Mac users had to wait a little longer. Like the new Windows version, version 3 for Mac includes enhancements and new features, including an improved TreeSync™, a new Family View, user interface updates, task simplification, and new and enhanced reports. In fact, with a few notable exceptions, the Mac and Windows versions have moved more closely together in terms of feature parity and even price. These improvements address most of the complaints I had in my review of version 2. This review updates my previous review, and I now can recommend FTM for Mac.

[Read more...]

Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 Sync Validation Error

Most Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 (FTMM2) users are probably familiar with the Sync Error (Figure 1).

Fig 1. "Normal" Sync Error

Fig 1. “Normal” Sync Error

I’ve noticed this bug occur less often over the past year as Ancestry.com and the developer of FTMM2, Nova Development, have worked to fix the bugs. However, about 6 months ago I started seeing a new kind of Sync Error. The first warning sign was that the sync button changed to an exclamation point in a triangle (Figure 2).

Fig 2. New Sync Error

Fig 2. New Sync Error

Clicking this button brought up a window that said, “Sync Validation Failed. It appears that the online tree has been deleted. Online tree name: Riggworth Pruned” (Figure 3).

Fig 3. Sync Validation Failed

Fig 3. Sync Validation Failed

This error sometimes occurred randomly, and sometimes it happened after my WiFi connection dropped out. It occurred even though my online tree had not been deleted and was still linked to my FTMM2 tree, as can be seen in the lower right-hand corner of Figure 3 where it says under the Web Dashboard, “Ancestry Trees, Riggworth Pruned.”

Also notice in Figure 3 that there are two options: Attempt to restore the link to this online tree (which is grayed out), or Confirm the unlinking of this tree to the online tree. Do NOT click the “OK” button! The first time I got this error, I did, and of course FTMM2 dutifully unlinked my tree with my Ancestry tree, and I spent hours uploading it again. I have found an easy workaround until Ancestry fixes this bug: click the “Cancel” button, close FTMM2 and reopen it. You will see the normal sync button again and should be able to sync your tree, barring any other problems.

I reported this sync validation error bug to Ancestry.com Support and received the following response: “We apologize for your frustration. The update [Version 21.2.7.542] took out the tree sync between the two trees. That’s certainly not what was supposed to happen, but it is a possibility, and that’s what happened to your trees. You’ll want to either upload the Family Tree Maker tree or download it from Ancestry again to reinitiate the tree sync. Thank you for your patience.”

The sync validation error is still occurring for me, so obviously there is still a bug in Version 21.2.7.542, since no other updates have been released since then. Ancestry has already released the latest version of FTM for Windows, version 2014, and their website states that the Mac version is coming soon. Let’s hope that they fix this and all the other bugs AND bring feature parity to the new Mac version. FTM 2014 for Windows includes several new features–will these features be included in the Mac version? Will the Mac version include missing features like Unicode support, Smart Stories, hint sync, and export of media to GEDCOM files? Or will they continue to expect Mac users to pay more than twice as much for an inferior product?

I’m curious to know, how many readers who are users of FTMM2 have also experienced the sync validation error? Please let us know in the comments.

Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 Sync Error Work-around

As Ben pointed out recently, Ancestry.com released an update to Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 (FTMM2) back in July that supposedly fixed the TreeSync issues that many people had been experiencing, including me. I had been unable to sync my FTMM2 tree with Ancestry.com for 7 months, due to sync errors. So I happily installed the update, compacted my file, and, since it was no longer even linked to Ancestry.com, attempted to upload and link the tree. Unfortunately, despite numerous attempts at different times of the day on a wired (not wireless) connection, the upload always failed, usually at around the 75% point. I even tried exporting my tree from charts to a new file, since this usually gets rid of any corrupt items, but the export process never reported any errors. I finally gave up trying. [Read more...]

Splitting a Family Tree with Family Tree Maker, Part 2

Ben recently wrote about his frustrations with splitting a tree in Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 (FTMM2). I needed to do this for my own tree, so I set about finding the best way to do it. I recently prepared a family tree for my stepmother-in-law and, silly me, included it in my primary file. After reading Ben’s post, I became concerned that splitting that branch from my file would be impossible. As Ben said, many steps are involved, but it’s not impossible.  [Read more...]

What Genealogy Software Do We Recommend?

When I tell people I don’t recommend Family Tree Maker for Mac 2, they often ask what I do recommend, which is understandable. But I really can’t recommend a genealogy program for other people without knowing what their requirements are. You must first decide what your priorities are. Then you can check on the web to see which programs meet your requirements. You can use Ben’s Feature Comparison Table or FindtheBest.com to find the features you need (but take the Smart Ratings on the latter with a grain of salt). GenSoftReviews.com lists lots of genealogy programs, although not all of them have reviews. But see Tamura Jones’ article, The Most Important Genealogy Software Feature. [Read more...]

Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 Review

Fewer Features for More Money

Introduction

Family Tree Maker for Mac (FTMM), released in late 2010, was the first Mac version of the best-selling genealogy software released by Ancestry.com (hereafter referred to as Ancestry). The only previous version for Mac was Family Tree Maker Deluxe Edition II for Macintosh, released by Brøderbund in 1997. There have been reviews of FTMM (see, for example, this review at PC Advisor UK), but many people want to know if version 2 is worth buying or not.

TreeSync

Prior to the release of FTMM2, the feature I wanted most but didn’t get from FTMM was the ability to sync with my family tree at Ancestry, so when Ancestry announced they would include this feature, which they call TreeSync, in FTM 2012 and FTMM2, I was very excited. In a comment to one of Ben’s posts on this website, I said, “if the Mac version includes this, it will be worth buying, although it would be nice if FTM adopted price parity as well as feature parity.” Now that I’ve used FTMM2 for two months, I’ve been able to evaluate whether the TreeSync feature meets my expectations. I’ve also compiled a detailed list of the pros and cons of the product. Bottom line: TreeSync is great in concept but lacking in implementation. [Read more...]