Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Update: Family Tree Maker 2017's Release

It has been quite a while since we updated everyone on the status of Family Tree Maker 2017 so here goes with what we know ...

Software MacKiev is about to release TestDrive 2.0 at which time the pre-order discount upgrade pricing of Family Tree Maker 2017 comes to an end, likely this weekend. So if you have not pre-ordered your FTM 2017 upgrade for $29.95 (download version) then you might want to do so very soon before the upgrade price goes up.

If you have not been receiving emails from Software MacKiev, make sure you are on the Family Tree Maker mailing list. The mailing list is where you will get you link to the upgrade pricing (though see above) and the current news from Software MacKiev. If you are signed up but not getting the email, check your spam folder just in case the messages are ending up there. (They do not send a lot of emails so don't worry about that aspect.)

What is TestDrive 2.0? No, it is not a special version of the FTM 2017 program nor is it their Beta Test program. TestDrive is a way of releasing the program (the current build) slowly with some "training wheels" as they referred to it once. TestDrive participants receive the FTM 2017 download, use the program and after two days a diagnostic test is done and the participant answers some questions about the experience. If the participant wants to continue using FTM 2017 he/she downloads and runs a reset program to use FTM 2017 for another two days and repeats the reset process as often as he/she wants to continue using FTM 2017. Software MacKiev thought it might release a new build during TestDrive 1.0 but has not had to do so. TestDrive 2.0 will be a new build based on participants experiences with TestDrive 1.0 and those in the Beta Testing program.

It has been a long road since March 31 the initial expected release date of Family Tree Maker 2017. At that time, the interactive features of earlier versions of Family Tree Maker were shut off by which meant no web merging, hints, and tree syncing among other things. Yes, this frustrated users but this had to be done because of changes Ancestry was making to its interface and to truly test some aspects of the new syncing experience with FTM 2017.

What was found at the time was syncing issues for those with very large trees and that there might be problems with when large numbers of users try to sync at the same time. Thus the delay in the official release of Family Tree Maker 2017.

Software MacKiev has been working non-stop tweaking its program coding so that everyone no matter the size of the tree will be able to sync with Ancestry online trees without problems. This tweaking involved more than just Software MacKiev. also had to make adjustments to its website environment.

Because of the delay, Ancestry turned the interactive hints, search and web merge back on so FTM 2014.1 and earlier version users of could continue to work on their trees. TreeSync was not turned back on. A couple weeks ago syncing for all versions of 2017 (TestDrive and Beta) had to be shut off to fix an issue that had developed. Syncing is now back on for beta testers. For TestDrive participants, syncing will likely resume by Monday with implementation of TestDrive 2.0 release.

Because FTM 2014.1 and earlier versions have not had the capability to sync trees between online and FTM, at the end of May Ancestry temporarily revived uploading and downloading of online trees with media for just the FTM 2014.1 and Mac 3.1 versions. What this did was give the user the capability to download or upload a backup of the tree(s) the user has been working on since March 31. This is not a sync nor just a GEDCOM. Read the May 25 update on the Release of FTM 2017 MacKiev Family Tree Maker Support page that more fully explains how this feature could help.

Eventually this summer all the interactive features for FTM 2014.1 and earlier versions (including Mac 3.1 and earlier) will be shut off again.

Obviously this process has taken time and required the patience of all involved -- the developers, the website people and most of all the Family Tree Maker users. Some users have been understanding of the situation and give Software MacKiev credit for not releasing a program that would not work for all right out of the box. But as you expect, there are others that are not understanding.

Just remember, the first company to tackle the new syncing system is the one that takes the most hits as some of the problems they solve the next guys won't have to deal with. Give them a break. Without Software MacKiev, Family Tree Maker would not exist anymore.

We hope as we suggested in our earlier posts (click on the Family Tree Maker label so see those), that you are checking the Family Tree Maker User Group FaceBook page and the Family Tree Maker Support page at Software MacKiev's website for official information from Software MacKiev.

Unlike Beta Testers who are under a strict no tell policy, TestDrive participants can say a tiny bit but not much. We have a TestDrive 1.0 participant who is an MCGG member and can report that "the overall look of FTM 2017 is the same as FTM 2014 and FTM 2014.1 versions so do not worry about having to get used to a 'new look.' The new color coding in FTM 2017 is discrete compared to other genealogy programs using it. The newly implemented 'weather report' on tree syncing status is a helpful feature. So if problems are noted with the sync system you can hold off and sync at a later time when 'the weather is better.' Have not had any syncing issues but the tree being used is a smaller one. As far as web search/merge with Ancestry, FTM 2017 is only using basic search not advanced but not sure if that is intended or oversight. We'll see what TestDrive 2.0 brings."

Again, remember to pay more attention to "official voices" and not the complaining if you want to learn the status of the release.

And with any genealogy program you are using, backup often and save those backups elsewhere not just on your hard drive. 

See you soon at Mt. Clemens Public Library!

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