Tuesday, July 17, 2007

1st Look: Family Tree Maker 2008

FTM 2008 Logo.The Generations Network (TGN) made beta copies of its upcoming Family Tree Maker 2008 (FTM) available to selected industry luminaries yesterday. The Ancestry Insider eagerly ripped open his copy and found the new version has been rewritten from the ground up.

"I had heard from former programmers that the code for the old version had grown so old that it was brittle to the touch," said the Insider. "Still, I hadn't expected the rewrite would look so..., well, modern."

The boss quickly dove in, leaving us, his staff, to watch the furious clicks, and wonder at the ambiguous grunts.

"Look at this new Family View," the Insider excitedly offered. Glowing on the Insider's 25" LCD monitor, we found a dazzling interface that made efficient use of every last pixel. The page contained a dizzying collage of pedigree pane, family group pane, person pane, index pane, and a plethora of icons, tabs, menus, and buttons.

FTM 2008 Family ViewFamily View. Click any image to enlarge.

As we salivated, the Insider next showed us a Person Timeline.

FTM 2008 Timeline ViewPerson Timeline

After a click or two we were soon looking in the Places section of FTM at a map from Microsoft's Virtual Earth, a push-pin, and a list of all the people associated with that place.

FTM 2008 Map ViewMap View

Next the Insider showed us the Media section and its photo album tools. FTM 2008 Photo Album Tools

Photo Album Tools
Soon after we were in the Publish section looking at sample forms. FTM 2008 Pedigree Chart
Printed Pedigree Chart
FTM 2008 Family Group Chart
Printed Family Group Chart

We would have liked to ask the Insider's opinion of the program, but he quickly submerged again, surfacing just long enough to tell us that select customers have been invited to pre-purchase at a special price and should expect delivery in mid-August.

Always the critic, the last mumble we heard was, "I'll believe it when I see it."

As we left his office, the Insider was humming, one moment downloading something from Ancestry.com using the built-in integration, the next moment clipping stuff from FamilySearch's new Record Search Pilot with FTM's new web clipper.

We might not hear from him again for a long, long time...


  1. It is important to look at what they left out and to realize that a otal re-write means this is a 1.0 release of new, largely untested software.

    The FTM-Tech user discussion board has been filled with unhappy users upset over the lack of ability to consistently import old files, or to write to formats compatible with previous versions. Data CD-ROM reading has been left out, leaving many of us with libraries of CDs we can not use with the new version.

    The few weeks of beta testing just before the announced ship date has not been enough time to work the bugs out, and there is a steep learning curve and significant difference in what features they chose to include or leave out.

  2. Also worth noting is that an informal poll on the user list found that more than 50% would not pay to upgrade based on what they saw now in the beta.

  3. Mal,

    Thanks for your comments. You're right on the money.

    The Insider

  4. Would someone post the link to the FTM-Tech user discussion board. Did not find it on a google search. Thanks

  5. I'm someone who definitely will not be "upgrading" to FTM2008. The new version may be wonderful for users who work in full-screen mode on giant screens but the experience for me on a portable with a considerably smaller screen was truly awful.

    That's espcially true in the area of web integration where easy to see/use hit list of FTM16 has been replaced with a virtually unusable window of the regular ancestry page. In my case, 14 lines of possible choices were reduced to 4 cramped hits. The button to display a separate window wasn't really helpful since you have to hit it for each choice. I would prefer a program option that would replicate the old display.

    RE FTM-TECH: It's not a discussion board, it's a mailing list [see http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/index/FTM-TECH/2007-07]. You can search the archives online but the only way to participate in a discussion is to subscribe to the mailing list -- which means that you can't actually reply to anything that was posted before you joined and you have to keep up via your e-mail program. It would be nice to have a discussion board somewhere to discuss FTM properly. The board in the ancestry community doesn't seem to attract much traffic.


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