Friday, October 05, 2007

My note to the maker of Family Tree Maker 2008

I sent a short note to The Generations Network, markers of Family Tree Maker 2008. I did not want to completely rag them out but I was not happy with their product. Here is what I wrote:

“Disappointment with FTM2008:

The program is too slow and there are too many features (reports, etc.) missing that made version 16 great. I understand this is a new direction for the product but you have lost the simplicity that made the FTM brand great. I have tried to use 2008 since the BETA and feel that the release version was no better than the BETA. I work in quality assurance and FTM2008 smells like a BETA labeled as a release to me, just to get the product to market sooner.

I have to say that I am a long-time fan but I will probably revert to FTM16 and not buy additional upgrades, unless some of the old features come back and overall stability returns. If I were you I would refund everyone their money, take the loss and fix the product before releasing it again. There are clearly too many problems with 2008 for you to stand behind it fully.

Kevin Lett”

If you would like to share your thoughts on the product with our readers, click the comment link below and let us know how you feel.

6 comments:

jadhunt said...

Critical Data Losses Associated with Family Tree Maker 2008

Be afraid – be very afraid -- of losing valuable data when transferring/upgrading to Family Tree Maker 2008 (FTM2008) software. I highly recommend NOT upgrading to this product at this time, and instead staying with earlier versions of FTM or using other vendors’ software.

I am an experienced genealogist with an extensive IT software development and testing background. When I recently attempted to upgrade to the recently released FTM2008 from Family Tree Maker 16 (FTM16), I experienced an large number of problems, the most dangerous and severe being LOSS OF DATA ! !

Below are my file statistics before and after upgrading to FTM2008:

File Size: (BEFORE UPGRADE) 18.598 Mb (AFTER) 13,855 Mb
Total individuals in data base: (BEFORE UPGRADE) 12,300 (AFTER) 12,300
Total marriages: (BEFORE UPGRADE) 3,769 (AFTER) 3,769
Total Text Records: (BEFORE UPGRADE) 194,103 (AFTER) 152,213

More than 20 percent of my text records were lost and failed to transfer. The lost records appear to be source data documenting events (i.e., birth, death, etc.) and individual notes for individuals. Also, some sources that did transfer appear to have been scrambled and no longer relate to the correct events.

I initiated numerous communications with the technical staff who purportedly supports FTM2008, and, in turn, received comments such as “I do apologize that you are frustrated with the software” …and… “I am not sure why this information has not transferred to the new software”. Other than these comments, there appeared to be no concern for the problem, nor any expressed intent to fix it.

Because of the seriousness of data loss, I subsequently sent a message to David Humphreys (Project Manager responsible for FTM2008) and two letters to Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of The Generations Network (TGN) – the company that owns Ancestry.com and produces Family Tree Maker software. THERE WAS NEVER A RESPONSE FROM ANY OF TGN’s MANAGEMENT.

It was recently announced that in mid-October 2007, Spectrum Equity Investors acquired TGN (which included FTM2008, Ancestry.com, and MyFamily.com) for $300 million. So, I sent correspondence to the two Co-Founders and Managing Directors of Spectrum Equity Investors advising them of this critical problem with FTM2008 – and like the correspondence sent to the senior management of TGN – NOTHING HAPPENED ! !

I highly encourage all using, or who might be considering using, FTM2008 to proceed with utmost caution. Besides the FTM2008 software being less than adequate in it’s present form (generally “buggy”, reduced reports, more cumbersome, difficult to install, etc.), as genealogists, we can not afford to lose the results of our research. I would suggest everyone retain their previous versions of their data files and software and refrain from using FTM2008 until the company announces a new release and CAN PROVE that their buggy software is fixed and reliable.

FTM2008 definitely has a long way to go before regaining and earning back the reputation that it enjoyed with the earlier versions !

Users may confirm the many problems being encountered with FTM2008 by doing a Google search using “Family Tree Maker 2008” and “problems”. Literally 100’s of sites are listed ! !

Dan Hunter

gm said...

Thanks for the great post. Good info. I was unaware of the buyout.

Dan Hunter said...

This is a follow-up to my Nov. 3, 2007 posting concerning the potential for data loss while transferring information to Family Tree Maker 2008 (FTM2008).

Although efforts to make contact with the management team of FTM2008 were unsuccessful prior to my posting, two days after the posting, David Humphreys initiated contact which resulted in ongoing communication.

For those who are only “scanning” this posting, I will sum up the info below by stating that I now tend to believe there is NO LOSS OF DATA when info is transferred into FTM2008 from external sources.

After establishing contact with the FTM development team, I shared a copy of my database with the team and they repeated the same processes I described that I believed contributed to data loss. They report they could not identify any data loss in the transfer to FTM2008, and explained that the apparent loss of data is due to the fact that FTM16 (the old version) stores data differently in its internal database dependent on whether the data was "entered directly" into FTM16 - or - was “imported” into FTM16 (e.g. from an imported GEDCOM or other file).

I've been advised that the new FTM2008 uses a totally differently schema (data base storage structure/content/semantics) from the older software -- BUT -- does not result in any loss of data.

I have begun checking their explanation with a smaller sub-set of my data, and have so far found their explanation to be true.

The main difference I’ve found (and which led me to believe there was data loss) between FTM2008 and FTM16, is a difference in how some source information appears to the end-user in FTM2008. ALL source information in FTM2008 is a more hidden, and harder to view than it was in FTM16, but in certain situations the source information within FTM2008 for events (i.e., Name, Birth Date, Death Date, Marriage Date, etc.) is more “secreted” than FTM2008’s “norm”.

It appears that when source comments stored in FTM2008 DO NOT reference (or are not linked to) specific records within the Master Source file, these comments appear differently than source comments that ARE directly linked to an entry in the Master Source file - - BUT - - they are stored in the database and appear to the user (and in reports) somewhat differently in FTM2008 than these same comments did in FTM16 (they appeared with the comments but showed “-No Master Source-”)

Coupled with the fact that FTM16 stores data in different ways (discussed above – ‘direct-entry’ versus ‘import’) the other factor that led me to the conclusion that data had been lost results from how FTM2008 produces a GEDCOM file, as opposed to how FTM16 produces a GEDCOM file. It appears both versions DO produce standardized GEDCOM-compliant files; however, each version uses different rules to produced those compliant GEDCOM files (i.e., FTM2008 appears to take long comments and/or notes, and generates multiple short “CONC” lines within a GEDCOM file (instructions that cause those lines to be later concatenated/linked) - whereas FTM16 takes those same long comments and/or notes, and generates longer lines within a GEDCOM file.

To recap - - - I now tend to believe that the importation of data to FTM2008 will not result in a data loss within the new version’s database. Some of the info may be a bit hard to find, but everything appears to be there.

As far as needed improvements to FTM2008, the management team responsible for FTM2008 development advised me that the ‘just-released’ Service Pack 2 strives to improve the reliability of the application and should improve some performance issues. The new SP2 also added the Ahnentafel & Register reports to the application. They assured me they were “looking hard” at ways to improve the way FTM2008 deals with ‘Sources’ along with other on-going performance-enhancing improvements.

For me personally, I will continue to use FTM16, but will regularly re-evaluate FTM2008 for performance and functionality issues, and will probably upgrade in the future when I can be as comfortable with the new version as I am with the old.

Dan Hunter

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. I have been using FTM since 1998 and until 2008 I have always been happy about the upgrades. I will continue to use FTM16 until they make later version more friendly.

Kevin Lett said...

I think 2008 is quite stable now but I am not sure about 2009. I am somewhat afraid of making that leap. I know that is probably silly but I am still running 2008 and I have started to really like it.

LISA MILLER WATERS said...

I need your help ..

My grandmother was Roxanne Milton of va she had a sister that owned a tobacco planation in VA named Moneymaker .Do you know this woman.
She married Charles Miller of KY and died in New Jersey.

She was half or whole American Indian