RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – RootsMagic To Go

Well, we’ve reached the end of this long journey… the final sneak preview.  As we all know, I have mentioned several release dates which have come and gone.  I admit that I underestimated the amount of time needed for a release of this magnitude.  It’s easy to predict a release date if you are just modifying existing code… but writing everything from scratch to use the latest technologies is a different story.  So I’m not going to predict release dates anymore, but I will discuss some product release information at the end of this post.

And now for the final sneak preview…

One of the most common comments we’ve seen (after “When is this going to be released?”) has to do with the size and speed of the new version.  We’ve all seen (and probably bought) programs that claimed to be the next great thing, only to find that it was bloated and slow because it was based on a framework like .NET, or based on some huge database engine that had to be installed on the computer before the program could run.  (Note to .NET programmers… we know there is a place for .NET and large database engines… it just isn’t in genealogy software.)

Well, we don’t roll that way here at RootsMagic.  RM4 is a native Windows program (no .NET bloat), and uses an embedded database engine (no huge database engine required to be installed on your computer).

So what does this programming jargon mean to you?  It means we are able to add one extra feature that other bloated programs will never be able to copy… RootsMagic-To-Go.

RootsMagic To Go

That’s right.  Not only can you have your data on a flash drive, but you can run the full RootsMagic program and your data directly from the flash drive.

Are you going to a library that doesn’t have RootsMagic on their computers?  Don’t worry.  Just use RootsMagic-To-Go to install RM4 and your data on your flash drive, and take it with you.  When you get to the library just plug your flash drive into the computer and get to work.  When you get home just move the data right back onto your computer.

So what comes next?

Next week we will release a community preview to those RootsMagic users who have signed up.  This will let us get RM4 into the hands of thousands of RM users who can help us track down any of those issues that pop up in a completely rewritten program.

After the community preview we will release a public beta to anyone (RM user or not) who is interested in taking a look at RootsMagic 4 before the official release.

As soon as RootsMagic 4 is stable we will begin taking orders and release it as a download, followed a few weeks later by the CD version (it takes a few weeks to get CDs duplicated and packaged).  When we begin taking orders you will be able to pre-order the CD and get the download early if you want to do that as well.

So that’s the schedule.  Keep checking the blog as we announce these various steps towards the release of the most exciting product in our company’s history.

RootsMagic Blog – Best Commercial Genealogy Blog

GeneaBlog Award

“This year, Bruce Buzbee decided to start blogging about RootsMagic, to reveal the new features of the next major version one post at a time, and surely knows how to build anticipation, excitement and impatience for the RootsMagic 4 release.”

That’s what Tamura Jones had to say when he awarded the RootsMagic Blog the “Best Commercial Genealogy Blog” award for 2008.

He also handed out his annual GeneAwards for 2008.  Unfortunately since RM4 isn’t out yet we couldn’t qualify for the best genealogy product of 2008 (it went to Google Earth).

Check out his site if you want to see thorough reviews and commentary on genealogy products.  He is often brutally honest, but usually is spot on with his assessments.  You can tell he actually works with the products and isn’t just regurgitating a company’s press release.  If something is slow or doesn’t work, he is sure to let you know about it.  On the other hand, if something works well, he will tell you that also.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – More on source templates

We got a couple of interesting questions the other day after I wrote about RootsMagic 4’s customizeable source templates.  The first two questions can be answered with this screen, which is the list of source templates available in RootsMagic 4.

Source Template List

1. Will we be able to take a pre-made template and add or take away fields to make a custom template?

YES.  There is a Copy button (2) which will make an exact copy of the highlighted source template.  You can then go into that new template and modify it to your liking.

2. You mentioned that someone could help create a template, does that mean we will be able to somehow send a template to another user?

YES.  There are Export and Import buttons (1).  The Export button will save the highlighted source template to a file which can be imported into another database using the Import button.

3. Will there be the ability to create a field for a web link, so we can link directly to an online source document from within our source citation?

Not initially in 4.0, but this is an item on our todo list.

4. Will there be the ability to link to a source document in a folder on our computer from the source citation?

YES.  This is actually already available in version 3 (and will still be available in v4).  Every source and/or citation has its own media album where you can add pictures, sound or video clips, or links to any other file on your computer.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Sources… Have them your way

Sorry… got carried away fixing bugs again.

In our last episode I promised that there was a little more I wanted to mention about the new SourceWizard in RootsMagic 4.  We told you that the new SourceWizard supported Evidence!, Evidence Explained, Cite Your Sources, and the Evidence QuickSheet.  Several readers were concerned about whether our source templates would be slanted towards US sources, or UK sources, or Canadian sources, or whatever.

So what way do RootsMagic 4 source templates slant?  Any way you want them to.  That’s right, in addition to the built-in templates you can now create your own custom source templates.

Source Template Editor

Now don’t let that screen scare you.  To create a source template you just add the fields you want RootsMagic to ask for, then tell RootsMagic how to put those fields together to make the footnote, short footnote, and bibliography.  Yes, the template language is very powerful, but it isn’t overly complicated.

And don’t worry if you aren’t the type of person who would normally venture into creating a custom template.  I suspect there are some RootsMagic users who would be happy to help you create a template just the way you want.

Our Biggest Holiday Offer Ever

RootsMagic Holiday Offer With the holidays coming up, we often get requests from our users about buying copies of RootsMagic for themselves or to give as gifts to their family or friends.  And this year the requests have really come in asking whether the new version 4 will be ready in time for Christmas.  Well, there’s bad news and there’s good news.

Despite working 16 hour days trying to get RM4 out in time for Christmas, it looks like it probably won’t be ready in time.

BUT… here is this year’s 5th Annual Holiday Offer (with a special twist).

In what has become something of a tradition, we are offering gift copies of RootsMagic, Personal Historian, or Family Atlas at our $19.95 upgrade price. There is no limit on the number of discounted copies you can buy during this limited time offer which will expire December 19, 2008. You will receive the full program as well as a registration card for each copy you order.

And here is the special twist… every copy of RootsMagic 3 that you buy through this special offer will come with a free download upgrade to version 4 when it is released.  So you will be giving version 3 now, with a free download of version 4 as soon as it is released.

PLUS!  We are adding an offer we have never made before.  In addition to the $19.95 special price, you can also order our RootsMagic Family History Suite (which includes RootsMagic, Personal Historian, and Family Atlas) for just $49.95 (that’s $90 worth of software).

To take advantage of this offer, just visit:

or order by phone at 1-800-ROOTSMAGIC (1-800-766-8762).

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Supercharged SourceWizard

Sources are awesome.  They are the lifeblood of the genealogist, and sometimes a frustration we would just as soon skip.  But we all know how important they are.  Documenting our family history is the greatest genealogical gift we can give our family.  Sure we can pass down a bunch of names, dates and places, but if we don’t say where we got that information they will just have to verify it all over again.

RootsMagic has always made it easy to enter your sources with its groundbreaking SourceWizard released back in 2003, which let you select a source type and then fill in the blanks.  The SourceWizard then wrote the properly formatted source for you.

And now the SourceWizard is better than ever.

Now some things work much the same as they did in version 3.  When you bring up the list of sources for a person, fact, or family, you can still add a new source, use (cite) an existing source, memorize / paste citations, etc.

But when you choose to add a new source, that’s when things start getting fun.  You are no longer limited to the 25 or so source types offered in version 3.  You can now select source types from Evidence!, Evidence Explained, Cite Your Sources (Lackey), or the Evidence QuickSheet.  Or you can just use a default “free-form” template to enter the footnote, short footnote,  and bibliography directly.  Now that’s a lot of source types, so of course we needed to make it easy to find the one you are looking for.

Of course you *could* just scroll down through the list of sources, but we have added a search / filter where you can type in words relating to the type of source you have.  For example, type the word “birth” and RootsMagic will display a list of source types with “birth” in their name or description.  Or type multiple words and RootsMagic will show you the entries with all those words in it.  RootsMagic 4 even gives you details about each source type and tells you where that format is from.

If you are like me, you tend to work with just a few different source types at any one time.  So we’ve added a favorites list where you can put those commonly used source types.  Just highlight any source type in the list, click the star button on the toolbar, and it is now a favorite.  You can easily spot your favorites (they have a star next to them in the list), or you can click the Favorites button and instantly select from there.  RootsMagic also keeps track of the source types you use, and adds them to a recently used source type list as well.

Once you select the type of source you want to enter, RootsMagic 4 will open the new “Edit Source” screen.  The first thing many of you probably noticed is that the master source and source (citation) details are together at last.  No more switching back and forth to edit the different parts of a source citation.  And yes, sources are still reusable… when you cite an existing source you will get this same screen with the source (citation) details ready to fill out.

Just begin filling in the blanks and RootsMagic will write the properly formatted source citation for you.  As always, the SourceWizard provides hints as to what it is asking for in each field.

And of course you can still enter the actual text, comments, and media for both the master source and source (citation) details.  Just click the “More” button next to the master source or the details.

Now of course this only barely touches the power of the new SourceWizard.  Most people can just select a source type, fill in the blanks, and go.  Others can use more advanced features like entering both a long and short version of the data in a field to be used in the citations.  And there is another new feature of the SourceWizard that I’m going to write about in my next blog entry.  Not because I’m trying to tease you, but because I need to get back to fixing bugs to get RM4 ready to go 😉