The following is an announcement from Ancestry
“As we strive to provide our customers with the best experience possible, we are constantly evaluating our services and product offerings. True to this focus, we’ve taken a hard look at the declining desktop software market and the impact this has on being able to continue to provide new content, product enhancements and support that our users need. With that, we’ve made the tough decision to stop selling Family Tree Maker as of December 31, 2015.
We will continue to support existing Family Tree Maker owners at least through January 1, 2017. During this time, all features of the software, including TreeSync™ will continue to work. Our Member Services team will also remain available to assist with questions or issues you may have.”
So, Family Tree Maker users now have a year to transfer their family trees. They have the option to sync their tree to an Ancestry public member tree, and just use the ancestry site from now on, or transfer their data to a new desktop family tree program.
One excellent blog post about the dangers of only using an online family tree can be found on Renee’s Genealogy Blog Do I Still Need a Desktop Genealogy Program or is Family Tree Enough?.
Although she wrote this post in regards to FamilySearch Family Tree, they are all valid points as to why you need a desktop family tree program, instead of relying on an online tree.
There are a number of desktop family tree programs available, but the two I personally use are RootsMagic and Legacy Family Tree. Both these programs have a free version. Both programs are also offering a discounted price.
For more details about RootsMagic’s offer, visit their webpage Family Tree Maker users have a new home. Legacy has details about their discounted price on the post Update on the Family Tree Maker announcement.
Over the last few years, a number of desktop family tree programs have disappeared, and users of these programs have had to look elsewhere.
There is also the additional problem with Ancestry in that it is a subscription site. Although you may be able to view and work on your tree without a subscription, any images you have attached to the tree are only available while you have a paid subscription. In order to continue to have access to these records, you will need to download and store these files separately.
I therefore think that it is a good idea to not rely solely on any family tree program, but to make sure you have all your research notes and records kept separate. Since you can’t attach images directly to a family tree program anyway (you only have a link to the file on your computer), it makes sense to keep you research notes separate as well.
You could use pen and paper, a simple text editor, such as Notepad (for Windows), or a tool such as Evernote, but I prefer to use Microsoft Word. When I first received a computer for Christmas in 1996, I started transcribing my research notes into Word, and I have been using the program ever since. Although Microsoft Office tends to be switching to being more of a cloud based application, I am still able to use the files I created in 1996.