MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder – Not Ready For Primetime

Not to continue to rain on the MyHeritage parade, but I discovered something today about their home-computer-hosted front end, otherwise known as “Family Tree Builder” (FTB), (which is a not-priced download from MyHeritage), that I think is important to highlight.

On 22 Dec 2014 I downloaded the latest OSX version of FTB.  The software claims to be version “.20”.  The other day I discussed my opinions of this software in conjunction with MyHeritage as an online genealogy service and I won’t rehash those ideas here, but in that post I mentioned how displeased I was with FTB and why I won’t use it.

However, on DearMyrtle’s genealogy community it was suggested to me that I download the latest version and try it.

But… I thought I had the latest version.   Why did I think that?  Well, in FTB, accessing the Help ->Check for Updates…  menu item brings up the Update Wizard, which I had run the other day.   I ran it again, and it assured me I was up to date:


FTB Update Wizard

FTB Update Wizard in version .20


So everything is copacetic, no?   No.    I went back to the MyHeritage FTB download page (linked above) and decided to download the disk image today, three weeks after I last did this.    I renamed the old app (so OSX wouldn’t overwrite the file) and installed the new download.   And guess what, after installing FTB from this latest download, the newly reinstalled FTB now claims to be version “.21” , which I take to be the next increment after the version I previously had (“.20”).

So, if this is a new version, then why just a couple of hours earlier when I did the Update Wizard in version .20 was version .21 not downloaded?  And, why was I told that my old version was “fully up-to-date”???

Sure enough, the latest version (.21) also has an Update Wizard, and it tells me (within minutes after running the .20 Update Wizard):

FTB Update Wizard version .21

FTB Update Wizard version .21, run at same time as the .20 Update Wizard


Clearly the Update Wizard did not previously update me to the latest version that was in fact available.

[Aside – One further thing I noticed which puzzled me – in OSX one can view from the operating system when the creation date of file was, and it turns out that my FTB version .20 and the newly-downloaded FTB version .21 both have (in the downloaded disk image) the same (very old) creation date, suggesting to me that the FTB developers need a better way to track and manage software releases.)  Version .21 has a last modified date of 12 Jan 2015, which implies my current version is only 5 days old. ]

I wonder (and this is speculation) if whoever is managing the download software at MyHeritage had multiple versions of the FTB software builds available on the same date, and only released version .21 after .20 was out into the community.

If so, then that is telling me (what ought to be already obvious from using any FTB version) that MyHeritage is using their customers as the beta testers for their FTB software.

But no where on the FTB download splash page is it explained that FTB is an early (at least for the Mac) beta version.


I think this is important to stress here.   My impression is that many people who are into genealogy are older, and some large set of these family historians are not computer savvy, at least to the point to be able to navigate among various beta versions of software, and it is impractical to require these historians  to continually manage the version of the software they are (perhaps unwarily) testing.

So this is just one more reason why I can’t recommend MyHeritage/FTB for those of us who have other options.


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