RootsMagic 6 was recently released. It’s not a major overhaul but it adds a variety of new features.
Installation on a Mac
I run RootsMagic on my Mac inside CrossOver, a program that lets you run Windows programs without installing Windows. RootsMagic 5 is supported, but version 6 is still too new for that. I didn’t want to overwrite RootsMagic 5 yet so I installed 6 in its own Crossover bottle, using the RootsMagic 5 installer from Crossover. I just pointed it to the new file that I had downloaded and changed the 5s to 6s in the names of things.
RootsMagic 6 runs as well as RootsMagic 5 in Crossover. I haven’t seen any new problems and the main old problem remains, which is that clicking on a RootsMagic window that is under Mac application windows does not bring the RootsMagic window to the top. I can live with that, though.
The biggest new feature is tree publishing. You can now publish your tree at http://my.rootsmagic.com straight from RootsMagic. You do this from Internet->Publish Online. If you don’t have an account you will create one there, and then set up your project. You can select who will go on the tree using the usual export selector, which allows you to focus on someone and pick their ancestors or descendants, among other methods. You also get questions about what to do with living people and private records. You then publish it to the site, where it will appear at http://my.rootsmagic.com/account-name.
At first I was sort of blasé about this feature, as there are lots of places to post my tree, but they have done a good job of making a nice looking page. The layout is clean and uncluttered and it is easy to navigate around, all the way down to the sources. I think it looks better than the RootsMagic program, of course without most of the functionality.
When publishing the page there is not an option to make it public or private, and my first impression was that the page would be out there for the public. It turns out, though, that the page is basically private. RootsMagic does not maintain a directory of its pages and it is out of view from Google and other search engines. It is hidden enough that RootsMagic is looking into ways to make the contents searchable for people who actually do want their tree broadly visible.
Finally, the tree publishing does not have the synchronization features of Family Tree Maker. If you want to update your tree you will need to select the people and upload again and overwrite the old tree. Synchronization would be a nice feature for the future, but this is a very good first version of tree sharing.
Live Timeline View
The Live Timeline View allows you to edit the items while viewing the timeline along with adding and deleting them. This is billed as allowing you to correct your data while viewing it in the context of other family members. I guess this is nice, but corrections should be driven more by one’s information sources rather than other data. If you see something obvious, though, like someone being born 100 years after their parents died, you may be able to fix it.
I actually purchased the upgrade last night just for this feature. I may get to visit Ionia County, Michigan soon and wanted to find all my records for the county. It turns out that the search in RootsMagic 5 would have been sufficient, but Find Everywhere does expand the search scope. The existing find lets you search through the main information fields for a given record type but does not look in notes, sources, citations, and the like. Find Everywhere searches through all those other fields and gives you links to the actual records. This can be handy, but I wish it also searched through the main record fields so that everything appears in one place.
WebTags is the new feature that puzzled me the most. What it does is let you add a web link to a person, source, citation, place or research log item. It’s sort of like saving bookmarks in RootsMagic instead of your browser. Storing links about a person right with their record is more convenient that using bookmarks in your web browser. In the sample below I linked to the person’s WeRelate.org page.
So far, though, the feature seems less useful for links for types of data other than people. I assigned a link to a place, but to see it I had to go to the place list, find the place, and then drill down to the details where there the WebTags appeared. There really isn’t anyplace else to put a WebTag for a place so I suppose this makes sense, but I’m not usually navigating through the place list so this seemed like a bit of work to me. If you do more work on your places than I do, though, this could be a helpful feature.
I created a WebTag for a citation, but did not readily find how to get to it later on. It turns out that the button is on the Detail Text tab for the citation. In any case, for sources, citations, and research logs, I’d prefer that RootsMagic search for URLs in the text and turn them into links rather than putting that work on the user to create WebTags. I’m also surprised that WebTags aren’t available for To-do list entries, to make it easier for someone to get to their work when they start their task, although I’d prefer that RootsMagic detect URLs for those too.
Along with entering a WebTag manually like I did below, you can also create one on the fly from your WebSearch results. When you get to the page you want you hit Add WebTag and associate it with the person, place, etc.
BTW, I’m hoping this does not get used by people for lazy sourcing. RootsMagic has a very nice system for creating sources and citations so WebTags should just be considered an additional convenience.
The CountyCheck Explorer lets you search for a county for historical information. RootsMagic will tell you when the county was created, what counties it was created from, what counties split off from it, and what it belongs to. It also includes links to online info and maps. The online info sent me to the FamilySearch wiki and the online map button took me to the county maps at Newberry.org. So while one could just skip this feature and go to the wiki or Newberry.org, it gives you a quick way to see the county formation history and the links are handy.
So, am I glad I upgraded? None of these are killer features for me, unlike things like the research log in RootsMagic 5, but I can see myself using the CountyCheck Explorer and the Find Anywhere features. I may even use WebTags, at least for people and maybe places. I usually get upgrades anyhow because I want to make sure I get bug fixes, so this gave me some extra features.
If you want to learn more there is also a webinar about the new features. At 76 minutes I haven’t gone through it yet but will if I get a chance.