RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Evolution

Way back when I first started previewing RootsMagic 4, several eagle-eyed readers noticed that the file extension of the RootsMagic database had changed from .RMG to .RMGC.  There was some speculation (quite accurate speculation I might add) about what that simple change actually means.

One thing that it means is that RootsMagic 4 has been rewritten from the ground up (now you know why it has taken so long).  After the release of version 3 several years ago, we realized that it was time to take RootsMagic to the next level.  And we weren’t content with just cobbling a few new features onto old code like is done so often in the software world.  But we also wanted to make sure we didn’t leave out any of the existing features that have made RootsMagic so popular all these years.  We’ve shown you a lot of the new stuff we’ve written, but here are just a few of the non-visual reasons we have spent so many long hours rewriting RootsMagic.

Unicode Support

So what is Unicode?  Basically Unicode support means that RootsMagic isn’t limited to just “western European” languages anymore.  RootsMagic 4 can now handle Polish, Cyrillic, Kanji, and most any other language you can throw at it.

And while many of us don’t use these other languages every day, there are times where we may want to enter the name of an ancestor in their native language, or keep a transcription of an old document in its original language.

If you would like to learn more than you could ever possibly want to know about Unicode, check out this Wikipedia article.


Shortly after the release of version 4.0, we will be releasing tools to allow the translation of RootsMagic into other languages.  We will provide more information about this then, and will be looking for volunteers interested in helping out with this important project.

Single File Database

And after 18+ years of Family Origins and RootsMagic using over 30 files for each and every database, one of my favorite features in RM4 (and our tech support people concur) is the new single file RootsMagic database.  I know most people probably don’t even care about this, but for those of us who have ever had to copy or move a database, it’s nice to know I won’t accidentally leave a piece of my database behind.

There are still 3 more features I want to tell you about before we light this candle.  There are actually a lot of things I haven’t had time to show, but I figure I’ll just leave a few things for you to find out about by experimenting.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Sharing Events

Can I get a witness?

Here is that new edit screen from the last preview, and I’ve unblurred the new magic button.

“Share”.  This feature (sometimes called “witnesses”) lets you share a person’s fact or event with other people in your database.  Click the Share button for a fact and RootsMagic 4 lets you select any group of people in your database who will share that fact.  You can even say what each person’s “role” in that event is.

So what happens when you look at the edit screen of one of those people sharing that fact?  Here’s what:

The fact or event will show just like it does in the event owner’s screen, except that you will see a pair of binoculars to indicate this person is sharing the event rather than owning it.  If you don’t want to see the shared events, click the Options button and tell RootsMagic to hide those shared events.

So how might you use this Share button?  Here are a couple of examples…

  1. Witnesses to an event – You’ve entered a marriage event for a couple, but would like to link other family members who were in attendance.  Just click the Share button for the marriage event and you can select those family members and even enter any specific roles they may have played (“best man”, “maid of honor”, “witness”, or anything else).
  2. People sharing a fact – One great example of this is a census fact.  Let’s say you find a family in the census.  Just add that census fact to the head of the household, then click the Share button for the census fact and add the other family members found in the census.  Not only can you add the people to that fact, but you can also enter a role (like “Spouse”, “Child”, “Boarder”, etc) of the person in that census record.  You can also use Shared facts for family members in a residence fact also.

Pretty cool, eh?  Still a few more to go, then we’ll start making some announcements.

Oh, and for those anonymous comments that I shouldn’t be wasting your time with blog tags or tributes to friends, just select “RootsMagic” from the Category over there in the right column and you won’t see those other articles.  As for whether it is wasting *my* time, I’m spending 16+ hours a day (including Saturdays) working on RM4, so I think I’m entitled to a little freedom as to what I post.  Just remember, I could start working a standard 40 hour week like most people 😉

Tag, I’m It

OK, so nobody told me when I started blogging that I would get to play tag.  I was tagged by Diane Haddad over at the Genealogy Insider (she’s with Family Tree Magazine).  I’m supposed to answer these questions about myself, and then tag 5 more blogs.

10 Years Ago I …
1. Moved into my current home
2. Worried about the future of Family Origins
3. Stressed as my oldest son got his driver’s license
4. Visited Hearst Castle
5. Watched my youngest son play outfield by laying down picking dandelions (aren’t scrapbooks wonderful)

Five Things on Today’s To-Do List
1. Work on RootsMagic 4
2. Eat lunch
3. Work on RootsMagic 4
4. Eat dinner
5. Work on RootsMagic 4

Five snacks I enjoy
1. Chips and salsa (everything else is a distant second)
2. Vanilla bean ice cream
3. Pizza (anything less than a full pizza is a snack)
4. Various nuts (pistachios, cashews, etc)
5. Peanut M&Ms

Five Places I’ve Lived
1. Albuquerque, New Mexico
2. Mountain View, California
3. San Jose, California
4. Sandy, Utah
5. Mapleton, Utah

Five Jobs I’ve Had
1. Newspaper boy
2. Carpet layer
3. Technical gopher at Air Force Weapons Lab at Kirtland AFB
4. Senior Engineer at Stanford Research Institute
5. Programmer of genealogy software

Five Blogs I Tag
1. Janet Hovorka at The Chart Chick
2. Kimberly Powell at (I pick on her every time)
3. Dick Eastman at Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter
4. Holly Hansen at the Family History Expos Blog
5. Lisa Louise Cook over at the Genealogy Gems Podcast

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – The New Edit Screen

Well, I’m finally caught up from the RootsMagic cruise, and ready to wrap up the last 5 or 6 new features coming in RootsMagic 4.

Welcome to the new edit screen.  Now, before you say “It’s different so I hate it”, let’s talk a little bit.

One big problem in most genealogy programs is all the screens required to enter information.  Currently in RootsMagic (versions 1-3), there are 3 different edit screens… 1) Edit Person, 2) Edit Fact, and 3) Edit Family.  I bet there are some RootsMagic users who didn’t even know about the Edit Family screen (found by doing Edit > Family from the main menu).  And most other programs split a person’s information among even more screens.

Let’s take a look at RootsMagic 4’s new edit screen.  The left half of the edit screen is a list of every piece of information about the person: their name(s), spouses, parents, facts, events, and even DNA tests.  The right half of the screen is a “live edit” panel for the currently highlighted row.

Select the “Person” row, and the live edit panel lets you edit the person’s name and sex.  Select a different row (like the “Emigration” fact in the screen below), and the live edit panel lets you edit the details for that piece of information.

In addition to the live edit fields, RootsMagic 4 also shows whether there are any notes, sources, media, or XXXXX for that piece of information (looks like Bruce got ahold of the blurring tool again).

And if you select one of the family rows (like the parents in the screen below), you can edit details about that family (like the relationship to each parent).  And don’t worry about losing those shortcuts you have gotten used to… you can still click the little green checkmarks to directly edit notes, sources, and media.

So there you have it.  The ultimate edit screen.  The one-stop place for a person’s names (primary and alternate), families, events, facts, DNA tests, and more.  And we’ll have more fun next time when I break out the un-blurring tool.

Remembering a Good Friend

I just got back from the RootsMagic cruise late last night, and have been feeling a little melancholy.  I found out while I was gone that a good friend had passed away.  Many of you may know Art Lassagne, owner of The Gold Bug, and the publisher of AniMap.  Art passed away September 29, 2008.

If you have ever been to one of the national genealogy conferences, or even some of the smaller ones in the west, you know Art from his flowing white hair and his infectious smile.

Art is the guy who taught me (and my wife Laurie) what a good steak is supposed to taste like.  At every conference we would go to dinner together, and Art had researched where the very best steak in town could be found.

It really hit home Saturday when I received an email that booth selection for NGS had opened.  For years Art and I would immediately call each other when selection started so we could both get good spaces.  So when I got the email, my first thought was “I need to call Art”.

I’m really going to miss Art, probably most of all in Mesa Arizona in November which would have been our next conference together.

So Art, even though it was your turn to buy dinner in Mesa, this one is going to be on me.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Named Groups

If you have ever selected a group of people for a report or search and wished you could save that group of people to use again later, then your wish has been granted.  The fifth (and final) tab of the side list is the Groups tab.

Click the Groups button to add, edit, or delete groups of people.  You can select any group of people from the selection screen, and then give that group of people a name (like “People born in England” or “Ancestors of John Smith”).  You can then select from these names in the side list to show the people in that group.

You can create new groups, edit groups (change which people are in the group), or delete groups.  You can also change the name of a group.

Once you have some named groups created, the fun begins.  Any time you are asked whether you want to include all or some people (such as when printing a custom report), RootsMagic will also let you select any of the named groups as well.

Of course there is no limit to the number of groups you create, and since you can name them anything you want there is no need to remember cryptic tag or flag numbers.  Using named groups is fun and easy.

In case you are wondering how I wrote this article during the middle of the RootsMagic cruise, the secret is I didn’t.  I am sitting here Saturday night before the cruise writing this and will have the blog magically publish it during mid-week.  And then it is back to live blogging and unwrapping!