Software Review: RootsMagic 5

Software Review: RootsMagic 5

Price: $29.95 or $19.95 upgrade Manufacturer: RootsMagic, (800) 766-8762 System requirements: Windows XP or newer Demo/trial version: www.rootsmagic.com/try Biggest draws: ease of use, data entry, documenting sources, reports Drawbacks: no place-name column in research log   Ease of use Exceptionally easy to use, RootsMagic provides...

Price: $29.95 or $19.95 upgrade
Manufacturer: RootsMagic, (800) 766-8762
System requirements: Windows XP or newer
Demo/trial version: www.rootsmagic.com/try
Biggest draws: ease of use, data entry, documenting sources, reports
Drawbacks: no place-name column in research log
 
Ease of use
Exceptionally easy to use, RootsMagic provides extensive help throughout the program. Refer to the online knowledge base, message board and video tutorials, and get phone and e-mail support. You also can get a printed manual for $14.95.
 
As in previous versions, the Pedigree, Family, Descendants and People tabs make it easy to navigate around your family tree. Most functions are arranged logically in the main menu and toolbar, but don’t overlook the media gallery in the Lists menu. The new Timeline View tab shows all the events in a person’s life, plus births, marriages and deaths in the person’s immediate family.
 
Now CountyCheck works as you enter places, alerting you to incorrect county, province and state names. It works with places in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. US places link to the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.
 

File management

RootsMagic directly opens Family Origins, Family Tree Maker (2006 and earlier), Personal Ancestral File and Legacy files, and imports pictures from Family Tree Maker. It would be helpful if RootsMagic told you how many names are in a GEDCOM file you’re creating.
 
RootsMagic-to-Go is a separate utility program that lets you copy the program and your family files to a flash drive so you can run RootsMagic on another computer. You also can create a shareable CD with a read-only version of RootsMagic to show off your work.
 
The program didn’t slow down on my test file of nearly 32,000 people. Users have reported good performance with even larger files.
 

Charts and multimedia

You can create customizable wall, timeline and box charts, as well as photo trees. Though RootsMagic doesn’t offer the fanciest charts of any genealogy software, they’re plenty good enough for a family reunion or gift.
 
A new media tagging feature improves picture and source document management. When a photo shows several people, it’s easy to add it to each person’s media album. In a media album, you can now select a picture and see everyone it’s linked to or select a document and see every source it’s linked to.
 

Documentation and publication

Documentation is simple. Just select the template for the source type and fill in the boxes. Each field has a helpful description of what should go there.
 
The new Research Manager helps you keep track of your research goals, sources and results. When you complete a task on your to-do list, you can transfer it to a research log. You can sort the research log by any column, such as repository or date, but unfortunately, there’s no place-name column.
 
Report options include well-designed family group sheets, pedigree charts, narrative reports and reports for your website. In addition to the usual name index, reports can include a place index. A new “On This Day” report shows all the births, marriages and deaths in your tree on a certain day of the year.
 

Searching

Using the powerful RootsMagic Explorer, you can search your file by multiple criteria, such as a name and any fact’s date or place. The WebSearch tab lets you search Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Google and other sites for the selected person.

The verdict

Probably the best all-around genealogy program, RootsMagic makes it easy to organize and share family history. This isn’t an essential upgrade, but most users will find it worthwhile for the data entry and multimedia enhancements.
 
 
 
From the May/June 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine 

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