According to Wikipedia as of December 2013, the company provided access to approximately 12.7 billion records and had 2.14 million paying subscribers. User-generated content included 191 million uploaded photos and more than 16 million uploaded stories. With the advent of the TV program, “Who do you think you are?” and Ancestry DNA not mentioned here, I think that these numbers are quite outdated. In addition to its flagship site, Ancestry.com operates Archives.com, Fold3.com, ProGenealogists,1000memories.com, Newspapers.com, Genealogy.com, MyFamily.com, and Rootsweb.com.
Family Tree Maker is a software developed by the company. When you purchase the program you generally get a limited free subscription to Ancestry dot com. This allows you to start developing your family tree. The subscription you get with it provides only U.S. records which doesn’t allow you to go very far back in your family history. I chose to upgrade my subscription to the World Explorer Plus on a month to month plan. With this I am able to access fold3.com and newspapers.com. When I have been able to access what I need from these two sources I will downgrade to World. So far, I haven’t found Newspapers.com that helpful, but I did find muster roles and ships diary from my Dad’s ship during World War II that were priceless to me. My Mom had told me that Dad piloted one of the landing craft on Iwo Jima, and I found the diary that gave a detailed description of what was happening that day, including that there was heavy fire over head and they were using smoke screens from other ships to hide them. It was fascinating knowing that my Dad was there and had a big part in the landing.
The actual program that you get with the Family Tree Maker will sync with your online tree every time you open or close it. But one thing you have to be very careful about is that you shut down the application before powering down your computer. I know that this sounds like a given, but there have been 3 times that I have either had my computer lock up while working on it or have otherwise lost power. In that case, when you go back on, it will not sync up with your online tree and you must call the support number for Ancestry and have you walk you through the steps to sync it again.
There are several features that I really like about this application over entering information in the online tree. When you want to search for a certain person, you click the “person” button and it gives you a list on the left side of the page of every person in your tree alphabetically by surname. It also tells you how many people are in your tree on the top of this list, without having to go to tree pages and tree overview in the online tree. It is right at your fingertips. It gives you a view of your tree in the center, and you can list each family member below and to the right with all the pertinent data at once. No having to enter each child separately, and then all data like marriage separately, it’s all on one page. It is kind of pricey initially, but in my opinion it is worth the money. One BIG drawback – it can only be run on one device. I originally installed it on my desktop, then purchased a new laptop and installed it there, but it won’t sync to two devices. It has to be one or the other. A real bummer! So I have chosen to use it on the laptop, that way I can take it with me when I travel, and I still have the option of using the online tree as well. Hopefully at some day in the future they may make it so you can use it on both.
The other app available through Ancestry dot com is the mobile app. I really love this one. It is free from the Apple store for iPad, you just have to have an ancestry subscription. The tree view is standard and when you tap an individual in the tree it brings up their story view on the right. If you lightly touch the person in tree view it gives you little icons for editing, viewing that individuals tree, or adding family. The story view window can be hidden, but you can also access hints, edit, show relationship or delete the person. If you delete, it will take you back to the home person, not the family you were working on. In this window you can also go to the family view (similar to the profile in the online tree), or the gallery and it will show all documents or media that have been added to this person.
On the bottom of the screen are icons to access a page with all your hints listed, with the option of newest or oldest. There is a comments icon that you can see all the comments that have been made on your trees. There is an icon for the tree view, or to view your DNA page if you have one. The DNA page is identical to the online one. In the settings icon you can access all trees that you have online. I have had this app for months and didn’t know that I could access the other trees until recently. This includes trees that other Ancestry members have shared with you.
I hope that this has been helpful to anyone that is thinking about purchasing or using any of these items. While there are many applications out there to build your family tree, I have found these invaluable.