You’ve been waiting for me to make up my mind about the Big Three in my Desktop Dilemma Series, and I’ve been waiting for one last — and most important — evaluation: Can RootsMagic effectively sync with Ancestry.com? In trying to test this, I’ve been hitting one API error after another and finally spent my afternoon with tech support. The problem is not solved yet, but I think I know how it all started. This message is my attempt to catch a few of you before you create the same problem. Then we can test RootsMagic’s new sync technology properly.
If you’ve been following the series, you have probably already figured out that Legacy Family Tree is out of the running. It has some key strengths, but it is not keeping up where it matters most. So it’s down to RootsMagic and Family Tree Maker. For me, it will really boil down to one thing: which can sync most effectively with Ancestry.com. It’s the one thing I refuse to live without, because genealogy without Ancestry.com is unthinkable to me, a desktop model makes sense to me, and I don’t want to enter anything twice.
So, here I’ve been stuck — waiting for the two remaining powerhouses to get their syncing worked out. MacKiev came through at last with a thoroughly tested, streamlined and effective syncing technology for Ancestry.com, but has not yet produced a sync with FamilySearch, as promised. And RootsMagic (perhaps too rapidly) rolled out its new TreeShare for Ancestry.
Let the showdown begin, I thought. But from my first attempt to sync to Ancestry with RootsMagic, I hit API errors and have as yet failed to sync even once. I was seeing others report the same thing all over the Internet, so I waited for RootsMagic to put out a patch and get it fixed. I was thrilled to log on this past weekend and see a patch waiting. I loaded it and got the same errors.
So today I did what I should have done on Day One. I called tech support at RootsMagic. They were wonderful and took me as far as they could toward a solution. But they couldn’t solve it without bringing in Ancestry’s tech support. Even then, it’s not solved yet, but they’re working on it.
Here’s the rub. I think I could have prevented this if I’d known one thing: you have to have RootsMagic in your Approved Programs in your computer’s Firewall. Now who is going to know that? Why did the installation not make it so? That’s a question for RootsMagic to answer. But I bring it up, because I hope that any of you who have not yet tried the sync technology will fix this before you try it. (Why some of you have successfully used the new feature and the rest of us cannot is a mystery to me.)
The fact that I did not have it in my Approved Programs is probably what corrupted one of my trees in Ancestry and now is the apparent sticking point. Ancestry’s customer support — also wonderful once I got out of the lengthy queue — finally determined that this problem can’t be fixed without tech support doing some sort of surgery behind the scenes. They estimate 7 to 14 days to fix it.
If you’ve already hit the API nightmare in RootsMagic, you might have a corrupted tree, too. If you do, here is what you’ll see in Ancestry’s “Create & Manage Trees” view:
You will see a very strange number under the Owner column — possibly a negative number in the billions. If you see it, it’s probably a tree you tried to create from RootsMagic. If you click on it, it will tell you the tree is not there. This is why tech support will probably have to surgically remove it.
While I can’t be sure that the two things I did today will fix the problem, RootsMagic’s tech support thinks it will. That gives me hope.
So, why didn’t I wait 7 to 14 days to see if it worked before I told you about it? I went ahead, because it seems to me that the corruption is caused by the attempt to sync without the Approved Program set in your Firewall. I hope to stop a few of you from making the same mistake. (I won’t attempt to tell you how to set the Approved Program, since it will be different on various operating systems, but please Google it.)
In 7 to 14 days, I’ll let you know if Ancestry’s surgery corrected the problem. And soon after, I’ll let you know whether RootsMagic or Family Tree Maker will be my desktop software of choice.
Best of luck to you all in evaluating these options.