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Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263327740000
Classification: Query
Russ Worthington prompted me to write about my experiences with the software available at and its usefulness with and Family Tree Maker. This is my attempt, it would be good to hear input from others who have experience of Ancestry Image Downloader.
Firstly let me say that not everybody uses the latest version of Family Tree Maker. I use FTM 2006 and FTM 2009. I was disappointed that keeping Ancestry and FTM in sync proved impossible. Having spent a lot of effort and some money I searched the internet for a way to do it. I wanted three things:
1. The same data to exist in Ancestry and on my computer, one being a backup.
2. The data on my computer to exist as files and not links.
3. The complete data on my computer to be capable of transfer to genealogy software of my choice.
The software allows me to do all these three things whereas FTM 2006 and FTM 2009 do not. I have no experience of FTM 2010 but it would be interesting to hear if it can.
Russ also asked me to say what Ancestry Image Downloader cannot do. It does not download video or stories. I put this on their forum, and they promised to provide a free upgrade when these are available. It was good to get a personal response.

Re: Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263345911000
Classification: Query

I'm not sure if you are the right person. So I've also sent this to the feeedback address at the site (and will post any reply received)-

"Sounds like a great facility.

However, we are always a little suspicious of new web sites that offer things, especially at a cost.

A couple of questions arise that your web site doesn’t address (say in the FAQ)

They included, but are not limited to –

1. Who are YOU?
2. Do you have the support / sanction of (re: copyright, support, etc)?
3. Is there any reason your forum can’t be a blog so that RSS readers can monitor?
4. Any reason why these questions / information can’t be included on your web site?"

2010JA13 12:20

Re: Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263358060000
Classification: Query

Thank you for posting this and opening the discussion about it.

I have a couple of questions:

1) Where / How did you come to the conclusion that a PC Based software package and a Web Site would have the capability to automatically synchronize these two databases?

2) Are you saying that this website will take a Family Tree Maker File and Transfer that file to ANY Genealogy Software Package?

Since you don't use Version 2010, you are missing the Download of a Member Family Tree to your PC. Version 2009 does NOT have that capability except as a GEDCOM file. So, the feature you want, is in Version 2010 by NOT 2009.

I would NOT consider an Member Tree a complete back up of my Family File on my PC. There are features in the Family Tree Maker program, that are NOT online. Trees, Reports, and Books are more robust on the PC vs what is available online.

I have NO links in my PC Based file to any Source-Citation to what is online. There are images on my PC. I created three blog posts to demonstrate how to do this. One for upload PC to Web, Two from the Web to the PC, and Three how to quickly download any missing images.

Unless I am missing something, Family Tree Maker, any version, has the capability to transfer my research to ANY Genealogy Program. Most Genealogy Programs can create and read a GEDCOM. That file format was created just do to that.

AND, if I can do what you are looking for, with my program, I am not sure that I am willing to pay for the application your are proposing.

I am looking forward to other users responding to this thread to help education ALL of us on the application frm that website.

Thank you,


Re: Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263416610000
Classification: Query
I was so struck by the effectiveness of this software that I decided to do what I could to bring it the attention of other people who hopefully will also benefit from it. The cost to me was minimal as I actually bought it when it was offered at half price, but I consider the $5 as well spent. I am as sceptical as the next man where web sites are concerned, but I can only speak from experience, and can say that the software does exactly what I want, and I get personal replies when I ask questions.
Just a small point; it is not my web site, although I have offered the A.I.D.S team my services if they need feedback or help from the UK. I can give you opinion, but factual answers should come from A.I.D.S.
I note that you have written to A.I.D.S feedback directly, and hopefully you will be as satisfied as I have been.
Good luck

Re: Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263423722000
Classification: Query
I will try to answer your questions, but bear in mind I am no genealogical expert, I do however have experience with databases going back to the early 1980's. To keep life simple I have written two part answers, a. simple and b. a bit more turgid.
a. As Ancestry sell both of them I naively assumed they worked together.

b. I assumed that as Ancestry sell both the Family Tree Maker software for genealogical research and provide as a web site for research, there will many areas of overlap, and shared functionality. Both can also use GEDCOM file format. The natural assumption is that the two pieces of software would be written with compatibility in mind. It would be hoped that data transfer between the two would be transparent to the user. In other words export from Ancestry would be the import to FTM, and vice versa. If that were the case synchronisation would be easy. I invested in FTM 2006 and 2009, and like many people expected the web site and the software branded with it to work seamlessly. I was sorely disappointed. I have never asked for automatic synchronisation, just basic sharing of data would be a first step.
a. No, I am saying that the program I bought on that site will take my tree data and make it available to any package that accepts GEDCOM standard import files.

b. I abhor proprietary file formats, and try to avoid their use whenever possible. In my experience software companies and their products come and go with alarming rapidity. I prefer a more general standard such as GEDCOM to transfer data. I am saying that GEDCOM file format allows the inclusion of every piece of data in Ancestry to be passed to any other package (including FTM) that allows import using GEDCOM. The software available on the A.I.D.S website allows me to do just that, by using the exported GEDCOM file from Ancestry to create copies of the data, it then rewrites the file to point to that local data. Any package that uses the altered GEDCOM file will then be able (if the package allows it) to access the local data.

I am grateful for the information that 2010 will download an Ancestry tree. You have obviously put a lot of time and effort into making FTM do what you want. My versions up to 2009 will not download any media items, and certainly not census images. I assume 2010 will?

We must first agree on what is a backup. My view is that all original sources, and their data should be saved so that the tree can be reconstructed simply. I do not require documents/reports generated from the data to be archived. These should be able to be generated at any time and will need to be as the data is amended. FTM is great for manipulation and research, Ancestry is great for sharing and research. I don't see why they cannot both excel in their own way, but simply use the same data.

If several people collaborate on my tree and add images etc. as I understand it I am obliged to buy Family Tree Maker 2010 to download the tree. Having bought two versions of FTM already I am loathe to buy another version just to get a download facility. In fact I can use the data from the A.I.D.S software wherever I please because it is in GEDCOM format.

I too would like to see this thread get some comment. I am especially interested in the completeness of the media download from Ancestry to FTM 2010 i.e. does it include local copies of all census images, videos, stories, photos etc?

For a tree containing over 7000 people, after using A.I.D.S I now have a directory with over 6 Gigabytes of data. All it took was a small software download and one key press.

Please let us have a good basis for comparison. I am sure there are many Ancestry users out there looking to make Ancestry and FTM work together, or just get a copy of their Ancestry data it would be good to hear their views.

Re: Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263441724000
Classification: Query

FTM 2010 now has a function to 'Download a Tree from Ancestry'. This function essentially automates the process of exporting an online tree to a gedcom and importing it into FTM either as a new tree or merged into an existing tree, saving you the keystrokes and mouseclicks. Though it does download and import photos (FTM calls these 'multimedia') as part of this process it does not download census and other 'source images'. As in previous versions FTM does provide a link to 'View the Source Online' and even a 'Download Image if Available' which does not appear to work. This is currently the only way(s) to view images sourced from the imported gedcom. You must still be connected to the internet and have a current subscription to ancestry to view these images.

I understand your movitation as I too wanted all census and other sourced images available within FTM even when my laptop was not connected to the internet. When I go to my mothers to discuss family history it was immpossible to show her those sources (yes, mom does not have internet).

It looks like FTM may be headed in the direction of Image Downloader but is just not there yet. What the Image Downloader Software does is exactly what some future version of FTM will likely do, assuming that it continues in the direction it is going. Which is to export the ancestry tree to a gedcom, download all photos and source images, then include the (local) links to these images in the exported gedcom. This way, any suitable genealogy software (including FTM) will be able to import the gedcom, including links to the local images.

And yes, the downloading and local linking of source images from ancestry ~can~ be done manually. However, it is a labor intensive task suitable only for those with very small trees or very extensive freetime. The Image Downloader Software does this with the speed of an automated process, and quite well.

Hopefully this helps move the discussion along...


Re: Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263473633000
Classification: Query
Thanks for the the detail on FTM2010 and your opinion on the software, I felt like a voice in the wilderness for a while. I had a suspicion that source images were not downloaded with FTM2010, but did not feel justified in spending money to find out.

I discovered how 'labour intensive' the image by image download was using FTM2009, and that was my motivation in starting this thread.
Many thanks

Re: Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263482225000
Classification: Query

I have a couple of Blog Posts on the Upload / Download process for Family Tree Maker Version 2009 and 2010.

The exception is the download of Images that were attached Online on a Member Family Tree. Here is a link to how to get those images.

The father shows up as the father everywhere except in the visual display (4 generation displayed) within the family window.

The major drawback to a GEDCOM file, is the loss of any Media that maybe in your Family File or Online. A GEDCOM, by nature, is a plain text file that any word process can open. That is how Genealogy Programs allow us to share our genealogical information. Each genealogy program may have features built-in that will not be included in a GEDCOM file. For Family Tree Maker, for example, a Book will NOT be included. Because of how each program handles Images / Media, they are also not included. Each program generates and reads a GEDCOM file differently.


Re: Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263494318000
Classification: Query
You are absolutely correct Russ. Not every Genealogy program exports and imports Gedcom files properly. By properly I mean that, just like any other file format, there are standards for the Gedcom. In the case of FTM and ancestry, the publisher indicates that Gedcom version 5.5 is supported.

The Gedcom 5.5 standard provides functionality for what is known as the 'linked form' of multimedia support. Here is an excerpt from a Gedcom Wiki which spells it out much more eloquently than I:

---start excerpt---

GEDCOM has many features that are not commonly used, and hence are sometimes thought to not exist. It is important to keep in mind that just because the GEDCOM standard allows a particular feature does not imply that any particular software package will also support that feature.

The GEDCOM standard does support the inclusion of multimedia objects (for example, photos of individuals). Such multimedia objects can be included in an external file where the name of the external file is specified in the GEDCOM file (called the "linked form"). Linking multimedia keeps the size of the GEDCOM file under control, but then when transmitting the file, the multimedia objects must either be transmitted separately or archived together with the GEDCOM into one larger file.

---end excerpt---
NOTE: I removed irrelevant references to the 'embedded form'

What this means is that the inability of FTM to import images from ancestry is not a limitation of the Gedcom file, but the incomplete implementation of the standard by FTM and/or ancestry. Image Downloader fills this gap by creating a gedcom which includes a working 'linked form' multimedia tag within the Gedcom and at the same time downloads the image files. Something the ancestry and FTM export functions cannot. It does appear that FTM supports the import of multimedia from Gedcom.

If I had to guess why ancestry has not yet provided the export function it would be 'performance'. If either FTM or ancestry export functions provided for the automated download of hundreds of images by thousands of users at the same time it would almost certainly cause dramatic performance degredation at the backend. I found that even with my reasonably small number of source images (about 200 for one tree) it took nearly 30 minutes to download them and create the Gedcom.

So, until the ancestry or FTM export functions support multimedia 'linked form' tagging of the Gedcom, Ancestry Image Downloader is the only (reasonably comfortable) way to get those source images into your FTM database.


Re: Images from Ancestry Image Downloader

Posted: 1263495535000
Classification: Query

Good point. This issue has been around for a very long time for Family Tree Maker.

But, as I understand the "standards" a Genealogy program does not have to implement everything in the standards.

AND, we, as Users, have the capability to express our Requirements to the Feedback website that has provided to us for the Family Tree Maker program.

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