Data entombed in Family Tree Maker

Earlier this year I upgraded to Family Tree Maker 2009 and my feeling that this  program no longer meets my needs was confirmed.  So I decided to find out how easy it is to transfer my database containing 2737 individuals, 816 marriages, 11 generations, 501 surnames in a data file of 13558 KB (statistics given by FTM 14 Dec 2009).  This data file links to 873 media items (photos, scanned documents, MHTML documents, word documents) stored in a directory 869 MB in size.

Since the upgrade, I have added only a small amount of data.  FTM 2007 stored all the data including all media items in a single file of size 853 MB (27 Mar 2009) comprising 2718 individuals, 813 marriages, 19 generations, 498 surnames (FTM file statistics).

There are three options of transferring data into a new genealogy program:

  1. Read the FTM file directly and translate it into whatever it native format is.
  2. Export the data into an exchange format such as GEDCOM and read the exported file.
  3. Extract the data from FTM’s native files and convert them into something that can be read by the destination program.

Taking these options in reverse order:

FTM does not publish the database structure nor do they state what the underlying database engine is (or even if there is one).  Examining the data files in a text editor shows them to be human unreadable and I found I could only open the smallest files in Notepad anyway.  It might, with a huge amount of effort, be possible to unpick the structure, but I would not feel confident about getting it completely right.

FTM 2009 offers 3 export formats: FTM, GEDCOM 5.5 and GEDCOM for FTM 16.  FTM 2006 offers export formats for previous FTM versions and GEDCOM versions 4 and 5.5 with destination options for FTM, TempleReady and PAF and character set options for ANSEL, ANSI, IBMPC and MACHINTOSH. None of FTM’s GEDCOM exports include media items.  Manually re-attaching over 800 items is not a solution.

So only a program that can read FTM files directly will do.  Of the programs I have investigated so far only 2 offer this facility.  All the other programs, Family Historian, Legacy, Personal Ancestral File, Brothers Keeper, My Heritage Family Tree Builder and Genbox are no an option.  The Master Genealogist can import from FTM 2009, and Roots Magic can import from FTM 2006.  Now I need to check how good a job the import does….


One Comment on “Data entombed in Family Tree Maker”

  1. RMD says:

    Is there a follow up to this?


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