Over the next few weeks I will provide a review of Record Managers. I will begin with RootsMagic. RootsMagic has two products. They have a free product called RootsMagic Essential and a more full featured product that sells for $29.95. In my experience the $29.95 is well worth the cost.
RootsMagic has been around for several years, but in the last few years has really blossomed. They have invested in features to support syncronization with new FamilySearch, and have enhanced their sourcing, reporting, and other features such that they have become one of the most well rounded products in the market.
The product is one of the easier to use and supports features like a drag and drop copy feature that allows one portion of a tree to be separated into a different file by simple selecting an ancestor and dragging it to another window. If you have ever found yourself needing to share only a portion of your tree with a family member you will appreciate the incredible value of this feature.
RootsMagic has one of the best sourcing systems I have found. It allows for sources to be created independent of individual records so they can be used for multiple individuals. Often a census record will be a source for many individuals, this is true of many records. The sourcing system allows for a digital image of the document to be attached.
RootsMagic is also one of the few record managers that have templates that conform to the genealogical proof standard. The templates are based on recommendations in Evidence Explained, the bible of genealogical sourcing. It also includes a wizard to walk you through source creation to ensure all the data is filled out correctly.
If you are looking for help with research RootsMagic works with GenSmarts. GenSmarts is a software program that will analyze a person on your tree and suggest which sources should be searched. While not a definitive list of all the places to search, it is a useful guide to help ensure you have included a broad range of sources. It also has a built in search system that will search through multiple websites for you so that you don’t have to visit each site individually.
Merging Gedcoms is always a problem. Most researchers, at some point will receive a Gedcom file from multiple sources and then have to eliminate duplicates. RootsMagic makes this process as easy as any I have seen. It detects duplicates and walks you through the process of selecting the correct information.
There is a full range of reporting tools with more reports than will likely ever be needed. The one notable exception to the reporting suite is a fan chart. I personally love fan charts because they easily identify end of lines. A fan chart can be ordered from an online service with the output created from RootsMagic, but the omission of this report makes the reporting incomplete, for me.
There is a good error checking process that gives you a report of missing information and information that is inconsistent. I find this a very useful feature. Whether I am trying to make sure I have completed all the information on an individual or looking for data entry mistakes or incorrect conclusions, this is a good double check to my work.
There are also great multimedia features. I have not used these features as much, but the product supports attaching photos, sound clips, video, and virtually any other type of digital media.
If you wish to publish a book, or similar kind of document for distribution among your family, RootsMagic has a good report that generates text from facts. It includes features that will generate a title page, an index, and allow free form pages to be built.
Lastly, if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are looking for a program to help you manage the submission of temple ordinances, RootsMagic is an excellent choice. The software has all the temple submission capabilities of new FamilySearch. Individuals and families can be qualified for ordinance work, selected, and submitted. A Family Ordinance Request can be printed right from RootsMagic to take to the temple and have cards printed. RootsMagic has a temple list management feature that, in my opinion, is better than new FamilySearch at giving you a view of what work has been completed and what yet needs to be done.
RootsMagic also has full syncronization with new FamilySearch and it is one of the most elegant and understandable. Information entered into RootsMagic is synced with new FamilySearch and vice versa.
This means that there will never be a need for Gedcom uploads or merging. The collaboration features of RootsMagic are not as good as new FamilySearch since the web based new FamilySearch has capabilities difficult to implement on software installed on a personal PC, but for everything other than collaboration RootsMagic is, in many ways, the best of both worlds. It has excellent sourcing, quick data entry, and can be taken with you anywhere. At the same time it keeps all its information, if you so choose, fully backed up and maintainable with new FamilySearch.
RootsMagic is one of the leading products in the next generation of record managers. If you are looking for a record manager, give their free product a try. If you like it buy the full version, as I said above, it’s worth the price.