Modern Software Experience

2013-09-08

Family Tree Maker 2014 icon

New Family Tree Maker 6

1. Family Tree Maker version 22

Family Tree Maker 2014 is a marketing name. The 2014 in Family Tree Maker 2014 isn't its version number. Family Tree Maker 2014 does have a version number. Family Tree Maker 2014 About Box shows that it is Family Tree Maker version 22.0.

2. New Family Tree Maker

Family Tree Maker 2014 isn't the 22nd major release of the same application. There are three different applications that bear the same name. The original Family Tree Maker was an MS-DOS application. It was followed by Family Tree Maker for Windows. In 2007, Ancestry.com introduced Family Tree Maker 2008. Although Family Tree Maker 2008 is marketed as a Windows application, it really is a Microsoft .NET application. To distinguish between them, the older Family Tree Maker for Windows is known as Family Tree Maker Classic, and the Microsoft .NET application is known as New Family Tree Maker.

3. two years in the making

By Ancestry.com's reckoning, Family Tree Maker 2014 is the sixth major release of New Family Tree Maker. Ancestry.com has a marketing practice of increasing the major version number every year, regardless of whether the changes warrant that increase. If Ancestry.com had kept to that practice, Family Tree Maker 2014 would be the seventh major release of New Family Tree Maker. However, there is no product called Family Tree Maker 2013. Family Tree Maker 2014 is the successor to Family Tree Maker 2012, released two years ago.

Family Tree Maker 2012's major new feature, TreeSync, turned out to be a Beta quality feature. Users had already become more vocal in protesting the unwarranted yearly version number jump, and corresponding grab into their wallets. When, in 2012, it became time to slap another version number on and announce Family Tree Maker 2013, Ancestry.com had released many service packs already, but TreeSync was still buggy and Ancestry.com had practically no other new features or improvements to show. so Ancestry.com decided to forego the version number increase, and keep providing service packs for Family Tree Maker 2012.

which FTM edition?

It is easy to check whether the 32-bit or 64-bit edition is installed. On a 64-bit Windows system, the 64-bit edition of Family Tree Maker 2014 will be installed in a subdirectory of the Program Files directory, while the 32-bit edition will be installed in a subdirectory of the Program Files (x86) directory, just like the 32-bit Family Tree Maker 2012.

4. 64-bit edition

Family Tree Maker 2014 is the first version of New Family Tree Maker to come in a 64-bit edition. This is a 64-bit Microsoft .NET application, not a 64-bit Windows application, but you do need a 64-bit edition Windows to run 64-bit Microsoft .NET, so you do need a 64-bit edition Windows to run the 64-bit edition of Family Tree Maker.

You should install in the 64-bit edition if you can.
Family Tree Maker 2014: New Features explains this in some detail, but to quickly summarise; the 64-bit edition can take advantage of more RAM, and should therefore be less likely to crash.

You do not have to worry about installing the right edition. The Family Tree Maker 2014 installer will install the 64-bit edition if you have a 64-bit system. You just may have to first install or upgrade the 64-bit edition of Microsoft .NET to a more recent version, if you haven't done so already.

An interesting property of Microsoft .NET applications is that you can run different versions side by side. If you start both the 64-bit Family Tree Maker 2014 and the 32-bit Family Tree Maker 2012 side by side, without loading a file, Windows Task Manager shows them using roughly the same the amount of memory; both use about 100 MB. That's to be expected, because it is large the same code. On my system, FTM 2012 uses 97 MB while FTM 2014 uses 104 MB.

Family Tree Maker 2014: New 2014 Format Prompt

5. New database format

The Family Tree Maker 2014 database format differs a bit from the Family Tree Maker 2012 database format. Family Tree Maker 2014 must convert databases created with earlier versions to the FTM 2014 format, and Once converted, this file cannot be used with older version of Family Tree Maker.
The dialog box that pops-up to let you know your database must be converted contains a checkbox for making a backup copy, but that box is not checked by default. You may want to check it.

It is possible to convert your FTM 2014 database back to an earlier version; the File | Export dialog box offers export to GEDCOM, Family Tree Maker 2008/2009, Family Tree Maker 2010, Family Tree Maker 2011, and Family Tree Maker 2012.

6. GEDCOM Export still broken

New Family Tree Maker's GEDCOM export is still broken. When you choose GEDCOM from the Export dialog box, you get an Export to GEDCOM pop-up. It has a drop-down box that offers UTF-8 as the character encoding, yet it still defaults to using ANSI as the character set. That is not just the wrong default for a Unicode application like New Family Tree Maker, because it is practically sure to loose information, it is even an utterly invalid option; ANSI isn't a legal character encoding for GEDCOM.
Double disappointing is that even if you choose UTF-8 as the encoding, Family Tree Maker still claims to export to GEDCOM 5.5, while UTF-8 is only supported by GEDCOM 5.5.1 and later, and it uses GEDCOM 5.5.1 tags.

In the ostensible GEDCOM files that Family Tree Maker 2014 produces, the product version number is still broken too. It is still broken in just the same way as recently described in GEDCOM Version, and originally in An Early Look At FTM 2008 Beta. That was written in July of 2007, more than six years ago!
New Family Tree Maker still puts the version number within parentheses, and still puts the string Family Tree Maker in front of that, all for no apparent reason whatsoever, making the entire version string twice the maximum size.

That these simple to fix defects have remained unfixed for years is embarrassing to say the least.

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