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.

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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.

Ancestry iOS App Version 4.0

Dynamic Family TreeVersion 4.0 of the Ancestry.com companion genealogy app for iOS is available as a free update in the App Store.

The change log states the following:

  • Dynamic family tree that shows more family members.
  • See grandchildren, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews & cousins in your family tree.
  • Ability to change your tree to display direct ancestors only.
  • Purchase monthly memberships via In App Purchase.
  • An updated look and feel that’s both beautiful and functional.

That seems like a good list for a 4.0 version! The dynamic family tree is pictured to the left. Handy buttons at the top enable you to switch on or off the direct ancestors only feature.

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...]

Ancestry iOS App 3.1 Update: New Feature Review

Ancestry iOS Update IconThe new update to Ancestry’s app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is now available in the app store.

The app can now notify you when Ancestry.com finds  information it thinks relevant to your ancestors. Enabling this optional feature will cause the little red number badge to appear on the Ancestry app icon when Ancestry.com finds new information. If you’d like to use this feature, be sure to allow push notifications when prompted after launching the updated app for the first time. [Read more...]

Ancestry iOS App 3.0.1 Update

Fire up the App Store! An update to version 3.0.1 of the Ancestry app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch is available.

Here are the changes listed in the version notes:

  • Shaky leaves
  • Simple merge tool
  • In app purchase of records
  • Information automatically added to photos
  • Changeable privacy settings
  • Integrated feedback and support

The note also promises more stability and faster performance.

That all seems pretty straight forward except the part about automatically adding information to photos. If you figure out what that means please leave a comment.

Find Sources with Ancestry.com’s Explore by Location

You can discover sources of information about relatives you may not have been aware of. Ancestry.com has a feature called explore by location that will show you research resources by location. These resources can give you ideas about sources of information you hadn’t thought of or known about. In this video: Ancestry.com Explore by Location Feature, I show you how to see these resources, how to conduct a location specific search, and view brief historical information about a location.

GenealogyTools Members, download this video to your computer for your private use by control-clicking and choosing “Download Linked File As” or “Save Link As” (depending on your browser).