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.
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.
Family Tree Maker 2012 and Family Tree Maker for Mac 2 are once again available at a holiday discount. The sale is scheduled to go through December 12th, 2012. New copies are 25% off and upgrades are discounted 30%.
If you’re interested, but unsure if Family Tree Maker (FTM) is for you check out the buyers guides:
As previously announced, Ancestry is focused on enhancing and fixing the current versions so there will be no new major version this year.
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...]
Displaying a migration map is easy with Family Tree Maker. Unfortunately the genealogy software doesn’t make it easy to add migration maps to a book. That’s the kind of problem I like to solve for you. [Read more...]
News came from Ancestry.com today that there won’t be a Family Tree Maker 2013. The firm is focused on enhancing the existing version. They’ve already released updates with the following enhancements (listed in their blog announcing the direction):
- Numerous enhancements to TreeSync so syncing your tree to Ancestry.com is faster and more reliable
- A new Family View Report that displays a person’s ancestors, spouse, and children together (similar to the Family View in the People workspace)
- A new Undocumented Facts Report that lists people’s facts that have no source documentation
- The ability to merge info from multiple versions of the same fact
- New source templates for the 1940 U.S. census and improved support for city directories
- Dozens of report enhancements including performance improvements and new options in the relationship chart, family group sheet, Individual Report, Notes Report, Data Errors Report, Outline Descendant Report, Media Item Report, photo albums, Media Usage Report, Documented Facts Report, and calendar
And more enhancements are promised.
I’m happy to see that Ancestry this evening released an update to Family Tree Maker for Mac 2. The Ancestry Blog says it corrects the connection issues that have been plaguing us since last weekend.
Launch FTMM2 to get the update. If you’re in the application already just click Family Tree Maker 2 -> Check for Updates… on the menubar.
Today I finished methodically testing which source and citation information reliably survives GEDCOM import and export. It’s not a pretty picture! A mere five of fourteen key GEDCOM tags are safe across the nine leading genealogy software packages I tested. Fortunately, the ones I previously identified as essential to source citations are among them.
Why You Should Care
The ability to move your family history data from one application to another is important. Even if you have no intention of changing software or sharing your research you ought to be concerned. It’s entirely possible that the person or people that inherit your research will choose a different package. They may load your data and probably won’t even know they lost anything in the transfer. Well, that fate needn’t be yours if you know where you can safely store information.
What You Can Do
This research is part of the work I’ve been doing to create the very first GenealogyTools ebook and video course: Practical Citation. After completing the course, you will be able to safely and confidently record sources, citations, and quality in your genealogy software without having to consult a book or quick sheet. Say “goodbye” to uncertainty about citation templates and formats.
 I tested Family Historian 5, Family Tree Maker 2012, Family Tree Maker for Mac 2, GEDitCOM II, Legacy 7.5, MacFamilyTree 6, Reunion 10, RootsMagic 5, and The Master Genealogist 7.
Have you been on the Family Tree Maker software message board on Ancestry recently? If so, you’ve see all the posts about sync problems like I have. You’ll also have seen long-time FTM user, FTM guru Russ Worthington on there helping people with great advice and clear answers. Well, I’ve been wanting to help out on this matter too so I asked Russ if I could record an interview with him about TreeSync and share it with you, and he enthusiastically agreed. So we talked in preparation and he told me something the blew my mind!