I wish very much that the names of Family Tree DNA and Family Tree Maker weren’t so similar, because it has created a lot of confusion over the years and that confusion has intensified this past week with Ancestry.com’s announcement that they are discontinuing support of their genealogy software package, Family Tree Maker.
Let’s clear up that confusion right now.
- Family Tree Maker is a genealogy software package to track your genealogy information and it is owned by Ancestry.com.
- Ancestry.com also offers a DNA testing product called AncestryDNA that tests your autosomal DNA and provides you with a list of DNA matches.
- Ancestry.com’s DNA product offering, AncestryDNA, and their genealogy software program, Family Tree Maker, are in no way connected to each other. They don’t share any functionality and their only commonality is that Ancestry owns them both.
- Family Tree DNA is a DNA testing company that does NOT provide genealogy software and DOES provide an extensive array of DNA testing products and tools, such as autosomal DNA through their Family Finder product, similar to the AncestryDNA product. Family Tree DNA also provides additional DNA testing such as Y and Mitochondrial DNA, which Ancestry.com does not offer. Family Tree DNA’s only products are DNA tests.
- There is no connection whatsoever between Family Tree DNA and Family Tree Maker.
- There is no connection whatsoever between Family Tree DNA and Ancestry.com.
Ancestry Retires Family Tree Maker Software
On December 5, 2015, Ancestry.com announced that it would no longer be selling their genealogy program, Family Tree Maker and will be retiring the product. You can read their announcement here.
This has absolutely NOTHING to do with Ancestry’s DNA testing product, AncestryDNA and nothing whatsoever to do with Family Tree DNA, an entirely different company.
- If you are an AncestryDNA customer, you are entirely unaffected by this announcement.
- If you are a Family Tree DNA customer, you are entirely unaffected by this announcement.
- If you are a Family Tree Maker genealogy software user, you’ll be needing to find a new genealogy program in the next year or so. Ancestry will be supporting the current Family Tree Maker software through January 1, 2017 and it will likely continue to function after that, at least until you purchase a new computer or update your operating system software – but you’ll be on your own at that point. I would not recommend using the software beyond when Ancestry terminates support. So, you have time – a full year. There is no reason to panic.
Selecting New Genealogy Software
You can easily convert to a new genealogy package by exporting a GEDCOM file from Family Tree Maker into your new software package of choice.
There has been a lot of online discussion about the pros and cons of various software packages for both the PC and MAC platforms since Ancestry’s announcement.
Judy Russell covered the topic here and Shannon Christmas covered it here.
Here’s a wiki page of genealogy software programs, but I found it a bit overwhelming. Here’s another review site by feature.
On the ISOGG Facebook group, we’ve been discussing this very topic as well. To distill this conversation for you, I would suggest considering either Legacy or RootsMagic software if you are a PC user and either Rootsmagic or Reunion if you are a MAC user.
My understanding is that all of these programs support Y and mitochondrial DNA information in some fashion, although I’m sure exactly how varies by program. Personally, I just record the haplogroup as a “second middle name” so I can see the haplogroup lineage on pedigree charts. So while DNA support is important, there are multiple ways to achieve this and I don’t think it’s a make-it or break-it criteria when choosing your new software. My biggest concern is that all of my images and notes transfer, regardless of size/length.
The good news is that most of the genealogy software packages are taking advantage of Ancestry’s retirement of Family Tree Maker with sales to entice you and even step by step instructions and videos of how to convert and use their software.
So, take a deep breath. Family Tree DNA is totally unaffected by this. DNA results at either company are entirely unaffected by this. And if you are a Family Tree Maker user, you have plenty of time to evaluate alternatives and make your decision.
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