September 8, 2011

Family Tree Maker 2012 - My Evaluation

I don't usually write about the technology or software that I use but decided it is time I write what I think about Family Tree Maker Software.

Since the early versions were available I've been a user of FTM software.  I appreciated its user-friendliness and all that it could do in generating family trees, genealogy reports, export of gedcoms etc.  Having said that, as far as I am concerned version 16 was the best!  Yes..I said *16*.  I began with version 3 and over the years we were offered an upgrade every year. I also remember an upgrade after six months!  Imagine that while some software was offering free downloads to upgrades those of us who were faithful FTM users kept shelling out the $$ to remain current with the software.

After version 16, the software was stripped to bare bones and the re-building began.  I've purchased each new version and now Ancestry is about to launch Family Tree Maker 2012 that has been in public beta but will undoubtedly be available for purchase before long.  I wonder when we can stop purchasing a yearly update and have been wondering what will is new in this updated version.

Here is what I found:

The main new feature is the ability to synchronize your tree between Family Tree Maker and and we're especially focused on making sure that works well.

Here is a list of new features:

1. TreeSync - Ability to synchronize your tree between FTM and Ancestry.
2. Blended family view - Easily show all of the children for two spouses whether they are children of one or both of them.
3. Index of Individuals Report
4. Chart improvements

Show generation labels
Add text anywhere on a chart
Option to limit descendant chart to the direct line between two people

5. Report improvements

Custom fact sentences (used in genealogy reports & Smart Stories
Automatic Smart Story generation includes primary individual, spouse, and children
Research notes report changed to "Notes Report" with options to include other types of notes

While I am interested in some of the new features, I'm not crazy about "TreeSync" and I'll tell you why. Over the years I have found many errors in the trees.  I even found my own immediate family that someone absconded with from my web site and connected me to the incorrect grandmother. How bad is that?

Another person had one of my aunts as having had a number of children, one of which her husband supposedly descended.  The truth is that this aunt had three children who all died as babies. I have all of the death records.

On top of that, as an Acadian researcher, I know without a doubt that a great number of trees on Ancestry contain errors. People have simply copied from others what they found on Ancestry or elsewhere and added it to their own data long before we had access to more accurate information now available to us.  Because of the Acadian deportation from Nova Scotia in 1755, Acadian genealogy has been difficult at best.  So I know what I'm talking about with what I've seen in those trees.  I predict that some will have a multitude of errors they will have to spend a great deal of time deleting from their database - or - start over.
So for now that's my take especially on the "TreeSync" feature - I will not use it.

As for the rest, we shall see.  Long ago, I asked that Family Tree Maker contain colors we can use to code male/female lines. I think that would be a really nice feature.  We could use a color for our direct ancestors too.  For now what I do is I capitalize the names of all of my grandparents - that makes it easy to see/find my lines without have to spend a whole lot of time trying to find who was who but that's me.
Lastly, I want to say that I am truly weary of having to update FTM every year. Oh I know people will say it is my choice but here is the hook:  if you update each version as it is made available, you get a good discount - if you wait until yet another version,  you pay full price.

I would love to hear from other FTM users who would like to share an evaluation of what they think.
Meanwhile, I did look at other software when I was at NERGC in April.  The only thing that keeps me from making the leap is the ability to access records from the FTM software - I must admit that is a plus.

All Rights Reserved
Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
8 September 2011


Cousin Russ said...


Can't comment on FTM2012, sorry.

BUT of ALL of the features since Version 16 that has been asked for, no DEMANDED, on the various message boards is the TreeSync feature. Even from those who are still using Version 16.

I'll let my Blog do the "rest of the story" Please stop by:

Thank you,


Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thanks for you comment Russ but I assure you that is a feature that will be bad news for some people. Unfortunately, all the people who should weigh in do not..that's a given.

Best to you,


jonrus56 said...

Lucie, Personally I feel the same way about Treesync as you do. I would like the option as in past versions to send several family ahnentafels or family group reports to family and friends. I also would like that color option as well. Hope it is better than the last,even though it was OK,it still left more to be desired.

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thanks for your message John.

I think the difficult thing people do not realize is that there are so many errors online when it comes to our Acadian ancestors.

I believe that when you have a lot of early on English settlers in your ineages that probably works quite well. Of course, I can't attest to that since all of my ancestors arrives from Canada in the late 1880s ;)


Cousin Russ said...


By the way, I totally agree with you about problems with trees that have been made public over the years. I do NOT use them. (period)

This feature is a little different and YOU or the Owner of the tree has lots of options, and I won't go into them.

But, consider this, and it took me a long time to understand this.

I have a friend who is working with his grandmother in their family research. They do not live in the same state and at times in the same county.

My daughter and I worked on her tree, as she has a Mac, and the Mac version had not come out yet.

Two examples of a reason for the Ancestry Member Tree (AMT). Both examples show how two or more people can contribute to the development of that Tree.

The issue about the "earlier" trees is that there wasn't any control. Folks just published, in many case, undocumented GEDCOM files.

What FTM2012 provides for "us" the users, is the ability to work in both worlds. That is, the grandmother who works online, or my daughter who works online, to be able to have the other person work on the same tree using FTM2012.

Making the Tree Private, being able to turn OFF the index being able to find that tree, and giving people control over what they can and can not do, reduces those "junk-ea-logy" that we have seen in the past.

WE, users of Family Tree Maker do NOT have to update to fTM2012 if we have not intention of using the AMT. However, there are other features, from what I have read, the Blended Family feature.

I am not disagreeing with anything that you have said or the other comments, only trying to bring up the "other side" of the issue.

WE will have to see how FTM2012 works out. There WILL BE a large population of users who will love this feature, there will also be others who will not.

But then there are others who HATE FTM2008 - FTM2011. Can't change that.

I have been using Family Tree Maker since Version 3.4 and in my humble opinion, FTM2011 is the best version so far.

From what I have seen about FTM2012, and I am a fan of AMT, up until now, I will have to re-consider it's use. I have met a number of cousin's that I have connected with, that FTM2012 might be the way to do some collaboration in the future.

Thanks for listening.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

I hope there is a way to opt out of Tree Sync, since I don't use it either. I have a tree on there only for my private use to use on my iPhone Ancestry app. Period. I'm not interested in any other use, for all your reasons and many more.

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thanks for you comment Heather. I like knowing that I'm not the only one who thinks this way ;)


Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

As I understand it the tree synch is so I can update my tree, either online at or on FTM2012 and then "synch" them so I don't have to enter the information twice. It will not just automatically pull stuff from some random tree and combine it with mine. If you don't have a tree at Ancestry it is simply a feature you won't use but for those of us that do choose to share our trees there it's a great feature that I'm really looking forward to.

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Hi Apple,

Thanks for your post! This morning I have an email from ancestry regarding FTM 2012. It is as you say.

At this time I don't save trees on so it doesn't effect me. Who knows though, I might give it a go with a private setting somewhere down the road.

Again, thanks for the clarification. I appreciate that you took the time to post your message.


Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thanks for you post Russ.. time will tell - the jury is still out in this court lol


Xenia said...

I remember when there was an index of individuals and even though I had tens of thousands of names and a dot matrix printer, it didn't take forever to print. Lucie, I did find a way in 2011 to do a descendant tree from a particular ancestor to a paticular descendant. Hidden but there. In the meantime, so many features went by the wayside and being re-introduced but sometimes not as well. I too like it to link to the actual records and rarely use the family trees other people have entered, except as possible clues. I check where they found the information and many cite World Family Tree as their source! Really?

Robin Heider said...

Because a user has the control to make his tree either public or private he can control completely who sees it or not. As to the ability to edit the tree that is one hundred percent in the control of the owner of the tree. Nothing can be altered on the tree without the owner granting permission to someone to make them an Editor. I have used the beta and the most amazing ability of the tree sync feature is the ability to correct address and place name errata in a large tree that has been developed over a long time. Because on the desk top FTM has a place name editor that is global and tied to mapping software updating place names in a 40,000 person tree becomes doable while still allowing complete collaboration from a number of individuals without having to exchange mutliple ged files everytime and re linking shared resources such as census extracts, images, and documents.

I agree that the other trees one finds on Ancestry are not to be trusted at face value and that any one who uses the Family tree - Ancestry Hint link is committing Genealogical suicide but there are also an awful lot of committed conscientious users out there who can offer invaluable incites and direction, sources and leads that working alone and in isolation one would never find.

One last observation is that the electronic sources available on ancestry itself and the robustness of the online application beat hands down my ability to transcribe data on my desktop to FTM or PAF from hard copy every time.

Be well


Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thank you for your post Robin. I have purchased 2012 and am eager to give it a try.

I agree about the ancestry hint leaves... anyone who takes anything on the trees people have contributed would have to be ready to prove whatever information they want to take. I agree that there are many conscientious researchers who own some of the trees but we've no way of knowing who is and who isn't.

My personal preference is to always use original records for research. To date the people I've contacted on ancestry who purported to be related to me were not - their connections to my lineages has thus far been erroneous.

As far as transcriptions go: I have been finding quite a few errors. Any transcriptions done by humans are bound to reflect a 25% margin of error when being transcribed - I always believed that and it was confirmed at a conference I attended on Saturday

Again, thanks for the information you have posted. I really appreciate it.


I have been doing more research on FTM2012 and plan to write an update to my evaluation.

Tom S said...

"Having said that, as far as I am concerned version 16 was the best!"

I agree 100%

I started with version 8 many years ago, updated to v16 and it was heaven. Then went to 2010 and it was like - I actually paid money for this? Never used it and I still use v16.

The only thing that intrigues me about 2012 is its (supposed) ability to allow other people on-line access to your tree without having an account at Ancestry. I'll probably upgrade if that's true.

BTW, I think is worth many times more than what we actually pay. But don't tell them I said so :)


Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

LOL Tom..I agree regarding ancestry. I really have to update some of what I said re FTM 2012 ;)

Thanks for stopping by and for your post.


Cousin Russ said...


Let me say this about FTM2012 and it's TreeSync™ feature. I was at a local Family History Interest Group meeting last night. I have been taking my iPad2 with me to take notes and other things.

Someone asked me about FTM2012, and all I had to do was to change Apps on my iPad2 and the person was looking at my Ancestry Member Tree, that was in sync with the file on my PC at home.


Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thanks for you post Russ.

To be honest, I will never use Sync because I will never post my tree on because when I leave - and I surely will at some point - my tree would remain on their web site. I think that the sync feature is a way to get more and more people to post their trees on ancestry.. that's my take on it ;)


Jamie said...

As an member for years and a user of Family Tree Maker I'd like to clarify the following:
- You don't have to share your "sync'ed" tree with anyone you don't wish to. You don't have to make it public and you can choose not to have it included in searches by other members of ancestry.
-you can control who can see and edit your tree allowing you to contribute with you on your tree.
-sync is a great feature when using a laptop (for road trips) and a desktop as they all have the same information.
-you control what information is in your tree. Garbage in, garbage out. It is only entered if you allow it.
-You can delete your tree at any time. This will fully delete your information including all media items from the ancestry site. I have often uploaded part of a tree to allow someone to access just their family. Once they were done I delete it.

Like all programs it isn't perfect but it is trying to answer what the users has said they want.

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thank you for our post Jamie - when I made that post the sync feature was just being talked about. You are reading a post from September 2011.

Best regards,