Switch from Legacy Family Tree to Family Tree Maker, painful but complete.

10Feb13

I have been using Legacy Family Tree software by Millenia for the last 6 years. I was very happy with the software, and understood it very well.

2 years ago I switched both work and home computers to Macs, which presented a problem in that Legacy does not offer a Macintosh version.

I solved this for a while by using Wine Bottler to create a Mac app using Wine and Legacy, which fakes a Windows virtual server on a Mac. This worked, but crudely. The copy/paste keys were intermittent, and the output gedcom file was rife with bad entities (mainly /par strings instead of actual line breaks).

Cleaning these gedcom files before importing them into my web site admin took an hour or more each time, and the quality of the cleanup was never good.

I realized I needed to do something because I had not updated my family tree online in over 9 months. Totally due to the software issues.

Over Thanksgiving I tested out 5 new Mac-based software packages to help me manage my data. I decided to purchase Family Tree Maker by ancestry.com, as it had decent ui, good integration with online data sites, and acceptable source treatment. The $70 price tag made me think twice, but I decided it was necessary.

The initial import went great. I spent about a week entering new and corrected data (catching up on the months of helpful emails from relatives). And then it crashed.

And would not restart.

Family Tree Maker would start, place an icon in the dock, switch the menu to the app, and then die before any window appeared. Dead.

I went through all of the help files online, including Troubleshooting issues with Family Tree Maker for Mac. I sent in 2 tickets with their tech support (who did nothing but refer me to the online help files). And spent 10s of hours trying and retrying their steps. No luck. I finally sat down with google and OS X Mountain Lion: The Missing Manual, and figured out how to completely delete the software and start over from scratch. The help files were incomplete, and required the removal of more cache and settings files in the OS to eradicate the software and restart clean.

Besides the plist files mentioned on the above article, I also removed all mentions of ancestry and family tree maker from the following folders:

  • ~/Library/Saved Application State
  • ~/Library/Preferences
  • ~/Library/Application Support
  • ~/Library/Caches
  • /Library/Saved Application State
  • /Library/Preferences
  • /Library/Application Support
  • /Library/Caches

And I was back in business.

I spent another week fixing data and finally was ready to export and post onto my website.
That is when I found out that FTM2 (Family Tree Maker) changes the IDs of the people, families, etc, and pads them with leading zeros.
I99 (me) became I00099.
Unfortunately for me, this would either not replace my existing data (creating a second record for every person), or I would have to change all of the URLs for all of my pages. This would severely impact my google visibility, and break all of the links and bookmarks that exist from other sites/pages. I need a better solution.
I ended up instead rewriting the TNG import for my site, scrubbing the leading zeros from my data before adding it to my database. (I can share the change if anyone else has a FTM->TNG import issue with leading zeros)
And with that, I am able to finally update my online family tree!!!
So if you have any corrections or additions to our tree, please let me know. I can finally do something about it.
Phew.
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