1) First, a little history:
* I started out with Personal Ancestral File in the 1990 time frame. When I added sources, they were in the Notes text.
* I switched to Family Tree Maker 5 in about 1998, after I got a CDROM drive, because it seemed to be more capable than PAF and had fields for source citations and other features. I stuck with it until Version 16 released in 2006. I still use Version 16 for some reports.
* I had heard about RootsMagic software, and bought RootsMagic 3 in 2006 (I think) to try it out. I was able to transfer my FTM database using GEDCOM, learned how to use RootsMagic, and have stuck with it ever since.
* I also have Family Tree Maker 2014 and Legacy Family Tree Version 8 on my computer at this time, and use them occasionally. I also have worked with Family Tree Builder, Family Historian, and Branches, but don't use them at this time.
2) Why RootsMagic? I have several reasons based on my experience with all of the above:
* I like the layout - it's relatively simple and uncomplicated. I can read the fonts. I can make it pretty. I can color code family groups. The menus and icons are intuitive.
* I like the navigation - with one click I can see any of the Views; and with one click and some typing I can find a specific person. Minimizing clicks is important to me.
* I like the Edit Person screen - the buttons are identified, and I can add notes, sources and media easily.
* The Source Templates are very well organized - I can use the source templates to craft a new master source for record types I am not familiar with. The templates provide fields for both the Master Source and the Source Detail. The templates create A Footnote, a Short Footnote and a Bibliography citation. I can create free-form sources easily - with one click, fill in some blanks, and I'm done. All sources can show master text, detail text, media, quality and repository information.
* It creates many reports, lists and charts. I have always used reports to provide information to correspondents. The lists are helpful.
* It interfaces nicely with the FamilySearch Family Tree. I can add content to the Family Tree from RootsMagic, or from the Family Tree to RootsMagic.
* It tells me if there are record Hints on MyHeritage and FamilySearch for my tree persons. I can easily check to see if there are records there that I've missed. I wish it interfaced with Ancestry.com, AmericanAncestors, and Findmypast.com also! I wish it permitted me to import the information and record image directly into RootsMagic, but it doesn't.
* It has a Research Log and To-Do list capability that I can use to define tasks completed and tasks to do at a specific repository - like the Family History Library.
* I can import and export a GEDCOM file in order to transfer information from one program or website to another. I can choose which persons or person groups to include. I can choose to exclude RM-specific features, like source templates.
* It has a Relationship Calculator. I love it!
* I can create a RootsMagic website for free. I can use the RootsMagic app to see my database on my iPhone or tablet for free.
* The Support is excellent - email, forum, newsletter, videos. All for $29.95 every two years or so.
3) I'm not going to discuss the other genealogy software programs in detail. I know that many of them do all or most of those things, and perhaps more. For instance:
* Family Tree Maker 2014 syncs with an Ancestry Member Tree, including bringing attached media items from Ancestry into FTM. I wish RootsMagic did! It doesn't, so I create a GEDCOM file in RootsMagic, put it into FTM 2014, and sync it into a new Ancestry Member Tree. However, because of a known problem in FTM 2014, extraneous blank spaces are put into source citations, notes, etc.
* Legacy Family Tree 8 creates much better narrative and other reports, in my humble opinion. So I GEDCOM a file into LFT 8 when I need a new report (usually 10 generations). LFT 8 also has more types of reports about the database.
4) The bottom line is that RootsMagic 7 is easy for me to use, especially for data input, navigation, source citation creation, and FamilySearch Family Tree interfacing. Even after 9 years, I don't use all of the features available in RootsMagic, but I'm gradually learning more features.
I hope that answers the question, Gary!
Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver
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