Category Archives: Technology

The Future of Family Tree Maker

Family Tree Maker at NGS 2016

Family Tree Maker at NGS 2016

The genealogical community was certainly rattled when Ancestry announced the imminent retirement of Family Tree Maker (FTM) in December 2015.  Many people breathed a sigh of relief two months later when Ancestry shared:

Software MacKiev, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, is acquiring the Family Tree Maker software line as publisher for both Mac and Windows versions. Software MacKiev has been the developer of Family Tree Maker for Mac for more than six years and is thrilled at the opportunity to publish future versions of Family Tree Maker for Mac and Windows.

So then, what exactly IS the future of Family Tree Maker?  I had the opportunity to explore this with Judy Wright, a volunteer and beta tester manning the Family Tree Maker booth at NGS, and asked her how Software MacKiev will ensure that the program remains solid for serious genealogists.  Will they consider the needs of the genealogy community as the add (or, gasp, remove) features?

Software MacKiev, according to Ms. Wright, has taken their acquisition seriously.

    • They are already investing in the future of FTM, and have doubled their design/programming team.
    • Beta-testing for FTM’s Window’s application is underway.  Ms. Wright is one of eight beta-testers, and related that the designers really consider the feedback the beta-testers provide.  She encourages those that wish to participate in future beta-testing to sign up on the FTM site.
    • Visibility is important to them, as well as the ability of getting feedback from users.  Their booth at NGS is part of that visibility.
    • Users of FTM are also encouraged to visit the Family Tree Maker FaceBook page where feedback, questions and comments may be voiced.  Not only will developers see your comments, but the page is also monitored by Software MacKiev’s president, Jack Minsky, who has been at the helm of the company for the last 21 years.

It appears that Sofrtware MacKiev is committing the resources to ensure Family Tree Maker remains a solid genealogy application for current and future genealogists for years to come.


eBay, an overlooked resource for finding rare books and other stuff

Recently I was chatting with some members of my genealogical society, and I was surprised that not everyone thought of using eBay to locate items of genealogical value.  Not only do I sometimes find books there, but my mom once purchased early 19th century letters written by our Stanwood relatives of yesteryear.

This morning, however, I awoke to an email alerting me to a new item added for a saved or “followed” search.  This is handy when the item you are looking for isn’t on eBay, but you want to receive notification if someone posts it online for sale or for bidding.  Such is the case with this rare book I wanted – The History and Genealogy of Chester, Maine (which I snagged after receiving this email notification this morning!)

Email notification

Email notification

I also used saved searches for geographic areas.  For example, I’m interested in just about anything pertaining to Ipswich, Massachusetts, where John Day resided.  So I do not have to search manually when sellers add items, I have set this as a followed search.  To do this, simply click the “Follow this search” link that is show to the right of your search criteria:

Click the Follow Search to receive notifications when new items that match search criteria are added

Click the Follow Search to receive notifications when new items that match search criteria are added

So what items have YOU found on eBay lately?


The new and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinars

New and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinar page

New and improved Legacy Family Tree Webinar page

Legacy Family Tree recently announced major changes to their web page, and the ability to listen to webinars on smartphones and mobile devices.  Whoo hoo!  With a 2 1/2 hour round trip commute daily, I immediately thought of the possibility of playing broadcasts while driving.  This morning I gave it a test run, listening to Warren Bittner’s excellent session titled, “Complex Evidence – What is It? How Does it Work? And Why Does it Matter?”

I was worried that my iPhone would lose connection and that the webinar would be challenging to listen to.  While there were occasional pauses while listening from my phone, they were exceptionally brief and were barely noticeable.  I’m thrilled that this ability is now offered, as I do most of my podcast and gene-learning in the car these days.  It’s now worth having an annual subscription, as previously I found I just didn’t have the time to listen when at home.  (Subscriptions are a great deal at only $49.95 per year, allowing complete access to the entire webinar archive, and yup, I’ve already resubscribed!)

Just as cool, their new website got a huge face-lift and is really user friendly.  It’s easy to find what you want to listen to.  I’m looking forward to a lot more learning!


Books and more books: using Trello to track them

trello book board

Trello can be used track stuff, like your genealogy (or other) books

Have you ever found yourself at a genealogy conference wondering if you already own a book?  Ever gone a step further and purchased a title you already have on your shelf?  Argh – I have!  And I’ve been looking for a free method to manage my bookshelves so I don’t ever do it again.  Trello seems to meet this need.  (You can click here to view my actual Trello board see what’s in my personal genealogical library – at least what’s been loaded so far.  Note: this board was set to “public,” but in most instances you will set your boards to private unless you wish to share with others.)

It didn’t take long to upload these books.  My workflow: Continue reading


Take 1! Take 2! Take 3! Sources….again!!!!

movie-clapper-board-take-one

Take one!  Take two!  Take three!

Yup, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Uh huh, “The third time’s a charm!”  But…..I am hoping it doesn’t take me three times to get my sources correct.

In my last post I shared my transition over to Leister Pro’s Reunion software for the Mac.  Continue reading


My genealogy do-over: switching from RootsMagic to Reunion for Mac

Reunion Family View

Reunion Family View

UPDATE 7 MAY 2016

After spending the better part of a year working with Reunion, I’ve decided to make yet another switch.  I’ve concluded Reunion is quite limiting for my work flow; I need both the visual ability to see my file in a tree view as well as the spreadsheet view that I loved in RootsMagic.  That is, I love RootsMagic’s columns in which one can easily see at a glance whether there are sources, notes and media attached to each event.  In addition, I felt like I was forever clicking away to get to the correct screen in Reunion, and there was no way to see shared events with a spouse in Reunion on the individual’s page.  I’ve been dabbling around with Family Tree Maker the last couple of weeks, and after discussing the future of the program with their representative at NGS (see blog post here), I’ve decided to make the switch to FTM.  So far I’m loving the application.


At the risk of being called a genealogical heretic, I’ve come to the resounding conclusion that my genealogy software program is just that – a program that manages data and relationships in my family tree. It does not matter which program I use – just that it works in my workflow.

Hello? Are you still there? If you haven’t closed your browser’s window on me yet, here’s my rationale: whether I use Legacy, RootsMagic, Reunion or another program, the real work is done elsewhere – in Excel spreadsheets and Word documents.

While I have been one of RootsMagic’s biggest fans (and remain a huge advocate for the program), I’ve been debating a switch to Reunion since becoming a Mac user in 2013. Continue reading


Curio – the genealogist’s tool for organizing Evernote notes, Word and Excel files & more

Curio's Evernote tab let's you sort your Evernote notes by folder and tag so you can easily find the one you wish to import.

Curio’s Evernote tab let’s you sort your Evernote notes by folder and tag so you can easily find the one you wish to import.

Stuff. Yup, genealogists collect a lot of stuff. We save stuff from the web, stuff we’ve been emailed, and yes, stuff we’ve created.

Lots of my stuff is saved in Evernote. Lots of it is in Microsoft Word. Some of it is in Excel. (I live by my spreadsheets!) Of course, there’s stuff saved from online books, databases, microfilm images, digital maps, mind maps, charts, and graphs and…well…you get the picture. There’s S-T-U-F-F all over my hard drive.

Usually this isn’t problematic, but sometimes I forget what stuff I’ve already collected. Despite my best efforts at keeping notes and research logs, if something is out of sight, it’s out of mind.

That’s why I LOVE Zengobi’s Curio!!! It’s became my favorite Go To app – it’s a must-have, can’t-live-without app that lets me take all that stuff and organize it how I see fit. Best yet, it interfaces with Evernote, allowing me to drag my Evernote notes into folders or blank “idea spaces,” which are blank pages that can be utilized to save images or other information. (Unfortunately, the interface is only one way – you can save and view the Evernote page, but cannot update Evernote from within Curio.)

Mostly I’m using Curio to organize info. I am in the middle of tracing my Tibbetts family, a line which I’ve just begun researching.   Curio let’s me take all that info and organize it in folders or sections. So, when I find information from a book, I can either save it directly into Curio using it as a note, I can save the image on my hard drive and drag it into a Curio folder, or I can save the info into Evernote and place it in Curio….the options are quite varied. The bottom line is I can save the info however I like, in a format that makes the most sense for me. Continue reading


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