Wednesday, 9 December 2015

RIP Family Tree Maker

Ancestry ( has announced the forthcoming unnecessary demise of its popular Family Tree Maker software package:

Dear Family Tree Maker™ community,

Ancestry is proud to have made a significant investment this year to bring valuable new content and records to the Ancestry site. In 2015, we’ve made 220 million searchable historical records from Mexico available, more than 170 million pages from the largest collection of U.S. will and probate records, among others. We’ve also introduced new features such as Ancestry Academy, and major advancements for AncestryDNA.

As we strive to provide our customers with the best experience possible, we are constantly evaluating our services and product offerings. True to this focus, we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide new content, product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the tough decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015.

We will continue to support existing Family Tree Maker owners at least through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync™ will continue to work. Our Member Services team will also remain available to assist with questions or issues you may have.

These changes are never easy. But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on continuing to build great products for our loyal Ancestry community.

It goes on in a similar vein at a dedicated blog post at

COMMENT: The world has not ended.

What Ancestry is doing here is hoping that users of its online tree software programme will now abandon hosting their tree data on their PC, and instead keep their data stored on its own dedicated servers.

Yeah, right!

Don't get me wrong. I have my tree stored on Ancestry, as a private tree that only I can access, but for one reason only. Using FTM 2014 I upload all my information via my PC, and with one click can sync it to my Ancestry account. By doing so, I can then instantly upload my changes to my iPad, using the Ancestry app, which allows me to have a portable ready reckoner to hand when I am out and about. My tree on Ancestry is actually set to private - it is merely there as an intermediary step between my PC and my iPad as far as I am concerned. The idea that I am going to wholeheartedly embrace Ancestry's online provision as my only option in just over a year's time is just wishful thinking on its part.

Until about a year and a half ago, I regularly used FamilyHistorian as my PC based software package, a truly superb piece of work. Unfortunately, FamilyHistorian does not offer a one click and everything syncs between devices option to transfer my tree. If it did, I would be back there like a shot. But it didn't and Family Tree Maker did. Now it won't (or, at least, from January 1st 2017 it won't). So what are my options?
  • On January 2nd 2017, Family Tree Maker 2014 will still work on my PC. I won't be able to instantly sync from it on my PC to Ancestry and my iPad. That doesn't stop me exporting my data as a Gedcom when I want to update it and to import it into Ancestry if I am still so inclined. I can still upload my changes, just not so easily - which is exactly the same issue I had with FamilyHistorian.  (I should add that when doing client work, I still use Family Tree Maker 2006, which was never broken, never needed fixing, and has some great chart options!). There are other ways to do so, just none so convenient.
  • I could use Ancestry's online tree exclusively - but that's not going to happen. Have you seen it lately?! The recent revamp to it was horrendous. Mehhhh! 
  • I can switch back to FamilyHistorian, or use another software programme. And why not? FamilyHistorian is actually a much friendlier programme in my book, and there are plenty of others that equally do the job.

Ancestry has taken this decision for business reasons, and be under no doubts that its interest lies firmly with its shareholders, not with its users. If it was interested in its users' thoughts on this, it would have asked them. But that's fine, it is a business, that's what they do. However, the idea that my data will become hosted solely on its platform is just a pipe dream.

So RIP Family Tree Maker, taken away before your time - but other suppliers are available...


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit My Pinterest account is at

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