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Family Tree Maker - Paint it an Opportunity



Have Your 'Oh Crap' Moment


Last week, some of you had the rug pulled out from underneath your feet when you learned that Ancestry.com would no longer be supporting Family Tree Maker software. As expected many of you were upset and rightfully, you’re allowed a few minutes for an “Oh CRAP” moment.

Every year there seems to be a significant change that hits genealogists pretty hard, whether it is the discontinuation of a software program or the change of an interface of an online database, the end of a website or the merger of companies.  I have no doubt that 2016 will bring new changes for genealogists. However, it’s time to embrace these changes as a good thing, as a sign that we are not a stagnant industry but an evolving one. You see, change is important and necessary, despite what many may think. Think of it like a fresh coat of paint where you store your research, it may seem frivolous but it can revive you and your research. 

The backlash is not really about the discontinuation of a software product, but that it will require change on our part in our day to day life. It’s hard to embrace change, and I understand your disappointment. Of course, there is the work involved in giving your room a fresh coat of colour, but the effort is worth the reward. 

Ancestry has made a business decision to forgo this program for a variety of reasons, and not all of them will be apparent to us, the consumer.  For some of you, this is a devastating blow. I understand that many have been using Family Tree Maker for a long time, you're comfortable where you are. For others it is the only software program you have used and this change might be especially difficult, you don't know anything else, and it might be more like picking up and moving rather than a fresh coat of paint.

Many family historians on social media expressed their disappointment. (That's me being polite, not everyone was.) However, the lashing out is not about a software program; these emotions are rooted in our difficulty to deal with change. Many feel that Ancestry being the large company that it is should continue to support this product. However, it’s not for us to say, we don’t have the data, the information about this product and their reasons for retiring it and whether it was a good business decision or not. I’m certain Ancestry realized that there would be recoil, and many would be upset. I’m confident they weighed that against their decision. At the end of the day, the choice was made, and those of us who are using Family Tree Maker have to deal now with that change.

Change is Opportunity!


Let’s take a look at how the discontinuation of Family Tree Maker can be turned into an opportunity.

4 Opportunities to Embrace


Opportunity Number 1
You have one year before Ancestry no longer supports Family Tree Maker, and even after that, your program will still continue to work.  What this means is you have plenty of time to make a change to a new program, if you so wish. More importantly, you can use that time to transition your information into a new program.  You can use that time to update your family tree, clean up your sources and citations, a nice little 2016 project, don’t you think.


Opportunity Number 2
For those of you volunteering in a genealogical society, there is a chance to create some workshops to help your membership transition over and teach a new software program. It’s nice to learn something new in a group format. Bring people together and help them make the transition.

Opportunity Number 3
It may be a chance for you to look at some of the dark branches of your tree that you haven’t looked at for a while. Perhaps revisit them during your transition, maybe there is some new information out there. Maybe this change will bring new leads in your research.

Opportunity Number 4
Is it time to look at some other options for saving your family tree, online and off-line, or in cloud-based programs or a combination? Remember never keep all your eggs in one basket. Maybe this will force you to re-access how you manage your research? Make a list of what you are looking for to support your research and do some homework, look at the variety of options that are available.

Embracing change in life is important.  Business cannot be stagnant, our genealogy cannot be stagnant and as human beings, we cannot be stagnant. We must be ever growing and evolving.  Think back to when you began your research, some of you may have started out keeping everything in a paper file. You had to learn how to save digital files, some of you had to learn the Internet, and then you learned to use software and now the cloud.  Guess what, we’re not done, we will continue to evolve. Most likely what we are using now may not resemble anything we will be using to record and preserve our family trees ten years from now.

 So let’s not lash out at a company that is trying to continue to be the best it can be, instead, let’s embrace the change as an opportunity to keep learning and improving ourselves and how we research and manage our family history research.


Let’s turn a negative into a positive. 


Tell me how you are going to adapt to the discontinuation of Family Tree Maker. Perhaps you don't use a family tree software program, tell us how you keep your research in order. Your positive ideas may help someone else paint a fresh perspective on this most recent change.


6 comments:

Erica said...

I know there has been a lot of gnashing of teeth about having to change, but the software will still work after 2017.

On Ancestry's blog they say that the aspects requiring online connectivity "may no longer be supported" in 2017. That doesn't mean that parts requiring connectivity will absolutely stop working. I would be prepared for that, but it isn't an absolute.

I switched from FamilyTreeMaer 2010 to RootsMagic last year. I didn't keep a tree online with Ancestry so the Tree sync isn't something I miss. It's just changing from shaky leaves to light bulbs. ;)

Lynn Palermo said...

Thanks Erica, you're absolutely right, you can continue to use Family Tree Maker well probably until your computer can no longer support the software and I'm certain that will be sometime. But yes you will no longer have the privelege of the tree sync. Like you, while I do have an online tree with Ancestry, I use Rootsmagic, they are rarely in sync. My online tree is a 'working tree' while Rootsmagic is my hard core supported research.

Donna said...

Very well stated. Sometimes we have to make changes to make progress. I'm sure that is the case here. I'll be looking at other programs, but I'm interested on what users of other programs like or dislike. I see several software companies are offering special deals for those transitioning from FTM. But I don't want to make a hasty decision based on a good deal. Input on pros and cons of other programs will be well received--at least by me.

Anne Berry said...

I think the biggest drawback will be in collaboration. I used RootsMagic for years, but switched to Family Tree last year for the Sync function. Trying to keep two separate software programs up to date was time consuming. I will now be less likely to address any trees on Ancestry so that I can keep my personal research up to date. I doubt I will be the only one, so it will impact the usefulness of Ancestry trees.

Prairie said...

Sorry, I don't see this as an opportunity. Time after time Ancestry has shown that they don't really value their customers. Plus we are being forced to change whether we like it or not. Opportunity? More like necessity.

Kim X said...

Personally, I am not unhappy because of fear of change, I am a Systems Analyst and change is my bread and butter. I am unhappy, because the online version of Ancestry.com is anemic compared to the features of FTM. I use FTM, sync it to the cloud, share it with family members & get feedback. So the FTM & online tree are one system.

I have attempted to do my work on the cloud side, and found it clunky, and lacking in features. They would have received a better reception if the online product exceeded the capabilities of FTM, and people naturally migrate to the online side. This is the carrot rather than stick approach. I use the carrot approach all the time with my computer users. Since the best part of this system (data entry) is to no longer be supported, I will most likely gravitate to another product that has the feature I desire (custom reports is a biggie). They may eventual beef up the online version, but until then, a large number of customers will have migrated. For the past few days I have been conducting some test transfers to RootsMagic and am finding good results.