In what was a surprising email to subscribers, Ancestry.com announced today that it will no longer be selling Family Tree Maker software after December 31, and will no longer offer any support or functionality to its TreeLink after 2017.
Everyone I know who uses FTM in tandem with the online Ancestry site is angry and upset. I am, too. What will we do with our computer-based trees?
Most folks prefer to have a copy of their family tree on their own computer, not just “in the cloud.” Plus, when you are going to do research somewhere that has no wifi or internet access, you need a printout — something the Ancestry online site just can’t do in any helpful way.
Ancestry.com has been moving in this online-only direction for awhile: Full-on “business model.” Run by people who don’t seem to do genealogy, and aren’t familiar with people who do, and don’t seem to know what those who use the website, are asking for from the website. (See the 6,500 and counting comments on the blog, and the reaction to the New Ancestry.com version of the site.)
I’m not saying this just because I’m disappointed (I am!) .. but because that’s how Ancestry.com described it to us in their email and blog post. The market for genealogy software is “declining” and it takes a lot of resources to keep up the software and handle problems. And they’ve added wonderful things to the online site.
From the point of view of those of us who have been advocates for Ancestry up til now, Ancestry stood as the best organization to be the “Last Man Standing” as far as desktop ancestry software goes .. to “own” that market.
But I’ve come to understand that that would require a commitment to genealogy and individual family historians, and not just to the bottom line. The online service, in a genius approach, takes the material individuals put online, and uses software to make it into the product they sell.
That simply isn’t the case with the desktop software. If you don’t link and update to the online tree … the information, documents, photos — and their connections — on your computer, don’t become part of the Ancestry product. And software has to be updated, re-written when the site changes, updated with new features. That costs money.
You’d have to want to keep the software, just for the love of genealogy and genealogy researchers. Not to make a bigger profit.
That Ancestry.com disappeared somewhere in the various sales of the company, or parts of it, in the last few years.
RIP Family Tree Maker.