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Customer Review

62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best yet - but you're not buying the software!, 18 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Family Tree Maker 2012 Platinum Edition (PC) (CD-ROM)
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The first thing to note with this product is that you are not actually buying the software. Family Tree Maker is actually a software package from Avanquest Software which is available in a number of guises. This version is bundled with an Ancestry.co.uk subsription, and it is that that you are actually paying for, not the software.

If you want just the software (albeit the previous 2011, or possibly 2010, version - which Avanquest call Version 4), it is far far cheaper to buy it branded as Who Do You Think You Are? Family Tree Maker. At the time of writing that is less that six pounds on Amazon.

That said, this new version of the software has some must have features that were not present in the previous versions, and this new version doesn't appear to be available without the Ancestry branding and bundle (not suprising really as the software has become more integrated with the Ancestry websites).

The most impressive and useful new feature in this version is 'Tree Sync'. Previously you could download and upload copies of your tree from and to the Ancestry websites, but this was a prett clunky operation. Now the software allows you to link an offline and online tree and it automatically keeps the two in sync. The features seems to work really well.

Tree Sync is even more useful if you have an iPad as it means that you can use the free Ancestry.co.uk iPad app to make tweaks to your tree, and your offline copy in FTM will be updated next time you open it and have a live internet connection.

The iPad app is really rather good now, but can be prone to crashes - though that''s not what's being reviewed here.

FTM is very powerful, but does seem pretty resource hungry for what it is.

It's not perfect. It is very easy to get yourself in quite a bit of a mess with duplicate people, children attached to wrong parents or anly attached to one of the correct parents. Sometimes these can be a bit of a chore to resolve, but it's not impossible and it's worth trying to keep on top of these kind of errors with a bit of housekeeping as you go. That way you don't end up with a big tree with lots of erros to sort out (like I did).

The 'wobbly leaves' feature which indicates that Ancestry thinks it has found

As it seems you are actually paying for the subscription rather than the software (the only difference between the different editions of the soaftware is the price and the level and length of Ancestry subscription bundled!) it's worth mentioning how effective that is as well.

Depending on the scope of your subscription (this version gives you access to a stack of UK records but there are subscriptions with access to 'worldwide' - read American! - records as well) you can get some pretty odd results being thrown up. The software makes an attempt to work out the accuracy of the name and other details that it matches with people in your tree and it often seems pretty close. It's up to you to decide whether the found records are actually the people that you are looking for, but your confidence in the system can really be dented when it throws up people who's name, date of birth and location have nothing to do with the person you are reasearching!

Thankfully these wildly inaccurate results are infrequent and given a good set of starting information (you really need to have family info going back to the early 1900s to get useful matches to start your research) you'll soon gain confidence in picking the correct results and building up your family history. So far I've managed to get two entirly seperate trees back to the late 1700s... to put that in context, I've found my family memebers who were alive when Napoleon was battling his way victoriously accross Europe (until he got to his Waterloo).

I've been using this software since the 2010 version, and have used a number of other online packages (including self install systems) and this is probably the most powerful. As it's now so integrated with the Ancestry website (which is actually a bit easier to use than this!) it has become even more powerful, but you do feel more tied in. You can use other sources of information such as FreeBMD, but rather cheekily you need an Ancestry subscription to be able to use the import feature of FTM to import this free information! (At least, that was the case with the 2011 version, let me know in the comments if that's been fixed in this version).

My previous annoyance with this software is still there. You need to supply your credt card information in order to activate you 'free' subscription. That's the subscription you've actually paid for in buying the software bundle. Your credit card details are taken so that Ancestry can debit your card to continue your subscription at the end of the included subscription - so you need to remember to cancel the renewal before they take that payment. It's easy enough to do via the Ancestry website, but this is a very cheeky approach in my opinion. When you have actually paid for a subscription bundled with the package, they should not be taking your credit card details to activaye what you've already paid for.

They are also a bit cheeky when they tell you what the bundled subscription is worth. It IS cheaper to buy this software with the subscription bundled, but the value they quote is the cost of teh equivalent subscription when bought as a 'pay monthly' subscription rather than an up front payment for the six months. By buying the software package you have paid for 6 months up front, so the price comparison is not like for like. Only the software industry seems able to get away with claims like this.

If you just want good family tree software, this is not the package to go for. But if you want a subscription to probably the best source of historical family information around at the moment with a bit of software that makes great integrated use of that then this reallt is very good.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Feb 2012 10:37:28 GMT
Morgy says:
thankyou for your interesting report Ifound it really helpful. Moraig
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