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.

49 thoughts to “RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Evolution”

  1. Will this change affect the speed of the program ? It seems when software is re-written to keep up with the times that program speed is sacrificed and the latest and fastest computers are necessary to keep up with the new software.

    I do love the changes though, and I’m looking forward to RM4 !

  2. Bruce. Even if this post doesn’t contain screenshots, this is for me and many others the most important news you have announced.

    I have tried demoversions of many genealogy programs, but it was soon clear for me which one I wanted to continue with. Rootsmagic had early a very intuitive and userfriendly user interface and strong functionality. But on one point there was a serious weakness. Language support!! Something also mentioned as cons in many genealogy-software reviews. It has been some frustrating to have reports with a mixed english/norwegian. You haven’t shown posts about how languages will affect narrative reports yet, but this gives big hope. (I have also mentioned something about Given names/sorting too “Sidetalk!! ooops” )

    As you wished in an earlier post, about telling friends about this blog, I have announced it on which is an organization in Norway for doing genealogy. I am a member here myself. So far not too many has been reading my post here. A tough criteria for the members here is support for norwegian language. So Bruce, If you can promise a road towards a norwegian version, I will guess the interest for Rootsmagic in Norway might rice radically .

    You are talking about volunteers to translate. As a software engineer myself (unfortunately not genealogy software) I recognize long working days, so it is difficult to commit to something. Maybe after so much demanding on the wish list and on this blog I have put myself in a exposed situation for this.

    I noticed the file extension “.RMGC” and took some guess. Actually about Unicode, you revealed something about it in the wish list May 12 2006. Really appreciate both unicode support and single file database. And if you have made it possible to embed pictures and documents into this single file it is even better. Maybe someone disagree with me here.

    Really thank you, thank you Bruce to you and your team for this. This will make an enjoyable christmas.

    Jon Oddvar Sellereite

  3. As a Norwegian user I welcome “tools to allow the translation of RootsMagic into other languages”. This makes it easier to recommend the program to others.

  4. GREAT BIG THANK YOU HERE. This Rootsmagic user is doing a happy dance. This is something I have asked for repeatedly.

  5. From the looks of it, everything that I did not like about Rootsmagic has been addressed. Now if the product lives up to the descriptions, I will be a very happy carbon based lifeform.

    My big question is what is the upgrade going to cost? With all this work, I can picture an increase in price.

  6. I know evolution must take place and I now understand why RM4 has taken so long to get to release and whilst I don’t use other languages I am very happy for those who do and their genealogy.

    The single file database I am not so warm about but I know it won’t change and I do hope media files are still kept separate for editting etc. in imaging programs.

    Due to the lack of various tools in RM3 I frequently worked with the tables offline to make mass corrections to data (nothing to do with linking), so I do hope Bruce realises these requirements to make global changes and if not already in RM4, works to provide many more tools to manage data in future.

    I am talking about things like managing the place list (which I know is improved),managing a table of occupations which can be edited and corrected on screen and the same for the various other facts which include a description field and data. Time and input in the new program should eradicate new mistakes but there will still remain a need to manage old or imported grammatical or wrong field input problems which in RM3 can be a very time consuming task.

    I know Bruce and team have been working very hard on this release and it is already a step beyond anything presently out in the genealogy world. However I also know the nightmare of badly formatted or information input in the wrong fields received in Gedcoms from other users and programs so I do hope tools to manage this are forthcoming.

    Excellent work and can’t wait for the release.

  7. For Vyger and any others who have written their own utilities to work with RootsMagic files, you will be interested to know that the database engine for RM4 is open-source and cross platform so it is possible to work with the RMGC files using a number of programming languages and a wide-variety of already existing database tools.

  8. Re; Booth’s comment. “the database engine for RM4 is open-source and cross platform”

    How did you get that from Bruce’s posting? Or, do you have another information source?

  9. Re: Thompson’s comment: ‘How did you get that from Bruce’s posting? Or, do you have another information source?’

    You mean besides being one of the programmers on RootsMagic 4? 😉

  10. Re; Booth’s comment. “the database engine for RM4 is open-source and cross platform”

    Does that mean that RM4 will run using Linux WITHOUT having to use WINE? Even better, available as a .deb file?

    This would be so nice. Without it I have a data version on Windows for the official version of the data and have a version on Linus/Debian/Wine for reference use.

  11. Type your comment here.
    Hi Bruce,

    I know that ver.4 is about to be released. I am anxious to start on my family tree. If I purchase ver.3.26 now and ver.4 comes out in a month will I be allowed to upgrade free of charge?

  12. I’m glad for those needing multiple languages. I hope for one that pictures are not embedded. A corrupted database would mean the loss of the media with it. 🙁
    I had guessed about the open source part in seeing certain things on the samples. I’m glad since there are a lot of cross help available here.
    It is great. How about print samples or dual screen features?
    Or do we wait for release for those?
    Can’t wait!

  13. Richard:
    No. The database engine is cross platform, not RootsMagic itself.

    Yes, if you purchase v3 now you will get a free download upgrade to v4 when it is released.

    Images are *not* embedded in the RM4 database.

  14. Thanks Bruce & team, my only two worries have now been answered, images not embedded and free for outside editting (not ala FTM) and access still possible to the database should I so choose.

    It can’t really get any better (can it?) and you also answered those enquiring about the price – 😉

  15. I am sure the price will be reasonable and carefully planned out to make planning for version 5 feasible. Can’t have the developers off working second jobs now can we?

    It has been so long since I upgraded to RM3 I don’t remeber what I paid so I probably would not know if the price goes up.

  16. “. . .rewritten from the ground up…”
    I hope your “ground up” direction is “tons & tons” better than my previous software’s “GU” attempt — primarily because I “can’t wait” to use those neat items shown in all the screen shots posted since July.

  17. Ken, read answer 15 –

    “Yes, if you purchase v3 now you will get a free download upgrade to v4 when it is released”

  18. I’d guess that RM handles pictures the way my non-genealogy database program does: it stores a link to each image.

  19. Vyger – Yeah but he didn’t give the price. That is only for James who is now going to buy version 3.

    I bought it when it first came out, way back in the dark ages past! I don’t think Bruce is giving me a freebie on the new release. However if he were to do so, I certainly would not discourage him!

  20. Kenneth, what I was trying to point out is that with Bruces statement there does not seem to be a relevent price increase between v3 and v4.

    Some users have been fearing a price hike with all the new features added, offering a free upgrade to anyone who buys RM3 now would seem to rule that out.

  21. Tremendous! Good to see evolution, and many thanks to Richard Parsons who pointed me to the fact that RootsMagic can run under Ubuntu (I’ve just upgraded to Intrepid Ibex) once I’ve installed WINE. My favorite application running in Linux!

  22. BRUCE,





  23. Type your comment here.
    Having had to move Roots Magic to a new computer and not capturing all the files or having to hunt for where the correspondence file is stored etc.: the “Single Database feature will be great.

  24. I love the single file to save feature. I am always afraid I will mess up my database when backing up. Can’t wait for release.

  25. Although I want the most complete RM ever, I do hope Bruce doesn’t just keep on programming in those 16 hour days and forget to release the thing.

    Christmas is getting closer and I want to buy myself a present (well someone has to) and I hope it is close.

    I do note a couple of areas that Bruce has not touched yet and a very hopeful of enhancements to to-do and research planning aids.

    Can’t remember how many reveals there are to go but it would be nice to see another couple of big ones before release – (greedy boy) 🙂

  26. I would agree, the ToDo stuff could maybe use a re-think. I am also hoping that the options in the find by fields search is made a bit clearer or reworked so we can at least group specific fields in a better mannner.

    But pretty much the rest of my desires are filled…I’ll know more on the first test drive.

  27. Hello again,

    On top of all the amazing new features you are incorporating into RM4, I just wondered if there is any possiblility of including:

    – an All-In-One Tree chart (as in FTM v.16, prior to FTM 2008/9)
    – an automatic age sentence calculator for Narrative Reports (as in TMG).

    Just a thought – to make my genealogical life absolutely complete!!

    Thanks for all your amazing hard work. My credit card is at the ready…!

  28. Kenneth, I didn’t want to be too pushy but recently I wanted to find a word regardless of whether it was in a place field, family note, individual note, or a description field.

    I could not find an option to search ANY Description field only specific ones, what I was searching for could have been noted in any one of a number of Description fields.

    I hope RM4 has some sort of search EVERYTHING option to search the complete database rather like Desktop Search Utilities so an elusive word or name can be found regardless of where it is stored.

  29. I just got an update from GenSmarts so that GenSmarts will support RM4. The GenSmarts update specifically mentions the new RM file format.

    That GenSmarts already supports RM4 is a very good thing!

  30. Jerry, John
    I, too, have GenSmarts, but haven’t found it particularly useful. The suggestions seem to be about things I had already discovered.

    Have you used GM extensively?
    What sort of problems and/or “brick walls” has it solved for you?

  31. I use GenSmarts extensively. In some ways I really like it, and in some ways it is not as useful as it could be.

    I agree that for the most part, I have a better notion of what to look for and where to look than does GenSmarts. But occasionally GenSmarts does make research suggestions that are insightful and useful.

    Therefore, I use GenSmarts more as a “to do list” manager than as a “suggester of where to look”. I don’t find the RM support for managing “to do” lists to be very effective.

    My two major complaints with GenSmarts are that it makes too many suggestions, and that it makes suggestions that are inappropriate. As far as the “too many suggestions” problem, the current version includes a number of very nice tools that help me limit the suggestions to just the ones I’m looking for.

    As far as the “suggestions that are inappropriate” problem, here is an example. I research extensively in East Tennessee. The Cleveland, Tennessee public library has a published a number of very useful death certificate indexes for East Tennessee counties that are entitled “xxx County Vital Records, begindate-enddate”. Because the title is “Vital Records” rather than “Death Index”, GenSmarts is forever referring me to these volumes for birth records. To make GenSmarts a more effective tool, I really need to be able to edit the repository of records that GenSmarts maintains to correct records that are wrong, and to add records that I have access to that GenSmarts doesn’t know about. Such a feature has been promised in a coming version of the program.

  32. Sure would like to have a round chart like one of the other gen programs has. It prints a tree in a pie shape, or a complete circle. I found it useful for large trees in a small space.

  33. Glenn,
    I also use GenSmarts more as a To-Do list.

    Although I find genealogy fascinating I do not consider myself a serious genealogist – more a hobbyist – and my approach is more casual. Thus I am not the one to comment on the applicability of a particular piece of software.

    It works for me is my recommendation.

  34. Like Jim Linder – my biggest hope is that RM4 will have fan chars. With all the improvements in RM4, what more could we ask for? Well except for RM4 in our stockings or in time for Thanksgiving. I’d like nothing more than spending Thanksgiving afteroon playing with a new program instead of taking a nap. 8~)

  35. Will RM4 work on the Windows 64 computer I just built or should I keep it on my 32 version with RM3 until I’ve worked out MY inevitable bugs.
    I have been using Family Origins then Roots Magic since Parsons Tech. started carrying FO. Times have sure changed.
    When can we preorder?

  36. This is sounding excellent. Please, can you answer three things for me?
    1. Will I be able to have this for a Xmas or birthday gift (both in December)?
    2. I’ve done some fancy footwork with Census facts. I designed a ‘census individual’ fact for other folks in a household since the family census included only spouses. How seamlessly will this transfer to RM4? There are an awful lot of them. It would be a nightmare to manually correct.
    3. I often use ‘Getting the most out of RootsMagic’. Will there be a corresponding book, or at least a printable manual?


  37. As a long time user of FTM, I converted to RM3 because the programme size was significantly smaller than FTM2008 which was cumbersom, bugg ridden and slow even when patched.
    I can use RM3 without upgrading my machines and I hope that the re- written RM4 does not go the same way as FTM2008/9

  38. I didn’t see an answer to Gary Darby’s question about RM4 effecting the speed of the program. I quit using FTM because I couldn’t wait 15 minutes for a report to be generated (RM3 doest the same report in about 10 seconds). Will RM4 result in a significant slowdown for large files?

  39. Where is my posting about german language, that I write for some days in this blog???

    Peter Roehner

  40. My wife is the main user of the new Roots Magic 4. While she has really done well with it we (especially me)
    need a paper version manual. Is there any update on available date?

  41. This one single feature is worth more than words can say, because I to have had to labor with multiple files and have unneccessarily screwed up. Good goin folks. John

  42. Though I use Family Search too but Rootsmagic is the better one and I work manly with Rootsmagic. It is so much easier then Family Search. Why? I don,t know. Thanks, Rootsmagic!

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