Long before it became cool to ditch your PC for a Mac — and before a new crop of Apple-friendly family tree software jumped on the bandwagon — genealogists had Reunion. This full-featured program from Leister Productions was the first commercial family tree software to be developed just for Macs (rather than a “retrofitted” Windows program), and for a long time, it was Apple users’ only non-shareware choice.
Not to be outdone by its newfound competitors, Leister recently released Reunion 9 — and the new version keeps it solidly at the head of the pack.
As with most Mac software, installation is easy: It took only a few minutes to download and drag-drop Reunion into my Applications folder, and I was exploring the attractive, polished program before my coffee was gone.
A big development in version 9 is the ability to keep multiple windows open and drag and drop between them. This makes adding a source notation to an event or adding a child to a family easy as pie.
In the default view (Family Card), a selected husband and wife appear in the middle of the screen, with their children listed below as clickable buttons, and their respective parents as buttons above. Clicking any button — colored pink for women and pale blue for men — brings that person and his or her spouse front and center.
Navigation arrows in the main toolbar make it simple to return to what you were looking at a few screens ago, and the Bookmarks icon gives you easy access to a list of often-viewed family members. The Treetops icon is new in version 9 — clicking it displays the most difficult-to-reach branches of your family tree. Searching for details in your file isn’t quite as simple: I found the search tool (click on the Find magnifying glass icon) a bit complicated, although the search boxes that come up in list windows are more straightforward.
If you accidentally drag and drop a cousin into a relationship with his grandmother, a warning screen pops up to ask whether you really want to make him his own grandpa. Reunion 9 also lets you mark items as sensitive to exclude them from shared GEDCOMs (the universal family tree file format) and Web postings.
Reunion 9 offers many attractive charting options: comprehensive family reports and registers as well as plain-vanilla Ahnentafels, plus graphic reports such as fan charts and multicolored timelines. Version 9 accommodates more multimedia file formats than its previous incarnation and lets you do more with the material. You can create slide shows — complete with transitions and music — featuring your entire family tree or groups of selected people.
If you have an iPod that uses a dock connector, Reunion’s new Pod Card feature lets you take your family with you. You can save an index and surname list of up to 950 people in your iPod’s Notes section.
Reunion 9’s exhaustive, easy-to-follow manual includes step-by-step instructions on readying your tree for the Web. The program prepares your information in Web folders for you to post to the Internet (some HTML know-how is required). Finding duplicate data also seems suited to the technologically inclined: The manual’s in-depth explanation of the process is enough to make your head spin. Foreign languages, on the other hand, won’t cause any confusion. Thanks to the newly added Unicode support, any computer can read accent marks and non-English characters in your file.
Price: $99, or $59.95 for upgrade downloads
Biggest draws: Ability to drag and drop between windows, in-depth manual, Web output, fun Treetops and Pod Cards features
Drawbacks: Clumsy search tool
From the November 2007 issue of Family Tree Magazine.