Just three days from now. But just to clarify, the website Ancestry.com is not being discontinued just the Family Tree Maker genealogy program that is installed on a computer.
Users of Family Tree Maker (FTM) can continue to use the program. But certain features like Search Merge (adding records/sources from the Ancestry website) and Tree Sync (linking a tree in your FTM program to an online tree at the Ancestry website) will only be supported until January 1, 2017. After that date, those features may not be maintained. The FTM program will still run after January 1, 2017, but there is the chance/likelihood that a future operating system update might render the program inoperable.
Hopefully by now you have figured out if you need to purchase the Family Tree Maker 2014 program download before sales end on December 31, 2014. If you are wondering why you might need to buy FTM before sales end, see our A Genealogy Decision - Post 1. By the way, you need at least Windows 7 operating system to run FTM 2014.
Now for those that purchased Family Tree Maker 2014 when it was first released or at any point between then and now, first you need to make sure you know where your program CD is located just in case you have a computer problem or change to a different computer. (If you purchased a download version of the program, make sure you have a copy of that downloaded installation file stored on a CD or USB drive or external hard drive and not just on your computer's hard drive. Again, this is in case you need to re-install the program because of a computer problem or you get a new/different computer.)
Second, in addition to your program CD or downloaded installation file, most everyone will also need to download and keep in a safe place (along with the program CD/file), the manual update patch for FTM 2014. (This is the patch for the PC version of FTM 2014; there may be something similar for FTM for Mac.) This patch includes all of the "updates" that have happened to FTM 2014 since it was first released. Normally, when you install FTM 2014 you are notified that updates must be installed and these are done automatically after the program is installed. In some cases this auto install of updates fails so this manual update patch was created. It is a good idea to download this patch and keep it with your program CD or on the same device (USB drive/external drive/CD) as your downloaded install file. This way you have the patch that you need just in case the embedded auto install links fail to work in the future. You can find the manual patch file to download at Answer ID 5588 in the Support Center at the Ancestry.com website. (You might also want to print this Answer ID or make it into a PDF and store this with the program CD/file and update patch so you have the how-to steps in the future.)
Another informative Answer ID in the Ancestry.com Support Center is ID 9048 which is a listing of the Family Tree Maker 2014 Patch Notes from December 3, 2015 (SP7) back to November 24, 2014 (SP4) which tells you the adds/enhancements/improvements/fixes made with each update/patch.
As we mentioned in our A Genealogy Decision post 1, even if you continue to use Family Tree Maker 2014 for some time eventually you will likely need to find another genealogy program. With our A Genealogy Decision - Post 2 we covered the current holiday/retirement sales going on for some other genealogy programs. In our A Genealogy Decision - Post 3 we provided some general information and links to these other genealogy programs.
For additional information, you can also check out the following.
The Family Tree Maker Message Board at Ancestry.com
The message boards are part of the free area of Ancestry.com. (These also happen to be the same message boards at RootsWeb.ancestry.com too.) Under the Genealogy Software category there is the Family Tree Maker software message board. Here you will find a variety of posts related to FTM posted by users and often answered by users and sometimes Ancestry staff. These most often contain very useful information and tips. That's how we learned about the manual patch file we talked about above. Check out the running posts on What GEDCOM -Export Issues Do You have? and FTM2012 Users BEFORE FTM2012 Must Upgrade ASAP to FTM2014. Don't panic over the title of the second running post. The various messages in that running post gives some good information and tips with regards to media files in FTM files and how it is handled. There is also a board for Family Tree Maker software (MAC) too. Remember, Message Boards are different than the Support Center. With Message Boards you are mostly communicating with other users like you, with the Support Center you mostly are dealing with Ancestry staff.
Elsewhere out in the internet, there are various bloggers providing some good information and in some cases examples of what they are finding when trying to export their FTM files to another program. Here are a couple of those.
At GenealogyTools.com, Keith is doing a series of posts regarding preparing your Family Tree Maker files for moving to another genealogy program. The part 1 post warns that a GEDCOM export/import does not always go smoothly and then talks about the various GEDCOM tags and the use of a GEDCOM editor program. The part two post talks about how to get your tree out of Family Tree Maker. Additional parts of the series are listed at the bottom of part two and each talks about importing your tree into a specific genealogy program. So far there are 13 parts to The Replacing Family Tree Maker series planned but not all of these posts have been written yet! So check back for progress on the series.
At Family Tree Maker User blog, "cousin Russ" (he is Dear Myrtle's cousin not mine) still plans to use Family Tree Maker but he's keeping his eye on the other programs and issues with moving. The questions and issues talked about so far have been helpful.
There are additional blogs listed at the end of our A Genealogy Decision - Post 3.
See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!