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RELEASE OF FTM 2017

FTM 2017 - LATEST UPDATE

UPDATE - TEST DRIVE 2.0 ROLLOUT WEEKEND

JUNE 25 - 1:30 AM UTAH Time - (UTC 07:30)

Our beta test results are in and while they are still being analyzed, it’s already clear that the new build is safe and ready for current test drivers who’d like to do more than just kick the tires.

TEST DRIVERS - START YOUR ENGINES
If you are already a test driver (build 207) you have a red Weather Report sync window up at the moment. Please have a look at it (go to Sync Now) and you’ll see we have changed the message there to provide instructions on how to get on the road with Test Drive 2.0 so you can get syncing again. Send us a postcard when you get there.

TEST DRIVING FOR THE REST OF US
The rest of the world’s drivers will not be far behind. We’re still hoping to give every qualified driver who wants to take a test drive an opportunity to do that this weekend. That depends on how it goes. So far so good. We will post updates here whenever there is news, and on social media pages as well. Stay tuned.

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UPDATE - TEST DRIVE 2.0 ROLLOUT

JUNE 24 - 10:30AM UTAH Time (UTC 16:30)

Test Drive 2.0 weekend rollout is in progress. All 2,600+ beta testers have been given an opportunity to use the new build live on the system. About 10% have reported results so far and we hope that by late this afternoon we will have enough feedback to get the “all clear” from test management so we can let Test Drive 1.0 users get updated. After Test Drive 1.0 users have had a chance to download and install the updated 2.0 edition, we will open it up to all who are eligible to do the test drive, which will most likely be sometime on Sunday. We will update this message throughout the weekend here and on social media when there is any news to report.

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FTM 2017 - UPDATE - JUNE 21

READY TO MOVE ON UP

We have been testing a new build series over the the past five days, and the results have been well beyond our expectations, in syncing, performance, and stability. We’ve met our goal of handling even the largest trees — which is why it has been nicknamed the “all trees” build. And according to our beta testers and engineers, if we had a build like this back on March 31st, we would have released it. It’s that good.

TEST DRIVE 2.0 STARTS THIS WEEKEND!

Our new “all trees” build will make it’s debut this weekend as part of Test Drive 2.0, an improved "getting started” program in which users take FTM 2017 for a spin, and two days later we do a diagnostic test to see how the ride has gone.  If everything checks out OK, they just get to keep on using FTM 2017. If not, we can provide whatever attention is needed to help get everyone off to a good start.

YOU’VE GOT A TICKET TO RIDE

Because the experience of using the new "all-trees” edition is so superior, we have decided to move all test drivers over to it — and not restore syncing in build 207 as we had originally planned. The new build will be first offered to all current test drivers (who are currently using build 207, released on April 20th), and then to everyone else who are eligible to drive — either because they pre-purchased a copy of FTM 2017 or are getting one for free.

COMING DOWN THE HOME STRETCH

After Test Drive 2.0 gets started this weekend, we’ll monitor the "all-trees" build for 2-3 weeks, and assuming all goes well, by July 15th we expect to be ready to officially declare FTM 2017 released and start producing discs and USB drives. And since the “all trees” build is suitable for all trees, as previously announced our pre-order discount sale will end when Test Drive 2.0 begins. The price is still $29.95 for a download until then.

WATCH THIS SPACE - AND YOUR MAILBOX

We will first be sending out an email in the next couple of days to all test drivers to let them know about the start of Test Drive 2.0 and how they can participate. And we’ll also send out an all-mailing-list newsletter to catch all FTM users up on the latest happenings. If you are in a hurry to sync and can’t wait until this weekend, you may consider becoming a beta tester (you can apply at www.familytreemaker.com).

A LONG AND WINDING ROAD

We are happier than you can possibly imagine to have reached this milestone. And so grateful for the wholehearted support we've received from almost every corner of the FTM community. Thank you for cheering us on. For letting us know you had our back. For offering to bake us cookies. And for sharing the stories of your lives - we’ve been honored to listen.  Hope you’ll find it has been worth the wait.

***

QUESTIONS?
Here’s where to go to get answers: 

  READ ABOUT TEST DRIVE 2.0
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “Drive 2.0” in the search field

  LEARN MORE ABOUT FTM 2017
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “2017 FAQ” in the search field

  SEE WHAT’S NEW IN FTM 2017
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “2017 feature” in the search field

***
HOW DO I DO THAT?
Where to go if you are looking to ...

  START A LIVE CHAT
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “live chat” in the search field

  SIGN UP TO BETA TEST
  1. Go to www.familytreemaker.com
  2. Click the “Beta Test" link

  SIGN UP FOR THE MAILING LIST
  1. Go to www.familytreemaker.com
  2. Click the “Mailing List” link

  PRE-ORDER FTM 2017
  1. Sign up for the FTM Mailing List (see above)
  2. Follow the link in the “welcome” email

***

PREVIOUS UPDATES

FTM 2017 - UPDATE ON SYNCING - JUNE 16

GAMEPLAN FOR RESUMING SYNCING
We have tested syncing and it works well as confirmed by beta testers and some volunteer test drivers who tested as well. Syncing for beta testers is already open (they are testing preview builds of Test Drive 2.0)  But we have decided to hold off opening syncing to test drivers until Monday until further tree safety features can be put in place.

NEW TREE SAFETY FEATURES
We have implemented a number of new tree safety features that will help prevent accidental deletion of people from your trees. They include a delete warning message, proposed deletions appearing in red in the sync change log window, and requiring a button click to initiate syncing. All to call attention to deletions so they can’t happen by mistake.

TIMETABLE AND OUTLOOK
As noted, all beta testers have syncing on, and we hope to get test drivers syncing again by Monday with a modified build that has the new safety features added. We are also on track to introduce Test Drive 2.0 sometime next week and will start by testing it with a few thousand volunteers who would like to move up from the Original Test Drive.

KEEPING UP TO DATE
As soon as we turn on syncing for test drivers, we’ll announce that here. Test drivers will also see the color of the Sync Weather Report window change from Red (no syncing) to Orange (sync with caution). As soon as the Test Drive 2.0 program is ready to roll, we’ll announce that here and by email and on social media pages.

(See below for a support article on the new tree safety features.)

***

QUESTIONS?
Here’s where to go to get answers:  

  NEW TREE SAFETY FEATURES
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “tree safety” in the search field

  READ ABOUT TEST DRIVE 2.0
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “Drive 2.0” in the search field

  LEARN MORE ABOUT FTM 2017
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “2017 FAQ” in the search field

  SEE WHAT’S NEW IN FTM 2017
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “2017 feature” in the search field

***
HOW DO I DO THAT?
Where to go if you are looking to ...

  START A LIVE CHAT
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “live chat” in the search field

  SIGN UP FOR THE MAILING LIST
  1. Go to www.familytreemaker.com
  2. Click the “Mailing List” link

  PRE-ORDER FTM 2017
  1. Sign up for the FTM Mailing List (see above)
  2. Follow the link in the “welcome” email

***

FTM 2017 UPDATE - JUNE 13

SYNCING EXPECTED TO RESUME BY FRIDAY

Some good news tonight. We have confirmed that additional modifications made to keep FTM trees safe seem to have been successful. That means for the first time in a week we can begin the process of getting syncing back online again for FTM 2017 testers and test drivers. A hundred core beta testers will perform sync testing tomorrow and if all goes well, we’ll be restoring syncing to all FTM 2017 users by the end of the week.  

SYNC WEATHER REPORT CARD

We built the Sync Weather Report system with the ability to shut down syncing in case of potentially dangerous syncing “weather” to keep user trees safe.  We had of course hoped we’d never have to use it, but we were awfully glad it was there when we began to get reports of an elevated number of sync issues last week. Our early warning systems worked, and allowed us to shut down syncing quickly to protect user trees.

KEEPING YOUR TREES SAFE

While sync system modifications were in progress, we decided to build in some new safety features. A warning message will now appear whenever the sync system gets a delete request. (“Are you sure you want to delete 29 people?”) We’ll also make the sync change log hard to miss. Currently it appears just for 60 seconds which you’d miss if you left to make a sandwich while syncing. So now you’ll need to click a button to continue.

STAYING UP TO DATE

As soon as we’re able to resume syncing for test drivers, we’ll announce that here and by email. FTM users will also see the color of the Sync Weather Report window change from Red (no syncing) to Orange (sync with caution). As soon as the Test Drive 2.0 program is ready to roll, we will announce that here and by email as well. And, as usual, we’ll continue to update the status of FTM 2017 here and also on social media pages.

***

QUESTIONS?
Here are some places to go to get answers:  

  ABOUT SYNC WEATHER REPORT
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “weather” in the search field
.
  LEARN MORE ABOUT FTM 2017
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “2017 FAQ” in the search field
.
  SEE WHAT’S NEW IN FTM 2017

  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “2017 feature” in the search field
.
  READ ABOUT TEST DRIVE 2.0
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “Drive 2.0” in the search field
.
  START A LIVE CHAT
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “live chat” in the search field
.
  SIGN UP FOR THE MAILING LIST
  1. Go to www.familytreemaker.com
  2. Click the “Mailing List” link
.
  PRE-ORDER FTM 2017
  1. Sign up for the FTM Mailing List (see above)
  2. Follow the link in the “welcome” email


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FTM 2017 UPDATE

JUNE 4 - UTAH TIME 11:00 PM (UTC 05:00 +1)

We’ve had a pretty amazing two weeks since the last progress report. For those of you who worried that silence might mean trouble, well, in this case it didn't. Apologies for the radio silence and also for the length of this major update. There is lots of news to share, so let’s get started.


TEST DRIVE EXPANSION COMPLETE

Unless this is your first update report, you already know that many tens of thousands have taken the FTM 2017 Test Drive and are still enjoying the ride. Some have just started driving and others started back in April. And while we planned to provide new builds along the way, the first test drive build (207) turned out to be so stable that it's the only one we released.

So next was to ramp up. Over the past two weeks we’ve been adding test drivers to reach our goal of 75,000. More than 98% of those with trees of less than 15,000 people continue to report successful drives. But those with trees a lot bigger than that? Not so much. Even so, it’s meant the majority of those who wanted to try out FTM 2017 have been able to do so.

And that was, after all, the point of the original Test Drive program -- not to let the relatively small portion of users with trees we just couldn’t handle yet hold back the rest. But that you knew. What you might not have known was that hundreds with large trees who failed their test drives had bravely agreed to test experimental builds to help us move forward.


GREAT NEWS FOR GREAT BIG TREES

Getting everyone on board, as it turned out, would require architectural modifications on both our side and Ancestry’s. That was an iterative process, with changes, testing, more changes and more testing. Until, as we reported two weeks ago, the last of the Ancestry modifications had been received and it was up to us to fine tune things from our side.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve made more than three dozen builds, and beta tested about half of those. And finally late this past week, everything began to fall into place. We still have work to do and we aren’t going to rest until 100% of users can sync first time every time, but now we have a streamlined edition that is a breakthrough in several important ways.

First, the latest builds use a tiny fraction of the bandwidth that the original test drive build used. That means that we no longer have to restrict the number of users on the system. And second, the new builds are not afraid of big trees. Or even huge trees. Beta testers are reporting successes of the kind that had eluded us. Here’s a tester's note sent yesterday:

         “I don’t know what you guys are doing but
          that last test build is AWESOME SAUCE
          for large trees (68,162 people). No more
          issues syncing after working on Ancestry.”

Oh, and there was a major happy side effect of the modified architecture. Syncing Ancestry tree changes went from watching-paint-dry slow to lightning fast. As it did for this beta tester who’d suffered with hour and a half long sync times: “Whooo Hoooo! Added census to AMT problem tree. Synced in 2 MINUTES!!!!” (Edited: Half the exclamation points were removed.)


NEXT STOP - TEST DRIVE 2.0

So what’s the next task? To create a new, very safe, stable test drive build which we’ll call Test Drive 2.0 that’s OK for all driver candidates. There will be two main differences: First, no limits on the number of drivers. Unless Ancestry says “stop” at some point, we’ll just keep adding up to ten thousand users a day. Second, no limit on tree size. All sizes welcome.

And one more change. No check-ins after the first 48-hour test drive and diagnostic test. Assuming all has gone well and you elect to continue using FTM 2017, that’s it. No more popup messages asking you to extend the test period. (If you’re a test driver you know what I mean, and yes, you’re welcome.) If you need help we trust you to head on over to Live Chat.

So should current test drivers move to Test Drive 2.0? That’s up to them. If they are happy where they are and everything is working fine for them, they can keep using build 207. And who else is eligible? That’s the same as it was in the first test drive program — all those who have pre-ordered and all who are getting a copy for free.

Then of course, the big question - when? We’re hoping to have the perfect test drive build verified by our core 2,000 beta testers in a week or so, possibly sooner. It would be great to have it in time for next weekend’s LA Jamboree where we are an exhibiting sponsor, but we’re not going to push it if it’s not completely safe and fully ready. So as usual, stay tuned.

To learn more about Test Drive 2.0:

    TEST DRIVE 2.0 FAQ
    1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
    2. Enter “Drive 2.0” in the search field


COMING IN FOR A LANDING

So when Test Drive 2.0 hits, will that change the answer to “are we there yet?” After all, we expect that very nearly everyone who’s purchased FTM 2017 will be able to start using it without any serious problems. And isn’t that the very definition of a software release — even though everyone will still start with a test drive to make extra sure it’s safe for them?

Well, we think it is, and that conclusion has two important consequences. First, when 2.0 arrives, we’ll end our special pre-order pricing. So if you’re thinking of getting FTM 2017 anyway, now might be a good time. If you’ve lost the link, sign up for the mailing list again at www.familytreemaker.com and you’ll get the pre-order offer in the welcome email.

Second, Ancestry has been more than generous in keeping everything but sync going for users of older editions while we worked together on the new system. But the old system that Ancestry had planned to retire on March 29th will still need to be turned off at some point. That will be sometime this summer and we’ll provide a schedule as soon as we have one.

It’s been a very long two months and we’re happy (and yes relieved), to be coming in for a safe landing. We never really doubted we’d get it done. Ironically, the one thing we worried most about turned out to be the one thing we didn’t need to worry about at all. And that's the FTM community's support for us staying the course and getting it right. So thank you. :-)


KEEPING UP TO DATE

After skipping a week to prepare this major update, we intend to resume posting weekly updates here, or more frequently whenever there is news. We will also post the same updates on social media. But even better than getting updates on our development progress, we encourage you to go take a test drive. Chances are it will go swimmingly and you won’t be anxiously waiting any more.

   

QUESTIONS?

Here are some places to go to get answers:

   LEARN MORE ABOUT FTM 2017
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “2017 FAQ” in the search field

  SEE WHAT’S NEW IN FTM 2017
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “2017 feature” in the search field

  READ ABOUT TEST DRIVE 2.0
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “Drive 2.0” in the search field

  START A LIVE CHAT
  1. Go to support.familytreemaker.com
  2. Enter “live chat” in the search field

  SIGN UP FOR THE MAILING LIST
  1. Go to www.familytreemaker.com
  2. Click the “Mailing List” link

  PRE-ORDER FTM 2017
  1. Sign up for the FTM Mailing List (see above)
  2. Follow the link in the “welcome” email


*****************************************************

PREVIOUS UPDATES

FTM 2017 - NEWS FLASH

MAY 25 - 4 PM UTAH TIME (23:00 UTC)

SPOILER ALERT: This is not a progress update. We’ll post an update after our meeting with Ancestry tomorrow. This is something we just thought you’d want to know about.

***

MORE TOOLS FOR THOSE WAITING FOR FTM 2017

Good news for those of you doing research while waiting for FTM 2017. In addition to keeping Ancestry hints, search and merge all working for you, Ancestry have helped us temporarily revive uploading and downloading functionality in FTM 2014.1 and Mac 3.1. And best of all, both uploads and downloads come with media. (Yes, WITH. This is not GEDCOM).

WHO IS THIS FOR?

It's for those waiting for FTM 2017 but don’t want to take a test drive.  These tools will help them to keep moving forward with their research until the final release arrives.

HOW COULD THIS HELP?

SCENARIO #1 - You've been using FTM 2014.1 for researching trees for clients and want to post your latest FTM trees on Ancestry to share with them. Solution: Upload to Ancestry.  

SCENARIO #2 - You’ve done your AncestryDNA test and you want to participate in DNA matching, so you need to get your FTM tree posted to Ancestry. Solution: Upload to Ancestry.

SCENARIO #3 - You’ve made lots and lots of changes to your Ancestry tree and you just want to have a backup copy on your computer for peace of mind. Solution: Download from Ancestry.

SCENARIO #4 - You’ve been working with invited editors on your Ancestry tree and you need to print out some charts and reports in FTM for a family reunion. Solution: Download from Ancestry.

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

We’ve prepared easy step by step illustrated directions for uploading and downloading without linking. You can reach those articles by going to support.familytreemaker.com and entering “WITHOUT LINKING” in the search field. Enjoy!

Mac Instructions:
https://support.mackiev.com/140847-Upload-and-Download-without-Linking-in-FTM-Mac-31

Win Instructions:
https://support.mackiev.com/003515-Upload-and-Download-without-Linking-in-FTM-20141

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MAY 19 - 11 PM UTAH TIME (UTC 06:00 )

TEST DRIVE ROLLOUT CONTINUES

We reached out to all who had pre-purchased FTM 2017 with an invitation to take a test drive - 48 hours to try out the new edition under controlled conditions. Nearly all test drivers elect to continue using it rather than rolling back at the end of the two day test period. We've now processed all the new applications received this week and have accepted more than 80% to test drive immediately.

MOST ALTERNATES ACCEPTED

We are continuing to work through those whose applications placed them as "alternates", mostly due to having large or unusual trees. We've now placed more than three quarters of alternates either in test drives or in beta testing. If you're still an alternate, please be patient as we continue to make hundreds of additional places for large trees available daily as we ramp up.

YOU STILL HAVE A CHOICE

Note that you don't have to take the FTM 2017 Test Drive. If you're happily working away on your research in an earlier edition, you're welcome to keep on doing that for now. Ancestry will continue to keep everything but sync working until after the rollout is complete. And we’ll be announcing additional temporary functionality in the next couple of days to support your research until the official launch. Stay tuned.

NEXT STEPS FOR DEVELOPMENT

We're continuing to beta test builds with the streamlined process for syncing changes made on the Ancestry side, and that looks to be coming along nicely. When completed it will allow us to remove all limits from adding FTM 2017 users to the system. We expect to provide a new build to our test drivers in a week or so, and assuming success there, roll it out to the rest of the world shortly after.

STAYING UP TO DATE

REVISED MAY 20: We've sent out our third email in six weeks to those who pre-purchased FTM 2017, updating them on our progress and inviting those who haven't already done so to participate in our test drive or beta test programs. We've also posted more than a dozen interim progress updates here and on social media, and will continue do so weekly or more frequently if there is news.

***

MAY 11 - 4:30 PM UTAH TIME (UTC 22:30)

GREEN LIGHT TO EXPAND

Working with Ancestry we've decided it's time to let a whole lot more test drivers join the first 25,000 who’ve been happily using FTM 2017 for the past two weeks. We have already started earlier this week tapping those on the “alternate” list and hope to add the rest of you by the end of the weekend.

Then starting on Monday next week, we’ll be opening up as many as 10,000 places a day until we reach 75,000 test drivers by the end of the week. New drivers will start with the same 48-hour trial followed by a diagnostic test. If all goes well, test drivers just continue using the software.

If you are already test driving you are all set, just keep at it. We will let you know when we have a newer well-tested build for you. If you stopped test driving, watch for an email from us tomorrow, in which we’ll have instructions on how to get your test drive started again.

READY TO TAKE A DRIVE?

If you would like learn more about the test drive program, just go to support.familytreemaker.com and you can read about it there. The article has an FAQ and links to a test drive application form. Anyone who’s pre-ordered FTM 2017 or is eligible for a free copy may apply.

Note that you don't have to do the Test Drive. If you're happily working away on your research in an earlier edition, you're welcome to keep on doing that as we add more users to the system. Ancestry will continue to keep everything but sync working for you until after the rollout is complete.

NEXT STEPS FOR DEVELOPMENT

We are now beta testing builds made with the final adjustments from Ancestry that we received a week and a half ago. Those provide a much streamlined process for syncing changes made on the Ancestry side and will allow us to remove all limits from adding FTM 2017 users to the system.

So when will that be done? We’ll update you when the beta testing tells us we’ve been successful. The next step would be to provide a new build to our test drivers, and then the rest of the world. We can't provide an exact date yet, but we’re optimistically guessing a couple of weeks.

HAPPY AND GRATEFUL

It's been a very, very long six weeks. We’re thankful for the FTM community encouraging us to stay the course, and to Ancestry for working day and night with our engineers to fine tune the new sync technology. Thank you for cheering us on, and we hope you’ll find it's been worth the wait.

STAYING UP TO DATE

We will continue to post weekly updates here, or more frequently whenever there is news. We will also post the same update on social media. And we'll be sending out our third email shortly to all those who have pre-purchased FTM 2017 with this update and an invitation to test drive.


***

FTM 2017  - JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT UTAH TIME - MAY 3

FIRST TEST DRIVING STATISTICS
Nearly all test drivers have completed their first 48 hour round of test driving, and we’re pretty pleased with the results. Here are the statistics so far:

• For performance, a majority found FTM 2017 faster than their previous edition:

       56%   Faster or Much Faster
       35%   About the Same
        9%    Slower or Much Slower
   ———— ———————————
     100%   Total

• Most test drivers (94.8%) reported being able to sync.

• Nearly all (98.2%) of test drivers elected to continue driving after the first 48 hours.

ANCESTRY TESTING UPDATE
We are conducting tests with Ancestry engineers tonight to check modifications made for handling the largest trees. We are grateful for the participation of a volunteer beta tester with 270,646 people in her tree who agreed to stay up late to help (thank you, Tracy!) When these tests are complete we hope to be able to make a decision on a partial or full rollout. We’ll announce that as soon as an analysis of the results is available. Stay tuned.

***

FTM 2017 UPDATE - APRIL 28 - 6PM UTAH TIME

THE BETA TEST DRIVE HAS BEGUN
Starting yesterday, we began rolling out FTM 2017 to 25,000 users worldwide in our Beta Test Drive Program. The initial feedback from our "Test Drivers" has been very positive. The group's composition was selected for the best chance of successful syncing.  In a departure from our usual confidentiality rules for beta testing, our test drivers are allowed to share their test driving experience publicly.

DRIVING OUT OF THE SHOWROOM

The beta Test Drive lasts 48 hours after which all drivers will go through an automated diagnostic analysis. If everything appears to be working as expected, the Test Drivers will be allowed to continue using their copies of FTM 2017 after the test drive is complete.  We are expecting 19 out of 20 test drivers to be able to sync successfully, and virtually all who want to continue using their test drive edition copies to be able to do so.

NEXT STEPS

We will be able to read the results of the test drive over the weekend as assessment forms start coming in. We will lbe measuring syncing success, performance and stability. Additionally, Ancestry will be monitoring what happens when tens of thousands of Family Tree Maker users all get started using the new edition at the same time. We'll meet with Ancestry on Tuesday to decide whether to expand the test drive program or go for a general release. Stay tuned.

INFORMATION AND UPDATES
We will continue to post any updates here and on social media pages. For more information:

TEST DRIVE PROGRAM
https://support.mackiev.com/491558-FTM-2017---Beta-TEST-DRIVE

FTM 2017 FAQ
https://support.mackiev.com/856847-Family-Tree-Maker-2017-FAQ

FTM 2017 UPDATES REPORTS
https://support.mackiev.com/498640-RELEASE-OF-FTM-2017

***

FTM 2017 UPDATE - APR 20 - 5PM UTAH TIME

GREAT IMPROVEMENTS AND A ROLLOUT PLAN

Results from expanded beta testing this week showed 94% are now able to sync (up from 89% last week) with all but the largest of trees. And Ancestry continued to roll out modifications to their connection systems to help ensure that syncing works reliably for all users. The last major Ancestry system update will be live tomorrow (Friday) and we expect to start building our part over the weekend and have it ready to test and put into builds early next week.

INTRODUCING THE BETA TEST DRIVE

Now that tests show the vast majority of users are able to sync safely and successfully using FTM 2017, it’s time to test the ability of the system to handle more of them. Lots more of them. So we’ve agreed in our meeting yesterday with Ancestry to start selectively rolling out the latest build. In what we are calling the “Beta TEST DRIVE Program”, the first 25,000 to sign up will have a chance to do more than just kick the tires.  

The concept is simple. Since most FTM users will have a great experience using FTM 2017, we’re encouraging anyone who has pre-purchased it to try it out for 48 hours. Unlike with regular beta testing, you won’t need to follow a plan, and you don’t need to have had previous testing experience. Just use FTM as you normally would. And perhaps catch up on your syncing and explore color coding and some of the other new features.

If you are able to sync OK during the test drive (and 19 out of 20 should be able to) and also pass some automated diagnostic tests that confirm that everything has gone as expected, you’ll be able to drive the new edition right out of the showroom so to speak and keep on using it. Then depending on how it goes with the first 25,000 test drivers, we will let more and more drivers onto the system. Watch for an email Monday afternoon with a link to sign up.

IN THE MEANTIME

While it will be great to have 25,000 more users joining our 6,000 beta testers early next week using FTM 2017, for the rest of those waiting patiently (or impatiently) for a final release, Ancestry will continue to leave all but syncing working so you can still receive Ancestry Hints, search, and merge, and take advantage of all the other connections to Ancestry you current have. So you can safely continue to work on your research.

We recommend working on the Family Tree Maker side if you have a choice so you can keep your tree fully backed up, but if your most advanced tree is on Ancestry, that’s OK too. Also, if you find you have a pressing need to sync, please sign up for the regular beta test program (at www.familytreemaker.com). We’ve added a place on the beta test sign up form to indicate what your urgent need is and in many cases you can get access the same day.

NEXT STEPS AND OUTLOOK

We are excited to be starting to roll out FTM 2017 to tens of thousands of users and will be working closely with Ancestry to allow as many as possible to upgrade as quickly as we can. We can’t really tell how long the rollout will take to complete until we start it, but by the time we provide an update this time next week, we should be in a position to tell you the timing more precisely, or, perhaps we’ll be ready for a general release. Stay tuned.

INFORMATION AND UPDATES

We will continue to post any updates here and on social media pages. To learn more about FTM 2017 there are FAQ’s and illustrated introductions to the new features here on our support site. Just enter FTM 2017 in the search field.

***

UPDATE - APR 14 - 11:30 AM UTAH TIME

ARE WE THERE YET?

What a difference a week can make. With help from Ancestry, a small army of beta testers,  and the advanced report system that our engineers built last weekend, we are closing in on the stubborn issues that were in the way of successful syncing. "Are we there yet?” No, not yet, kids. But we’re getting close.

BETA RESULTS ARE IN

A record 5,500 beta testers with a range of tree sizes and media content tested a series of four builds this week with improving results for each one. In the latest round, successful syncing was reported by 89% of beta testers with all but the largest trees. Of course that needs to be 100%, but we’re pretty pleased with the ground covered thus far.

GATHERING DATA

The advanced report generation system that I described in the last update was put into all beta builds this week, and we have so far received more than 30,000 diagnostic reports all sent automatically from beta testers. Our engineers have written scripts to analyze them, and we have reported our findings of where the syncing was getting off track to Ancestry.

GETTING IT RIGHT

So how do we get from here to release? We will get a series of adjustments today from Ancestry and more as they roll out early next week. And in parallel we are making the corresponding changes on our side. Then back into beta testing and we keep going until we at or above 98% successful syncing and all other systems “go". Then we’ll release.

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING NOW

It’s perfectly safe to continue working on your trees. We recommend working on your FTM tree if possible since you can make complete backups with media. But if your most up to date tree is on Ancestry, that’s fine too. Ancestry continues to help by providing all but sync services, so you can continue your research with Ancestry hints, search and merge.

AN OPTION FOR THE ANXIOUS

If you have a pressing need to sync, please consider signing up for beta testing. Yesterday, for example, a genealogist who needed to post trees made in Family Tree Maker for her clients joined the beta program, and in half an hour had posted all her trees and was back in business. To become a beta tester, just go to www.familytreemaker.com to sign up.

GETTING SUPPORT

Please read the FAQ’s on our support site (support.familytreemaker.com). That will help a lot. Our Live Chat is open all weekend as usual, but with extended hours. We don’t close down for the night until the last person in line is helped. We can’t help you with syncing your older versions but we are open to assist beta testers and all regular FTM users alike.

NEXT STEPS

We will be working through the weekend to be ready on our side for Monday updates from Ancestry. We do not have a release date yet, and do not plan to provide one until we are ready to release, which could be at any time. Could it be in a few days? Sure. Could it still be another two weeks? It’s possible. When we know, you will too. Stay tuned.

***

FTM 2017 UPDATE - 10:30 PM UTAH TIME - APR 9

QUITE A WEEKEND AT MACKIEV LABS
We’ve had a busy weekend with nearly our full development staff on board both Saturday and Sunday, analyzing beta results. There’s clear progress in identifying and finding solutions for unforeseen issues, and while we are not out of the woods yet, the team is upbeat for a couple of reasons.

First, syncing is now working well for a majority of beta users. This is largely the result of an advanced reporting tool our engineers built last week. The old sync error reports just weren’t picking up what was wrong, and the new tool gathers what we need to know to build a more forgiving sync process that can complete without errors.

Second, benchmark test results for syncing have been nothing short of astonishing, even to us. For example, a 10,000 person tree with some media that would have taken 4 minutes or so to sync a few changes on the FTM side under TreeSync, now finishes in just under 30 seconds with FamilySync. Good news for those of you with larger trees.

NEXT FEW DAYS
Our immediate goal now is two-fold. First is to find out how well our updated beta version that we completed over the weekend syncs. Tomorrow afternoon we’ll be sending it out to all 4700+ beta testers who’ve enrolled. Each will be asked to upload, sync, download and fill in an online report on their results. That and the new auto-send error reports should tell us what we need to know.

Our second goal is to collect as many of the new error reports as possible. And to accomplish that, over the weekend our web process engineers built a "Send Report” button into the sync error message window.  Clicking that now automatically creates the advanced report, and, with the user’s permission, sends it directly to us. Couldn’t be easier than that.

WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
After we know where we stand this week, we’ll meet with Ancestry to decide on a rollout plan. If it turns out to be necessary to stagger our release, we will contact all those waiting for their copies to find out who would like to go first — and who’d be happy to hold back and let others to be the pioneers. If we do, we’ll post about it here, so you won't wonder if you’ve missed anything.

Finally, for those of you that are anxious to get started syncing again, or to try out some of the new features, consider beta testing. You do need to be an experienced user and be carefully backed up to an external drive and cloud storage to qualify, but that’s about it. If you have time to help out, please click the Beta Test link at www.familytreemaker.com to apply. Thanks!

KEEPING UP TO DATE
We will continue to post updates here as well on Facebook user group sites.

***

UPDATE - 10PM UTAH TIME - APRIL 6

PROGRESS MADE WITH ANCESTRY’S HELP

SYNCHRONIZED BETA TESTING
We completed the first round of synchronized intensive beta testing monitored by Ancestry engineers a few hours ago. We worked out a way to use SMS text messages to coordinate the testing of about a hundred beta testers with very large trees of up to 163,000 people. The goal was to stress test Ancestry’s gateway with real user trees, rather than the computer-simulated ones that set off alarms on Monday’s midnight testing.

TEST RESULTS AND NEXT STEPS
This first synchronized beta testing passed as expected without tripping any warnings. So we will ramp up to test with 2,000 beta testers tomorrow, repeating the same coordinated approach of SMS messages to direct the testers on which tests to start and when. The stress tests will be the same ones we ran today -- syncing, uploading, and downloading of very large trees. Testing will start at 1pm Utah time.

ANCESTRY ADJUSTMENTS
Ancestry has, as promised, made some architecture adjustments on their side, widening the gateway for Family Tree Maker just to be on the safe side. Also, Ancestry's analysis showed that many of the red flags appeared just exactly because we had in our previous testing used computer-generated trees with attributes not really found in actual user trees. But even for those, Ancestry is now ready to handle them.

KEEPING UP ON THE STATUS
We don’t have a release date yet, but we are surely getting closer and will continue to keep you posted.

***

UPDATE - 4:30 PM UTAH TIME - APRIL 4

ANCESTRY ASKS TO PUT THE COUNTDOWN ON HOLD

Ancestry have provided the results of the stress testing of FTM 2017 with their servers, and they were not what was expected. When simulating scaling to large numbers of users simultaneously syncing their trees, Ancestry saw a degradation in performance that would affect not only the speed of syncing, but the experience for users of Ancestry.com itself and the Ancestry apps.

ACTION PLAN

Given this, we have agreed a number of steps we will take together:


• We are preparing for synchronized testing with an expanded group of beta testers who will try syncing all at once during a particular 1-2 hour period to evaluate the impact with real user trees. We are arranging to have all the testers connected by a central SMS messaging system so that we can have them cancel syncing if problems arise.


• Ancestry will be taking a look at their gateway and other services to see if they can scale up capacity in a few areas to handle greater load. The goal will be to have a greater buffer when, as expected, a large number of FTM users will try out the system all at once. 


• Depending on where we are when ready to launch, we may consider a plan where we do a staggered release to prevent a situation where all users start syncing all at once as they start up FTM 2017 for the first time. We will be reaching out to those getting the new edition to find out who is eager to get started and who'd prefer that others test the system first. 


• Ancestry will continue to keep all connection services other than syncing on until FTM 2017 is released. That means that Ancestry hints, search, merge, maps and the Web dashboard will continue to work as they do now. We hope that this will allow most of you to continue your research while waiting for syncing to resume.


ABOUT TIMING

We are looking to conduct the synchronized beta testing tomorrow or Thursday. When that’s complete, and Ancestry has finished whatever short-term engineering adjustments are possible, we will have a much better idea of when we’ll be launching. We believe that ranges from this Friday evening at the earliest to the middle of next week. I’m sorry we can’t provide a better forecast then that.

HOW TO STAY UP TO DATE

I will continue to post regular updates on our testing progress here, along with more details about the new edition. We will be sending an email as described above offering choices for those waiting for their copy. And we will also continue to post the same updates on the Family Tree Maker support site so that you can send it to those who are not on Facebook if you like. You will find it here:

https://support.mackiev.com/498640-RELEASE-OF-FTM-2017

We are oh so grateful to those of you who are waiting patiently (or impatiently) for this release, and especially to those of you who have been supportive of us taking a cautious approach. While all this hand-wringing may turn out to have been unnecessary, we will long remember the support of this community as we did what we believed to be the right thing.

Thank you!

***

11:30 PM UTAH TIME - APRIL 3

TESTING UPDATE

It's 1:30 am in Boston and we've just wrapped up stress tests for FamilySync on the Ancestry servers to complete tests that we were not able to finish last Friday. We will get an analysis back from Ancestry sometime in the morning.

Meanwhile we've called up an additional 500 beta testers from our pool of 4500+ for more testing. They'll help further validate the fixes made over the weekend by testing on computers that haven't had FTM 2017 builds on them.

I have to say I am absolutely amazed at the number of users who have stepped forward to offer their help in testing. In no other community on earth would so many volunteers so eager to make the waters safe for the rest of you.

I will post again tomorrow when we have Ancestry and beta test results.  A copy of this update can also be found on the Family Tree Maker support site if you would like to share it with anyone not on Facebook. You will find it here:

https://support.mackiev.com/498640-RELEASE-OF-FTM-2017

***

9 AM UTAH TIME - APRIL 2

FTM 2017 RELEASE PLANNED FOR TUESDAY, APRIL 4TH

New builds completed Saturday early evening were resent to beta testers with large trees who had reported unexpected syncing results and it appears the fixes were successful.  We followed up by sending the new build to the same thousand beta testers who tested on Friday, and we will be actively watching the results.

We could probably ship any time now, but after Friday's testing difficulties we've decide to redo the stress tests on Monday with additional testers and to  consult with Ancestry engineers.  Assuming all goes well (and we don't have any reason to believe otherwise) we will ship on Tuesday, April 4th

In the meantime, sync is off but as agreed with Ancestry, hints, search, merge, maps, Web view and other connections to Ancestry all will continue running until FTM 2017 is released, so you can continue your research. We will continue to post updates here.

***

4 PM UTAH TIME - APRIL 1

We have been working through the day today with those beta testers reporting unusual problems. While some were not issues after all, some indeed were and we have made a new build which is being tested by those same beta testers right now. If that testing is completely successful, we could technically launch tonight, though we will more likely decide to wait until Monday when we can consult with Ancestry engineers and do further live stress testing on their systems.

In the meantime, all those with existing FTM editions may continue to work until we release. At this point, only syncing has been disconnected and Ancestry has agreed to temporarily maintain all other connection functions that will be replaced with FamilySync in FTM 2017. That means that Ancestry hints, search, merge, maps and the Web dashboard will all keep working until FTM 2017 is released. We'll be sending out an update email tonight to everyone who is waiting for their copy of FTM 2017. We will keep this page updated with our progress.

***

3:30 AM UTAH TIME - APRIL 1

Our shipping review meeting ended at 2:30 am Utah Time without an agreement to release quite yet. A thousand beta testers were called into service yesterday evening, at the end of the second day of testing FamilySync live on the Ancestry servers with TreeSync disconnected.

Our quality assurance staff have called for more research into issues raised in beta testing. Our engineers are in the office and are going to spend the day following the trail of the most worrying issues raised in testing yesterday. They may turn out to be nothing, but we aren't going to release until we're sure.

In the meantime, Ancestry have agreed that existing FTM editions may continue to work until we ship That means that Ancestry hints, search, merge, maps and the Web dashboard will all keep working a few more days. We'll be sending out an email to everyone who has pre-ordered FTM 2017 a bit later today. .We will keep this page updated with our progress.

 

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