Family Tree Maker users can now directly import their trees into an update of RootsMagic 7.
RootsMagic family history software just announced the release of RootsMagic 188.8.131.52. This new version that allows users to directly import any Family Tree Maker file.
According to a RootsMagic press release, importing Family Tree Maker files was “mostly effective” when users imported them as GEDCOMs. However, files were “often lacking data and details only found in the original file” and added an extra step in the conversion process.
Now RootsMagic 7 can actually import a bigger variety of Family Tree Maker files (more past versions) than the current software itself can do. These include Family Tree Maker 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 for Windows; Family Tree Maker 3 for Mac; Family Tree Maker 2010 and 2012 for Mac; and Classic Family Tree Maker files ending with the file extension .ftw.
This is a free update for RootsMagic 7 users (look for the “Update available” indicator in the lower right corner of your RootsMagic 7 program screen and click on it). Click here to purchase RootsMagic 7 (for new customers and those who have previous versions of RootsMagic). For specific instructions on importing Family Tree Maker files directly into RootsMagic 7, visit the RootsMagic blog.
More RootsMagic 7 and Family History Software Gems
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How and Why To Back Up Your Ancestry.com Tree (Our most popular blog post EVER)
Family History Software for Mac: Recommendations from YOU
Are we getting closer to the “holy grail” of family history software: one that will sync with all the major genealogy websites?
Ancestry.com’s unpopular announcement that it would be retiring its Family Tree Maker software was followed by a loud “never mind!” Software MacKiev has acquired Family Tree Maker software for both Mac and Windows and will continue the software’s production. According to Ancestry.com, “This new agreement means you will receive software updates and new versions from Software MacKiev, and have the ability to purchase new versions of Family Tree Maker from Software MacKiev as they are released.“
More interesting to me is the news that RootsMagic software and Ancestry.com will be connected by the end of 2016. According to a RootsMagic press release, this means RootsMagic users will “be able to display Ancestry hints, search for Ancestry records, and share data between [their] RootsMagic file and [their] Ancestry tree, all from within RootsMagic itself.” (This will be an optional function that can be enabled or disabled at will.)
Dedicated Family Tree Maker users may be relieved that their software will continue to be supported. But as someone who regularly works with different genealogy websites, I continue to prefer RootsMagic. RootsMagic 7 is already known as the software “easiest to sync with FamilySearch.” For some time, it’s been culling web hints from MyHeritage.com and it will soon start integrating hints from FindMyPast. RootsMagic even backs up directly to Dropbox and Google Drive, which is also handy for those who want to share their tree files with others.
Is RootsMagic becoming that “holy grail” of family tree softwares: the one that will sync with every major genealogy website platform? So far it’s just FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com with current or planned syncing. But I find it so encouraging to see hinting/record searching partnerships with MyHeritage.com and FindMyPast.com, too. Of course I wonder whether tree-syncing will follow. I hope so, even though the complications of syncing (and sharing records!) across competing brands and platforms must be enormous. Of course, MyHeritage already has its own family tree software: in fact, they just released a new version, Family Tree Builder 8. FindMyPast does not have their own option (but their tree system itself is still evolving–it’s not even publicly searchable yet).
RootsMagic is a sponsor of my free Genealogy Gems podcast, but that’s not why I’m talking about it so glowingly (and I don’t receive a commission on sales of RootsMagic). I use RootsMagic family history software because it continues to stay at the forefront of providing cutting-edge features, and RootsMagic provides quality service and free tutorials. Click here to read more about why I recommend RootsMagic. Research it for yourself, and try the free version, RootsMagic Essentials (you can always upgrade later). It’s not yet the Holy Grail for family history software that syncs to every site, but it seems closer than any other option out there.
More Gems on Family History Software Options
Family History Software for Mac
What I Do With My Family Tree
How and Why to Backup Your Ancestry Tree (My Most Popular Blog Post EVER)
Want tips to keep your online trees current with the master version in your family tree software? I’ve fielded several questions recently from Family Tree Maker users that might be useful to everyone.
In the wake of the announced retirement of Family Tree Maker software, questions continue to pour in about how to use family history software along with online trees. I’ve also taken a couple of questions from people wondering whether to continue their subscriptions at Ancestry.com if they’re not using Family Tree Maker. Find my answers below–and thanks to Gladys, Charles, Lisa and others for sending in these great questions!
Q: “Why switch from Family Tree Maker if it still “works” even after it’s retired? Ancestry.com and its tree system can be continually updated via GEDCOMs (click here to learn more about GEDCOMs) from one’s current Family Tree Maker for as long as one desires. The key problem is that support for FTM will soon disappear.”
A: Yes, you’re right, the key probably is that support will be gone. Into the future, as operating systems and hardware change, FTM users will likely eventually experience problems and ultimately be unable to continue reinstalling it onto new computers. (As I mentioned in this article, this happened to me with my first database.) While it isn’t an emergency, there is an advantage to migrating now. Other companies are offering great specials, and are currently knowledgeable and focused on assisting FTM users in making the move and ensuring that all of their data migrates successfully. Click here to learn about some of these specials.
RootsMagic is a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, and the software that I use personally. The following question came from a listener who wanted to know more about it and how to move their data:
Q: “Can you explain more about RootsMagic and what it can do? Will it allow a transfer of data from the old Family Tree Maker files where I have already stored significant amounts of information?”
A: You can download your content from Ancestry and then load that into RootstMagic. This article on the RootsMagic blog will guide you. And they have an entire “Help” page here devoted specifically to assisting Family Tree Maker users. (Click here to learn why I recommend RootsMagic, which is a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.)
Q: “Should I just resign myself to having to upload a new GEDCOM to RootsMagic every month to add any new people/content I’ve found on Ancestry.com?”
A: Rather than adding info to my Ancestry tree and then duplicating it in RootsMagic, I look at it the other way around. I enter new found data directly into RootsMagic as I work. I may go ahead and add it to my Ancestry tree as well, but it really depends on what it is. You see, I view my Ancestry.com tree as a drafting table or a work space, not the final resting place for my family tree. For me, a little extra effort is worth keeping control of my data.
I really don’t foresee Ancestry.com resurrecting Family Tree Maker or selling it to another company. This article explains some of the business reasons why.
Q: “If I continue to use Ancestry.com and add content to my online tree, what is the best way to get that content into my RootsMagic tree?”
A: You can download your content from Ancestry and then load that into RootsMagic. This article on the RootsMagic blog will guide you. I think after reading all my answers here you will see that I use Ancestry and MyHeritage as research tools, and RootsMagic as my master complete genealogy database. So I leave RootsMagic open on my computer in the background, and pop over to that window to enter confirmed data as I am working on the various websites.
BONUS QUESTIONS! Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com Subscriptions
Here are my responses to Family Tree Maker user questions about where to invest their subscription dollars and efforts.
Q: “Do you recommend not using Ancestry.com for research anymore?”
A: I think Ancestry is a treasure trove of genealogical data and documents, and I absolutely will continue to use it. However, as I mentioned in my article, I’m a believer in housing my master family tree on my own computer, and backing up that computer to the cloud (I use BackBlaze. I like the service so much they have become a sponsor of the Genealogy Gems Podcast.) That way I control the data and know it is protected. I don’t use Ancestry trees for my master tree. Rather, I upload a GEDCOM of the branches I want to generate leads for (shaky leaves). When I find new information I may or may not add it to my Ancestry tree (based on my research needs) but I always add it to RootsMagic master database.
Q: “Should I switch to MyHeritage?”
A: MyHeritage is a great website as well. I use it in much the same way I use Ancestry (above). It has been invaluable for my international research. (Click here to learn why I recommend MyHeritage.com, which is also a sponsor of the free Genealogy Gems podcast.)
Final thoughts: In the end, it’s your data and your decision. I hope you’ve found these conversations helpful as you do your own homework on what is right for your family tree.
More Gems on Family History Software and Online Trees
Family Tree Maker Alternatives and What I Do With My Online Tree
How to Download and Backup Your Ancestry Data
Is that Software Expired? Why I Wouldn’t Use Obsolete Family Tree Maker Software
As Family Tree Maker software nears the end of its product lifecycle, many may wonder how far past the “expiration date” they should use it. Here’s my take.
Ancestry.com recently announced that they will stop supporting Family Tree Maker, the popular desktop software that syncs with Ancestry.com trees online. Sales will end on December 31, 2015. Product support and major fixes for current users will end a year later. (Click here for full details.)
This means the clock is ticking for Family Tree Maker users to decide where to put their family trees. Or is it? Can you continue to use software after it’s officially “expired?” For how long? What risks do you take if you do?
Consider the “Best If Used By” dates we see on the food products we buy. There is currently still some life in this product, and will be for a year after they stop selling it. According to Ancestry, during 2016 “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.” So technically, the “Best if Used By” date is the end of 2016. But then what?
What Happens with Family Tree Maker after 2016?
The software will still function on your computer. But it won’t sync to your Ancestry online tree anymore, and there will be no upgrades to make it compatible with future computer hardware or software. So eventually, you’ll need to transfer everything out of Family Tree Maker software anyway to be able to keep up with evolving technology. That’s what happened to me with my first favorite genealogy software. When it was discontinued, I hung on to it for a long time, and honestly, I had no problem.
Eventually, however, the old software was no longer fully compatible with new operating systems and I had to upgrade. I took a risk in continuing to enter information into an obsolete system–and wouldn’t take it again in retrospect. When it finally did come time to transfer, I was gambling with whether my system had gotten so far behind the times that it would be too difficult or even impossible to transfer everything. (Think how much our data transfer technology has changed in recent years: from floppy disks, CD-ROMs, CDs and DVDs to flash drives and now cloud-based transfers.) And I also ran the risk that there might be license limitations to how many computers my old software could be loaded onto.
Our genealogy software contains thousands of pieces of linked pieces of data: names, dates, relationships, source citation information, digitized photos and documents and more. This is not something we could easily re-create and I for one would not want to have to redo all that research (or even just key it in). Even if GEDCOM files continue as a universal file type for genealogy software, the ability to export every piece of information exactly as you want it in GEDCOMs is not guaranteed. For example, consider that when you download a tree from Ancestry, according to their customer support pages,”Any pictures, charts, books, views, or similar items found in the original file will not be included in the [downloaded] GEDCOM. Vital information, notes, and sources are usually retained after conversion.”
Why continue to load your Family Tree Maker software with data you might not be able to fully retrieve when you want to?
If you’re a Family Tree Maker user, I’m not saying you should panic. You have time to do your homework and carefully consider the best next step for you. You could start using new family history software with a reliable cloud-based back-up service for your computer, so your files are fully protected. You could migrate to another cloud-and-software-sync model over at MyHeritage (their desktop software is free). Click here to read more about those options and see current offers by RootsMagic and MyHeritage.com for Family Tree Maker users.
Bottom line: “Best if Used By” usually indicates that the sooner you finish consuming a product and move on, the healthier and better your experience will be. That is an applicable analogy for Family Tree Maker users. Research your options and move on to another product so your family tree will continue to grow and be healthy!
More Gems for Family Tree Maker Users
Here at Genealogy Gems we care about you and your data. Here are more resources for you:
What Ancestry’s Retirement of Family Tree Maker Software Means for You
Best Genealogy Software: Which You Should Choose and Why
How to Download and Backup Your Ancestry Data
Are you a Family Tree Maker user looking for place to transplant your master family tree? Here are some great offers and my personal strategy.
With the imminent demise of Family Tree Maker software, many users find themselves preparing to transplant their trees elsewhere. But many are still trying to decide upon the ideal spot. RootsMagic and MyHeritage.com have both responded with attractive Family Tree Maker alternatives. Both companies are sponsors of the free Genealogy Gems podcast and both offer excellent products. It just depends on what works best for you. While you’re doing your homework, consider these offers:
RootsMagic Family History Software: Discount on Software, with Special Add-Ons and Training
“If you’re a Family Tree Maker user, we understand that change isn’t easy,” states a recent RootsMagic press release. “But with a little of your time and a little help from us, you’ll be just as comfortable with RootsMagic as you were with Family Tree Maker.”
“For a limited time, we are offering Family Tree Maker users the full-version of RootsMagic for the amazing low price of only $20. We will also include the printed book, “Getting the Most out of RootsMagic” absolutely free (a $14.95 value). To make the transition as painless as possible, we’ve set-up a special website at www.FTMUpgrade.com that includes training videos, testimonials, and more. You must visit www.FTMUpgrade.com to receive the discount.”
I am a RootsMagic user myself, as I’ve stated in the past (click here to read why). I particularly love the wide range of support for learning to use RootsMagic. RootsMagic offers a recently-updated Mac version of its software, too. If you’re still not sure, you could try RootsMagic Essentials first for free, then easily upgrade in the future.
MyHeritage.com Family History Website: Free Unlimited Tree Hosting
“At MyHeritage, we believe there is still a place in the world for genealogy software,” says an email I received from MyHeritage’s Chief Genealogical Officer, Daniel Horowitz. “There is value in the ability to work offline, and enjoy more powerful functionality that many websites cannot offer. We also believe that people should be able to discover and preserve their family history on whatever platform they are comfortable with. That’s why we are constantly innovating new technologies and enhancing our website, mobile apps and our Family Tree Builder genealogy software.
We are delighted to offer FTM users who move to MyHeritage, and who choose to sync their family tree with their MyHeritage family site, unlimited tree size capacity on their online family site, which is normally limited to 250 individuals on a free account.”
MyHeritage.com started as a family tree and family networking website, so its roots for tree-hosting are deep. The site hosts the most geographically diverse trees in the world, which is a great reason for anyone searching for international relatives to have a family tree there. Their Family Tree Builder software is free, so there is no financial risk for downloading and using it. Having a tree on the site that syncs to your home tree will provide you with a degree of convenient, free security: your tree will be backed up in two physical locations at all times (one on the software on your computer and one on the site).
For me, the bottom line continues to be control over my master family tree–and all the other files on my computer. So for me, the answer is to
1) Use RootsMagic as my master database on my desktop computer and download the app to my mobile devices;
2) Upload sections of my trees periodically to genealogy websites as I’m researching those lines in order to generate new leads and connections. (Doing this on MyHeritage led to my first ever connection with a distant German cousin!);
3) Use a cloud-based computer backup system that automatically backs up my entire computer (including RootsMagic files) on an ongoing basis. This protects me from losing files due to theft, disaster at my home, computer crashes, and anything else that threatens my data. I use Backblaze as the official backup service for Genealogy Gems, and I love it. It’s super easy, reliable and affordable (about $5 a month!). Click here to read more posts on cloud-based computer backup services.
More Gems About Caring for Your Family Tree
Don’t Lose Control When You Post Your Family Tree Online
Best Genealogy Software: Which Should You Choose and Why
How to Approach an Error on Someone Else’s Tree