Monday, February 16, 2009

Why I Left Legacy for RootsMagic

I am asked all the time why I left Legacy Family Tree for RootsMagic. Finally I am going to attempt to explain that. It would be so much easier if I could have you sit beside me as I try to describe what convinced this once devoted Legacy user to jump ship. It all happened in July of 2007. I was watching a demonstration on the new Legacy 7 at a BYU Conference. I saw Bruce Buzbee the creator of RootsMagic attending the presentation. I thought he was taking notes so he could keep up with what Legacy had coming out. I actually wrote about that in a blog article and said the Legacy was ahead of the game.

My knowledge of RootsMagic was very limited at that time. I owned RootsMagic 1 but I don't think I ever used it. I had watched a demonstration of RootsMagic at the UVPAFUG but wasn't looking to change. I guess I needed a comparison. At the time I wasn't thinking about changing my genealogy program because I was so happy with Legacy. I still like Legacy it's a great program I don't think a person could go wrong with it. Choosing a genealogy program is all up to personal preferences and choice.

I was a member of the RootsMagic mailing list at the time my article came out, saying Legacy was ahead of the game. RootsMagic users were readers of my blog and they took offense to me saying Legacy was ahead. I read the comments and was struck when some RootsMagic users said they wanted to convert me over. It made me realize that I was not being very open minded about RootsMagic. Since I was happy with what I had in Legacy. I thought, in my narrow mindedness, how could there be anything better. I set out to give it a far chance.

The very next UVPAFUG meeting I attended the RootsMagic class taught by Bruce Buzbee. He patiently answered my questions and showed me how RootsMagic did things. They were in fact ahead of Legacy 7 and had been for quit a while. I was struck with how much information was on the screens yet how uncluttered and simplified they were. I love spreadsheets and tables and RootsMagic had that look and feel.

One of the other reasons I had attended the RootsMagic class was because my "new" used laptop did not have enough RAM in it to run Legacy. I was actually thinking of options. I found out how lite RootsMagic was and how it would run on my older laptop. The other consideration was how would the program run with new FamilySearch? Just looking at the RootsMagic edit screen made me realize that multiple facts for the same events would be put in chronological order and I would just need to look in one area to get the whole picture. I was a gut feeling that RootsMagic would run better with NFS. At the time I had no concept of what NFS API would even look like. I just thought Bruce had it laid his program out better.

Let me try to give some examples with a few graphics: (Click on the links below to open up a larger image.)

Here is a Legacy Family View.

Here is a RootsMagic 3 Family View.

Since I am a spreadsheet kind of girl I fell in love with the view of the children. I was forever in Legacy having to click onto the children's information to just view their full birth or death date. In RootsMagic I could now see the full event and more children on just one screen.

The other things, I couldn't get a screen capture of, is being able to see the siblings of my great-grandfather by clicking in the upper left hand corner on the "Parents 1" with an arrow. This will give me drop down box with a quick look at his parents and siblings. The spouses arrow does the same thing, giving me the names of any additional spouses. With just a simple click I can see so much and relate them together. In Legacy I need to move to the alt. spouse in a couple of clicks and same for siblings. Then I can't see the family I was trying to compare info with.

The best screens are the edit screens.

First a look at Legacy's individual edit screen.

Now a look at RootsMagic's individual edit screen.

If you will look closely you can see that all the events line up in chronological order. This is like a built in time line. You are also able to see the temple ordinances without having to click on another screen to see them. You can view the marriage date and if there where more than one you could see each spouse and the marriage date in order. You can see the alt. name without clicking on an icon to view it. There is so much more I can see on this one edit screen than when I look at Legacy.

If I had alt. birth or alt. death events my eye can view them right in chronological order on the RootsMagic screen. On the Legacy screen I have to jump from the primary information down to the Events/Facts box.

Now one of the other things I learned about was RootsMagic 4. The RM4 edit screen gets even better.

I don't have to click to open up an event to edit. I can just move my arrow keys to get to the fact and then on the right I can make the changes. The edit portion on the right changes its layout based on every event type.

I really hope you can tell all the great things you can view just looking at the screens. It's to bad you weren't sitting besides me. Then I could demonstrate better the differences.

The other thing that makes me love RootsMagic is the reports and lists. I can create lists out of any event fact I have used in my database. I can also perform searches on any fact. You want something you can create it.

Right now my status is I use Legacy for my main database. Any new databases I have created for others I am using RootsMagic 3. I am waiting for RootsMagic 4 to come out so I can use the direct import from Legacy feature. Everything will transfer over much more smoothly so that is the reason for the wait. Let me tell you the more I use RootsMagic 3 the more I am sold on RootsMagic vs. Legacy. I just move more quickly through the program. I can see more data on one screen yet at first glance it looks like less is there. It's just because it's much more effecient in it's use of retail space.

I can't wait for RootsMagic 4 to come out so I can sync with NFS. Because Legacy doesn't have a beta test available on NFS right now I can't compare their features on NFS. I did compare Legacy and RootsMagic IGI feature and RootsMagic was quicker and brought back more results.

Then there is RootsMagic-To-Go that will let me run the program from my flashdrive. I am always surprised when I go to a family history center and they don't have RootsMagic installed on their computers. It's available for free to FHCs. Now I don't have to worry about where I am I can always use RootsMagic 4 because the program will be on the flashdrive.

Oh, I can't forget RootsMagic 4 will also have a witness feature or the ability to share events. That is something Legacy definitely can't do. You just might want to take a look at the RootsMagic blog to find out all the new features coming in version 4.

Like I said before I was a very happy Legacy user until I gave RootsMagic a chance. Not everyone has the luxury of having the program creator sit down and demonstrate how their program works. But, you can always take a test drive of either program and see for yourself which one works with the way you operate. Just be open minded and you just might change or be strongly convinced that you have the best program for you.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!


James Tanner said...

Thanks for the comparison. I will be teaching all three programs shortly, RootMagic, Legacy and Ancestral Quest. I have used Legacy for some time but I am always open to change. I will give RootsMagic a more serious look. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Sure hard to say RM is ahead of the game when Legacy 7 already has most of RM's new features. Sure makes me wonder what else RM doesn't have when most of their new features are already in other programs. 75% of RM's new features have been in Legacy 7 for quite some time....

Justgeo1 said...

I started using Family Origins, the predecessor of Roots Magic, with version 1. I purchased that program from a company called Parsons Technology, and have never looked at any other program. I now have several family members also using the program so we can all exchange data.

Renee Zamora said...

To Anonymous,

I don't want to get into a feature war with you. Yes, Legacy has some features that RootsMagic doesn't provide, i.e. Research Guidance. Since I already have GenSmarts that was not a deciding factor for me.

I didn't judge the quality of the program based on who has the most features, it's based more on which program features are easier to use.

That said, there are some features that only RootsMagic will have.

1. RootsMagic to Go - run on a flashdrive.
2. Creates Shareable CDs that are self running.
3. Unicode for language support
4. Witness/shared events - TMG does have this feature.
5. Users can create their own source templates
6. Citation quality - follows the BCG standard

Those were big pluses to what I needed and wanted in a program.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, I was considering moving away from RootsMagic because it doesn't allow same-sex marriages. So I purchased Legacy 6.0 Deluxe. First, it did not display properly. Through Support, we figured out the issue was an incompatibility with my video card and their suggestion was to revert to the previous driver. Since every other program on my computer worked correctly with that video card and the most current driver, I did not see this as a "solution" but as a fault in the Legacy program. Second, it did not import my data correctly: every description as its own fact type. Now, I fully expect "some" clean up, but not the equivalent of re-entering every item in a 16,000 person database.

Trying Legacy was not a wasted effort - it reminded me RootsMagic is a great program that doesn't ask me to jump through hoops...

Dick said...

I started with Roots II in about 1984, then followed it to Roots III. These were both DOS programs but I still think they were ahead of their time. Due to family life and other considerations I kind of dropped out of family history research for 12 years or so.

In 2004 I decided to get back into doing some but by then it would have been foolish to try to stay with an old DOS program. I started looking around for what current Windows programs would offer most of what I loved with Roots III and settled on RM, I think it was V 2 at that time.

I was able to port over most of my data. The only problem was with a fact that I'd created in R3 for Military Service. Otherwise it worked pretty well. Since then I've enjoyed RM for much of the same reasons Renee has mentioned. I especially like being able to print any report directly from RM to a PDF file that can easily be emailed to contacts. I have the full Adobe Acrobat program and with it can make it so easy for people to add or correct things I may have wrong. I am looking forward to V4.

Anonymous said...

I have used Legacy for many years and am always looking for "one" program I can use for everything. I was hoping for that for RM4 (am doing a beta test).

I will probably have to still use both because of several features that I just cannot find within RM 4:

1)Reference File ID's (Sources, source detail citations)are not easily visible (in a list report format) in RM4 and they cannot be generated based on previous last-used ID's which I use a lot in Legacy as I gather new documents and code them to link to the names extracted from them.

2) Media handling. In Legacy, when I add a new Media item, I have a screen where I can add Title, Date and description with the the document visible and size-able so I can "transcribe" the text directly to the description while both are in view.

3) MRIN or Marriage/Family ID's -- I need those since I upload/update my data periodically to my TNG Site Builder site where Family and Individual ID's are necessary for when other users add information and it needs to be synchronized. I cannot find any Family or Marriage ID's for RM.

4) On shared events in Legacy, I can "copy" an entire event, along with its source, media, etc and "share" it with another person, by just copying the event to that person.

If the above were not so important in my day-to-day usage of my genealogy data, I would probably just use RM4 exclusively, but I just can't do without those features for what I am doing, but I love RM4's interface and many, many other things, so I will just have to use both, which I don't like doing, but RM4 does import Legacy 7 files seamlessly (except for the DNA results), so I can use both programs for now.

On new FamilySearch synch--RM4 is much slower than AQ 12.1 on that issue, but I am sure they are working on tweaking that yet.

Renee Zamora said...

Anonymous #2 - I will try to work up a list of work arounds for you in RootsMagic. Probably will be another blog article.

Anonymous said...

I'm a RootsMagic user and the only other programs I have used are PAF and the old DOS Roots I and II programs in my early years of research.

I think users become comfortable with the program they use and style their data entry and routines around what the program will accommodate.

Having said that, I'm not interested in a change, and I find RM suits my needs. I have a couple of things that I wish worked a little differently,but I've figured out how to be comfortable doing what I want to get done, and I like RM.

Thanks for the post.

Abba-Dad said...

I'm still a newbie but I have tried a lot of different genealogy software packages. I was about to switch to FTM2009 from RM3, but there is no way I am going to wait for TGN to fix it.

I have been playing around with the community release of RM4 and while at first I thought it looked a little clunky and not nearly as visually appealing as some other tools out there, I am getting used to it.

The one feature that I simply couldn't live without is the ability to open more than one database and have them appear side by side. And then with a simple drag and drop you can copy people over. That is so useful when a distant cousin sends you a GEDCOM full of people you don't have in your database. It's also been helpful when I researched a new line and wanted to add it to my main tree.

Anyway, I tried Legacy a while ago and couldn't find my right from my left. I think I will stick with RM3/4 for now.

Anonymous said...

Nice analysis. I just got to reading views and reviews due to recently downloading RM4 trial version. It is a very nice piece of software and I was impressed. I've been with Legacy since v2, but there are some strong features in RM4. One thing I love about Legacy though is the name list and being able to edit nearly everything about a person/family from there-I miss that when I run RM. Also tags are vital to my research and RM also doesn't have those. The thing that will decide for me will be how Legacy implements newFamilySearch integration if they do a good job I stay, if they screw it up RM will be my choice. One or the other-I refuse to use both.

Jennifer said...

Hi, Renee! I totally relate to your blog post. I have been a Legacy user for about 2 years. I migrated to Legacy from FTM and thought there could be nothing better. I even read your post when it was originally posted and thought, "Anh, I hate spreadsheets because I work with them all day long. I don't think RM could be that much better than Legacy." Well, fast forward to now. I've decided to go on the RM Valentines Cruise in Feb 2010, so I thought I would just try out the trial version of RM 4. After using it for just a few days, I have decided that I am in love with it too. I love the fact that I can share events so easily and create my own source templates. And that I can see so much on one screen! And the chronological events screen on the edit person view!! Wow! Anyhow, I just think it's funny how I ignored your post for so long and didn't realize how true it was until I tried it out for myself.

Marina Garrison said...

I also switched from Legacy to RTM. The reason for this is that Legacy simply can't export real footnotes and index entries to an RTF or Word file. It just adds text lines to the end of the text block instead.

This is a huge problem if you ever plan to write any family history narrative and cite your sources. And it was a deal breaker for me.

I've been on at Geoff@Legacy about this since version 5 and while he keeps promising they will fix it, it hasn't been fixed yet (v7.4), so I'll be sticking with Rootsmagic.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, you made my choice easy! Very good blog with images!
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found this post. Years ago I started into picking up my Mom's Genealogy and I used Legacy 5 back then. But I put it away for several years because of time constraints and was now going start getting back into it. Your article convinced me to give Roots MAgic a try as I had been seeing good reviews about it. Thank you for writing this review.

Gramps said...

I have been using PAF for 10 years and when the church said that there would be no more tech support for this program, I have been looking for a replacement. I asked a sales person about RootsMagic and Legacy and if he knew the difference between the two. I just came across your blog and happy I did. I think I have made my mind up to get RM4. Wish me luck. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Perhaps worth commenting somewhere on this page that Renee *works for* RootsMagic.. Whether that was the case when this article was written is also relevant - especially if the article was written prior to being an employee.

This article was something that helped me decide on RM when I was originally deciding on a program - I was less than pleased when I found out, and an update stating that fact - and knowing that the article I had assumed was unbiased information was in fact unbiased when it was written - would have made a huge difference. I'm aware that this fact is included in the About Me page - however for this article, it should also be stated on the page of the article.

Renee Zamora said...

I would hope it was pretty obvious that I wasn't an employee of RootsMagic while I was a Legacy user. It was only after switching to RootsMagic and loving it so much that I started to work for them.

Richard C. Shipp said...

Can you update your comparison of Legacy to the newer Roots Magic 6? That would be helpful to those currently (July 2013) trying to make a current comparison! Thanks!


Renee Zamora said...

I will make an up to date comparison after Legacy 8 is released.

Anonymous said...

I am just starting to get back into my research after an eight year break. I was going to download the newest PAF and found that I couldn't. I have read your blog and might be interested in trying out RM. Can you tell me if you can indicate when a child is a stepchild? My daughter wants to be listed with myself and my current husband but to be accurate I need to list her as a stepchild. Also, how does RM4 differ from RM6? Thank you very much.

Renee Zamora said...

In RootsMagic you can specific the child's relationship to their parents. It doesn't always show up in reports though. To learn more about the difference between RM4 & RM6 you would have to know what came in RM5 too. You can read articles on about each. There is a list of what's new in RM6 at

SurfinNan said...

Are you still happy with RootsMagic?. I have used PAF for years and since they stopped upgrading years ago I am now looking for a new program that may be more compatible with Win 10. So I was interested in your comments as I have tried Legacy and a couple of others (all free versions at present) and haven't found something to my liking. I also like spreadsheet type layouts, more logical.

Renee Zamora said...

I love the program so much I now work for RootsMagic.