Big news from Ancestry today, announcing the discontinuation of their Family Tree Maker (FTM) desktop software. I don’t want to think that this is a business move intended to force everyone to enter their family tree data directly into their online tree, but it’s sure going to push a lot of folks in that direction. This also means that you will need to maintain a subscription if you want to keep accessing your information.
Personally, I’ve never used FTM because of the dependency on the online tree and for fear that something like this might eventually happen. Instead, I do my research on Ancestry (and Family Search, Find My Past, etc.) but keep all of my records in an independent genealogy software package on my desktop. I do maintain an online tree, but it’s there primarily to help unknown cousins find me (“cousin bait”) and contains only what I have been able to find on Ancestry. Doing this keeps my data independent, makes it easier to pass on to my children and nephews, and allows me to drop my Ancestry subscription if it becomes too expensive or if I want to save some money for a few months.
Support for FTM will continue for another year (until January 1, 2017), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some functionality start to fall to the wayside before that. So if you’re using Family Tree Maker, best to download a GEDCOM for Ancestry trees and start shopping for new software!
More reactions to this news can be found on the Genea-Musings blog, Geneabloggers, Genealogy’s Star, and on engadget. In addition, Dear Myrtle is planning a live stream discussion on this topic this evening.
So what do you think? We’d like to hear your reactions in the comments!