Review: RootsMagic 8

I just purchased RootsMagic, version 8 (RM8). The initial purchase, setup, and registration went smoothly. I was able to upgrade from a registered version 6 with no problem.

The interface is reminiscent of Evidentia, with no menu-bar or toolbar across the top as was in previous versions. It is taking a bit of getting used to. There is a search field in the Command Palette in the upper right part of the main screen that will lead you to what you need to find. I also like the font scaling feature in the Settings menu.

I was able to convert a RootsMagic Essentials 7 database with no problems. Importing a GEDCOM 5.5.1-compliant file also went smoothly. I expected some errors and omissions during the conversions, but I saw no problems reported by RootsMagic. Looking at the database folder on my computer, I found the .lst file containing a bunch of “unknown info” from the GEDCOM import. None of it was significant, though, so, so far so good.

The Sources listing screen in RM8 is quite different. It is however, somewhat like what was in The Master Genealogist. One annoyance is that I cannot select whole words using the Control-Shift-arrow keys. I have to select it using just the Shift-arrow keys, character-by-character.

Although my source list got messed up during the transition from The Master Genealogist version 8 to RootsMagic 6 some years ago and having edited it by hand in the raw GEDCOM file, the sources appear well enough. In the narrative report, anyway, they are fine.

Running a Narrative Report is easy, there are a few choices for details. I chose the NEHGS Register style which I am familiar with to test-drive that report on my main family line. I would recommend that the developers read a couple of the current style guides available which detail the Register style. If you were to use this style without a care for the looks, you’d be fine, but me, I have a lot of clean-ups to do.

I will stick with LifeLines and Ancestris for their detailed and in-depth problem reports, making any changes in RootsMagic. These two other programs are free, open source software projects which are quite good themselves. I’ve also coded a rough draft of a Register-style report in the Lifelines report language, which is quite useful.

I have not tried the connections to FamilySearch or Ancestry yet. I do not have a paid Ancestry account, so will not be able to use that connector. I maintain a small tree on FamilySearch but all of it is already hand-entered in my database off-line. I like the idea that there are tutorials available for using RootsMagic and FamilySearch; I will get to those someday.

Overall, this update to RootsMagic is great. I will continue using it as one tool in my toolkit.