John Donaldson (Victoria) – leading Family Tree Maker expertDonaldson 120
John Donaldson started using Family Tree Maker (FTM) when it was released as a two floppy disk program for Windows 3.1 in 1994. Since then he has used all the versions, and now uses both FTM 2014 for Windows and FTM for Mac 3. In 1996 he applied to beta test the program, when Brøderbund Software in San Francisco was producing it. Whilst the program has gone through a number of owners and is currently owned by, John has continued to be involved in beta testing, and has participated in some 16 consecutive releases. In March 1998 he commenced writing a series of FTM columns for the Victorian GUM Inc. ( newsletter and this series has continued unabated and now consists of some 160 plus tutorial articles. John is also the Hon. Secretary of Victorian GUM Inc.

In 2005, coinciding with the ownership of FTM by, John and three others were invited to become alpha testers to advise the developers on future ideas for the program and act as a conduit of experienced users to the development team. As part of that involvement (the alpha group is now the ‘alpha 8’), John has visited Provo, Utah twice. John relates being able to spend the day with the developers as something akin to being in genealogical heaven. As well as writing about FTM, John runs regular FTM user groups and workshops for Victorian GUM and regional groups, as well as actively participating in a number of FTM message boards around the world. John’s comment about FTM is that it is the most addictive, intuitive and FUN program that he has ever used.

Unlock the Past Cruises – 6th

Publications – all with Unlock the Past

  • So you are totally new to Family Tree Maker 2nd edn
  • Family Tree Maker: how to input – due March 2015
  • Family Tree Maker: getting output – in preparation


  • Family Tree Maker input: People Workspace & Places
  • Family Tree Maker input: Media & Sources
  • Family Tree Maker output: Reports, Charts & Books
  • Family Tree Maker output: Web & Online trees