By David A. Fryxell Premium

Despite the United States and France’s recent foreign-policy differences, you have to admit the French have a certain, well, panache. Look what they’ve done for wine, goose liver, perfume — and now, genealogy software. Heredis Mac X.2, the latest English-language version of the best-selling French program, is a full-featured, snazzy-looking family tree program.

Getting started is a snap. It cleanly — if v-e-r-y s-1-o-w-l-y — imports GEDCOM files, or start from scratch using the cute icons for spouse (two doll figures united by a heart), children, mother and father. Data-entry aids suggest surnames and places you’ve already entered, saving typing and misspellings. Adding events and sources is equally straightforward, and the Mac-friendly interface makes selecting a source from existing lists quick and intuitive. The ability to rate each source’s Surety Level from marginal to convincing is a nice touch.

Heredis’ view switches between Immediate Family, a handy snapshot of who’s who; Personal Data, where you enter events; and Union Data, where you manage marriages. Clicking a pedigree-chart icon brings up a separate window (not the slickest solution) showing a family tree headed by your current person; clicking another individual in the tree returns to the main window, with that person’s information open.

All the standard reports and charts are found under the Family Trees and Documents menus. But it’s the graphics bells and whistles that’ll leave PC users drooling: Oak, Medieval and Leaves options let you produce a colorfully designed family tree that looks like a tree or coat of arms. If you’ve added photos to your file (cleverly integrated with Mac’s iPhoto) you can display them with a descendancy picture tree. Photos are crucial to making the most of Heredis’ coolest feature, the Global 3-D Tree, which visualizes all your ancestors as cubes linked in a zoomable 3-D space. Ancestors without photos display as plain-color cubes, however, so the 3-D tree loses some pizzazz around the 18th century.

You can publish Heredis files online or export them to your Palm hand-held device. Lists you generate can be saved as tabbed text for opening in Excel.

Underneath its flashy exterior, Heredis is a capable, easy-to-use and -learn program that should meet all your genealogy needs. You can download the free demo to test it out. Heredis requires MacOS X version 10.1.3 or later, 64MB RAM and 27MB hard disk space. (Note: Heredis <> also produces a separate Windows version for $65.)

Vital Statistics

Heredis Mac X.2


Price: $69 download, $49 upgrade

Biggest draws: Nifty graphics, 3-D family tree

Drawbacks: Slow GEDCOM importing

From the August 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine.