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on 19 October 2011
First thing that should be noted are the differences between FTM 2012 and FTM 2011:
1. Tree Sync
2. Combined Family View (If a person has children with more than one partner then all children can be displayed on the same screen - I've found it useful but it is quite a minor detail)
3. Improved Smart Stories (They are better than 2011's Smart Stories, but they still read like a machine has written them - I wouldn't bother!)
4. New report and chart options - haven't tried these yet.
5. New tutorials - haven't tried these yet.
Also, for those updating from FTM Version 16, then apparently it will detect that & display an interface that looks more like older versions of FTM.
And that's about it as far as changes go.

It comes in a very big box with a 370 page guide to FTM 2012 - it seems quite comprehensive, though I haven't read it all yet. It also has 3 discs:
1. FTM 2012
2. Backup and Protect, a program called Perfect Image, Version 12 (I can't comment on this as I haven't installed it. FTM 2010 World Edition came with Version 11 of the same program for those who are interested.)
3. Create Your Own Website (Web Easy 8, exactly the same version as in FTM 2010 World Edition)

Installation on Windows 7 was straightforward and reasonably quick, but be aware that if you have a previous version of FTM on your computer the new installation will automatically convert your Family Tree Maker files to the latest version.

When you start the program, the Plan screen is the most different as it has a box for Tree Sync. Most other views look very similar to last year's version.
Tree Sync is the big difference as it allows you to update your tree and will automatically or manually make the changes on your Ancestry family tree. It can't sync a tree that already exists though, you have to upload a tree to Ancestry again for it to work. Compared to some, my tree is quite small - about 400 names, 200 media / reference files - and it took just a few minutes for the tree data to upload, about an hour for all the media to be uploaded too. I decided not to have the automatic sync turned on, prefering to manually sync my trees, I've done it several times and the whole process has been smooth and quick. Of course, you don't have to link your tree on Ancestry should you wish not to. I'm really pleased with the process though.

If all you want the program for is simply to update from 2011 to 2012 then it's probably not worth the money for the World Edition. However if, as I did, you want it because it's a cheap way of getting a world Ancestry subscription, then it is excellent value for money.

Update (30/10/2011):
One of the things I like about Family tree Maker is that the software comes with two licences - I can install it on my laptop as well as my desktop. I have done that as I was away for a week. I keep my family tree on a portable hard drive - it's just a case of plugging the drive into whichever machine I happen to be using. When I started it up on my laptop though, the family tree came up as not uploaded or synchronised to Ancestry. Rather than worry about that, I just worked on my tree, then when I next used my desktop, I synchronised all my changes without any problems.

Update (03/12/2011:
Had a hard drive failure on my computer so had to replace it and re-install everything including FTM 2012. My family tree is kept on an external disk and I open it from there, but when I opened it on the re-installed program it didn't recognise it as linked to the Ancestry tree any more. Having been in touch with Ancestry's support, it appears that there is no way to re-link it. I'll have to go throught the whole process of uploading the tree & media again, as well as re-inviting all the people I had given access and, to avoid confusion, I'll delete the old tree. This is a major flaw as far as I can see, and one that will need fixing. It's enough for me to knock a star off, but the program is still woth buying if you need the subscription to Ancestry. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother upgrading now.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 24 November 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Before I begin, it might be useful to know that I have been an amateur genealogist for a few years, and have used several versions of Family Tree Maker (FTM). This is the top-of-the-range package from Ancestry, giving you access to all of its 7 billion historical records. The package comprises three items of software and a printed copy of The Companion Guide. However, the biggest bonus in the package is the six-month free subscription to Ancestry: the subscription is the main attraction. It gives access to all of Ancestry's overseas birth, marriage and death records, census records, parish records, immigration records, and so on. This is a fantastic resource if you have overseas ancestors (as a surprising number of families do). Obviously, if you are searching German census records they will all be in German, so you will need to understand some key words and phrases if you are to extract all the information available to you.

FTM comes with every package in the FTM range. It is the same software no matter which package you go for. It aims to provide everything you need to create your family tree. Its search tools and a few other features link very closely with the Ancestry website. While you are making use of the free six-month subscription to Ancestry, it all integrates very well. When your free subscription period has expired, if you don't want to continue with a new subscription, then all is not lost. The package still works fine; you just won't benefit from its web-based features. However, you do still get to use TreeSync to synchronize your family tree with a copy of it kept on the website. More about that later.
Of course, genealogy information comes from a huge array of sources, so don't worry about being tied to Ancestry. In my case, I get most information from non-Ancestry sources, such as local archives, visiting cemeteries, talking to relatives, trawling newspaper archives, and so on. But for those must-have essentials like census and military records, Ancestry is a vital resource.

If you have used earlier FTM then this one adds nothing much to FTM 2011, which I reviewed at length here on Amazon. The 2012 version adds the following:
Blended Families View. It sits below the tree view, and provides details about the selected person, their spouse and children. If the family has children from different relationships, you may also view all of them together in this view.
SmartStories. This has been updated to allow you to include facts about an individual and his or her family in one view. This makes the feature rather more powerful. If you are not familiar SmartStories, the feature takes facts about a person, and converts them into readable paragraphs of text. I don't find it very useful for genealogical purposes, but it does make it easier to put together a book about the family tree.

Ahnentafel and descendent reports now generate descriptive fact sentences for each fact or event. As with SmartStory, this puts facts into readable sentences.

There are a few minor updates in charts, and some icons for controlling certain panels, but that's about it for this upgrade.
TreeSync. This is a real plus. You probably know that you can upload your family tree to the Ancestry website, so that you can work on it online wherever you are, have a handy backup, and of course share it with other people (or not as the case may be). TreeSync keeps the online and local (on your computer) copies of your family tree synchronized. For example, if you have added a fact to your online family tree, TreeSync makes sure that your local copy is updated accordingly. It's a great idea. If you happen to have an iPhone and t5he Ancestry app, TreeSync works with that, too.

No software package will make your family tree for you. You cannot just click a button and hey-presto your great aunt Doris Jones appears. Genealogy research simply isn't like that. Where FTM is wonderful is in providing a very handy relational database for entering, collating, error-checking, handling and presenting the huge amount of information you may collect about individuals in your family tree.

"Create Your Own Website" (aka "WebEasy 8") provides an easy way to create a website. It does indeed do that, but it has a huge hole in it when it comes to working with FTM.
(1) It provides no way to grab information from FTM and build web pages with it. This makes it almost useless in an FTM package.
(2) It has no "HTML Import" feature! That's right - a website building package that does not support HTML import! To get HTML import you have to upgrade at a cost of £19.14 (at time of writing) to WebEasy Professional. This means that you can make HTML reports in FTM but you can't import them. I am absolutely STAGGERED that a website building package could omit this feature. I mean, it's like building a kitchen and omitting the hob.

Thus, any family tree information you want to put into your website you will have to type in or copy/paste manually. As a professional author with 26 years of experience with all kinds of publishing software, this is completely unacceptable. If I were serious about making a family tree website, I would not use this software to do it. It's a huge let-down to me, because it's actually a good package. It's just hopelessly hamstrung by having no link to all that data locked up inside FTM.

"Backup and Protect" (aka "Perfect Image 12") is a backup package for your computer - not just for your family tree. Anyway, it includes 32-bit and 64-bit versions; the one you install depends on whether your version of Windows is 32-bit or 64-bit. It is aimed at non-technical users, and as such its features are easy to understand and use. If you are not very knowledgeable about computers then I recommend you read the help, so you understand some of the terminology. It can make the usual kind of backup copies, incremental backups, and it can mirror drives, too. (A mirror is essentially an exact copy of a disk drive and absolutely everything on it) in case you need to restore the entire system.

Ignoring "WebEasy" (awful), and "Perfect Image" (fine but nothing really to do with FTM or genealogy) what you get is FTM and access to an absolutely vast collection of historical records. If your genealogy research has taken you to overseas records, then it is almost unbeatable value.
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on 22 December 2011
The advertising by Avanquest, the packaging itself and the description of the product on Amazon says that it "Includes a 6 Month `WORLDWIDE' Membership to Ancestry.co.uk". If you are aware of the pitfalls, you can get almost six month access to Ancestry databases.

If you contact Ancestry, or if you have any problems, they will tell you that you don't have a membership, only a six month long "free" trial. They say you bought the software itself and the access to Ancestry's databases came free. If it was free, why do Avanquest charge different amounts for the "Worldwide", "Platinum" and "Deluxe" editions, which contain substantially the same software ("Worldwide" contains some pretty useless addons not related to family tree software)?

The pitfalls for the buyer with this approach are:

(i) that you cannot use the membership you have already paid for until you provide them with valid credit card, debit card or direct debit details for them to automatically deduct a further subscription as soon as your 6 months membership expires whether you want to continue it or not.

(ii) if you have a problem with your bank account, or move it so a direct debit gets cancelled, your six month membership you have already paid for gets cancelled automatically.

(iii) a small point, is that you can't actually get a full six months membership, as you have to cancel at least two days before the membership ends to avoid getting charged for a further period of membership. You can't just say that I don't want to renew, but I'll have the full six months that I have already paid for.

I've given it a 3 star rating because the software itself is very good and the Ancestry databases, although less intuitive to access than findmypast, are very comprehensive. I would have given it a 5 star rating if it wasn't for the dishonesty in the way that the membership is handled.
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VINE VOICEon 10 December 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This review refers to the Family Tree Maker 2012 World edition. My previous experience with Family Tree Maker was with the 2006 non world version. I was a bit reluctant initially to try and integrate my large family tree into this new version, but I needn't have worried it imported it seamlessly with no problems and even gave me additional information possibly relating to my ancestors. Like earlier versions of Family Tree I have not found the 2012 one particularly intuitive, but I am in the early stages of its use at the moment, so hopefully I will find things get easier as I go along. The Companion Guide by Tana L Pedersen included in the box set is very good - when you can find what you are looking for - no such book was included in the earlier versions so this is an added bonus. I have not tried either of the other two pieces of software included in the package 'Essentials Backup and Protect' or 'Essentials Create your own Website Version 2' so cannot comment on them. A word of caution though - as a current subscriber to the Platinum version on Ancestry.co.uk I had great difficulty in accessing the 6 month Worldwide Membership to Ancestry.com including in the software package. For some reason my free 6 months membership was added to my Platinum version and not the Worldwide one. I tried using Ancestry Help but the email I received in reply was absolutely useless. In the end I rang Ancestry.co.uk free phone helpline and a very helpful young lady spent about 10 minutes on the phone sorting the problem out. As a result I know have Ancestry Worldwide running until the end of December 2012 (this is because my current subscription had over six months left to run). I would recommend taking advantage of the 6 months Worldwide Membership if you have ancestors etc. outside the UK. However it is essential to cancel this subscription at least one month before the expiry date as you will be charged the full amount for the coming year. I was somewhat concerned to read of another reviewers bad experience when their computer went belly up and of their problems when trying to reinstall Ancestry and all their information, as I will soon be buying a new pc and trust that my back ups will be ok when I transfer all my data etc. to the new one.
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on 8 December 2012
I had been thinking about upgrading my FTM Version 16 for some time and decided that the sync facility with this edition would be a good time-saving feature. Well, the syncing did not work properly to begin with and quite a few bits seemed to have been missed out which was strange. Hopefully this has now sorted itself out and I can trust that all the tree is there. Be careful shutting the FTM down, I have 'lost' mine a couple of times so be sure you have information stored elsewhere!
The most annoying thing is the 6 months 'free' subscription to Ancestry. I registered the FTM and understood the six months would be added to my current Ancestry subscription as this is what appears to have happened to others. Well, it wasn't, I was just told I already had a subscription and there appeared to be nothing else to do. I have sent 4 e-mails to Ancestry but have not had a response, they have just taken a further 12 months from my bank account. Not good.
FTM 2012 itself seems to be ok and a definite improvement on FTM 16 (although I have kept this on my computer just in case . . . . ) and it is useful to have the book to help you find your way around.
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on 19 February 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I originally began collating my family tree a couple of years ago with an earlier version of this software. Whilst there had always been an intention to do that the software made it much, much easier and also more fun. However, I didn't continue beyond the initial six month subscription which was included in that package and although my tree was begun, it was far from being complete. To be fair that was not through a fault of the software, but the time that I was able to dedicate to it then.

Upgrading to this software was quite straightforward and I imported my old data easily plus there's been resurgence in my work and the family tree is seeing great improvements, and I am also working on my wife's ancestry now. I find that the newer version is better to use and has more facilities than the older one, and some of the little quirks have now been ironed out. There are also some new features which are being promoted such as the TreeSync which do make it easier to organise everything (you will build up a collection of documents, notes and hopefully pictures) and although they're not essential now that I've experienced them I wouldn't want to go back to my old software.

The big difference with the `World' package is that you can access records from other countries and not just the UK & Ireland. For anyone who has links abroad this is obviously invaluable, and although I wasn't aware of links like that in my own tree before using this facility, I did find one that I hadn't known of thanks to it.

In summary, I think this product range is the best ancestry software that you can choose. It isn't cheap but like most things you only get what you pay for and the facilities that it offers will more than make up for the additional cost compared to some cheaper products.
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VINE VOICEon 12 March 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have already reviewed the 2011 edition of this software and everything I said then still stands. It is a good tool to use for recording your family tree. However, you still need to put in the work and incur the expense of certificates and research tools to use it to its full potential.

You get six months membership to Ancestry.co.uk included with the package which ease the cost a bit although you may also want to try one of the other many similar services depending on your needs.

One thing I particularly like about Family Tree Maker is that you get a comprehensive printed manual.

I can recommend this package if you have never bought it previously. But should you upgrade from the 2011 edition. To be honest, I haven't really noticed a lot of difference in what I am using it for. Other people may differ so all I can say is look at the list of improvements on the product page and make up your mind whether it is worth the extra expense. At least this edition keeps the look and feel of the previous version so you don't have to relearn it all.

So yes, if this is your first foray into Family Tree making and are prepared to put in the time and expense, you can't beat this package. If you have the previous edition, you might find that upgrading is not really necessary.
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VINE VOICEon 20 January 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Family Tree Maker software is produced by Avenquest. The box contains 3 CDs:- Family Tree Maker (FTM) , Back up and protect your pc, and Create your own web site. The FTM is linked to Ancestry who provide subscription or credit access to online global historical records. The software comes with 6 months free access to Ancestry world wide membership (currently worth ~£112) Having used several previous versions of this software it is highly recommended for those starting out in family history research, it can be used on a very simple level, but also has the capacity to handle large amounts of complex information.

One relatively new feature is the ability to sync your offline FTM tree with and online version. If you already have a recent version of FTM then this new version does not seem to offer a lot over previous versions, but I believe upgrade packages are available which may make the cost worthwhile.

There is a 350 page guide to using the software, help functions within the programme and online help from Ancestry for subscribers.

The software installation prompts you to register which is usually irritating and not a feature I like however chances are you will want to access the Ancestry online records so this was ok.

You can then start with a new file and type in names/detsails e.g. mother or father, or you can import an existing file or download a file from the ancestry web site. If you choose the latter there is the option to link a tree to one uploaded to ancestry and keep them synchronised. This is helpful as you can then work on your tree off line. I found problems with FTM version 2011 which had to imported and exported to and from the online version, with photos and media items not always syncing properly, this seems much improved with this version, but could have been a fault with the web system and not FTM.

The software is split into areas: plan, people, places, media, sources, publish and web search.

Plan- here is an overview of your current tree and a list of any others you may have. As trees get large it can be useful to split them perhaps in two files paternal and maternal ancestors.

People- this is the most useful area, where your family tree can be viewed under tabs 'family' and 'person'. The family view has a list on the left handside of all the individuals in the tree in alphabetical order. In the top mid half of the screen there is a brief tree with 2 to 4 generations depending upon what is selected. In the bottom part of the screen is shown the spouse/partner and any children. On the right hand side of the screen is the information about the selected individual, e.g. DOB, marriage date. This section is customisable to show the info relevant to the person, and labels can be created if those relevant to your creed/religion are not included. This layout is pretty similar to the previous versions. (There are new functions/buttons show blended families with all children of both parents.)

This general 'People family' overview is not available (or I've not found it) in the online version, and I find this helpful when you have a family with a lot of children and want to navigate up and down the siblings and their dependents.

The second view under People is the person tab, which gives much more detailed information about the data recorded for an individual, with a place to write notes and add citations (references) to the data.

Places- here there are maps, and all those individuals who have a connection to that place are listed. This can be a really interesting tool to see how families move around. However this part of the software is not perfect. The place information which may be taken from say UK census records often does not match the ancestry record database which has a US bias. So West Ham, Essex, Greater London gets mapped to a no mans land just outside Lancaster? A degree of geography knowledge is helpful, and it must be kept in mind that county boundaries have changed during the last hundred years.

Media- where for example photos and uploaded copies of census documents can be reviewed, comments can be added and links made to other individual in the tree.

Sources- gives an overview of citation/references. This can be important as historical records are not precise and it can be useful to review the source of the information before deciding if new information relates to your relative or not.

Publish- is where charts and reports can be generated. This is essentially similar to the previews versions. There are 10 charts, and ~24 reports. One nice feature is the smart story. This pulls together photos and information about where a selected person was born, married, their children, writing the info in sentences rather than in a chart or list. Although the reports are comprehensive and there are a lot of things that can be customised, I've not found a way to build a report or chart completely from scratch the way I want it.

Web search- view which checks Ancestry one line records and provides a summary of your selected individual and possible matches. This section only gives access to limited data if you don't subscribe. A lot of info is available free however if you search for it. As subscriptions and copies of original BMD certs can be expensive its recommend finding all the free stuff before taking out a subscription. There is a useful task list where you can record details you're searching for, v useful as the tree gets big.

The package also comes with software Create your own web site, which has a wizard/template to set up a web page. This seemed pretty easy to use however I did not publish it was long term there were subscription costs involved.

The third piece of software was pc back up facility which was not evaluated.

All three programmes run on Windows XP, Vista or 7.
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on 1 July 2012
This software is worth the price for the subscription to Ancestry alone. I've previously been using FTM software circa 2005 and have found it a bit of a learning curve using FTM 2012. Maybe I'm a slow learner.

The more names you add to your tree the longer the programme takes at start up which is a bit of a pain. I like all the different charts and reports available to print. I haven't had any problems with it crashing. I like the ability to sync trees from my IPad, computer and online. I would recommend this software.
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on 24 February 2013
All looked good, a great idea to have info available off line except.....
It totally corrupts your data during its sync. 400 errors and their answer is for you to review everyone and change them individually!!!!
Terrible support and such a poor piece of software that can not even link with its own on line version.

Buggy - poor support - dont buy this
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