Modern Software Experience

2011-05-22

MyImport licensed from the competition

Family Tree Builder 5.1

MyHeritage did not announce it, but they just released Family Tree Builder 5.1. Well, Family Tree Builder 5.1.0.5131 to be precise, but it was the increase of the version number from 5.0 to 5.1 that made me curious.

download and installation

Initially, download and installation of Family Tree Builder 5.1 did not seem to differ much from download Family Tree Builder 5.0. I have discussed the download and installation issues of Family Tree Builder 5.0 in detail, and did not pay much attention it, but could not help but notice that the installation wizard no longer allows you to uncheck the Run MyHeritage Family Tree Builder 5.1 option shown on its last dialog box.

Family Tree Builder 5.1: Downloading additional components

There is another difference. After starting Family Tree Builder 5.1 for the first time, it immediately decided to download additional components.
The MyHeritage.log file produced by Family Tree Builder itself states that it downloaded family_tree_builder_5131_aux.zip. It is this file that contains, among other things, the files that are at the heart of its latest feature; direct import from several competing applications. All the files in this auxiliary ZIP file seem to be standard components of Family Tree Builder 5.1, that could just have well been included in the installation package itself.

what's new

Family Tree Builder 5.1 has a handy What's new in Version 5.1 menu item on the help menu, but I noticed a difference right away.

Family Tree Builder 5.0 and 5.1 QuickStart

When you start Family Tree Builder, it greets you with its Quick Start Wizard. There is small but significant difference between the Family Tree Builder version 5.0 and version 5.1 Quick Start Wizard. Both offer four options, but they are not exactly the same. While the Family Tree Builder version 5.0 Quick Start Wizard offers to Import GEDCOM file, the Family Tree Builder version 5.1 Quick Start Wizard offers to Import GEDCOM or Genealogy file and the next dialog mentions some of the database formats that Family Tree Builder 5.1 will import from.
, Apparently, MyHeritage added a direct import feature in version 5.1.

5.1 update information

Family Tree Builder 5.1: What is new in FTB 5.1

The What's new in Version 5.1 menu item does not confirm that, at least not yet. Family Tree Builder lacks a Windows help file. The menu item opens a page on the MyHeritage site. Alas, that page has not been updated with information on Family Tree Builder 5.1 yet. The most recent information it provides is for version 5.0, and it helpfully notes that the last update to that page happened on 2010 November 1.

User's Guide

There is no Windows help file, but there is a User's Guide in Adobe PDF format. It is not included in the Family Tree Builder installation, you need to choose User's Guide from the help menu, and then Family Tree Builder will download it from the MyHeritage site - if you have an Internet connection when you try that. It would be so much more practical for MyHeritage to include the User's Guide with the installation.
When the download was done, and the file opened in Adobe Reader, it turned out to be the Family Tree Builder 5.0 User's Guide. The version 5.0 User's Guide mentions GEDCOM, it does mention direct import.

released early

The Family Tree Builder version 5.1 software seems to have been released a bit early. The version 5.1 software is available for download, but the Family Tree Builder 5.1 User's Guide is not. Even the page describing what's new in version 5.1 isn't available yet.

For whatever reason, MyHeritage got ahead of itself. That is less than ideal for end users, but it does allow me to bring you the scoop on the 5.1 features even before MyHeritage does. As already noted, the dot-one news seems to be direct import.

direct import

Family Tree Builder 5.1: QuickStart Import dialog

When you choose to Import GEDCOM or Genealogy file, the next dialog box allows you to either browse to the file you want to import or scan your system for genealogy files.
That may be handy option to have, but will take some time of you have many files to scan through. If you know where the database you want to import is, open it by browsing to it.

The Import Genealogy File dialog box mentions that it will import from Family Tree Legends, Family Tree Maker, Personal Ancestral File, Legacy and others. Presumably, the version 5.1 User's Guide will provide a complete list of the database formats that Family Tree Builder 5.1 can import from.

Family Tree Legends

Family Tree Maker, Personal Ancestral File and Legacy Family Tree are popular genealogy applications.
Family Tree Legends used to be a popular genealogy application.
Family Tree Legends was a commercial product of Pearl Street Software, one that its users were already abandoning because Pearl Street had stopped supporting its users, when Pearl Street was put up for sale in 2006.
In August of 2007, MyHeritage announced that they had bought Pearl Street in December of 2006. When they bought Pearl Street, MyHeritage made the latest version of Family Tree Legends a free download but also stopped developing it any further. Family Tree Legends 5.0 remains the latest version.

MyHeritage wants Family Tree Legends users to switch to Family Tree Builder. MyHeritage integrated Pearl Street's SmartMatching into Family Tree Builder and the MyHeritage site, initially with less than impressive results.
MyHeritage Family Tree Builder version 2.0, released in 2007, was not only the first version to offer Pearl Street's SmartMatching, it also offered direct import of Family Tree Legends databases. So, direct import from another application has been around since version 2.0.
However, that other application is one owned by MyHeritage itself. Direct import from third-party applications is a new feature.

supported formats

Family Tree Builder 5.1: import from

There may not be a User's Guide for version 5.1 yet, but it is not hard to figure out just which genealogy databases Family Tree Builder 5.1 will import from. The File Open dialog box makes it clear that Family Tree Builder 5.1 will import genealogy data from the following formats:

That short list includes some of the most popular genealogy applications, but it certainly does not support all popular applications. RootsMagic, Genbox and Brother's Keeper are just a few of the many genealogy applications that are not supported.

GenBridge

database formatTMG 8.0FTB 5.1
Family Tree Builder package (*.ZIP)NY
Family Tree Legends (*.FTL)NY
GEDCOM (*.GED)YY
The Master Genealogist file (*.TMG, *.VER, *.PJC)YY
Family Tree Maker Classic (*.FTW, *.FBK)YY
New Family Tree Maker (*.FTM, *.FTMB)YY
Personal Ancestral File (*.PAF)YY
Legacy Family Tree (*.FDB, *.ZIP)YY
Family Gathering (*.PRO, *.SQZ)YN
Family Origins (*.FOW, *.ZIP)YN
Generations (*.UDS)YN
Roots IV & V (*.PRO, *.SQZ)YN
Ultimate Family Tree (*.PRO, *.SQZ)YN
Visual Roots (*.PRO, *.SQZ)YN

You may also notice that this short list of major genealogy genealogy applications looks familiar. Particularly note that FTB lacks support for direct import from the very popular RootsMagic, yet offers direct import from the less popular TMG. The explanation for this superficially less than logical choice is quite simple; the short list of major applications that Family Tree Builder 5.1 will import from is the list of all current major genealogy applications supported by Wholly Genes's GenBridge import module.
It is not the complete list of database formats supported by GenBridge. GenBridge additionally supports the database formats of several not-so current genealogy applications. The table provides a quick overview of the genealogy database formats supported by Family Tree Builder 5.1 (FTB 5.1) and The Master Genealogist 8.0 Beta (TMG 8.0).

Apparently, MyHeritage decided to license GenBridge from Wholly Genes to add direct import from a few popular genealogy application to Family Tree Builder, and did not care much for the older formats supported by GenBridge.
That MyHeritage does not care much for the historical formats is both understandable and odd. It is understandable that MyHeritage does not want to deal with and support too many legacy formats. On the other hand, users stuck using legacy applications are much likely to consider switch to Family Tree Builder than those using current applications. Moreover, now that it is known that MyHeritage uses GenBridge and could easily have supported the additional formats, a few prospective users are likely to complain about the deliberately omission…

GenBridge or not?

But I am getting ahead of things. The noteworthy support for TMG and the lack of support for RootsMagic sure make it seem that Family Tree Builder 5.1 is using GenBridge, but is it?
The tell-tale sign is the presence of gbfunc.dll, a file name that's an abbreviation of GenBridge functions. That file is present in The Master Genealogist and Family Tree Maker application directories, but not present in Family Tree Builder's application directory. So, the list of supported database formats suggests that Family Tree Builder 5.1 is using GenBridge for its direct import feature, yet the key file, gbfunc.dll, is not present in the application directory.

A quick search through some of the usual suspects turns up gbfunc.dll in C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\MyHeritage\Bin\Convert. That same directory contains ConverterFDB.exe, which is probably the application that does the actual conversion on behalf of the Family Tree Builder application. I don't think the converter application and GenBridge DLL should be in the AppDatadirectory, I think they belong in Family Tree Builder's application directory, but that isn't the issue right now.
The presence of the gbfunc.dll file confirms that Family Tree Builder 5.1 is using GenBridge.

updates

2011-06-01 MyHeritage

The MyHeritage blog has finally announced Family Tree Builder 5.1.
The What's New page has been updated. The User Guide has not been updated yet.

links