Thanks, ancestry.com!

Published September 23, 2012 by Steve Watts #

Until fairly recently (within the past several years), we were fairly skeptical of tools like ancestry.com, and opted for desktop Family History tools. We may have experimented with it before a bit, but Julie joined in early 2007, and she’s since built one of those mega-trees I was talking about in a prior post. She’s done her best to make her trees models of good practice, with lots of stories, photos, documentation, and alternative explanations where necessary. The resources available here - repositories of records, hints systems, collaboration tools, etc. - have been invaluable and have made the experience of documenting our family history more than rewarding (read addictive perhaps). There are many, many other fine sources of information and tools that add to the experience, and we try to use them all while ancestry.com remains at the core. Fairly recently, we’ve been suffering from one limitation that started to concern me as the administrator charged with resolving technical issues. There wasn’t really a good way to copy/synchronize a tree elsewhere. We were using FTM 2009 which basically relied on GEDCOMs for moving things around. We found out as I was investigating that starting with FTM 2010 you could at least copy your tree to your desktop. We are pretty excited about a feature in FTM 2012 called TreeSync, which is supposed to allow you to synchronize your ENTIRE trees between your devices and work “seamlessly” between all of them. In our case, devices means online and desktop. The iPad and iPhone versions don’t work very well with mega-trees yet - at least not the last time we tried. It appears they would have worked very well with smaller trees, however. We have pre-ordered FTM 2012, and are anxiously waiting to try to sync our online tree with our desktop system. If that works, it will bring peace-of-mind, and will improve flexibility significantly for the Genealogist.

ancestry.com is not without flaws, but we can certainly say that it’s transformed Family History for us and we highly recommend it. If you want to try any of these products out, please go to our start page and follow the links for offers from ancestry. One thing I’d like to make a particular point of here is that Ancestry does not currently require you to have a paid account to maintain or view a tree on their site. It appears you pay ancestry for the use of their collaboration tools and to research using their records. You can still use their site to create a tree and use that tree to organize your own research as well as sharing your tree with other family members. Ancestry could certainly change this policy to require paid accounts for this service, but I’m not sure why they would as it is a great way to virally collect potential future paid subscribers.

I started this post a few months ago, and given my recent complaining, I thought it best that I resurrect it asap.