FAMILY TREE MAKER NEWS – release of Version 2017 this Weekend

In a recent new release, MacKiev, makers of FTM, warn that the discounted preorder price ($29.99) for their new version is good only through July 14 and they will release FT2017 this weekend. This is good news for those who were waiting anxiously for the new syncing software and bad news for those that were planning on continuing to use their older versions.

It is bad news for users who were not planning to upgrade because the announcement states clearly that the search and merge function in the older versions will no longer work. This function will only work in FTM2017.

MacKiev gives these six reasons to upgrade:

  1. To sync with an Ancestry tree. (No other FTM editions will).
    2. To sync two or more FTM trees with one Ancestry tree with FamilySync™.
    3. To discover the crossed lines of your ancestors with color coding.
    4. To fix faded old photos with our new Photo Darkroom™ tools.
    5. To add a new free data source with FamilySearch integration.
    6. To keep using Ancestry search and merge. (Older editions no longer will).

My plans have changed due to this announcement. I had preordered FTM2017 but I was planning on delaying its installation until I was sure there were no comments from users about any bugs. Now I will install FTM2107 and only convert old trees to the new format as needed. I will convert the remaining trees after the dust settles for the rollout of FT2017.

Is Roots Magic winning the marketing battle with Family Tree Maker?

Roots Magic just released their version 7.5 which interfaces with Ancestry.com for the first time. Now RM users can see hints for Ancestry.com records along with the hints they are enjoying from Familysearch.org, MyHeritage, and Findmypast. The new interface also includes our family trees we have on Ancestry which RM is calling Treeshare.  RM’s Treeshare is not the same as FTM’s Tree-syncing but does allow users to connect to Ancestry family trees, compare differences and changes between Ancestry and RM trees, and then select what information to migrate between the two versions. FTM Treesync allows Ancestry and FTM trees to be the same. RM Teeshare allows you to have additional people in your RM tree and be different from your Ancestry tree. I like the additional control RM gives me, but it does take more time to make the comparison.

My experience with FTM14.1 which is currently available is satisfactory, but interfaces with only Ancestry.com.  Mackiev has promised their new version FTM2017 will improve the syncing function and add an interface with Familyserch.org. However, the release of FTM2017 has been delayed and is about six months overdue.

With the release of RM7.5, Roots Magic seems to have moved ahead of FTM, but what will happen when FTM2017 is finally released? How much market share will FTM lose as now that RM7.5 has been released and the release of FTM2017 continues to be delayed? How much better will FTM2017 need to be to win back the market share they lost since the announcement by Ancestry to discontinue FTM?

I have been a long-time FTM user but my loyalty is being tested, and I am on the edge of the fence with my decision. FTM14.1 does not interface with Ancestry as well as older versions, but I think this is due to Ancestry not owning FTM and not due to the software. Will the interface between Ancestry and FTM2017 remain the same, go back to the old level, or get better. Only the release of FTM2017 will give us the answer.

How DNA Can Help Your Genealogy

DNA testing has become a popular topic at genealogy meetings, and the growth in the number of DNA tests has been fueled by numerous promotional sales and promises to unlock secrets in your genealogy research. In some cases, DNA results have been powerful in producing clues and knocking down brick walls, but in many other cases, the results have been confusing.

Genealogists, who I talked to, gave me the following list of reasons why they submitted DNA samples:

  • They were curious about what the results would
  • They were curious about their origins and ancient ancestry.
  • They were hoping to find matches and possible distant relatives to exchange information.
  • They doubted their paper trail and wanted to prove or disprove their oral history.
  • They wanted to test relationship theories.

I have heard many stories of successes in finding matches to lost branches of families that led to the addition of many stories and pictures to family histories. However, I have also heard many people asking for help in understanding their results. The testing companies are now adding tools that help family historians better analyze and utilize their test results. One step that helps significantly is the ability to attach your family tree to your DNA test results.  Some of the tools I find useful include:

  • Identifying Genetic Communities
  • Surname searches
  • Identifying Shared Matches
  • Adding surnames and other comments in the attached notes for matches

These tools led me to a secret portion of my ancestry that one of my ancestors took to her grave. However, I opened this new side of my ancestry by identifying a dark secret. So be prepared. If you have to unlock secrets, there may be a dark side that you may regret discovering.

In summary, I would recommend taking the Autosomal test offered by Ancestry.com or FamilyTreeDNA.com. Take Y-DNA and mtDNA tests only if you need to explore specific relationship theories. Your results will probably be very generic and match your paper trail. If your DNA results do not match your paper trail, you may have some secrets to uncover. If your results have matches that project as first or second cousins, contact them because you may have an exciting new source for family stories and pictures of common ancestors.

Just have fun exploring your family history and heritage. Remember to save and pass along what you find to your children, grandchildren, and future generations.

Write-down Your Family Memories for Future Generations

 

It is important for us to save our memories for future generations, especially for parents and grandparents, because writing down the stories is a great way to personalize our family history narratives. Below are a few of the memories of my grandmother that I included at the end of my narrative for her. Using the first-person voice seems to bring the memory more to life.

  • “After I had started at St Pat’s School, I began walking with my grandmother the two blocks to St Patrick’s Church for Sunday Mass. This walk was always a pleasant walk in good weather, and I would ramble on with stories of various topics that she would patiently listen to and sometimes comment. She was always very patient with me.””
  • “Dinners at the Zuchowski table were very basic. Grandma did not bring any Polish recipes with her from the old country. Our meals consisted of meat, potato, and a vegetable. However, I was picky about what foods I liked to eat, and grandma would usually make something special for me. Later as an adult, I was frustrated when my children were picky, but I have a special love for my grandmother for spoiling me.”
  • “In the late 1950s, Grandma worked in the kitchen at Auth’s which was a local restaurant. One night she brought home a catfish dinner that was left over from their weekly fish fry. This was the first time I had catfish, and I liked it. After that, I would occasionally stop at the kitchen door of Auth’s when she was working to get another taste of catfish.”

We need to think about our ancestors and the memories we want to pass along to our children and grandchildren. We need to write them down and save them, so they will not be lost. If not us, who will do it?

Problems with Tree Syncing between Ancestry and FamilyTree Maker and RootsMagic

Tree Syncing with Ancestry.com family tree seems to put stress on Ancestry’s servers. If MacKiev and Rootsmagic both go live with syncing this problem will get worse.

The concept of constant syncing with our online trees has attracted many users lineage software as a great tool. Saving Ancestry results to our family tree provide the researcher with a convenient place to store research. The tree could be online at Ancestry or offline on lineage software such as FamilyTree Maker(FTM). I believe that this dynamic drove the popularity of FTM. The addition of TreeSyncing added to the popularity of FTM. Researchers who had family trees on Ancestry and offline lineage software had to decide which was their primary family tree to be maintained and updated with current information. Tree syncing allowed researchers to use their smart devices to search and save information to their Ancestry trees without overtaxing the memory of their devices. Ancestry would then download the new information to FTM, and both family trees would be current.

However, there were complaints of problems with the sync, and Ancestry chose to discontinue FTM rather than solve the problem. They quickly sold FTM to MacKiev who promised to continue support and updates for FTM. However, yesterday’s stress test by MacKiev of their new version of FTM indicates Tree Syncing may push the limits of the online servers at Ancestry and make the connections unstable.

If Tree Syncing endangers the functionality of the databases on Ancestry.com, should it be part of lineage software?

Hopefully, hints, search, and merge with Ancestry.com databases will be allowed to continue because these are also useful functions and do not overtax the Ancestry.com.

AncestryDNA launches Genetic Communities

On March 27, AncestryDNA introduced Genetic Communities. It is very new, but I believe it will prove to be a useful tool to unlock some of the mysteries that we encounter in our genealogical research.

Using the DNA results from the users in Ancestry’s database, DNA profiles were identified for over 300 geographical areas. (Note AncestryDNA used only results from users who agreed to participate in the test). Individual results were then compared to the DNA profiles to determine if results fit any of the profiles.

My results matched one profile although I expected at least two. The Genetic Communities feature is new and is still being refined, so I hope that the second area that I was expecting will show up in my results later.

This tool may confirm the geographical areas that we have identified as our origins, but it may also point to a new area especially if we have mysteries or brick walls.

The Genetic Communities is a tool that should be considered when deciding which DNA testing company to select. If I need to order another DNA test, I will probably order from AncestryDNA. Another factor in my decision is the ability to transfer the raw data from an AncestryDNA test to FamilytreeDNA. In the past, I have used the tools of both companies to resolve one of my brick walls, and the Genetic Communities should make this task easier.

March 12 at Palatine Library: Local Author Fair

Join me on March 12 at the Palatine Library for their Local Author Fair. Eighteen other authors. It should be fun.