I spent 5 long years doing family history research day and night. I sat in the Family Of Latter Day Saints Church Libraries until my arm was numb flipping through European church records on microfilm, which I photographed for documentation. I spent years looking through Ellis Island records, as our ancestors accents didn't give correct name spellings to those recording them in ship records. I spent years on Ancestry going through census records, overseas records and many military records- which proved invaluable to finding almost everyone. I spent a year going through local marriage, death, cemetery and birth records as well. I even found some countries have online web sites to find church, visa and census records- if you can teach yourself to read the language! Because of all the time and years it takes to find everyone and all the documents to verify what you find- my first advice to anyone starting research or creating a family tree is to put things in folders and store them on a disc, USB drive or other storage device. You will never be sorry, as trees and records do crash and programs unexpectedly shut down and when you back up your information- you will always have it!
This Deluxe Family Tree Maker has all the basics you will need to organize and store all your hard work about your family and ancestors. It shows you how to create a tree, document your research, add photos, maps, reports, charts and stories- even books. Don't count on the Trees already done on Ancestry, as the researcher could be totally wrong or have mistakes. If you want your family tree correct- do it yourself with all the documentation you find to back up your work. Besides all you will need to create your family tree in this Deluxe Set, you will also get 3 free months to spend on Ancestry's web site. This is a great deal just to get the 3 free months. I've had many friends who have created a family tree on Ancestry and then one day it simply crashed and vanished, so the back up is very important. The enclosed booklet tells you what to do if your program unexpectedly shuts down or keeps crashing. They give you codes to type in or a number to call for technical support- but if it's gone- it's gone. If you saved everything on a disc or USB Drive- this will never be your nightmare- so enjoy creating your tree and research with this great program- and remember to SAVE everything first!
on November 5, 2011
I bought this because I was excited about having my tree backed up on my hard drive, yet able to sync. What a mistake!! My link got broken from computer problems (full crash). Their technical support said that to relink I had to delete the local copy completely and reload. I tried, with their help, and it still wouldn't load. After a week of waiting for "developer help" to get back to me, I tried again - and this time in the process of trying to get the local copy working, ended up deleting my ANCESTRY.COM tree! And all from WITHIN family tree maker - who would have thought that you could delete the online tree when you were inside the local sofware trying to back the online tree up!!
It clearly has a LOT of technical problems - the concept is good, but the reality isn't there yet. If you get it BE VERY CAREFUL!!! I've lost thousands of hours and don't even have an idea of where to start. I'm praying they have a way to recover it - but once again, am waiting on the "developers" and have no idea when I'll know anything. The tech support person said she couldn't even promise when they'd look at the issue - it could be weeks. TERRIFYING!!
on December 11, 2011
My last copy of Family Tree maker (2010) stopped working after a few months, so I was hoping this one would prove more reliable, especially since the folks at FTM decided that those of us reporting problems with FTM must all be crazy or something. FTM folks never came up with solutions for those who complained the software stopped opening altogether, and FTM instead claimed there were no problems!
That his version will automatically change/sync your ANCESTRY.com trees is a double-edged sword. If you sync your trees the "wrong" way (computer to ancestry.com) you may screw up your ancestry.com work, which is where most of my data is stored. If I sync it from Ancestry.com to my PC, that's ok. One wrong click though and I could ruin my years of research and work on Ancestry.com!
Upon loading this version of FTM 2012, I immediately got errors. Windows 7 didn't recognize the software, so I had to install it manually.
I'm running a 64-bit version of Windows 7, with a Pentium quad-core processor, 4 GB RAM and 500 GB of storage. This was more than adequate to meet the software requirements.
I tried a second time to install, and didn't get the error message this time for some reason. Upon loading other parts of the software while going through the install wizard, I got more errors. I skipped them or ignored them, and finally got through the install process. Luckily, it hasn't crashed on me yet.
The 2012 version synced up with my Ancestry.com account and database seemingly just fine. The new format looks a tad more user-friendly than past versions. It looks more like the Ancestry website, so therefore a bit more intuitive. I also like that there is an iPhone app for FTM, though it is a bit difficult to look at, having to fit such a small screen.
Comparing the Deluxe version to the "Platinum," the differences weren't enough to make me spring for the extra cost. You can see the differences here:
I already have photo editing software from another program, so I didn't need the one offered in "platinum."
If you are interested in finding your family's history and roots, Ancestry.com and FTM are the way to go. Please remember, though, that there are other resources you can use for free (familysearch.org) that you may want to cross reference.
Installing the program wasn't pretty. For unknown reasons, Family Tree maker allows multiple instances of the program to run although I didn't click it twice. The other issue with installation is the program pins it to your task bar, without asking, and your start menu, without asking. I have a very low tolerance for this kind of aggressive behavior form programmers. On to the next issue which essentially boils down to money. I wanted to know what I could do with Family Tree Maker without forking over a $155.40 a year for the privilege of accessing their database for a year, so I opted not to accept the initial 3 month offering to explore this. The answer is I can do very little. The nagging is in your face constantly.
LIMITED USE LICENSE
Subject to the terms and conditions of this License and to Ancestry.com's receipt of any applicable payment, Ancestry.com grants to you the non-exclusive right to install and operate two (2) copies of the Product on computers within the same household only for personal, noncommercial purposes. This License, and the restrictions set forth herein, applies to the Software and the Content.
* Use the Product or permit use of the Product on more than two (2) computers, computer terminals or workstations at the same time;
This license prohibits the use of this Family History Toolkit software (the "Software") by more than one person at a time.
I am not a big fan of restrictive License Agreements, and this one seems especially harsh. Not only do they want to restrict you by computer (hardware) they want to restrict you by person (user). I've run into this before with Dragon Speak Naturally, but still, it is something that has to be mentioned up front.
Family Tree Maker comes 2012 comes with required upgrades. Normally these aren't a problem, but the annoying program, after being forced to upgrade, acted like I never registered, I did, and then started with trying to tell me upgrades and old tips again... as if I started from day 1. I've had this for just over a month now. There were also no release notes readily available; I have no idea what was updated.
One of biggest gripes about family tree software is that is often clunky, doesn't leave much room for the complexity that is many modern day families and then tries to sell you their services constantly. Well Family Tree Maker 2012 helps solve one of these issues, and that is the complex family issue... aka, divorces, adoptions, half-siblings. It can display the step parents fairly well, but it took several, read too many, to input biological parents that were not linked by marriage. It auto marriages the couple and you have to go into the relationship options to indicate there was no marriage involved. Although the step parent label shows up properly, the half-sister/brother labels... as in I didn't see them at all. This isn't a deal breaker, in that it mostly works for less than typical situations, becoming more and more typical each day. A deal breaker for me is the inflexibility of fixing mistakes. I find the interface counter-intuitive on a number of levels, but making these sort of family trees has never been a strong calling of mine, so I am only willing to invest some energy into making "it" happen. It is entirely possible that there are solutions for some of these issues, but I haven't encountered them yet.
So the first issue I encountered is on one of my extended family trees, I reversed a father and son by accident. Although it looked simple enough to fix this situation, it wasn't. I tried retyping the father, but it created a duplicate record that didn't have the other relationships attached. I tried make corrections at the relationship level, but the primary tree remained the same. Essentially, I had to delete and re-enter both the son and the father to fix the problem which meant I had to reestablish all the relationships again. This is just me toying around with a few family members and extended family. If I were to really dig deep into something like that, and with the right interface I would, I would find the idea of having to redo all my work daunting. I realize these links between people are not entirely simple and thus wouldn't be easy to correct, but having a way to fix mistakes, to me, as someone who works with software, is as important as being able to input data. The latest updates might fix some of these issues, but I don't know... no release notes and no mistakes that I know of.
The other issue I have is trying to research data outside of ancestory.com. I am reviewing software here that comes with free but very much a temporary service that is fairly expensive to throw money at as a side hobby, a yearly expense at that. I wanted to see how much Family Tree Maker 2012 could do for me in terms of search for free. The answer is... very little. I know there are public, free records available for some my deceased relatives, but family tree maker seems unwilling to guide me to this data and instead wants to sell me ancestry.com services. This is... understandable on some level but still disappointing.
On to the good...
There are some nice snapshot kind of windows you can run into, telling you how many people there are, the youngest, oldest, how many surnames, marriages although I would have liked to have seen these hyperlinks taking you to their files.
If you are into syncing up with an online account, that is feasible making your ability to work on the tree and keeping them sync'd on the go possible.
Using the bing map to look at places where your family does or has lived is a nice touch. I also enjoy the fairly large variety of ways you can publish your tree ranging from charts, genealogy reports and reports on individual people. In this area, the software offers a robust amount of options and even includes a report for your sources and an entire book if you so choose to do so.
There is a sizable, read huge, book that comes with this product. This is very nice to see in an age where so many companies cut costs by ditching printed material. Kudos to the pubs for this; they know their audience.
I am actually torn on this product, because for every feature I enjoy, mostly in the publishing and visual department, there is one I do not like so much, the interface, difficultly fixing user mistakes, and certainly the software licensing and update requirements. I think someone who really wants to dive into this hobby, invest large amounts time and money and trial and error attempts will get a lot out of this product.
For people, like myself, who would like a nice tool to dabble around with creating a family tree while members of the family are still alive to contribute to it, it's just not user friendly enough. I have no experience with former versions; it is possible the learning curve is smoother for that crowd.
on February 20, 2012
Three different phone calls to ancestry.com and three different responses from three different ancestry.com reps told me that this is not the Family TreeMaker I had purchased previously nor would I ever want to do so again. I also want to make it clear from the outset that all my conversations were with reps of the the software people and not amazon.
What I found out today is that the work I've done may be useless in the newer versions. If you want to hold on to your information from an earlier version of FTM, you may want to do a little more research before upgrading or trying to upload your old files. You'll read other reviews here that describe in detail what could happen. It was enough to make me call to try to find out what was going on. From everything I was told by the company's reps, no one there with whom I spoke really seems to know what the software actually does other than offer those silly leaves.
I finally got the last person to say that my older files might be incompatible with the new version, but that I can store everything online so I don't have to worry. Of course, he didn't mention the subscription costs, either.
So I'm going to take the advice of the many reviewers here on amazon (for both the new and 2011 versions) and stay away from this software, especially when three of the software company's reps couldn't answer my questions.
on January 12, 2012
I have been an FTM customer since the late 1990's. Each new version brought new innovations and most often these were very useful changes. FTM 2012 is so completely different that it was like having entirely new software when upgrading from FTM 16. The entire format is different and somewhat difficult to get used to. I also feel that the new format makes it more difficult to view families and navigation is a lot more complicated. I find myself referring back to my Rootsweb database when it comes to checking out whole families in a glance. This is difficult to do in FTM 2012. I do like the ability to synchronize my family tree with a family tree on Ancestry.com. This allows me to update the tree no matter where I might be. I don't have to save the information and add it to my database later when I'm home. I can enter it direct into my tree on Ancestry and then synchronize it with my desktop version of FTM when I get home. Ancestry also has an intuitive search engine that will make suggestions for source information, and will allow you to automatically add the information to your tree (complete with images, which really is pretty cool!) NOW, for the down side. FTM 2012 has crashed often in the few months since I downloaded it. I haven't lost data that I know of, but it has been quite an inconvenience. Also, while synchronizing, I received an error message and from that point on, I was not able to synchronize my tree at all! I've had to reload the tree and synchronize it again as a NEW tree. Ancestry.com will only allow you to download your on-line tree as a ged-com, which limits your ability to download your hard work (if you can't synchronize with FTM, a ged-com is your only choice--bad design!)I tried to merge the resultant ged-com with my FTM desktop software, but it crashed after working on it for an hour, and I lost the merge completely. Be sure you ONLY add changes from one direction or the other. DON'T make changes on both sides and try to synchronize. It seems to confuse the software and you may lose your ability to synchronize at all! SO . . . being able to synchronize is a great thing, if it works. Being able to directly add citations and data direct from Ancestry.com is also very cool. However, the software is entirely too unstable at this point in time, and the synchronize function has serious design flaws in it. Maybe I should have waited to upgrade?
on January 17, 2012
I have been using versions of this software for nearly 20 years and this is the last one I will buy. Each new version has more problems than the last. Check out their "Technical Assistance" for "Program will not open." There have been problems with versions 2010, 2011 and 2012 that have not been fixed. The company denies them, but there are loads of people who have the exact same problem. If you are a beginner the program is OK. If you have been doing genealogy for decades and have tens of thousands of individuals in your files, when Family Trash Maker crashes, you have lost a lifetime's work.
on December 18, 2011
With FTM 2012, the designers have created a very attractive BUT ... needlessly confusing and complex genealogy program. BE FOREWARNED: If you have hopes of sharing your work online - other than through the FTM proprietary web site - the program does not allow you to export your work to HTML, for example, to Rootsweb, your own ISP-provided web pages, etc. A major, major deficiency. Really an insult, to keep you tethered to their site.
I recently downloaded FTM 2012. Been a user of FTM products since I first became interested in my family's history, geez almost 20 years ago.
And I absolutely hate, hate, hate FTM 2012. For years, been using FTM 9, and was pleased with its efficiency and simplicity (though it, too, prohibits HTML export to create your own, self-designed web pages).
FTM 2012, though, lacks almost any sense of intuitiveness.
After paying for the product, I've decided to just delete FTM 2012 from my computer. I will continue to use FTM 9, and Legacy 7.5 (I'm still getting use to spinning around Legacy 7.5, but it is a far, far superior product to any version of Family Tree Maker, with much more flexibility, more functionality, easily customizable, and with a greater simplicity and ease of use.
on December 21, 2011
I think if I explain how I use this software it would be more beneficial to help others decide if they want to switch to it.
First, since approximately 2005 I have used Family Tree Legends Deluxe 4.0. I am still attached to Windows XP-- can't help it, all my experiences with Vista have been bad and I don't see any reason to switch to Windows 7. I also have a Samsung 10 inch netbook that I have my family history software loaded on so I can carry it to the site where I am doing research. Nothing beats being able to go to a local library or coffee shop and connect wirelessly to the internet to check out facts.
The FTL software is pretty unsophisticated looking-- large icons and not much information on the screen at one time. Family Tree Maker (this software) looks more professional, but it makes reading glasses a necessity.
Immediately after installing update the software. I had to go to Microsoft and download a file before I could finish installing. I also think some of the problems I had with getting my data in the right places have been patched.
I took a copy of my FTL database (never work directly with your only database) in GED form and loaded it into Family Tree Maker. This program will nag you to death on start up about registering. This is particularly unfortunate since Ancestry.com (the parent web site) is having some registration problems right now.
I clicked through the two register nag screens. There is also a section for people upgrading from older versions of the same software. I ignored this. There is also a choice to connect online or stay offline. I chose to stay offline until I knew my way around the software better.
When I uploaded my database it had 773 people listed. They all transferred but some of my notes did not.
This is still a work in progress, I'll update as I find out more things. Right now I'm pleased with the more sophisticated interface and a more intuitive method of adding data.
I guess before deciding about this you need to ask yourself 1) the purpose of your research--if you are just keeping records for one family then this might be too much and 2) how comfortable you are with databases. If you have some prior experience then you might feel more secure with this program.
Also remember to keep an eye toward privacy. Living people may not be too happy to find their vital statistics on a web site. I actually found my immediate family on someone's family tree. It didn't bother me much though because all of the dates were significantly off. Which goes to show no matter how new your program is, there is no substitute for plain old fact checking.
on November 6, 2011
I bought the upgrade version of Family Tree Maker 2012 Deluxe. I installed it within a few minutes, and linked it to my online tree at Ancestry.com without any trouble. It allowed me to review all changes prior to the sync altering the online or local trees. I have been updating my tree both locally and online for a month now, and it syncs great. I am very happy with this product. I make changes daily to my trees and haven't had any problems.
UPDATE 9/26/2012: After using this product over the past year, I have had some difficulties with the sync feature. Occasionally my trees are unable to sync between the product and Ancestry.com. After making a backup on my hard drive, unlinking the tree and re-downloading it, the sync begins working again. It's a hassle to unlink and redownload the trees, although I still prefer having them synced to the alternative of two separate trees. Overall I am still happy with this product.