Update: FTM 2010 for Mac has been replaced by Family Tree Maker for Mac 2.
Ancestry.com has officially announced today that they are bringing Family Tree Maker 2010 to Mac OS X. Yes, Family Tree Maker is going to once again grace Apple’s Macintosh lineup, only this time the OS is Unix-based and Family Tree Maker is not being published by Broderbund. It’s been over a decade since a version of Family Tree Maker built specifically for the Mac has graced our hard drives. I would like to pretend shock and surprise, but I was tipped off to this prior to today. I will admit I was only slightly skeptical, due to Ancestry.com’s Tree-to-Go software for the iPhone/iPad. All that can be said for now is that it will be available later this year and it’ll be built on the functionality of Family Tree Maker 2010.
That’s not to say that Mac users weren’t using the Windows version of Family Tree Maker 2010 – VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop, and VirtualBox all provided the means for us to run Microsoft Windows and whatever genealogy software for Windows on our Macs that we saw fit. Many of us chose to go with native Mac OS X genealogy software for very good reasons, although some just couldn’t quite make the transition and held on to their Windows genealogy software.
It’s not too surprising when you think about it – Macs have been steadily increasing market share, and the iPhone and iPad have both taken off. With the Ancestry.com iPhone app (Ancestry.com Tree-to-Go Entry at MobileGenealogy.com), it would have been really odd to push out an iPhone/iPad app and ignore the Mac OS X market.
Just to take you a on a little trip down memory lane, this is the Family Tree Maker Deluxe Edition II for Macintosh Press Release from 1997, that was posted on MacGenealogy.org around four and a half years ago.
There’s got to be a couple of main areas that Family Tree Maker 2010 has covered, right from the start. Otherwise, there won’t be any reason for people to switch.
1) Straight-up 100% migration of the PC version of Family Tree Maker 2010 to the Mac version. This is not really an option – if you have somebody running FTM in Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion and you offer them a Mac version of FTM but don’t offer an easy way to migrate, they’ll have no reason to leave a Windows virtual machine for Mac OS X.
2) At least 90-95% of the functionality of the Windows version, or again, FTM users won’t switch. There are obviously things that will be different because of the OS differences.
3) Things that many Mac users take for granted such as iPhoto integration. Having been a veteran of many ports of software from Windows to Mac, some companies chose to ignore the benefits of Macs in order to keep porting streamlined. It would be very foolish to just slap a Mac-looking interface on it and push it out the door.
As for my personal opinion?
The more, the merrier. Competition is always good, especially for those of us end-users. I know plenty of people who got used to certain Windows applications that were held back from moving to Mac OS X. Some chose to use work-arounds, either going through a migration process, or holding on to their Windows genealogy software using VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop. Should FTM for Mac OS X offer an easy migration path, you’ll see plenty of FTM users making the switch. I think Ancestry.com has to do the things I outlined above for it to be considered a success. Even though this is technically the first release of FTM for Mac OS X, they have the resources to make a strong showing out of the gate. We might even see people migrating data from their non-FTM genealogy software to the Windows version of FTM and then down to the Mac OS X version. Strange things happen when you have a lot of data to migrate and very limited migration paths.
What about other Mac genealogy software developers?
The Mac genealogy software market is incredibly mature and very competitive at this point. It’s probably more mature and competitive than it was back in the 1990s when Family Tree Maker was still being produced by Broderbund for Apple Macintosh computers (during the Mac OS/”Classic” days). Is Family Tree Maker for Mac going to be the proverbial 800 pound gorilla? (Wikipedia) I actually don’t think so. When the move to Intel CPUs was made several years ago, with VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop, it allowed a lot of Windows users to migrate over to Macs, and even keep that Windows software they needed to keep. Over time many of those people eventually moved to Reunion, GEDitCOM II, MacFamilyTree, etc. This is certainly going to help people new to Macs, but I think that people who have 100% switched to Macs, including their genealogy software, are not going to be running to Family Tree Maker for Mac in droves. Several of the current genealogy software developers for Mac are on top of their game and know what their customers and fans want and have been working for years to stay up with the evolution of the Mac platform. If Family Tree Maker wants to get those people on the FTM bandwagon, they’ll have to do quite a bit from the start. Family Tree Maker certainly benefits from Ancestry.com integration. There is no doubt about that – many users of existing Mac genealogy software are also Ancestry.com subscribers.