Family Tree Maker 2017 – May 19 Update – Official Launch Soon

We are getting extremely close to the official launch of Family Tree Maker 2017. I don’t know if it will be this month, since we have less than two weeks, but from information that MacKiev released yesterday, I think we are just a few weeks ago – Ancestry.com has been working out issues with performance on their end, and all limits on the number of Family Tree Maker users accessing Ancestry.com have just about been lifted:

We’re continuing to beta test builds with the streamlined process for syncing changes made on the Ancestry side, and that looks to be coming along nicely. When completed it will allow us to remove all limits from adding FTM 2017 users to the system. We expect to provide a new build to our test drivers in a week or so, and assuming success there, roll it out to the rest of the world shortly after.

If you pre-purchased already, you should have received one or more emails about an invitation:

We reached out to all who had pre-purchased FTM 2017 with an invitation to take a test drive – 48 hours to try out the new edition under controlled conditions. Nearly all test drivers elect to continue using it rather than rolling back at the end of the two day test period. We’ve now processed all the new applications received this week and have accepted more than 80% to test drive immediately.

If you want to read the full message, and keep an eye on the release schedule, check MacKiev’s Release of FTM 2017 page every few days, or check back here.

I have still had no problems with synchronizing my family trees with Ancestry.com, but mine are very small these days (a few hundred people) as I’m working through a “genealogy do-over”.

Branches Pro 1.6 for macOS and iOS (iPad)

Branches Pro for macOS, along Branches Pro for iPad, and Branches for iPad (free), has recently been updated. Branches is referred to by its developers as a “full featured record manager for your family tree information.” It uses GEDCOM files to import/export data, and is cross-platform between Macs, iPads, and Windows.

This may seem like a small update, but for some genealogists, it’s actually going to be very important. Version 1.6 brings “support for downloading and updating LDS ordinance information to be compatible with upcoming changes on FamilySearch.™”

Likewise, Branches for iPad (the free version) and Branches Pro for iPad have been updated. They also use GEDCOM files (and can load them from Dropbox), and can also interact with/download FamilySearch family trees. Branches Pro for iPad 4.5 adds updated FamilySearch features, and minor fixes, and the free version has received “enhancements” for FamilySearch and minor fixes.

Branches Pro for macOS: Branches Pro – Mac App Store – $29.99

Branches Pro for iOS (iPad): Branches Pro for iPad – App Store – $0.99 (current promotional pricing, normally it’s $2.99).

Branches for iOS (iPad): Branches for iPad – App Store – Free

There is a Branches for Windows available through the Sherwood Electronics Laboratories website, with a 30-day free trial, and a final cost of $14.99 if you choose to keep using it.

Family Tree Maker 2017 – May 11, Adding More Testers

It’s been just over a week since the last update to the Family Tree Maker 2017 testing, and this afternoon, another update was released:

Working with Ancestry we’ve decided it’s time to let a whole lot more test drivers join the first 25,000 who’ve been happily using FTM 2017 for the past two weeks. We have already started earlier this week tapping those on the “alternate” list and hope to add the rest of you by the end of the weekend.

Then starting on Monday next week, we’ll be opening up as many as 10,000 places a day until we reach 75,000 test drivers by the end of the week. New drivers will start with the same 48-hour trial followed by a diagnostic test. If all goes well, test drivers just continue using the software.

If you are already test driving you are all set, just keep at it. We will let you know when we have a newer well-tested build for you. If you stopped test driving, watch for an email from us tomorrow, in which we’ll have instructions on how to get your test drive started again.

What it sounds like, is that Ancestry has been busy improving their infrastructure/back-end. As I’ve mentioned before, sometime later this year, RootsMagic will also be synchronizing with Ancestry.com, so the load on Ancestry.com’s servers will increase substantially.

As such, Ancestry.com is allowing the FTM developers to remove user limits, which opens the door for Family Tree Maker 2017 to be released to the general public later this month:

We are now beta testing builds made with the final adjustments from Ancestry that we received a week and a half ago. Those provide a much streamlined process for syncing changes made on the Ancestry side and will allow us to remove all limits from adding FTM 2017 users to the system.

So when will that be done? We’ll update you when the beta testing tells us we’ve been successful. The next step would be to provide a new build to our test drivers, and then the rest of the world. We can’t provide an exact date yet, but we’re optimistically guessing a couple of weeks.

Update on Family Tree Maker 2017 (May 3) / First Impressions

Note: I will be posting my impressions of the beta version of FTM 2017 at the end of this article. I think the end is nearly in sight for the official release of Family Tree Maker 2017, for both Mac and Windows. MacKiev has updated their status of Family Tree Maker 2017 page, and the signs are very encouraging:

For performance, a majority found FTM 2017 faster than their previous edition:
– 56% Faster or Much Faster
– 35% About the Same
– 9% Slower or Much Slower

– Most test drivers (94.8%) reported being able to sync.
– Nearly all (98.2%) of test drivers elected to continue driving after the first 48 hours.

This was the latest on the Ancestry.com side:

ANCESTRY TESTING UPDATE
We are conducting tests with Ancestry engineers tonight to check modifications made for handling the largest trees. We are grateful for the participation of a volunteer beta tester with 270,646 people in her tree who agreed to stay up late to help (thank you, Tracy!) When these tests are complete we hope to be able to make a decision on a partial or full rollout. We’ll announce that as soon as analysis of the results are available. Stay tuned.

Last week, MacKiev sent FTM 2017 to 25,000 new beta testers, and this is what they were looking at:

We will lbe measuring syncing success, performance and stability. Additionally, Ancestry will be monitoring what happens when tens of thousands of Family Tree Maker users all get started using the new edition at the same time. We’ll meet with Ancestry on Tuesday to decide whether to expand the test drive program or go for a general release.

And this was from April 20th:

Results from expanded beta testing this week showed 94% are now able to sync (up from 89% last week) with all but the largest of trees. And Ancestry continued to roll out modifications to their connection systems to help ensure that syncing works reliably for all users. The last major Ancestry system update will be live tomorrow (Friday) and we expect to start building our part over the weekend and have it ready to test and put into builds early next week.

The Saga of TreeSync and FamilySync
I’m oversimplifying all of this, but I want to briefly discuss it (because it’s a very long and complex topic). I’ve seen some people that are frustrated with the process, since TreeSync was shutdown in March (the lack of synchronization of trees between Ancestry.com’s online version, and the FTM desktop software caused a LOT of frustration). TreeSync is the feature that allowed FTM users to sync their Ancestry.com online trees with the Family Tree Maker software. After Ancestry.com sold FTM, TreeSync was originally going to be closed down back in 2016, with its replacement, FamilySync coming sometime in 2017.

That would mean that for several months, there would be no syncing of trees between Ancestry.com and the desktop version of Family Tree Maker 2017.

MacKiev convinced Ancestry.com to keep TreeSync available through March, with the idea that Family Tree Maker 2017 would launch with FamilySync, the replacement for TreeSync, shortly after.

Note that FamilySync would NOT be compatible with previous versions of Family Tree Maker. I will talk about FamilySync at a later date, but keep in mind that in the near future, RootsMagic will also be syncing with Ancestry.com’s family trees, putting even more of a load on the Ancestry.com servers.. From what I understand, RootsMagic is currently testing the syncing of family trees between the RootsMagic desktop software and Ancestry.com, although I do not believe it’s in the same numbers as FTM 2017.

Back to the topic – unfortunately, this meant that testing of FamilySync would have to wait until TreeSync was closed down, because the two could not function at the same time, and so any and all issues with FamilySync and FTM 2017 would not be discovered until then, and it would feel like it was a very compressed time frame. There were some communications issues as well, which MacKiev acknowledged, but the bigger issue was still that a lot of FTM 2017 users would be using FamilySync at nearly the same time, putting a lot of strain on the Ancestry.com side.

If you have played online games, particularly online games with lots of players who are on at the same time, it’s very similar – during a game’s launch, or a major update, there are many people connecting to the servers at the same time to download the new game data, a much larger number than the normal amount of users who are online at any one time, and it causes problems.

In this instance though, the issue is compounded by the fact that the data being transferred is genealogical in nature, and MacKiev and Ancestry.com both want to make sure that nothing is lost. Nothing would hurt either company more than news that they are losing customers’ genealogical information. It’s easy to re-download a video game patch. It’s not so easy if your family tree has thousands of people in it, and you aren’t sure if they were all uploaded/downloaded between your desktop software and Ancestry.com, or if something was overwritten that shouldn’t have been.

As you can see from the comments above and in previous updates on MacKiev’s site, all of this is putting a strain on Ancestry.com’s servers, and so it’s not just a matter of MacKiev testing FTM 2017 with their beta testers (which they had been doing well before all of this), Ancestry.com’s engineers are heavily involved, and having to adjust and possibly upgrade their servers.

And keep in mind that both MacKiev and Ancestry.com have to be satisfied with the results on their ends, that the users of FTM 2017 will not be losing data. And Ancestry.com is having to prepare for RootsMagic as well.

Where Does That Leave Us?
Yes, all of this has taken longer than expected, but as I mentioned, FamilySync couldn’t go live and be tested until TreeSync had shut down. I’m not making excuses – the easy call on Ancestry.com’s and MacKiev’s part would have been to shut down TreeSync last year, and then launch FamilySync with FTM 2017 several months later (March or April), but they made the decision to keep things going as long as possible for users of older versions of FTM. The end is in sight though.

Okay, My Impressions
Now that beta testers can talk about FTM 2017 a bit (but not too much from what I understand), I’ve got some thoughts:
– I have not seen anybody losing data when synchronizing between FTM 2017 and Ancestry.com. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, but I haven’t seen it myself, and I haven’t read about it from others who are beta testing.
– I have had no issues synchronizing my trees between Ancestry.com and FTM 2017. With that said, my trees are substantially smaller these days – only a few hundred people and a few dozen media files. That’s because I’m in the process of a genealogy do-over and rebuilding my trees from the ground up. I’m motivated in part because of DNA tests I have done, as well as those of relatives. I’m trying to make sure that my personal family trees are as accurate as possible.
– I’m not going to comment too much on the FamilySync interface, because I think that we beta testers possibly have a different interface than what will be released with public versions of FTM 2017, but I will say it’s been very informative – MacKiev has added information that lets you know how well/fast syncing is occurring, and if there is anything you need to be aware of.
– I do think that the syncing is faster than previous versions of FTM, but I haven’t been what you would call a heavy user of FTM.

I have been familiar with FTM for well over 10 years, but I’ve rarely used it as my main genealogy program – in recent years, I’ve been using it mainly to synchronize very limited trees with Ancestry.com, mainly as a means to easily check for hints on Ancestry.com, and to make contact with others researching the same lines. Now that I’m more heavily involved in DNA-related genealogy, both with myself and family members, I will use it quite a bit, but I don’t know if it would become my main genealogical program. I tend to use multiple programs, for different projects/needs.

I will say this much: I think MacKiev is doing a better job of supporting Family Tree Maker than Ancestry.com had done in recent years. I understand why Ancestry.com wanted to move away from having their own desktop genealogy software, and I give them credit for being willing to let MacKiev take it over. They could have easily just killed it off – it would not be the first time something was shut down like that.

Family Tree Maker 2017 Release – Tuesday, April 4, 2017

After a slight delay due to some TreeSync/FamilySync issues, MacKiev has announced that Family Tree Maker 2017 for Mac and Windows will be released on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017.

Official Statement from MacKiev:

A SLIGHT CHANGE IN PLANS FOR FTM 2017

Late Friday night, a few worrisome beta test results on the last leg of our testing gave us pause and with a deep breath we stopped the clock to carefully check them out. Some weren’t real, but others were. So we’ve made new builds and it appears the fixes were successful, but we’re going to continue testing to be sure.

And while we could probably ship any time now, we’ve decide to redo the stress tests on Monday, consult with Ancestry engineers, and ship on Tuesday. In the meantime, sync is off but Ancestry’s agreed to leave hints, search, merge and maps running until FTM 2017 is released, so you can continue your research.

That’s the latest status. We will post any further updates here

This was additionally mentioned by MacKiev:

New builds completed Saturday early evening were resent to beta testers with large trees who had reported unexpected syncing results and it appears the fixes were successful. We followed up by sending the new build to the same thousand beta testers who tested on Friday, and we will be actively watching the results.

Family Tree Maker 2017 for Mac and Windows – Slight Delay

At the end of last month, it was announced that Family Tree Maker 2017 (both Mac and Windows) would possibly be shipping yesterday (March 31st).

MacKiev, developers of FTM 2017, announced earlier today that there would be a slight delay.

There have been a lot of people who were upset/irritated, but it’s quite clear from the updates MacKiev has posted that the issues were tied into replacing TreeSync with the new FamilySync, and from my experience with software development, they may have been the kinds of issues that were hard to find until the new service actually went live.

To MacKiev’s credit, they pulled in 1,000 beta testers last night to check the problems and/or bug fixes – they are taking this very seriously, and are not releasing FTM 2017 until the issues are resolved.

People need to understand that they can’t just release FTM 2017 as it is, and then put out a patched version a few days from now – if there are issues with FamilySync, it could cause data corruption when syncing between your offline and Ancestry.com trees.

Here’s the full release:

3:30 AM UTAH TIME – APRIL 1
Our shipping review meeting ended at 2:30 am Utah Time without an agreement to release quite yet. A thousand beta testers were called into service yesterday evening, at the end of the second day of testing FamilySync live on the Ancestry servers with TreeSync disconnected.

Our quality assurance staff have called for more research into issues raised in beta testing. Our engineers are in the office and are going to spend the day following the trail of the most worrying issues raised in testing yesterday. They may turn out to be nothing, but we aren’t going to release until we’re sure.

In the meantime, Ancestry have agreed that existing FTM editions may continue to work until we ship That means that Ancestry hints, search, merge, maps and the Web dashboard will all keep working a few more days. We’ll be sending out an email to everyone who has pre-ordered FTM 2017 a bit later today. .We will keep this page updated with our progress.

4 PM UTAH TIME – APRIL 1
We have been working through the day today with those beta testers reporting unusual problems. While some were not issues after all, some indeed were and we have made a new build which is being tested by those same beta testers right now. If that testing is completely successful, we could technically launch tonight, though we will more likely decide to wait until Monday when we can consult with Ancestry engineers and do further live stress testing on their systems.

In the meantime, all those with existing FTM editions may continue to work until we release. At this point, only syncing has been disconnected and Ancestry has agreed to temporarily maintain all other connection functions that will be replaced with FamilySync in FTM 2017. That means that Ancestry hints, search, merge, maps and the Web dashboard will all keep working until FTM 2017 is released. We’ll be sending out an update email tonight to everyone who is waiting for their copy of FTM 2017.