Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Family Tree Maker vs RootsMagic Software

Right off the bat I have to say I would not recommend purchasing Family Tree Maker 2014, which just came out a few weeks ago, until it's fixed. It's going to take some time for them to work out several problems with the new version. 
I decided to purchase the 2014 version of Family Tree Maker because of the ability it gives you to sync your online tree with your personal software on your computer. I had spent many hours attaching and uploading information to that tree since 2010. I wanted to have a personal copy of it. You can download a gedcom of your tree, but that doesn't include media. I had been using Rootsmagic since 2010 as my personal genealogy software. Before Rootsmagic I used PAF which is similar but has fewer features.
Since I have some experience now using both softwares I decided to compare some of the features I use most often here:
First of all starting the program there is a difference in the time it takes for them to load. Rootsmagic generally loads immediately. Family Tree Maker never loads quickly. It can take between 1 to 3 minutes to load, and other times won't load at all? Family Tree Maker is also prone to freezing up while you are using it.
Looking at the primary screen Family Tree Maker lays out a great deal of data on one page, which can be useful when it comes to analyzing your data.

You can see that the primary page for Rootsmagic is much less busy. You can click on the tabs across the top to see family groups etc.. I prefer the less busy screen of Rootsmagic.

One thing I would change about RootsMagic is the dialog box that comes up when you want to import a file or Photos. I use date and name search to look for files on my computer. It is time consuming trying to locate a file without that feature in the dialog box.
The hated no search dialog box at Rootsmagic
The preferred Family Tree Maker searchable dialog box
Another place where Family Tree Maker shines is with their media viewer. You can flip through your images and look at them in the media viewer. You can only view one image at a time with Rootsmagic. You can scroll through thumbnails of your images at Rootsmagic. When you want to see them at a larger size you have to click on each one individually. The resolution of the image isn't as sharp at Rootsmagic either.

You can see the difference when you compare this image from Rootsmagic with the FTM viewer below

Family Tree Maker media viewer

My primary reason for using genealogy software is to keep a record of my research so I can refer back to it, which I often do, during my research process. Another way I enjoy using the software is generating books and charts to share with family. I like the Rootmagic book generating feature better than Family Tree Maker. The FTM book generating process is more clumsy and time consuming. Rootsmagic takes all of the facts you've imputed for each individual ancestor and creates a narrative summary of with these facts. You can produce a narrative report which includes all your ancestors, very quickly, and includes notes. Family Tree Maker Smart Stories produces a better narrative with the facts in your database. It sounds less computer generated; plus, you can type info to the report. The only problem is you have to create a smart story for each ancestor then combine the stories using the publish book feature. Since I would like to include a couple hundred narratives this might be time consuming.

This is the narrative generated by Rootsmagic
Smart Story Family Tree Maker
Rootsmagic produces a very attractive scrapbook. I have not found this feature at Family Tree Maker.
Page produced with Rootsmagic scrapbook.
In closing, I now have two genealogy software programs on my computer (plus still have paf). I think I'll be using features from both to create a book. I might use the comprehensive narrative report from Rootsmagic, and the Smart Story from Family Tree Maker for ancestors I want more indepth stories for. I would also use some of the Scrapbook pages from Rootsmagic. Since Rootsmagic opens faster I would probably refer to it more during research. I will be using the syncing feature at Family Tree maker if they can get it working properly. The FamilySearch tree access at Rootsmagic is also a useful feature. You can compare your tree with FamilySearch's tree and add any information you don't already have. Having several genealogy programs is nice, I can use the best features of  all of them.


Russ Worthington said...


What problems in FTM2014 need to be fixed? I haven't found one with it and I use it daily.

Roots Magic 6 is a great program, but I use FTM2014 as my main program.

Just trying to understand the issue.


Brandon Ryan said...

Russ, if you haven't found any issues, you must not be trying to sync a tree with

Annette Kapple said...

It's a problem with syncing the online Ancestry tree with Family Tree Maker. It's slow to open and can freeze up while using too. Otherwise there are some great features.

Russ Worthington said...


Actually I have about 25 Trees, 5 are active, 3 for testing and 2 are real. Use them EVERY DAY.

I had my first Sync problem today and I posted a blog about how I recovered. THAT problem was NOT the Family Tree Maker Program.

Slow to open ??? OK, you can have that one. It's not as fast as Roots Magic, since you made the comparison between the two.

The program doesn't freeze on me. And I use it every day, and since it came out have been using the NEW features, and well as making that some of the old one still work.

Great Features, you bet. I thought FTM2012 was great, FTM2014 is even better.

Only ONE user's opinion.


bill brokaw said...

My upgrade from FTM 2012 to FTM 2014 has been problematic. Seems 2014 version freezes up periodically. Wonder if it's a function of only having 2 GB of ram? My internal hard drive has 500 GB. Any thoughts on this?

Russ Worthington said...


Do you have all of the updates in FTM2014?

Is your Microsoft Updates current?


bill brokaw said...

As far as I know my updates are current. I have Windows VISTA and the updates are current.
FTM 2014 works fine on my laptop(has 4 GB of memory)and uses Windows 7.0.
I'm thinking my desktop PC with only 2 GB of memory and VISTA might be the problem.

Russ Worthington said...


Please go to:

and type Crash, into the search box. Select the version of windows for that computer and verify that the Microsoft applications are current. I know you said Freezes Up and not crash, but that article really helps verify that those applications are current.

It maybe a memory, but I'd try the above first.


bill brokaw said...

Will do. Thank you Russ.

bill brokaw said...

Russ & others,
What is value of using two genealogy software programs?
I've been using FTM since 2010 and have been satisfied.
However, I've read RootsMagic and Legacy are better in some ways.
Be curious, for those of you using two programs, are there advantages?

Russ Worthington said...


The choice is yours. What ever program works best for YOU is the one you should use.

I have used Family Tree Maker since Version 3.4, through every version and FTM2014, for me, is the best.


bill brokaw said...

Thank you Russ.

Wendy Lavender said...

I moved over to FTM 2014 because of the syncing with Ancestry but I too have issues with the slow startup, "not responding" errors and freezing while entering new data to an existing individual.
I did find that if I went offline, those problems stopped for the most part. At the moment I'm at my daughter's and her internet is slow but at home where I have optic fibre I still have the same problem.
I too like the media view and will stick with FTM because of the sync feature but it needs some tweaking to make the campers happy with it.

Russ Worthington said...


Sync issues are not the program (FTM2014) itself. I use it daily and have no issues.

Three things may cause sync issues.

1) If you have had this issue within the past month, it may be caused by the recent attack on

2) the Underlying Microsoft applications not being up to date on your computer If you have experienced FTM2014 crashing, please go to Help, then Online Help Center, in FTM2014, and enter the keyword " crash " in that search field, read and follow ALL of the steps outlined on that article

3) your database itself, especially if you imported it from another program. Cleaning up of the data may help. There are a number of reports in FTM2014 that may help with that.

There is a tool, within FTM2014 that also may help. Click on Tools, Compact File. That will offer you the Back Up command. Use that command, then let the Compact file run.

I have a blog that may help you as well

See if any of the above help. I have given these steps in a specific order to help you resolve what you are seeing. It is NOT normal, now with FTM2014, as it runs very well for most of us and I use it daily.


mel1 said...

I realize this is an older blog page and may not still be active thanks for it though. I have been using FTM for the sync w/Ancestry but don't find it easy to use. switched from RootsMagic. At the moment my biggest issue is two-fold. The help for FTM is very difficult for me to find anything -- it bounces me into Ancestry rather than an actual help set for FTM. The issue I'm trying to figure out is that when I look at my "person" list, I find people listed there twice... but when I run a "duplicate" report, they don't show up. Other issue is that I frequently find very strange and repeated entries for facts and relationships., Not sure if I;m losing my mind and really entered all that weird stuff mult times or if somehow it happens in the syncing process. Any thoughts for me??? thanks

Russ Worthington said...


What type of help do you need with FTM2014? I have a blog on that program at

Ancestry has Family Tree Maker as one of it's products. That is where the FTM help is located

I have many people with the Same Name, in the People Workspace, Tree View, but they are NOT duplicate people, just people with the same name.

How have you determined that they are "duplicate people"?

I can happen, what you do have "duplicate" people but that would be a data entry issue, not a problem issue. AND there is a feature, IF you think that they are the SAME person, to Merge Duplicate People, where you select one of the two, then selected the 2nd person and merge them. I have a blog post on that.

You can have as many FACTS with the Same Fact Name, again, that is Data Entry. I have many, many, because each Source that I got that information from provided different pieces of information for that fact. Each of these Facts, I have Cited. I do NOT consider that duplicate facts.

IF you see the SAME Exact Fact, then it was the way you Cited that Fact. Meaning you created that fact with a New Citation, rather than linking the 2nd Citation to the fact.

The SYNC process does NOT cause this.

Where to you do your work on your file, In FTM or the Linked Ancestry Member Tree?