Thursday, December 10, 2015

Family Tree Maker Software is Being Retired

As many of my readers probably know,, the owner of Family Tree Maker software, announced two days ago that they would stop selling the software as of December 31, 2015, and would continue to support the software "at least through January 1, 2017."

I have been using Family Tree Maker for Mac since it became available in 2010. I stayed with a Windows computer that long (everyone else in my family had migrated to Macintosh computers by this time) because of Family Tree Maker. (I didn't want to deal with getting a Mac and have to use an extra software product to run the Windows program on a Mac.)

I was thrilled when Family Tree Maker for Mac became available and I even helped beta test the first version in August-September 2010. I upgraded to Family Tree Maker for Mac version 2 when it became available in late 2011, and FTMM3 when it became available in December 2013 (after helping to beta test that one, too).

I have been using Family Tree Maker since sometime in the early 1990s. Wikipedia has a table that shows the history of versions of Family Tree Maker, and I believe that I originally had a copy from Banner Blue, so that was a looong time ago!

After the initial shock of learning this news (and reading the hundreds, now thousands of comments on Ancestry's initial blog post), I read other bloggers input about this. A few calm and reasoned discussions can be found at the following blogs:

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:Ancestry to Retire Family Tree Maker Software by Dick Eastman

The Legal Genealogist: Check out the Alternatives by Judy Russell

Genea-Musings: Announces Retirement of Family Tree Maker Software by Randy Seaver

I also took the time to "hang out" with Dear Myrtle's Wacky Wednesday where the discussion topic was Life beyond Family Tree Maker.

For even more links to geneablogger reactions, see Heather Rojo's Nutfield Genealogy~Part 2 Without Family Tree Maker.

My thinking right now:
The software will be supported for at least another year and will continue to work beyond that date, though ultimately the Mac operating system will update to a point where FTMM3 won't work. I have time to thoroughly explore other software options and transfer my data via GEDCOM (a genealogy file format for transferring a genealogy database).

I know that many genealogists are fans of cloud-based family trees, but for various reasons, not the least of which you never know if a website is going to close, I prefer to keep my tree on my computer.

Most users seem to use the Windows version of the software; I use the Mac version and I am exploring what software I might use. Reviews of tons of genealogy software programs can be found at GenSoftReviews. As of now, I've found some basic information on the following programs that will work on the Mac without using additional emulator software to allow Windows programs to run:

RootsMagic is originally a Windows program, but has been adapted to run on a Mac. RootsMagic is currently on sale for $20 which includes “Getting the Most out of RootsMagic.” I have heard lots of great things about RootsMagic, but I'd love to hear more from Mac users.

Reunion is a Mac-only program that has been a favorite of Mac users for years. Its cost is $99 and I'm curious to explore why it's so much more expensive than the others.

Heredis is a program which is well known in Europe. It has a Windows version and a Mac version, which can be purchased from the Mac App store with an offer of 50% off till Sunday Jan 3 2016. The price is $24.99, so the regular price must be around $50.

MacFamilyTree is another Mac-only program which can be purchased via the Mac App store at a sales price of $24.99.

iFamily is a Mac-only program. However, the website notes that the purchase price for "iFamily for Leopard" is $29.95. Note that Leopard was the Mac Operating System from 2007-2009. That's not very encouraging.

All of these programs offer demo versions which I plan to try in the next few weeks or months. Right now, I'm thinking about RootsMagic or Reunion and wondering what makes the cost of Reunion worth it. If anyone wants to share their opinion in the comments, please do.


  1. Thanks for starting a much needed discussion & for giving good sources to start our search. I am lucky enough to be going to RootsTech and hope to get some good info while there. One other question would be "How important is an online tree?" A free (& inexpensive for more space) is TribalPages.

  2. Thanks for starting a much needed discussion & for giving good sources to start our search. I am lucky enough to be going to RootsTech and hope to get some good info while there. One other question would be "How important is an online tree?" A free (& inexpensive for more space) is TribalPages.

    1. There is a lot of discussion in the blogosphere and on social media about FTM. I look forward to hearing from folks attending RootsTech! You bring up a good question when you ask how important is an online tree.

      Thanks for the additional software suggestion. I'll look into it.

  3. Elizabeth, I love working in my FTM and it's my favorite (and I also have Legacy & Roots Magic on this laptop). When my FTM dies out in a couple years, I am thinking of putting GRAMPS on the Linux in our house or maybe get a Mac with Reunion.

    I actually transferred from the PC version of Heredis to FTM in 2013. There is hardly any tech support for Heredis. However, Valerie Kraft did a nice blog post on it in 2012:

    1. Thanks for the link to Valerie Kraft's blog post. I will refer back to it when I look at Heredis.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Elizabeth, my Mac friends have and love Reunion. Sadly, I'm on FTM for Mac and will face the same decision you do. So thank you for your reasoned discussion. I'm going to postpone any purchase until I read all the comments following RootsTech. Happy holidays to you and your family!

    1. In fact, there are plenty of FTM users who plan to continue using it for now. I just figure it's a good time to explore other options. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. In the past few days I took a test drive on Heredis, Roots Magic, Reunion and MACFamilyTree. The latter two are MAC only --- Roots magic is a pc conformed to run on a MAC. Those running Parllels or similar can use most pc programs in addition to these 4. I stuck with the four mentioned. (I currently have Ifamily and FTM3 for Mac)

    First off everyone has a different work flow and may have different needs. Roots magic came very highly recommended so I tried very hard to fall in love. Its type font I found very annoying....almost reminded me of an old dot matrx printer and It was not intutive for me. It has active user groups and is well supported but I wanted to be able to hit the ground running, There's lots to recommend it but I eneded up saying not for me,

    Heredis is out of France and the most popular genealogy software in Europe. Its very slick and has a young development team. It has a MAC and a PC version. It turned out to be too slick for me and not so intuitive either I couldn't find things as easily. It has some neat features and lots of options.

    Reunion is the most expensive ( 3 xs) and at one time was the only genealogy program for MAC. There was nothing wrong and it looked fine. But it was nothing particularly special. It was sort of middle of the road solid. The updates tend to run $40+ each year or so....taht was not so encouraging to me. The graphics overall do not seem to capitalize on current MAC capabilities.

    Finally is MacFamilyTree. I liked the graphics and layouts from the start and kept gravitating back to it. I love the lay out and ease of use. I managed to upload my GEDCOM with media and over 10,000 people very quickly. There's so much here but easy to use. I love the statistics parts. This is a you company out of Germany. I think this program goes back to 2008. It like the others has sync to Ipad Iphone or other OS devices. This one is currently hakf orice at $24.95.

    All offer a demo verison or trial. I suggest trying them all out to see what works for you. My fav by leaps and bounds is NPMACFamilyTree. I have purchased it. No regrets so far. It leaves FTM3 in the dust

    1. Kelly, thank you so much for offering your feedback in this comment! I have not had the time to fully explore each of these in their demo versions. I still want to upload a GEDCOM to those that will allow me in their demo/trial version. I was impressed with Reunion, which does have a demo family tree to explore. I'm mostly looking for ease of use and help with source citations.

      Ultimately I'll write a blog post to share what I've decided. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    2. I think you have to contact Reunion to get one that you can import to. The others limit the size of the gedcom and/ or functions. I like the charts in MacFamilytree so much I would consider buying just for that. Wonderful Fancharts with gradient colors or white....Lots of control. ...print all on one page or 1/4 on each....

    3. Elizabeth and anyone else reading this. Pleas do check out MacFamilyTree. Its even better as you go along. There are functions here nowhere else has.....The program is a steal at $24.95. I am surorised it doesn't cost $129. There are mapping features inckuded timeline videos, pie graphs showing which surnames lived where, statitical charts abiut everything under the sun. And the bottom line is if you ahve been working in the MAC world things are going to be intutitive and make sense. The online manual is also awesome. No regerets.