Friday, December 11, 2015

Part 3 ~ Without Family Tree Maker

Reading the online rants about Family Tree Maker has been so much more entertaining than reading the political rants this week!   And that’s saying as a “First in the Nation Presidential Primary” New Hampshire resident.

OK, last night I ordered Legacy and RootsMagic.  I have never used either one before.  Both were simple enough to order online and both are sending me disks via the US postal service.   RootsMagic immediately sent me a separate email with a code to download the file right away.   Legacy sent me a confirmation that said a separate email will be sent by the end of the next business day with an unlock code and download instructions. I haven’t received the Legacy download email yet.

My Heritage offers their software for Family Tree Builder free online.  I downloaded it and synced it to two of the four trees I had previously built on My Heritage.  This went smoothly and took only about five minutes for all four trees.  I was up late fiddling around with Family Tree Builder until the wee hours.

In the short time that I played with the My Heritage Family Tree builder I found a few things I liked and a few that were missing.  I liked the family group sheets it was able to produce.  I liked the sync with the My Heritage website.  The back button <-  is cool, letting you trace your steps back to a previous page.  It appears to allow same sex marriages and other alternatives (such as unknown).   I really like the index of all names down the left column, just like FTM (very handy for me since I have many families that repeat names – like five generations of Abijah HITCHINGS or nine generations in a row of Robert WILSONs, plus a plethora of Robert WILSON cousins).  The user’s guide is located on the MyHeritage website, but can downloaded to your computer for quick access – nice! Files can be exported, including GEDCOM.

On the other hand, it was missing the lineage report I loved in version 16 of Family Tree Maker that is also missing in all the newer version of FTM from 2009 to 2014.  The person pages of the program show children AND siblings, but doesn’t give many details until you click on their names.  At the person page it would be nice to see a sibling/child birth date, or to hover over a name to see a spouse.    One big problem I encountered was dealing with ancestors who are related in multiple relationships (collapsing pedigrees).  The solution to collapsing pedigrees was not intuitively obvious, so I’ll spend some time with customer service later as a “test case”.  I have tons of repeated ancestors, so this is a deal breaker for me [For example, I have 8 lineages from one BURNHAM ancestor, and many more similar cases – cue the banjos.]   Another deal breaker is the poor source documentation [No page numbers on the sources in family group sheets or reports? Wow!]

Free access limits the online tree to just 250 people, and limits photos.  Premium members get more space, and the Premium Plan is less than   However the software is FREE!  Can’t beat that!

It was fun exploring the My Heritage Family Tree Builder, but the real test will come when I try out a few more software packages. Then I will be better prepared to comparison shop.

Stay tuned for more as I try out the My Heritage customer service, and for when I try out Legacy and RootsMagic.  As I attempt more advanced genealogy reports and citations on these software platforms, I’ll be documenting the results here, too.

Useful links:

From Cyndi’s List – Software

From Cyndi’s List- Macintosh Software

From the blogs:

Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings  “What Do Family Tree Maker Users Do Now?”

Thomas MacEntee at GeneaBloggers “Blame the Millennials:  The End of Family Tree Maker Genealogy Software”

From a Mac User point of view, see Elizabeth Pyle Handler’s blog post at From Maine to Kentucky, “Family Tree Maker Software is Being Retired”

Diane Haddad at Family Tree Magazine “ Announces End of Family Tree Maker Software”,date,2015-12-09.aspx

From Teach Me Genealogy – a very useful blog post “How to Export Your Family Tree from”

DISCLAIMER -  I was not paid or reimbursed by Ancestry or My Heritage to write this blog post.  I did not receive any free software or online packages (except for several years ago I did receive a free 6 month Premium package subscription at My Heritage while at RootsTech 2013).


Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Part 3 ~ Without Family Tree Maker", Nutfield Genealogy, posted December 10, 2015 ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. I will anxiously await your solution to the collapsing tree issue as it is a problem for me as well. I have multiple cases of first cousins marrying and I don't want to end up with multiple Arthur Barretts - its as if he was cloned. Additionally, when it shows a relationship I want it to show that Winifred (for example) was David's aunt AND his mother-in-law! I wish you were trying out Family Historian as I am intrigued by that as well.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out. And also thanks for the link to Cyndi's List - Macintosh software. There really is a lot out there, and I wish I had the time to explore them all!

  3. Heather,

    Don't pick another software program until you check it out at

  4. Everyone who is considering new software is welcome at the forum of the Family Historian User's Group -- -- which already has many threads about transitioning your data from FTM (and TMG) to Family Historian. There are articles in the Knowledge Base (the FHUG Wiki) and friendly, knowledgeable long-time users who are keen to help you. Detailed discussions are best held on the forum, but there is also a RootsWeb mailing list. I love FH6 and FHUG.

    1. Thanks so much for the website link. I love learning about new resources, and this one is new to me!

    2. You're welcome, Heather! I also recommend trying out Nick Walker's add-on program Ancestral Sources, which aids in data entry for census, birth records, baptisms, marriages, burials, and death records, and in attaching media to existing source records. You can learn more at this article in the FHUG Knowledge base: