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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Family Tree Maker 2010 Deluxe, from ancestry.co.uk, is published by Avanquest Software of St Ives and is a reasonable place to start for amateur genealogists. The pack includes the programme CD, a 100 page getting started guide and a welcome booklet with some additional offers. You also get three months free membership subscription to the ancestry online service but, annoyingly, this has to be activated with a credit or debit card then cancelled before any money is taken after the trial period expires. The platinum edition offers six months free subscription so should also be considered if this is important to you, as these subscriptions can be pretty expensive when purchased on their own.

Other reviewers have commented on issues with the relationship calculator in this version of the programme. Avanquest have addressed this problem in a comment posted in response to the review written by "Bill", and is worth reading if you have inconsistencies between this and previous versions of Family Tree Maker.

Amazon is currently offering this product for around half the RRP which makes it pretty good value for the features contained. There is a very comprehensive Product Description on Amazon's product page which tells you exactly what you get for your money and the features offered. I haven't used an earlier version or other genealogy programmes so I can't compare this directly, but it seems to have plenty of options available and to produce good results. The pursuit of your family tree can turn into a time consuming hobby so it is worth making sure you get the right software to assist your quest. I think this version of the Family Tree Maker will suit a lot of people but it will take some effort on your part to achieve the best results. A star off for the fiddly subscription registration.
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on 12 October 2009
Having used FTM since the first issue way back I looked forward to 2010 with the improvements promised by Ancestry on a poor 2009 issue. In 2006 there were multiple realtionships obtainable via the relationship calculator, and those were shown in the kinship report as well. In 2009 there was only a so called direct realtionship shown in the kinship report. This was to be corrected in 2010 but when my first kinship report was calculated using the multiple relationship choice I was horrified. a 5 page report had become a 15 page one with very peculiar relationships shown. For example a 6th cousin became "the 4th gt grandniece of the 2nd gt grand aunt" - that is mindboggling. The same relationship is shown against the cousin when that person is looked up. The common ancestor of 7th gt grandfather is just ignored. I may say that the same data used in 2006 gives correct relationships and in 2009 they are mostly correct but there are a few slip ups, one being that a 3rd cousin becomes a 4th cousin as its calculated by using a less direct common ancestor.

When looking up an individual in the index if you have a fairly common name - the index does not list them chronologically by date of birth so a "James blogs" entry of say 150 persons of that name, takes a while to find. This despite Ancestry taking it on board to correct after the 2009 edition.

I certainly would not trust any relationship calculation that this edition churns out.

Although this review is my own I have checked with various relations who are now all on the lookout for a better, more accurate programme to fit their needs. A very disappointing piece of software indeed.

Altogether - like its predecessor - this programme is badly flawed and provides a lot of gimmicks at the expense of what a genealogist really requires - accuracy, first and foremost, and ease while searching for a particular individual.

It is a over a month since I complained to Ancestry about the kinship horror but this has just been ignored so far
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on 28 January 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Whilst I am usually very hesitant to write negative reviews and strive to find any positives to offer before I go about doing so, in this case, this is the worst piece of genealogical software - in fact, one of the worst pieces of software full-stop - that I have ever used. I had tried a previous version of Family Tree Maker a few years ago which had been quite good, but this 2010 edition is the least intuitive, most clunky, overly-complicated and least functional programme to have ever soiled my computer's hard-drive. Downloaded freeware family tree-mapping software works far better and if that's not enough of an indictment in itself, it also took 15 minutes to decipher how to enter one new name and to add the basic details of birth and death. The icing on the cake was that the software then froze on its first use after install on Windows 7 (64-bit). Likewise, I have read of similar issues with Vista, both 32- and 64-bit. If you really need genealogy software, I'd imagine any of the other alternatives that spring to mind would be better, including freeware, so my advice would be to save your money and buy or download anything but this.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've always wanted to set up a family tree with pictures and details of family members but never really had the time or software to do it.

Family Tree Maker attempts to make this task pretty straightforward, using links to Ancestry.co.uk in order to provide a realtime support for family information.

The package comes with 3 months standard access to the site which has a whole host of information on births, deaths, marriages and service records among others. I found that I could go back a few generations with both sides of the family and fill out much of the information I needed in order to start off my Family Tree.

But be warned that you will still need to do a lot of your own digging around in order to complete your tree. Ancestry.co.uk will only take you so far and the way it searches means that you're likely to need as much information as possible in order to start a search, especially if the surname is quite common.

Installation on Windows Vista and Windows 7 for me was pretty straightforward, though others have commented that their Windows 7 gave them issues with the install.

Back to the software on the disc though, the Family Tree Maker program is easy to use with a nice friendly interface. It fills in what it can from Ancestry.co.uk and you're free to fill in other boxes. Links are made automatically and this can then be shown in a diagrammatic form or in a standard database table. Though there are not that many options when it comes to displaying any family tree, this program is one of the better ones I've seen.

Pictures can be linked to family members records to allow for a multimedia display and full family trees can be printed out in different styles with fancy backgrounds.

An issue with displaying the diagrams when not printing them is one of the downfalls though, you need to go to the print menu to see the links properly which can be a pain. There is also a lack of options in how to decide what links you want to concentrate on, from my experience it seems to be all or nothing.

Added to this, once the subscription runs out it's pretty expensive to sign up for full Ancestry.co.uk support and without it the data can be quite hard to track down, especially considering that the program is designed to be as easy to use with that site as possible and prevents you from having to input everything yourself.

Still, it has to be said that Family Tree Maker 2010 is one of the better Family Tree programs I've come across, even though it isn't perfect and can work out rather expensive.
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on 6 November 2009
I've been using Family Tree Maker 2010 for about 3 weeks now, so it's probably a good time to reflect on its features. To put the review into context, I went for FTM having outgrown some of the limitations of the free Personal Ancestral File (PAF) program. I use it for my own family tree, which is about 400 people. I have no experience of using it for large databases.

Hardware - Most of the time, I use it on my 5 year old desktop system running Windows XP, and performance is fine. Initial loading is much slower than PAF (50 seconds versus 5 seconds), but once loaded it's fairly slick in use, and repeat loads are much quicker, presumably because a lot of material is still stored in cache. I've also installed it on my Samsung NC10 netbook, and while the smaller screen does give rise to bit more scrolling and resizing of windows, it works very well. That's ideal for accessing your family tree out and about, say at libraries or record offices, or working on it while waiting for teenager children using the family taxi....! The Ancestry license allows installation on two computers, so you can even do this perfectly legally. I've also tried a test installation on the evaluation version of Windows 7. The first time I tried to run it, it gave me an error message, but has been fine since, so there don't seem to be any fundamental problems with Windows 7 (as there shouldn't be - despite the marketing hype, Windows 7 is only a refreshed version 2 of Vista - the core system is exactly the same).

Ease of transferring data from PAF - FTM can import PAF files directly, or you can export as a GEDCOM file and import into FTM. This was more difficult than it should have been. The basic data and notes were fine, but I did have problems copying the media files (mostly photographs, GRO certificates and census forms). Where a media file was linked to more than one person (say a census form), FTM insisted on giving me multiple copies of the file, so I ended up with about four times as much media as I started with. The workaround was to export from PAF without media using the options within that program, then manually relinking the media files within FTM. This was a little tedious, but it did give me a good opportunity to work through and tidy up the source data. FTM also made every fact "Private". Not a big problem, as you can include private data in trees and printouts, and gradually correct it as you revise the person's data, but it could be an issue if you have data genuinely marked as private (that skeleton in the cupboard that can't be revealed until after Aunty Emma has died.....).

Ease of use, and program features - In just three weeks I have certainly not tried every feature, but I do have some clear plus and minus points. On the positive side, the displays are clear and well presented, and navigation around the program is relatively straight forward. Treatment of sources is much better than in PAF, and it is easy to see all your sources listed in detail. This makes it easy to check for consistency and completeness - I found several errors in my old PAF data that were only apparent when listing all the sources together. Each person fact (birth date/place, address, occupation , census entry etc) can have multiple sources, and a single source can be linked to any number of facts or people. This is particularly useful with things like census records, which could link to every member of the household and be the source for multiple facts (approximate date and place of birth, occupation, etc). When producing printed reports, a single source gets only one reference, rather than the duplicate references used by PAF, so each fact has the same footnote number and point to a single source citation.

The ability to map places of interest is useful, but the strong US-bias of the default options has already been noted. These can be overwritten with your own input, though. Personally, I don't like the Ancestry habit of standardizing place names, and I keep them as they were when the event was recorded. For example, my tree has references to Chelsea, Middlesex and Chelsea, London, even though both point to the same location on the map.

My biggest gripe with FTM regarding data recording is that it does not have the ability to record approximate date ranges. A date can be a defined range (say between Jan and Mar 1845), or marked as approximate (say ca. 1890), but these cannot be combined. It may be a pedantic point, but it means recording birth dates when all you have is the GRO quarter in which the event was registered could be incorrect, as the birth could have occurred in the previous quarter. PAF was able to say "About Jan-Mar 1845", but FTM leaves off the critical "about" qualifier.

I have also tried exporting a modified tree from FTM as a GEDCOM file and re-importing into PAF, just in case I go back to the old program. There does seem to be a problem exporting references to media files in the GEDCOM output, so media was lost again between the two programs. There were also errors in date and note formatting that seem to arise from FTM not following the GEDCOM standard accurately. Nothing that a bit of patience with a file editor couldn't correct, but that shouldn't be necessary, and it does require a working knowledge of the GEDCOM data format.

I have not tried registering with Ancestry to use the subscription trial. I already subscribe to the site, so I will wait until this is due for renewal before registering and claiming my free period.....

There are eye-candy frills that do nothing at all for me, such as fancy backgrounds and templates for reports, but it's no problem ignoring these and concentration on the core functions. I'm also not bothered about any issues with the relationship calculator (although if it is wrong it does not reflect well on the software authors).

Overall, I have been quite pleased with FTM, and will continue to use it. It is not perfect (particularly the untidy GEDCOM import and export, and the lack of "about" date ranges), but it is a very big step up from PAF. It's relatively easy to use, and does seem to operate on a wide range of hardware. I particularly like the way you can organize and sort the source data. This is after all the core data - the trees that we so carefully record are simply our interpretation of that data!!!
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on 26 September 2010
Having been working on my family tree for sometime now using Ancestry.com I quickly realised that all the information was stored on line and if I wasn't a paying customer I would loose this information. You can create a GEDCOM file and a number of packages allow you to import this into their programmes with limited success. FTM 2010 is the first program I have found which imports directly form Ancestry. It has many features built in but the most powerful is the many ways you can printout your tree another thing lacking with Ancestry.com. I am now happy that I have my tree on my laptop and don't have to be connected to view it. Can't wait for FTM 2011.
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on 16 January 2010
Whilst this is excellent value, particularly the subscription to ancestry, I too found that Family Tree Maker 2010 has the same issue as Bill, with regards to the relationship calculator - there definitely seems to be a lot of calculation issues when adding further removed ancestors. So, some parts of the software do need more work - however, there are positives. As mentioned, the cost of the subscription makes the program more than worthwhile, it's also very fast, you can run it on two machines, and it can import files and export, from other genealogy software. It's also very easy-to-use overall, but because of the flaws, probably won't fit the needs of semi-professional genealogists or those wishing to delve into their family tree in full detail.
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on 21 February 2010
Our previous version of Family Tree Maker was extremely old and not compatible with Vista, so after not being able to use FTM for some time we've been pretty impressed by this version - especially the links to Ancestry which lets us search and merge information straight into our records, and saves the sources (e.g. census images) at the same time. This version comes with 3 months free Ancestry, but we've logged in on our current Ancestry subscription, saving the free 3 mths for later. We haven't found the map facility especially accurate so far but it's early days and we'll persevere with it.. Our main problem was installing the program!! After repeated attempts, much swearing and the same error message cropping up, we finally got it up and running. (we found numerous suggestions online to deal with the error message, and temporarily disabled firewall, virus checker etc)
If you've used the most recent versions of FTM you may not notice much difference in this one, but if your last version was a dinosaur or you have not used it before, then you will really enjoy this - we've found it pretty easy to use and hopefully it WILL work if we change to Windows 7, as it says on the box.
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on 30 August 2010
Great buy! I previously had FTM 2005 so when I upgraded my PC I had to upgrade my FTM and I'm so glad I did. There is so much you can do on it and although initially it was all abit daunting and quite 'busy', i soon started to grasp my way around the program. I'm still finding out new things to do on it even now. Would deffinatley reccommend it to a friend. :-)
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on 14 November 2009
I wanted to buy a genealogy program similar to "My Heritage Family Tree Maker" (one finds it free in the Internet) which I currently use and I must say that in most of its functions FTM is indeed a better program. But there are two things I didn't like: I wanted to save my work and searched for the functions "Save" or "Save as" in the menus... But they were not there. For some time I thought that one needed to exit the program to save; but it seems that instead of a "save" what it has is a "Backup". Why make it simple when one can complicate things?
The other thing I did not like was that to visualize genealogy charts one had to go to the print menu. The charts should be outside that menu! There are many times when I like to read the charts just to see how far (in the past) I am, or what branches I should investigate next, whithout having the intention of printing the charts.
Anyway the program is very good. It would be a nice touch that, in future versions, the user could change all the text, at will... I am not asking the editors of the program to translate it to other languages but instead give the user the possibility to do that (at least when we print a chart). I would like to print a chart and could be able to read its title, subtitles, etc. in my own language instead of english.

Joaquim Nogueira, Portugal
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