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.
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 220.127.116.112] 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 18.104.22.1682, 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.
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.
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.