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.
Posts by Keith
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.
Most Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 (FTMM2) users are probably familiar with the Sync Error (Figure 1).
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).
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).
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 188.8.131.522] 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 184.108.40.2062, 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.
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...]
If you follow this blog, you know that we do not currently recommend Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 (FTMM2). However, I still use it personally and keep hoping that Ancestry and the developer will fix it. I recently installed the Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 (FTMM2) update, version 220.127.116.115. According to the release notes:
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...]
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...]
Fewer Features for More Money
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.
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...]