Good programs exist
Yes, Ancestry did announce yesterday that it’s discontinuing its Family Tree Maker software.
No, it’s not the end of the world.
Would The Legal Genealogist lie?1
Okay… deep breath.
Yes, it is very frustrating to many users that a program they’ve relied on for a long time seems to be suddenly going away.
But the demise of this program really isn’t going to happen overnight — even thought the program isn’t going to be sold any more after the end of 2015, Family Tree Maker will be still supported for more than a year, until at least 1 January 2017.
There’s time, in other words, to do what this graphic says: Keep calm … and check out the alternatives.
And there really are alternatives — very good alternatives — available for us all.
First off, let’s start by getting the facts. And there isn’t any better way to do that than to read what Ancestry has to say.
It’s got a blog post about this here, where we learn that:
• You can still buy the current version of Family Tree Maker if you want it. But that’s only until the end of this year. Act before December 31, 2015, or forever hold your peace.2
• Family Tree Maker will continue to be supported for at least a year after the last copy is sold: “Ancestry will continue to support current owners of Family Tree Maker at least through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync™, will continue to work, and Member Services will be available to assist with user questions. We will also address major software bugs that may occur, as well as compatibility updates.”3
Read that part again: “Ancestry will continue to support current owners of Family Tree Maker at least through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync™, will continue to work…”
In other words, we all have at least another year and some-odd days to figure out what to do if we’re now using Family Tree Maker.
Secondly, we need to spend a good bit of the first part of that year doing… yep … just what this graphic says: Keep calm … and check out the alternatives.
You can start by tuning in tonight, Wednesday, December 9th, to DearMYRTLE’s WACKY Wednesday discussion of the question Is there life beyond Family Tree Maker? It’s a Google Hangout starting at 9 p.m. Eastern (8 Central, 7 Mountain, 6 Pacific), and it’ll be recorded if you’re not a Google user and can’t join in. There’s no doubt that it’ll discuss, among other things, staying with the software until it just stops working, regardless of whether it’ll be supported.
But, I’m sure, it’s also going to start looking at the alternatives — other software genealogists can use to record their research findings.
There are several, but I want to mention two in particular, because (a) they’re full-featured, (b) the people involved with them either are genealogists themselves (Bruce Buzbee, the developer of RootsMagic) or are heavily involved with the genealogical community (Legacy Family Tree puts on that wonderful webinar series — its webinar host Geoff Rasmussen is himself a genealogist), and (c) both moved swiftly to open their doors to panicked Family Tree Maker users.
So… in purely alphabetical order:
Legacy 8.0 from Legacy Family Tree
With a free standard edition and a deluxe edition usually priced at $29.99 and on sale now for $19.95, Legacy 8.0 software from Legacy Family Tree has a lot to recommend it — including a very easy import path for Family Tree Maker users. Legacy’s features include family view, pedigree view, a to-do list or research log, the ability to bookmark individuals, birthday and anniversary reminders and free support — even in the free version.
In the deluxe version, added features include research guidance, mapping, a location database, timelines, ability to record DNA markers, a chronology view, descendant view, index view, relationship calculator and the ability to compare two files for duplicates. Full sources, reporting and publishing options and integration with FamilySearch.
If you want to try Legacy out before you buy it, the free standard version can be downloaded here; that’s the same page for the deluxe version if you’re ready to make the full switch.
And when I say the import path from Family Tree Maker is easy, I mean it is easy. So easy in fact that it has only two real steps: exporting from Family Tree Maker and importing into Legacy. If you want more help, Legacy’s Geoff Rasmussen has already put a short video on the Legacy site explaining the import process. You can find the video here.
Legacy 8.0 works on all Windows machines, on newer Macs with Windows installed under Bootcamp, Parallels or Fusion, and on Linux machines with a Windows emulator like Crossover, VMWare or Sun’s Virtual Box.
And Family Tree Maker users can be assured of a warm welcome — it’s already on Legacy’s blog.4
RootsMagic 7 is the premier software from RootsMagic, which also offers a free trial and a free alternative, RootsMagic Essentials. RootsMagic founder and President Bruce Buzbee is himself a genealogist. His responsiveness to the wants and needs of the genealogical community is legendary — and deservedly so.
Even in the free RootsMagic Essentials version, the software has unlimited capacity for facts, notes, sources and multimedia items. It offers sophisticated search tools, multimedia support, plenty of reports and source options, and power tools. You can download it from here.
The more powerful and full-featured RootsMagic 7 adds multiple view screens, online searching, sophisticated sourcing, reporting and publishing options, mapping, integration with FamilySearch and more. A trial version can be downloaded here.
There are videos and guides showing how to import from all versions of Family Tree Maker, special pricing for folks transitioning from Family Tree Maker (a special $20 price, down from the regular $44.90), all on a special website set up by RootsMagic — just click here.
RootsMagic works on all versions of Windows and directly as a native application under Mac OS X.
And Family Tree Maker users can be assured of a warm welcome — it’s already on the RootsMagic blog.5
So… take a deep breath.
You have a year.
That’s plenty of time to do what this graphic says: Keep calm … and check out the alternatives.
These two — and others still — are out there waiting for you.
- The answer is yes, of course I would, but not about that. ↩
- Kendall Hulet, “Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software,” Ancestry blog, posted 8 Dec 2015 (http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/ : accessed 8 Dec 2015). ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Geoff Rasmussen, “Update on the Family Tree Maker announcement,” Legacy News, posted 8 Dec 2015 (http://news.legacyfamilytree.com/ : accessed 8 Dec 2015). ↩
- Michael Booth, “Family Tree Maker® users have a new home at RootsMagic; Upgrade offer with Free Book and Magic Guides,” RootsMagic Blog, posted 8 Dec 2015 (http://blog.rootsmagic.com/ : accessed 8 Dec 2015). ↩