Thursday, December 10, 2015

Part 2 ~ Without Family Tree Maker

This is part 2 of a new series on planning ahead for future genealogy research without Family Tree Maker after Ancestry made the announcement to retire this popular software package. Click here for Part 1. 

I spent a lot of time during the past two days reading about alternative software programs to Ancestry’s Family Tree Maker.  There were a lot of good reviews online, and a lot of chatter online by genealogists at social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  I’ve put some links below for the truly curious.

I’ve decided that there are plenty of reviews, comparisons, critiques and reports on all these software companies and their products.  I’m probably going to just order a few and try them out.  Since they are all on sale now, this seems like the best strategy.  And considering that this software is something I use every day, it’s worth it to take a few test drives. 

When I get these new packages I’ll review them here, as well as posting the entire transfer process.  It should be interesting to see how easy the transfer might be (or might not be!).  I’ll try to catch any complications along the way and report them here.  Stay tuned it if this is something you will be thinking about doing in the near future, too.

In the meantime, while I wait for the new software to arrive.  I’ll continue to report any new reviews, links and stories.  Also remember, I’ll continue using the old FTM 2014 as long as I can, and as long as it continues to work on my computer.  Why not!

It would behoove you to use the sync features as soon as possible to capture any hints, updated media, and so on before January 1, 2017.  After that date FTM 2014 might not work with your software.  “Might not work” – we haven’t heard any details from Ancestry yet on the fine points of their decision to retire the FTM software.

The next step is to choose from the many, many other software choices.  See below for the review column of over 900 choices for genealogy software! I’ve narrowed down that big list to one of these possible software choices to replace Family Tree Maker (no particular order):

1. Family Historian 20% off until the end of January 2016

2. Legacy Family Tree just $19.95 until December 31, 2015

3. RootsMagic, only $20 for “a limited time”

4. MyHeritage Family Tree Builder free download and tree syncing to the website

5. The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding  (build your own genealogy website)   I have seen Laura Prescott lecture about this fascinating software twice (once at RootsTech), and this is a good option for some people.  I haven’t any details on prices yet.

If you are a Mac user these seem to be the top two choices:

iFamily for Mac

Reunion (also for Mac)


For further information online:

Part 1 of my blog series (in case you missed it):

From the other blogs…

And it’s always good to hear from Dick Eastman’s newsletter about any genie news

And even better to hear from Judy Russell The Legal Genealogist!

Amy Johnson Crow  “3 Things to Consider with the End of Family Tree Maker”

From the Talking Box Genealogy by Danni

 “Yet another blog post about Ancestry’s decision to retire Family Tree Maker” by Erin Louise Tilley at the Census Sensibility blog

Jeanne Ruczhak Eckman’s Genealogical Gems blog

Down Under’s Gould Genealogy weighs in on the FTM story

And The British Genes blog blog “RIP Family Tree Maker”   

from the Out of my Tree Genealogy

Emily Aulicino from Genealem’s Genetic Genealogy “ Dumps Family Tree Maker”

Stay tuned with Russ Worthington at his blog Family Tree Maker User.  Like me he does NOT plan to change his blog and will continue providing support to users and readers.

June Stearns Butka at the New England Roots blog “Ancestry and Old Dogs”

Denise Levenick at The Family Curator blog “Family Tree Maker Reminder:  What’s Your Backup Plan?”

Dianne Nolin at Genealogy: Beyond the BMD blog “Ancestry Ditching Family Tree Maker – Don’t Panic”

Jenny Tonks at The Disciplined Genealogy “How to Protect Your Genealogy When Its Software is Discontinued”


How about signing a petition to save Family Tree Maker?  It can’t hurt!

Back to Basics!
“What is a GEDCOM File and Why do I Need it?”  at the RootsBid blog.  If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you will need to read this in order to migrate your files from FTM to any other software platform.

More software reviews (see Part 1 for another)  (compares FTM, MyHeritage, FTM for Mac, Hope Chest, Reunion, RootsMagic, My Family Root, Fambrry, Family Echo, FamilyRelatives, Mudia, Genealogy J, Brother’s Keeper, Gramps, WikiTree, GenMarketplace, Family Tree Legends, Ahnenblatt, Visual Family Tree Maker, etc. 931 programs in all!  I’ll bet you didn’t know there were so many!)

And just for laughs…

From Kerry Scott at the Clue Wagon blog “Santa Claus Signs Agreement with to Ruin Christmas”


Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Part 2 ~ Without Family Tree Maker", Nutfield Genealogy, posted December 10, 2015 ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. This has awakened me to a shortcoming in my backup processes as I always back up my FTM file to an offsite space (and two--yes two--external drives) but I was NOT exporting to GEDCOM file. Major shortcoming on my part. If Ancestry had not given us a year's notice and something happened to my computer--as it just did--I would be toast! :)

  2. Thanks for a clear-headed analysis and plenty of links. Who wants to learn yet another piece of software? Sigh.

  3. Heather, I have done the same thing - purchased others to try out. Another option is Heredis, a European program which has Windows and Mac versions. It is 50% off for the holidays, 14.99 for Windows and 24.99 for Mac.

    1. Thanks for the heads up on Heredis. All the prices are low enough. You could buy three or four to try at the equivalent price of the $69.99 for FTM through the end of the year. Let me know how you like Heredis.

  4. From Sue Hawes (accidentally deleted) "The TNG program is a web site-based genealogy database. The software is about $40 and actual web hosting cost yearly abt $60 (depending on server space needed for your data)." [Thanks, Sue! Great info ! I've listed TNG "The Next Generation of Software Building" up above as #5. Here is the link to their webpage ]

  5. Thanks, Heather. Maybe this link will be clickable?

  6. RootsMagic has a Macintosh version, so does Ancestral Quest.

  7. Wanted to mention that MyHeritage announced today that instead of having the free trees limited to 250 people, they will now let you have unlimited people.

    Also I had Heredis for awhile.I actually transferred from Heredis to FTM in 2013. I loved their flexible calendar options but the placename fields drove me crazy.

    Valerie Kraft did a nice blog post on Heredis :

    I am a newer FTM user; I plan on keeping it until it or my laptop croaks.

    1. Me, too, Magda! I'm using FTM as long as it keeps working!