Modern Software Experience

2010-12-23

Family Tree Maker 2011

Three Torture Tests

Early this year I published two articles that introduced a few challenging GEDCOM files. Three Torture Tests briefly described the three simple but hard challenges, and Some GEDCOM Torture Tests Results provided the results of testing almost two dozen genealogy applications. I had used some of these files in reviews already, but had not tested so many applications before. I additionally made the files available from my Downloads page, so that vendors can try these torture tests for themselves.
Not one of the tested applications passed all tests, many failed all the tests. A few applications, including Family Tree Maker 2010, doubly failed all the tests. Family Tree Maker 2010 not only failed the test, but also failed to write legal GEDCOM files.

New Family Tree Maker's GEDCOM support is extremely poor.

Family Tree Maker GEDCOM

outencoding
NASCII 
NANSEL
NUTF-8
NUTF-16

New Family Tree Maker's GEDCOM support is extremely poor.
Even Family Tree Maker 2011, the fourth major version of New Family Tree Maker, is still unable to import a simple ANSEL GEDCOM file. To export your Family Tree Maker database to GEDCOM, you choose GEDCOM 5.5 (standard) from a pull-down menu, but the file that Family Tree Maker writes is far from standard. Actually, it is not standard at all.

The GEDCOM 5.5 standard specifies that GEDCOM files must be encoded in either ASCII, ANSEL, or UTF-16 (UNICODE). The GEDCOM 5.5.1 standard added UTF-8 as a possible encoding. The GEDCOM 5.5 standard also states that code pages may not be used, and additionally specifies that systems that use a code page internally should export to ANSEL.
Family Tree Maker 2011 still doesn't support ANSEL. The files that Family Tree Maker writes use Windows ANSI, code page 1252. That is illegal. The so-called ANSI GEDCOM files that Family Tree Maker creates aren't legal GEDCOM files. Technically, Family Tree Maker does not support GEDCOM output at all.
The only reason that Family Tree Maker 2010 did not triple fail the torture tests is that the torture tests ignore character encoding issues.

Family Tree Maker 2011

Some GEDCOM Torture Tests Results already included both Family Tree Maker 16 and Family Tree Maker 2010. Sadly, Family Tree Maker 2011 does not improve upon Family Tree Maker 2010.
Performing these tests for FTM remains a test of patience. Family Tree Maker is slow to start, imports slow and responds lethargically - if at all. Family Tree Maker often becomes and remains Not Responding for minutes on end, necessitating termination of FTM from within Windows Task Manager.

import speed

Import speeds for untypical files like these torture test files can differ significantly from more typical files, yet New Family Tree Maker continues to amaze me with its ridiculously slow import. For example, it claimed to use 95 seconds to import Children1200.ged. If FTM 2011 still systematically lies about the import time just like previous versions do, it is probably closer to 120 seconds. Either way, the import speed isn't much more than ten individuals per seconds - on a system with a 2.7 GHz quad-core CPU and 4 GB of RAM. That's a lethargic import speed.

memory usage

Memory usage is excessive too.  After importing Children1200.ged, FTM 2011 is already using more than 100 MB of RAM. After importing Married1200.ged, FTM is already using more than 200 MB of RAM. That is one MB for every six individuals in the file!

Family Tree Maker: Long26CC

Like the previous version, Family Tree Maker 2011 did import the Long26CC.ged file correctly. It is one of the few things FTM 2011 gets right. That is somewhat odd, considering that Family Tree Maker is far from the best genealogy application and quite a few other applications fail to load this file correctly, but that's how it is.

fatal GEDCOM export error

FTM 2011: GEDCOM Export failed unknown error

Ancestry.com has a small year to improve FTM, yet FTM 2011 actually performed worse than FTM 2010. When I tried to export the Married1200 database to a GEDCOM file, FTM initially seemed to be exporting just fine, but just before the progress bar reached the end, showed a messagebox to inform me that The export process failed because an unknown error occurred, and did not create a file.
The attempt to export the Children1200 database to GEDCOM failed the same way. The attempt to export theLong26CC and Long26LL databases failed too. Every attempt to export any database to GEDCOM 5.5 failed this way. I tried exporting to GEDCOM for FTM 16, but that failed too.

failure

This is a very serious general Family Tree Maker 2011 issue, but it is also a general Family Tree Maker issue, unrelated to its handling of the torture test files. I currently have no idea why Family Tree Maker 2011 failed to write the GEDCOM files, but I do know that it would be unsatisfying to fail specific torture tests on this general issue.

The failure to write the databases back to GEDCOM files naturally means that FTM 2011 failed all the tests. However, the knowledgeable and alert reader who skipped ahead to examine the table showing the test results may have noticed that it does not impact the test results. Even if FTM 2011 were to write perfect GEDCOM files, it would not matter. FTM 2011 failed all three torture tests before the export already.

another PC

FTM 2011: Export to GEDCOM 5.5

Still, it is odd and unsatisfying. So, I copied the databases from my Windows Vista PC to another PC running a recently installed Vista 64-bits. I already wrote about some experiences on Vista 64-bits in Family Tree Maker on Vista 64-bits.

Trying to run New Family Tree Maker on Vista 64-bits has its own problems. In fact, that article is about a major problem present in Family Tree Maker 2008 and not fixed in subsequent versions of New Family Tree Maker.  Still, on Vista 64-bits, Family Tree Maker 2011 did export the databases to GEDCOM files.

That doesn't mean that the export problem doesn't exist. It definitely is some Family Tree Maker issue, perhaps some unfortunate interaction with the .NET Framework or Vista's User Account Control (UAC), a Microsoft monstrosity which certainly isn't without defects. However, other applications read and write files just fine. Note that I tried all the tests with the very latest version of Family Tree Maker, version 20.0.0.376; the patch that updates FTM 2011 from 20.0.0.368 to 20.0.0.376 has been applied.

GEDCOM output

On the Vista 64-bit system, Family Tree Maker continues to crash on start-up until it is given Internet privileges. Once you give it those privileges, it reads and export the database just fine. Well, even on this 3 GHz quad-core with hyper-threading, Family Tree Maker takes it sweet time opening the Married1200 database. Once Family Tree Maker 2011 was running, the GEDCOM export for each of the four databases proceeded without problems. Family Tree Maker 2011 still writes invalid GEDCOM header, but other than that, the GEDCOM for the Married1200 and Children1200 database seem fine. The GEDCOM export for the Long26CC and Long26LL databases contains illegally long lines.

Torture Test Results for Family Tree Maker 2011 (20.0.0.376)

test fileresult
Married1200.gedRemains Not Responding after import. Import log is essentially empty. FTM uses more than 200 MB of RAM. Editing the database is practically impossible. Just a few clicks to try and navigate its views is enough to make FTM Not Responding again. FTM 2011 allows exporting back to GEDCOM, but fails with a fatal error before finishing the export. On another system, the GEDCOM export succeeds.
Children1200.gedImport is slow, but proceeds without problems. The log file is essentially empty. FTM uses more than 100 MB of RAM. Editing the database is practically impossible. Just a few clicks to try and navigate its views is enough to make FTM Not Responding again. FTM 2011 allows exporting back to GEDCOM, but fails with a fatal error before finishing the export. On another system, the GEDCOM export succeeds.
Long26CC.gedFTM imports the file without problems. The log file is essentially empty. It is possible to navigate and edit, and to verify that FTM imported this file correctly. FTM 2011 allows exporting back to GEDCOM, but fails with a fatal error before finishing the export. On another system, GEDCOM export succeeds, but the GEDCOM file contains illegally long lines.
Long26LL.gedFTM imports the file without problems. The import log does not contain errors or warnings for the long lines. FTM 2011 allows exporting back to GEDCOM, but fails with a fatal error before finishing the export. On another system, GEDCOM export succeeds, but the GEDCOM file contains illegally long lines.

torture test failure

Married1200 and Children12000

FTM 2011 failed the Married1200 and Children1200 test because it becomes impossible to use; FTM 2011 becomes Not Responding for long periods at the slightest provocation, say a click inside the Family Tree Maker main window.

Long26C

FTM2011 imported Long26CC correctly, but did not import Long26LL correctly; FTM 2011 failed to complain that the long lines in Long26LL.ged are illegal. Therefore, FTM 2011 failed the Long26CC test.
Like FTM 2010, FTM 2011 exports the Long26CC and Long26LL database using illegally long lines. Thus, FTM 2011 failed the Long26C test for that reason as well.

double failure


0 HEAD
1 SOUR FTM
2 VERS Family Tree Maker (20.0.0.376)
2 NAME Family Tree Maker for Windows
2 CORP Ancestry.com
3 ADDR 360 W 4800 N
4 CONT Provo, UT 84604
3 PHON (801) 705-7000
1 DEST GED55
1 DATE 24 DEC 2010
1 CHAR ANSI
1 FILE D:\Users\Tamura\Documents\Family Tree Maker\Children1200_2010-12-24.ged
1 SUBM @SUBM@
1 GEDC
2 VERS 5.5
2 FORM LINEAGE-LINKED

That Family Tree Maker includes a full file path in the header is unusual, probably not as intended by the GEDCOM specification, but the GEDCOM specification failed to declare it illegal. The addition of the export date as part of the file name is unusual too, but not illegal.
The use of the Windows ANSI character set is illegal too, but these tests ignore character encoding issues. The use of DEST GED55 is not according to the GEDCOM specification, it should read DEST FTM; the GEDCOM 5.5 output of Family Tree Maker generally includes FTM-specific extension, and the DEST tag should reflect that.

All versions of New Family Tree Maker, including FTM 2011, write GEDCOM headers with an illegally long VER tag. The GEDCOM specification allows a maximum length of 15 characters. That is not much, but it is plenty for a version number. Although the NAME tag already provides the full name of the product, Family Tree Maker still writes its full name in the version field, and uses double the maximum length to do so. An application that expects no more than 15 characters may crash. An application that examines the first 15 characters will not see the version number at all! I first wrote about this issue in mid 2007, when Ancestry.com released the FTM 2008 Beta. That is 3½ years ago. In all that time, Ancestry.com still hasn't bothered to fix the New Family Tree Maker GEDCOM header. It is a trivial fix, yet Ancestry.com does not bother. This highlights the major frustration of Family Tree Maker users: the Family Tree Maker development team does not listen to criticism, however valid that criticism is.

The invalid GEDCOM header is the reason the FTM 2010 did not just fail the torture tests, but doubly failed the torture tests. FTM 2011 does not improve on FTM 2010; FTM 2011 still writes invalid GEDCOM header, so it doubly fails all three torture tests as well.
That sounds bad, and it is bad, but the full facts are worse: if character encoding issues had been included in the test, FTM 2011 would have triple failed all three torture tests.

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