Converting FTM facts to Family History Narratives

My initial efforts in genealogy research were adding as many names, dates, and facts to my family tree using a tree on Ancestry.com and offline using FamilyTree Maker. This format gave me a massive warehouse of information but a challenging landscape of organization when trying to use the genealogical reports to analyze my facts. It was even worse when I tried to share the trees and charts with my family members.

I began converting my FTM data to text documents to become more organized and have a better, more readable format to share with my family. My initial conversion methods used the Descendant Reports and Individual Reports to copy and paste their contents to Microsoft Word documents for each direct ancestor. Today, I use FTM’s Smart Story function to generate my initial text document.

My first step in editing the text document is to make each fact a Bullitt Point. Next, I organize each fact into chronological order. This method seems tedious, but I get excited when I see my ancestor’s life story start to appear. Seeing the facts come together then encourages me to add photos and maps. I search for pictures of my ancestors, their homes, schools, places of employment, vintage images of the area, and maps. I place them next to the text where appropriate or at the end of the narrative. These pictures bring my ancestors more alive.

My individual narratives now become my primary research document. I save all new facts, photos, and documents to this summary of my ancestor. First, the facts and stories are added to the narrative with references to my sources. When I find a new document, I add the information from the document in the narrative. Then, place the copy of the document at the end of the narrative with a citation of its source.

I still use FTM as a reference for names, dates, and relationships. In addition, I refer to it often when I am writing to get the family group information correct or to review where to place a new name in the family tree. However, I do not run another Descendant Report, Individual Report, or Smart Story. Instead, I run Pedigree Charts when I need to add them to a section of the family history to show how the individuals are related.

I have found that using narratives as my research document makes most of the challenges of using linage software disappear. Narratives are flexible in adding information, more readable, and can be easily shared. Converting your FTM data to narratives may be tedious, but you will see more of your ancestry in the narratives.

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.

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.