Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Family Tree Maker 2012

Ancestry.com has provided me a half-dozen review copies of Family Tree Maker over the years. I’ve not opened a single one. I’ve never had the time to learn or the need to use a desktop product. I’m a big fan of Ancestry Member Trees. My tree lives in the cloud. My scanned documents are (presumably) backed up and kept save by Ancestry.com. My documents are there to be shared with others. (Believe me, plenty of mine are.) My links are attaching Ancestry content to my tree. (I’ve found a dozen-plus book references for one ancestor in addition to the easily found half-dozen record matches.) I’m happy living in the cloud.

Last week I started preparing for my travel to the National Genealogical Society 2012 Conference in Cincinnati, to be held 9-12 May 2012. I decided I’d research my Ohio ancestry while I was in the area. Trouble was, I didn’t know if I had any family in Ohio. Fortunately, I’m a 6th generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I practically inherited an 8 generation pedigree… almost totally undocumented. Somewhere in there, there had to be some Ohio research waiting to be done.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could run a query on my Ancestry Member Tree and get a list of all references to Ohio? No can do. For all their advantages, online trees have a big disadvantage. They are immature, with only a handful of years since their births.

Desktop genealogy programs, on the other hand, have been around for many years. The venerable PAF was released in 1984. Family Tree Maker was released in 1989. Feature sets have been growing ever since (despite the occasional software rewrite).

If I had my tree in PAF, I could have used Advanced Focus Filter and easily generated a report of every ancestor with an event in Ohio. But my tree was not in PAF, it was an Ancestry Member Tree. Fortunately, I had heard that the latest version of Family Tree Maker has the capability of synchronizing a desktop tree with an online Ancestry Member Tree.

It was time to try out Family Tree Maker.

I got a review copy, installed it, and accepted the offer to synchronize to my online tree. It was really easy. Within 5 minutes I had all my tree except for the scanned documents. Family Tree Maker (FTM) informed me that I could begin using it while my documents were downloaded in the background. Then I started poking around, trying to locate a way to get my report of Ohio ancestors. As I had feared, there was going to be a learning curve getting used to a desktop genealogy program. Eventually, I gave up and sent an inquiry off to Ancestry.

Meanwhile, the download of my many, many documents continued in the background, probably well into the following day. I don’t know how long it took, but that night, at midnight, my backup script kicked in and started copying the newly downloaded files from my computer to an external drive. Over 20 hours later, I found my backup was still copying files.

It felt pretty good. I had all the original documents up in the cloud on Ancestry. I had copies on my desktop, linked into the correct people in my FTM tree. And I had another copy out on an external drive. Having those extra copies means it is very unlikely that I will every lose all my hard work. It felt very good.

Back to Ohio

Ancestry got back to me with the steps necessary to find all the Ohio connections in my tree. There was no wonder I couldn’t find it. I’ll tell you what they told me, as it is not obvious by any means.

In FTM 2012, go to the “Publish” workspace, along the top of the window. In the Publication Types panel on the left, select “Person Reports.” Then select “Custom Report” in the middle of the screen.

Select Custom Report from the People Reports

A custom report can include all individuals, or some subset that you choose. In the options panel on the right, set “Individuals to Include” to “Selected Individuals.” In the middle of the “Filter Individuals” dialog box, click on “Filter In… >” .

Use FTM Selected Individuals, Filter In...

In the “Filter Individuals By Criteria” dialog box, choose “Other.” In the “Search Where” drop-down list, choose “Any Fact Places.”

In FTM Filter by Criteria, choose Other > Any Fact Places.

Enter the name of the location—“Ohio” in my case—into the Value field. Click OK. The right hand side of the dialog box now displays the list of matching individuals.


Click OK to see the custom report.


Now I have 5 pages of Ohioan ancestors to research and document.

I’ve told you how to get the list of people to research when you take a trip. When it comes time to do so without offending your travelling partners, you’re on your own.


  1. I, too, keep all my info on ancestry.com but have found FTM2012 useful for a few things. You can "clean up" all your locations in FTM2012. Go to the "Places" menu. you can scroll through the list and see all the occurrences of a place...including misspellings, abbreviations, missed counties. You can correct all instances of those incorrect entries in one fell swoop right there. You can also see all of the people in your tree who have that location attached to them. It is my favorite feature of this program.

    I do wish they would bring back the old FTM16 custom report so I could export a list to excel and sort to my heart's content.

  2. The Ancestry Insider,

    Welcome to FTM2012.

    Here is my approach:


    Although that blog post is for FTM2009, the same would work in FTM2012.

    @MidwestAncesTree - the SAME report from FTM2012 took me 4 Reports in Version 16. I blogged about that as well. I was comparing Version 16 to Version 2009.

    You CAN Export to a .CSV file for EXCEL in FTM2012.


    1. Well, Russ, I do see now you can export the custom reports as 'columns' and it does turn out the way I want. I had called the ancestry help desk months ago to ask about this...thanks for making me take a 2nd look at all the options.

  3. I hope no one comes along and draws and quarters you for being ( gasp) a fan of cloud based genealogy. I also keep my primary record on Ancestry, it's happy up there and I can share just by setting it as public although it will always be a work in progress. I DO use FTM though and used PAF for years before. Not so much for finding who lived where, but for creating GEDCOM files to attach to email to send to others, usually those for whom I have solved some problem or another.
    But, just between you and I, I have been just short of ripped to shreds by those stuck in the age of analog who think the important part is the original piece of paper,,,,,,, short of photos and the occasional original ( but usually not official) birth or death certificate worthy of framed display. Not so, the important part of all those old documents is the information recorded on them. So, my paper records are in banker's boxes fairly loosely arranged by surname out in the garage except the ones waiting to be scanned and the scanned documents or photos uploaded to my Ancestry Tree. My public tree is there for sharing, aka " networking" and it's worked. I've had wonderful luck " cousin fishing" and made contacts I otherwise never would have. I don't care if people " steal my hard work" , it will work exponentially harder the more people have access to it; if they happen to use it in an in progress, incomplete, or imperfect state, that's their problem not mine. I don't have six LDS generations of work to build on, I'm a first generation convert , blessing and a curse since when I began to do family history I had absolutely nothing to build on on my mother's side, beginning with a " tabula rasa" was a lot of hard work and brick walls, but I didn't have to fix granny's " family history" in which she had traced one of her lines " back to Adam". When teaching or assisting others who have these records from granny, correcting mistakes is priority one and it's somewhat sad for granny's family to see how blatantly erroneous her work was,,,, I have found big errors in the first couple of generations and scary stuff further back. Now I am convinced that many well meaning grannies made stuff up. My daily prayer is now to digitize as many grannies as possible and teach them criteria that will foster the production of family history more valid than that based on hearsay and the desire to gather names for proxy baptism. It's unfortunate that there is so much resistance to this and that FS made some unfortunate decisions in what was part of the site and what could be uploaded and now must backtrack for the sake of improving content.
    I've said it once and I'll say it again, probably many times, that digitized data will long outlive those boxes of papers out in the garage.
    Perhaps I need to go scan the foot high pile of land records on the floor beside my desk or the bushel basket of family photos on the kithen table?

  4. Re: your Ohio roots - be sure to check out the free website Ohio Obituary Index (www.rbhayes.org/index) which indexes 2.1 million Ohio names before you come. The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center hosts this index, partnering with 50 public libraries in Ohio. You might find an obit you want to look up. Most of the newspapers indexed have not been digitized yet, so a field trip to a library (gasp!) might be necessary.
    Becky Hill, Head Librarian, Hayes Presidential Center

    1. Ancestry.com also hosts this index, which makes it super easy for Ancestry users to graft data onto their trees.

    2. Yes,they do and we are happy for the partnership, but as of this date, they only have 1.2 million of our names loaded and we have a million more on our website. We have provided them the updates and I am hoping that they will soon incorporate the additional names because it is wonderful for people using Ancestry to connect with this local index.

  5. This has been one of the most educational of all your blog posts! Learning how to sort through to Ohio (I also have OH issues), fix names/locations and a centralized RBHayes resources is great! I guess it's time to load FTM2012 and download from Ancestry.com. I've done most of my work there and didn't want to have to go back and forth.

  6. AI, do you know, or can you find out if Ancestry.com is eventually intending to allow use of an API so that other genealogy software packages besides FTM can take advantage of synching and/or matching? I commend FamilySearch for doing so with FamilySearch Family Tree (nFS). Is Ancestry intentionally being uncooperative?

    For those with Ancestry Member Trees who just want to be able to run an occasional report and not necessarily sync, a GEDCOM of your tree can be imported into a genealogy software package of your choice, including those that are free. Of course, some people go the other direction, uploading a GEDCOM to create an Ancestry Member Tree.

  7. I have been looking around at my options to convert from PAF to another genealogy package. I have a lot of information on 2 Ancestry.com trees -mother's side and dad's side. My question is - do Ancestry trees and/or FTM 2012 handle LDS ordinance data? I have tried searching around the ancestry learning center and help and google, but can't find anything that tells me what to do with LDS data. If FTM and Ancestry do handle ordinances, they seem to be keeping it secret. Do you have any information about this? I do know that they don't sync with nFS.

    1. FTM understands LDS data. It has an LDS option and an LDS Ordinance Report. It does not talk to new.FamilySearch.org.

  8. Congrats on your FTM 2012 initiation! FTM has a lot of advantages, especially the ability to filter people based on specific criteria and create reports and charts that can't be done at Ancestry. Just be aware that not everything syncs between Ancestry and FTM. Also, FTM has lots of bugs, especially the Mac version, which is based on the Windows version. See my full review of FTM for Mac 2 at http://genealogytools.com/family-tree-maker-for-mac-2-review/.

  9. Can anyone help me? I did a lot of work on Family Tree Maker 2003, Version 11. This included printing out my Grandpa Ley's family tree on paper, taping them up, until it reached nine feet long. I also had my other grandparents, back to the 1700's; and my husband's Swedish family. Then I joined Ancestry.com for a year. I understand they took over FTM. NOW ALL MY FILES ARE LOST, GONE ... WHAT HAPPENED? Did Ancestry.com eat up my old FTM files? I dread typing in all that info again ... I dropped out of Ancestry.com as I didn't like being sucked in to an automatic renewal. If I go back to them, can anyone get my old files back ... thanks, Nancy Ruth

  10. Isn't the ability to save and sync your Family Tree Maker files on Ancestry more accurately described as a "free" backup provider service as opposed to Cloud storage?

    To my understanding Cloud storage is being able to store selected files on the internet so you can share them and access them whenever you wish on any device, i.e. Nook, Kindle, Ipad, tablet, surface or smartphone. Until there are reasonable apps available for all the popular devices you are limited to finding a PC somewhere that is running the correct version of FTM.


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