Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ancestry Sync - what gives?

Ancestry Sync  - what gives?
I belong to several Facebook genealogy groups. I am here to talk about the Family Tree Maker user group and the Roots Magic user group. Even though both software vendors have promised to offer a “New” Ancestry sync, neither have been able to deliver on the promise, YET.
For those of you who don’t breathe, eat and live genealogy. Back in Dec of 2015, Ancestry announced that it was going to Retire FTM and thus syncing, hints and web merging was going to end on January 1, 2017.

Lucky for all the loyal FTM users, in Feb of 2016 MacKiev stepped forward and acquired the software line since it was already the publisher for the Mac versions.  Ancestry also announced that they have an agreement with Roots Magic to allow them to connect to Ancestry Trees in a similar fashion as FTM. Both promised to have the “NEW” Ancestry sync logic working by the end of 2016.

So as we got near to the end of 2016, I heard many more rumblings and complaints on the FTM user group page than the RM user group page. I wondered why.
My theory (and only a theory), FTM users are going to lose a feature while RM users are going to gain a feature. Let’s look at this for a moment. People, who are going to lose something, already know how valuable the feature is, how much easier it makes their life and research and they have every right to be upset, while people who haven’t experienced the feature where things aren’t going to change for them come the end of 2016.
What some (maybe a lot) of users of FTM seem to forget is that we now have three separate companies trying to bring you a feature. As a former programmer, I am sure FTM and RM set up a “Mirror” site to test their program. My question, who was testing the program? Was it programmers who don’t understand how the user’s use the program or was it actual users. This makes a big difference. Also, unless Ancestry was in on the “Mirror” testing site, MacKiev could not setup the testing features under normal conditions. It wasn’t until Ancestry finally turns off the old sync logic and then turns on the new sync logic that MacKiev could actually test all the features of the sync. Data in each user’s tree is very unique, some have extremely large tress, I have heard about 100,000 plus people in their trees. Some also have very large media trees but perhaps not as many people while others have some sort of combination. Plus where was the problem, in FTM/RM code or on Ancestry side? Being able to duplicate a user’s error is the key in finding out the situation. Was it a one-time fluke or a recurring error? Having user’s test the system and being able to explain the steps they took that resulted in the error is the key. As a person on both sides of the fence this is difficult to do.
Therefore, I am not going to tell users of FTM or RM for that manner, to relax and breathe. I understand being impatient, frustrated, angry, all the emotions associated with this update/change that is occurring. What I want to say is venting on the FTM user group site doesn’t solve anything. I always say, if you are not part of the solution, you are only part of the problem. Instead of venting, sign up to be a beta tester. When you test, take your time and record the steps you are doing during your testing. If you are not selected as a tester, please don’t take it personally, they have limits on the number of testers they can handle and address the issues. It helps the programmers to find the most reliable, experience users they can find to become beta testers. Is their process on picking the testers infallible? NO, let’s be honest the questions they ask are quite broad, and those who never been a beta tester might not even realize all the work that is involved to become a beta tester.

So I want to thank all the people who agreed to become a beta tester and went through with their promise. It is not easy being a tester. You might end up screwing up your on-line tree, break links that already exist just to name a few problems. You might have to resort to going back to your backup files to continue your research on your previous versions.

I also want to thank all people behind the scenes at FTM, RM and Ancestry. I am sure you worked many long hours, some probably without overtime pay, because you want to make us the users happy in the end by delivering as solid of a package as you can.

This situation is very unique, since FTM and RM are moving from a stand-alone software program to an integrated program that works with a third party, Ancestry. When a company relies on the help and cooperation with another company, things take a while. Each company has a liaison who works with the other liaison who works with the behind the scenes people.  Each company has to bring together their staff and brainstorm on the next course of action. This unfortunately will add to the time table.
I am done with my venting of venters and hope that FTM and RM software is up and running soon. I compare this to our last presidential election, I can’t wait until this is all over with and we can get back to helping people use their software to the fullest on the Facebook user group pages.

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