Genealogist can be really passionate about their genealogy software programs. I have to include myself among that bunch. In July 2007, I was heralding the praises of Legacy Family Tree from within the walls of this blog. I was happy I was content, life was good. Then the challenge was offered to take a peek at RootsMagic.
I was lucky the RootsMagician himself (Bruce Buzbee) demonstrated the inner workings of RootsMagic to me. The feel and flow of the program just spoke to me and my heart sang "This is the one! It conforms to my sense of order in my little genealogy world."
At that moment I knew an eternal genealogy truth. There is no "right" program out there, it's all a personal choice. All of us have different tastes, styles, ways of thinking, preference methods, and our own sense of order. Combine all this with the power of peer pressure and the individual needs for hand holding tech support, is it any wonder that there are so many different genealogy software programs out there?
It's been almost 3 years since I posted "Why I Left Legacy for RootsMagic". At the time I was comparing Legacy 7 with RootsMagic 3. An imminent launch of RootsMagic 4 was on the horizon. Today I am using RootsMagic 5 and still loving it. In fact I even work for the company now, which is the best job ever!
In this article I want to share with you some of my favorite features and why RootsMagic works for me!
Edit Person Screen
Upon analyzing RootsMagic for the first time, the major thing I noticed, was how much the Edit Person screen resembled a spreadsheet. I am a spreadsheet sorta gal. Neat little rows and columns let me see at a glance the events I have recorded on a person's life. Corresponding check marks notify me if there are notes, sources and media for that event. There is so much information at my figure tips, yet it doesn't feel cluttered. You just don't have to dig deep to find the information. Just look at that window. Isn't it beautiful!
The Timeline View is a new feature in RootsMagic 5. Now I can see not only the events in a person's life but when major events happened in family members lives. This really helps me visualize new places to look for information on people. Ok, maybe not this relative, but you get the idea.
You may not think this view is anything special, but I want to share a tip with you. In the RootsMagic Forum one user described how they primarily work from the Descendant View, especially when adding new people to the database. I was like "What?" I had never done that and thought it weird, but, I was willing to give it a go. You know what, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love, love, love to add people to RootsMagic from the descendant view. I can see all the family relationships at a glance. It helps me keep track of who belongs to whom. When you combine this with using short-cut keys you get blazing fast at data-entry. This is my favorite view to work from.
To Do List
There are some really great changes in RootsMagic 5 on the To-Do List. I haven't taken advantage of them yet in my primary database, which is what you are looking at. I had my own little coding system going on in the Task Title to help me locate priority items. Now with the ability to sort on priority, status, completed and open items things will get much easier as I convert over.
To-Do Lists are a must for genealogist and I really put mine to good use in RootsMagic. I am forever late night searching out new leads, but to tired to enter them into my database. You can see in this example I saved the obit and then reminded myself to go back and data entry it. There is never a boring moment in my genealogy - always work to be done.
Research Manager - Research Logs
Another new feature in RootsMagic 5 is the Research Manager. I am so excited about it's arrival because now we finally have Research Logs. You can create Research Logs for a Person, Family, Event, Place or General items. The intention is to move To-Do items into a Research Log as you complete each task. This will build a log of all your completed research activities.
You are probably noticing by now that I only have one Research Log and a single entry in it. As I've played with the Research Log in my test database I could see that it had even greater potential than what it was designed for. If you save the research log report as an RTF file you can edit the column headers in Word to anything you want. This leaves the field wide open for all sorts of spreadsheet type lists.
I've had a goal for several years to create a Genealogy Inventory Database or even just a Personal Library of books I own. The Research Log is fully searchable and sortable. It's possible for me to record all the genealogy materials I have and track my work status with them. Are they digitized? Where do I store them? Has all the information I need been data entry into my database, etc, etc?
I am way excited about these Research Logs, yes for their intended purpose, but also for my personal desires. I really do like having all my research right at my finger tips. This brings me to the finale favorite thing about RootsMagic I am going to share with you today.
RootsMagic To-Go was introduced in RootsMagic 4. It is a small utility program that comes with the program. It allows you to install the RootsMagic program onto your flash drive and transfer your database files to keep them in sync. RootsMagic To-Go helps me keep at a minimum what I need to take on research trips. I have not needed to use my laptop in a long time. As long as I am at a research facility with a computer I can pop in my flash drive with RootsMagic To-Go on it and have the full database right in front of me. No need to install the software to anyone's computer and no traces are left behind. A flash-drive with RootsMagic To-Go on it is part of my emergency kit. I never leave home without it.
Here's another great tip for using RootsMagic To-Go. I've used it at home right along side my desktop version of RootsMagic. I will open the desktop version of the program and RootsMagic To-Go at the same time and tile them side by side. This helps me compare information by having multiple windows, such as two edit person screens, open next to each other. You can not drag n' drop between the programs, like you could if you had two databases open in one program at a time. This just allows you to enhance the comparisons.
As I start to wrap this article up I realize I didn't talk about the new Multimedia features, Sources, CountyCheck, working with New FamilySearch, or a number of other great things - all important to my genealogy life! Yes, there are many, many reason why RootsMagic works for me. I suggest you stop by the RootsMagic Booth at RootsTech this week and check out the program. If you're at home check out the free webinars online at: http://www.rootsmagic.com/Webinars/
And last but not least, if you are participating in the RootsMagic 2012 RootsTech Treasure Hunt, with an opportunity to win an iPad, my clue is below. (Don't forget to click on the image)
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See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!