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Family Tree Maker End of Life

The Dallas Genealogical Society 2015 Awards Banquet on Saturday, December 12th was a fun luncheon held at the downtown Dallas Public Library.  During the networking time, there was much discussion of the recent announcement that it will discontinue support for Family Tree Maker. The general consensus was that there is no need to do anything immediately. During 2016, it is likely that the other desktop software vendors will make updates to improve data import compatibility with FTM.

Although it does not make sense to purchase another software package immediately, there are a few things that are a good idea to start on now:

  • Look at your tree and start to clean up any data problems and inconsistencies. This is a good time to look at data issues to identify things that are broken now and will continue to be broken after a conversion:
    • People that are unconnected to anyone else in the database.
    • Identify death dates that preceed birth dates
    • Identify other dates that are impossible or unreasonable
    • Identify broken media links that will be broken after a conversion
  • Start reading on location name standardization and location name history; once you understand the issues for your region, begin to work on cleaning up and standardizing place names.
  • Consider downloading and installing the free version of a couple of packages and test the export from FTM and import into the other package; this will almost certainly identify special characters and corrupt data in your FTM database. It will also give you an idea of what data representations will work in an export and what won’t work.

Whatever you do, don’t update anything in the trial system; only do updates in FTM until you are ready to cut over. You do not want to have updates spread out across all of several different systems.

At some point, we will probably write reviews of some of the tools that we looked at about a year ago: