Software Review: Reunion for iPad version 1.02

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Ease of use
If you own Apple’s wildly popular iPad, you’ve probably thought how great it would be to have an app that would synchronize with your desktop genealogy software, so you could view your family tree facts on the go. Even better would be an app that also lets you do modest data entry — let’s face it, the iPad isn’t ideal for heavy-duty inputting — and then upload those changes back to your computer. Reunion for the iPad delivers on both those promises in a simple, elegant way.

Reunion for iPad version 1.02
Price: $14.99
Manufacturer: Leister Productions, (717) 697-1378
System requirements: iPad plus a Mac running Reunion version 9.0c
Demo/trial version: app runs in demo mode (up to 50 people in family file) if you don’t have Reunion genealogy software
Biggest draws: Makes excellent use of the iPad interface; navigating trees and switching views is a snap; slick and seamless integration with files on your Mac
Drawbacks: Occasional bugs (freezes, additions to memo fields don’t sync with Mac); no search of sources; requires Mac software for full functionality

For Reunion software users, migrating your family tree from your Mac to the iPad couldn’t be easier. Launch Reunion on both devices, select Sync on the iPad and FileMobile DevicePut Family File on Device on the Mac. Reunion uses the Mac’s Bonjour system to transmit your file over any wireless connection (no need to use the iPad’s USB cable or fire up iTunes). Sending any edits or additions back from the iPad is just as easy; only changes are transmitted, so your original Reunion file doesn’t get overwritten.

If you know how to use Reunion, you already know how to use the iPad version, which preserves a remarkable amount of the desktop program’s functionality. Navigating, changing views and even entering data are all literally at your fingertip.

The app does have a few glitches. Data entered on the iPad in the “memo” field of an event seems to get lost in translation back to the Mac. And sometimes the iPad program simply freezes.

File management
Reunion for iPad reads and writes only Reunion’s own file format; anything else must be converted in your Reunion desktop software. But the sync is so simple and slick we have to give it four stars.

Charts and multimedia
After zooming around the tree view on the iPad with the touch of a finger, you may be spoiled for mousing on your Mac. And while you can’t generate fancy charts, built-in tools let you email an index or a family card and customize a slide show for an external display. Here’s the perfect way to give Aunt Sally a tour of the family tree on her TV.

Documentation and publication
Reports and publishing have to be done on the Mac end. Assigning a source to an event can become a pain if you already have a long list of sources; unlike the desktop software, the app has no easy way to search for or jump to an existing source.

While lacking the desktop software’s extensive Find options, basic searching of your file is a snap. You can also customize the Index view, bookmark individuals and quickly identify relatives of any description; the Relatives feature is actually more flexible than on the Mac.

The verdict
If you already own Reunion for the Mac and an iPad, this is a no-brainer — maybe the best $14.99 you’ve ever spent on genealogy. Other Mac users might be tempted to switch to Reunion for the ease and elegance of this iPad option. And Windows users, well, you’ve always suspected Mac addicts were having more fun — and this proves it.

Tip: Want to switch your Reunion “home card” in the iPad app? Navigate to a card, tap Tools in the lower-right and choose Make This the Home Card.

From the September 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine

More great genealogy resources from Family Tree Magazine: