Two quick points. First, as always, we receive no financial benefit or consideration for any product or service we review/recommend here. Everything we discuss is our opinion alone, and we talk about it because we use it. Second, this is a quick review with only about 24 hours with the product. We’ll follow up with more detail, and possibly a more complete opinion shortly, but we’re pretty confident in the what we’ve found in the time we’ve spent with this product.
Quick take on moving to RootsMagic 7.5: This migration was easy, and just over 24 hours after we put a test tree into see how the product looks/works, we’re hooked, and Family Tree Maker is soon dead to us.
The bottom line is this: RootsMagic does everything that Family Tree Maker used to do, and does now, moving over was not painful, and it resolved our issues immediately. Additionally, it does some things much better than FTM, and the switch was painless. We’ll never go back.
To add a little more detail, to test we migrated a Family Tree Maker 3.1 tree that was synced to Ancestry.com (before Software MacKiev missed it’s April 1 shipping deadline, and broke FamilySync) that had both custom data elements and extensive home-grown citations attached to facts. The test was to get the tree into RM, get it synced to Ancestry.com, and after confirming that the data migrated properly, use RootsMagic to attach new sources and facts to the tree, to see how it works vs. Family Tree Maker.
RootsMagic is better than Family Tree Maker at:
- Adding new family members – Very simple and intuitive, with fewer clicks and easier to run through a page of newly discovered ancestors in an old book.
- Creating new sources – The kludgy, and totally inaccurate (as it relates to the Elizabeth Shown Mills Evidence Explained format), source/fact process in Family Tree maker is completely blown away by RootsMagic. We were amazed at how quickly and easily we were able to use the Free Form template to enter the Source List Entry, Full Reference Note, and Short Note entries for a source. Quick, easy, obvious, simple.
- Citing sources to multiple ancestors – Again, MUCH simpler and easier. Two clicks and quick search each time…we were amazed at how easy it was to take a page from a book and source it to everyone listed on that page.
- Citing multiple pages of a source book – I don’t know why we’ve all suffered for so long with the way FTM approached this, but RootsMagic uses a “Master Source” model that includes the 3 types of source citations you’d use (if you’re making an EE citation), but it allows you to enter a page number each time (if you’re using a book) without additional clicks. So when you turn a page, and add the name and birthdate of a new ancestor, you merely click the Sources… button, click on Cite Source… and enter the page number.
- Nicknames – Wow!!!! How have we ever lived without this feature in Family Tree Maker? My 2x Great grandfather William Ephraim Tradewell was always referred
to as Wesley though out his life, including in his Civil War service records. It’s WAY better to now be able to enter that as his nickname and have it show in quotes than it was to deal with it in FTM.
RootsMagic is the same as Family Tree Maker at:
- Syncing with Ancestry.com – It worked first time for us, no effort, and we were back using sync just like we did last on May 30! It was a piece of cake, and it has worked perfectly each time/every time.
- Web searching with Ancestry.com – Neither of them do it very well, both have really bad interfaces to search and merge, but RM worked just as well as FTM.
- Basic Tree entry/management – You can enter person notes, fact notes, data elements (e.g. Birth, Death, Marriage, etc.), custom data elements (we use 3 different ones for DNA matches), and all of the day-to-day data/management you do in your tool, is the same for both FTM and RM.
Areas RootsMagic needs to work on:
- Syncing new users from RootsMagic to Ancestry.com via TreeSync – RootsMagic is really bad at adding new users to your Ancestry.com tree. Each one requires you select the user, click the Add… button, and then a progress screen pops up until it completes. You have to repeat the process for each new users added in RootsMagic,
and so when we went through two pages of an old book, entering the ~15 ancestors listed in those, it took WAY too long to sync with Ancestry. FTM is way better at this.
- Navigating between parts of your family tree – Let’s be clear right away: The main User Interface in both products is not good. They are both old, dated, and look like they have largely been unchanged since the early 2000’s. Both need to look at the Ancestry.com interface and copy it, while they work to build and improve off of that. But, Family Tree Maker is much better at letting you move up and down your tree, and to expand and select different branches of the family on the fly. RootsMagic essentially only gives you a pedigree view, and limits you into only working on the ancestor you select initially. So, for example if you select your 2x GGF, and you have selected his oldest son, and now you want to select his next child to add a new marriage…good luck. It seems impossible. We still haven’t figured out how to select children from the main Pedigree view. FTM is not good at this either, but it’s way better than RM.
Quick take on moving to RootsMagic 7.5: This migration was easy, and just over 24 hours after we put a test tree into see how the product looks/works, we’re hooked, and Family Tree Maker is soon dead to us. It’s been 8 days since we opened our issue with their “swamped” support desk (their words, not ours) and we haven’t heard a word from Software MacKiev. In-fact, we’ve never even received an acknowledgement of receipt of the issue. But in 24 hours, those trees are synced in RootsMagic, and we’re back using our tool to further our research.