The Road to RootsMagic 8: An Important Update

My mom often accused me of not being able to learn from my mistakes. Years ago, I got burned by giving a date for a feature we were adding, and I promised myself I would never do that again. Then a couple of years later, we pre-announced a deadline for finishing work on our Ancestry integration, with mostly the same result. So, of course, I still haven’t learned my lesson, and once again tried to guess a release date in advance, this time for RootsMagic 8.

RootsMagic 8 is the biggest upgrade in our software’s history. I usually just say something like “it will be done when it is ready” and leave it at that, but we began telling folks that we hoped to have it out by the end of this year (2019). It seemed like a safe estimate, but like those other times this has bitten me, I underestimated the effects of outside influences on our development.

I underestimated the number of times we would have to stop work to fix breaking changes made to APIs that version 7 uses. I underestimated the number of times we would have to rewrite libraries we are using in RootsMagic 8. To be honest, I never thought we would have to actually rewrite commercial libraries from scratch because of their deficiencies, but we have actually had to do that multiple times. I also underestimated the amount of time tracking down bugs in other company’s libraries to help them fix issues that negatively affected performance in version 8.

So, where are we now? RootsMagic 8 won’t be released by the end of the year. And if you ask me for a new release date, I’m not going to say. But here’s what I am going to do…

Several months ago, we started doing blog articles with screenshots. But writing them pulled us off of actual software development, and were less than satisfying to you as a user. We want to do a better job of keeping you up to date on where we are, so I have recorded a 30-minute video below to show you precisely what RootsMagic 8 looks and feels like. As development continues, we’ll try to release more videos (although probably not this long) to keep you in the loop.

We know many of you can’t wait to get your hands on RootsMagic 8, and we are excited to be working on it. We just want to make sure that when we release it, you can depend on it working right.

And if you’re adventurous, we are still looking for more beta testers of all backgrounds to help us make version 8 the best it can be.

I want to thank you personally for your patience and understanding. Hopefully, you can see from the video the extent of the improvements and work that we’re putting into this release. We’re really excited by the feedback that we’ve received so far and we hope that you’ll find it worth the wait.

The Road to RootsMagic 8 (Part 6): Multiple Files and Screens

The next features that we want to preview in RootsMagic 8 are improvements in working with multiple files, screens, and even computer monitors.

One feature in previous versions of RootsMagic that our users have loved is the ability to have more than one file open at a time. You can simply open each file and work on either or both at the same time.  You can even drag-and-drop people and whole branches from one tree to another with the click of a mouse.RM8-Multiples-01

Before RootsMagic 8, this feature used a system called “Multiple Document Interface” or “MDI” for short.  In MDI, you have smaller “child windows,” which are contained within the main application window. This worked great in the days when people only had a single computer monitor. But today, if you have more than one monitor, it is challenging to get RootsMagic 7 to place each file in its own screen.

In RootsMagic 8, each RootsMagic file lives in its own separate window. This allows you to “stretch out” and separate them, even with multiple monitors.

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And yes, you can still “drag-and-drop” people, families, and branches from one file to another, even across different computer monitors!

Note: Eagle-eyed readers may notice that a person’s edit screen can be used at the same time as the RootsMagic main screen. The edit screen no longer blocks access to the main screen. There is also more than one person edit screen open at the same time. But we’ll discuss these new features in a future article.

And to help keep things straight while working with multiple files, you can assign a color to each one. This color lets you more easily keep track of while file you are looking at and working with.

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And here are the colors in action:
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That’s it for today’s preview. There’s much more to come!

Important Information about macOS 10.15 (Catalina)

MacOs-Catalina

Apple has been busy working on the next version of the desktop operating system, macOS 10.15, also known as “Catalina.” While there have been several delays, Apple has said they expect it to be released this month (October 2019). While there are several new features and changes, one change, in particular, affects RootsMagic users: Catalina requires all applications to be 64-bit applications.

RootsMagic 7

RootsMagic 7 runs on macOS, although it is not a “native” application. It runs using a “wrapper” that is provided by CodeWeavers, makers of the popular CrossOver software that allows Windows applications to run on a Mac. This wrapper made by CodeWeavers is a 32-bit application and does not run on Catalina.  CodeWeavers has been working for quite some time updating their software to be a 64-bit application so that it can run on Catalina and future versions of macOS. While they’ve made great progress, some last-minute problems in Catalina itself have caused delays. Unfortunately, their wrapper will not likely be available in time for Catalina’s release. This means that RootsMagic 7 for Mac will not be able to run on macOS Catalina until CodeWeavers finishes their update to a 64-bit application.

RootsMagic 8

First, the good news- RootsMagic 8 is a fully-native, 64-bit macOS application and runs great on macOS Catalina. The bad news? It’s still in testing, and likely won’t be officially released before MacOS Catalina is released.

Other Applications

RootsMagic is not the only application that will stop running under Catalina. If you want to see what other apps you have that will be affected:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  2. Click About this Mac.
  3. Click System Report…
  4. From the list on the left, select Software then Applications.
  5. Click 64-Bit (Intel) on the right side of the list’s header. This sorts the applications by 32/64 bits.
  6. Any applications that have “No” are 32-bit and will not run under Catalina.

Our Recommendation

As much as we hate to say this- we recommend that if you need to be able to run RootsMagic 7 on your Mac, do not update to macOS Catalina. Wait until CodeWeavers finishes their 64-bit wrapper for RootsMagic 7 or for the official release of RootsMagic 8. For most users, there is no urgent need to install Catalina as previous versions of the operating system will continue to work and be supported for quite some time.

In the meantime, CodeWeavers is doing all that they can to update their wrapper as quickly as possible, while we continue to work night-and-day to finish RootsMagic 8 for you. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

The Road to RootsMagic 8 (Part 5): Files

In today’s preview of RootsMagic 8, we’re going to look at files and the new “File view” found on the Navigation bar.

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First of all, version 8 will carry over all of your work from previous versions of RootsMagic. Slight upgrades will be made to the file to support the new features in RootsMagic 8, similar to how RootsMagic 7 upgraded files from previous versions. Also, the format is identical whether you are using Mac or Windows- so you can use the same file on either operating system.

Judging from our support requests, we know many of you struggle with working with and organizing your files. Fortunately, the File view makes it easy to create, find, and open your RootsMagic files in a single screen which guides you step-by-step through your options.

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For example, to create a file, you just click Create a New RootsMagic file, then choose from an Empty File, Import from Another Program, or Download from an Online Tree. Choose a filename and additional options, and voila! Your new file is ready.

And the days of misplacing your files are over! When the File view needs you to select a file, it presents a list of recently-used files. It also automatically searches your computer for more files, adding them to the list as it finds them.

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If you have a RootsMagic file open, the File view presents additional options including Importing, Exporting, Closing, and Tools for working with the file.

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Clicking on Tools gives you all of your favorites, including Backup, Rename, Copy, Delete, Compare, and the assorted Database tools.

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So there you have it. The new File view in RootsMagic 8 makes it easy to organize your files and will save you a lot of time and headache in working with them.

Next: Multiple Files and Screens

The Road to RootsMagic 8 (Part 4): Home

Today, we’ll look at the “Home” view from our upcoming RootsMagic 8. This is the first view that you’ll find in the Navigation bar on the left.

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Note: Eagle-eyed readers will notice that this was called the “Dashboard” view in previous blog articles. The actual label for this view has gone through some changes throughout the development process. Remember, the screens and features that we’re showcasing are still being tested and refined and could go through additional changes before version 8 is officially released.

The Home view shows the latest news and announcements from RootsMagic, links to our various help and support channels, as well as the ability to detect, download, and install updates to the software. New updates and unread news items are highlighted with a star.

If you haven’t opened a RootsMagic file, the Home view presents a list of recent RootsMagic files that can be opened or the option to create a new file.

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If you do have an open RootsMagic file, the Home view displays information about the current file, similar to the “Database Properties” in previous versions.

In short, the Home view is a friendly starting point for new users as well as a way to communicate and interact with more experienced users.

Update: We’ve had several questions about if you can bypass the Home view when you start RootsMagic. Just as you could in previous versions, you can set RootsMagic to start on other views when you open your file. You can also tell it to automatically open the last file you worked on, when you start the software.

Next: Files

The Road to RootsMagic 8 (Part 3): Getting Around

In today’s look at the upcoming RootsMagic 8, we’ll look at the main screen. Specifically, the gray navigation bar found on the left side.

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As mentioned before, in designing RootsMagic 8, we wanted to make the software even easier-to-use. We started by looking at questions asked by our users through our technical support, Facebook group, and other means of contact. We looked for patterns and common problems and issues that users had.

We were surprised at how many “How do I find…” questions there were. Even more surprising was how many feature requests we had for features which were already in the software- they were just hidden behind several screens and menus. We knew that version 8 needed to better help users find their information and use its many features.

We then listed all the different features and, after studying the best user-interface practices, were able to group all the elements into a few distinct categories. These formed the basis for the new “Navigation Bar.”

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The Navigation Bar has 11 items: File, Dashboard, People, Places, Sources, Media, Tasks, Addresses, Search, Publish, and Settings. All information and features can be quickly accessed from the corresponding area on the Navigation Bar.

And once you are comfortable with it, you can also collapse the Navigation Bar to show only the icons, giving you more space to do your work.

In our next installments, we’ll look at each of these 11 items in more detail so stay tuned!

Next: Home

 

The Road to RootsMagic 8 (Part 2): FAQ about the Upgrade

RM8-Mac

Last week, we gave you a first look at RootsMagic 8. While we’re itching to start showing you more details and features, last week’s article prompted many questions about RootsMagic and the upgrade process. We felt it would be helpful to answer some of the questions for you before showing you more features. So without any further ado, here they are:

I already own RootsMagic 7 (or 6, or 5, or 4, etc.). Will I need to buy RootsMagic 8 when it comes out?

Yes, but at a discounted price. Our policy has always been to make updates free. That is, going from 7.0 to 7.1, to 7.2, to 7.3, etc. We put those out regularly to fix bugs, update API’s, and to even add new features (Our TreeShare for Ancestry was a free new feature in 7.5).

Major upgrades, such as going from 7.0 to 8.0, do require a purchase. However, we always offer a significant discount to those upgrading from previous versions. For example, to upgrade from any prior version of RootsMagic to version 7 has been $19.95 where the full price of the software is $29.95.

Do I have to upgrade to RootsMagic 8?

Not at all. If the new features and functionality in RootsMagic 8 appeal to you, we’d love for you to upgrade. If you decide to stick with your current version of RootsMagic, your software will continue running just as it has. It will simply not have any more updates as our development work has moved on to the next version.

How much will RootsMagic 8 cost?

Version 8 will have a modest price increase from earlier versions. While we haven’t announced the actual pricing for RootsMagic 8, it will be more than version 7. RootsMagic 8 will have a discount for users of previous versions upgrading to it, but this will be modestly higher than the current $19.95 upgrade price for version 7.

So if I buy RootsMagic 7 now, I get RootsMagic 8 for free?

Yes. We have always had an “upgrade protection guarantee.” If you buy our software and a newer version comes out soon afterward, you get the newer version for free. I’ve personally spent a sizable sum of money on software only to have a new version come out the very next day. That company’s response was, “You’re out of luck.” We love our users too much to do that.

If you buy RootsMagic 7 now through our website (either the full version or upgrade), you will receive an email with your key for RootsMagic 7. You’ll also immediately receive a key for RootsMagic 8. Just hold onto that key until you get word that RootsMagic 8 has been officially released. This means that you are essentially getting a free RootsMagic 8 at today’s RootsMagic 7 prices.

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I already have RootsMagic 7. Can I still get a free RootsMagic 8?

Yes. Even if you already have RootsMagic 7, you are welcome to purchase another copy of RootsMagic 7 (even at the $19.95 upgrade price), and you will get your key for RootsMagic 8.

Wait- you want me to pay money now for a future RootsMagic that I may not even like? Is this some tricky money grab?

You would indeed be getting an upgrade to Version 8 that you don’t (yet) know much about. (But, really- we think you’ll love it) But this is definitely not a money grab. In fact, we are losing money by giving away RootsMagic 8 upgrades at the lower price. So why are we doing this?

We haven’t raised our software price in the nearly 20 years that RootsMagic has been available. All-around costs have risen in those years, and we need to follow suit. However, we also know that we have many users that live on fixed-incomes. We didn’t want to surprise everyone with the price increase without giving a heads-up and giving our users a chance to make appropriate plans.

Combine this with the upgrade protection guarantee, and the “Buy RootsMagic 7 now, get RootsMagic 8 free” policy is the natural result. It’s only us trying to do right by our users.

I’ve placed my order and received my RootsMagic 8 key. What do I do now?

Just hold on to that key and patiently wait for the official release. You could also sign up to become a tester at www.rootsmagic8.com.

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More Previews to Come

Hopefully, we’ve answered some of those burning questions that many of you have had about the upgrade process to version 8.  And watch this blog for regular articles describing the fantastic new features in RootsMagic 8!

Next: The Road to RootsMagic 8 (Part 3): Getting Around

 

 

 

The Road to RootsMagic 8 (Part 1): Easier than Ever

RootsMagic users have been patiently (and sometimes impatiently) awaiting news of our latest version- RootsMagic 8. While we aren’t quite ready for an official release, we want to start pulling back the curtain and share some of version 8’s exciting new features.

First of all, we know that this release has been a long-time coming. But we haven’t been sitting around, resting on our laurels. We’ve been rethinking, redesigning, and rebuilding the interface to address the most common questions and problems our users have shared with us. Our focus has been on these main ideas:

RM8-Win

  • Make the software easier-to-use. Fewer screens, fewer clicks, and less hunting around to find what you’re looking for and to do what you want to do.
  • Take advantage of more modern computers, operating systems, and devices. Technology has changed a lot in the 30 years that we’ve been making software. RootsMagic 8 supports better graphics, touch-screens, faster processors, and high-resolution displays. This ensures that RootsMagic will be useful and relevant for years to come.

And of course, there is “one more thing” that should make our fans of “fruit” happy:

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And yes- your RootsMagic 8 license covers both the Windows and Mac versions!

How Do I Get RootsMagic 8?

While RootsMagic 8 is not yet available for purchase, every copy of RootsMagic 7 now comes with a free registration key for RootsMagic 8. Just a heads up- there will be a modest price increase for version 8. But you can buy RootsMagic 7 now (even if you already have it) and get your RootsMagic 8 at today’s lower prices!

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Can I Be a Tester for RootsMagic 8?

Currently, Version 8 is being tested by a dedicated group of testers. As it becomes more stable, we gradually expand this group until we feel it is ready for official release. If you love trying out new things and are patient enough to work with us through the process of finding and fixing quirks and problems, we’d love to have you as a tester. To sign up, just fill out the form at www.rootsmagic8.com. Don’t worry if you don’t hear from us right away as we add testers over time.

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More Previews to Come

Watch this blog for regular articles describing more amazing new features in RootsMagic 8. Thanks to you, our users, for your support and feedback. We are very excited for this release and can’t wait to show you more!

Happy 30th Birthday, RootsMagic!  Part 12: Growth and New Products

NOTE: This is Part 12 of our ongoing series documenting the history of our company. If you’re just joining us, be sure to read Part 12345678910, and 11.

Once RootsMagic 4 and RootsMagic Essentials were out the door, we tried to concentrate on upgrading the software and adding new functionality.  But we were hearing from our users that they wanted to be able to take their data on their new tablets they’d gotten for Christmas. The only problem was that we had no programming skills on tablets, either iOS or Android.

Rather than hire new programmers just to write apps, we decided to outsource them.  We got a bunch of bids from companies all over the world, but finally ended up selecting a local company here in Utah.  We knew that genealogy software is actually very complex, and this company was actually already familiar with RootsMagic and genealogy software in general.

If you’ve ever hired out programming, you know it can get very expensive.  And we were faced with the decision how to recover the costs of creating these new apps.  In the end, we decided to leave them as read-only to keep our costs down, and to make them available for free.  We released our iOS app in Dec 2012, and didn’t know it would take another year of development before we could get the Android version out.

RMapp

Back when we released RootsMagic 4 we assumed we’d never have to rewrite the program again.  But as we got more and more requests for a Mac version it became clear that we might get to do just that.

We knew there were a couple of options… write a separate Mac version (or have another company write a Mac version for us), or rewrite the program so that we could compile the same program to both Windows and Mac.  We’ve seen too many programs where their Windows and Mac versions are quite a bit different (both interface and functionality), so we really didn’t like the first option. The second option would ensure that both Windows and Mac users would always have the same functionality, yet redesigning the program again seemed daunting.

So in the summer of 2014 we began rebuilding RootsMagic so that we could compile natively to both Windows and Mac.  But having done this multiple times, I knew firsthand how long it could take, and the Mac users were getting more and more vocal.  So as a temporary fix, we contacted a company called Codeweavers that wrote software to let Windows programs run on a Mac. We had them build a custom wrapper for RootsMagic, and in September 2014 we released MacBridge.

Since we had to pay Codeweavers for every copy of MacBridge we distributed, we sold it as a separate program so we could keep track of the numbers.  The MacBridge program allowed you to install the Windows version on your Mac, but the process was somewhat unwieldy, and it was hard to explain to users how it was supposed to work.

We decided we needed to simplify this whole Mac “wrapper” thing, and worked out a license with Codeweavers where we could pay a flat amount every month and be able to distribute unlimited copies.  This not only allowed us to create a “RootsMagic for Mac” standalone installer, but also meant we could distribute free RootsMagic Essentials with the wrapper as well. And yes, we continue to eat the cost of that monthly license to this day 😉

While we continued to work on the new Mac/Windows version, we decided to release a new version of RootsMagic based on the older code with some exciting features we had been working on.  RootsMagic 7 included a new feature called WebHints, which would display hints from FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and FindMyPast, and let you click on a little lightbulb to jump to those sites to see the hints.  We also announced MyRootsMagic, where registered users could easily post free websites of their family tree.

Then in December 2015, Ancestry dropped a bombshell that they were discontinuing their Family Tree Maker program.  About this same time they contacted us and asked if we were interested in working with their API and integrating RootsMagic with Ancestry.  Of course we jumped at the opportunity. I had been asking Ancestry to work with their API for years without any luck, so this came as a very pleasant surprise.  After crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s, we jointly announced that we would be working together on February 2, 2016.

We optimistically guessed that the new Ancestry features would be done by the end of 2016, but we underestimated the complexity that lay before us.  And as we began work on the integration, we noticed that our RootsMagic 7 sales were dropping. We realized that users were holding off buying RootsMagic until the Ancestry features were released, so we announced that the Ancestry features would be a free update to version 7.  Sales immediately picked back up, but we realized this meant that RootsMagic 8 which we were working on separately would have to be put on the back burner until the Ancestry integration was done.

We tried to be as transparent as possible about progress on the Ancestry features.  Normally we wouldn’t pre-announce a new feature, but in this case Ancestry wanted it to be known that we were working on this functionality.  So it left us open to a lot of second-guessing by users as the development went past our estimated release.

During the latter part of development, I started growing a beard and started joking that I wasn’t going to shave until the Ancestry features were released.  Finally, on June 28, 2017, we announced to the world in a short live video from our “secret underground laboratories” that it was finally here.  It was kind of a ridiculous video, but was also kind of an emotional release from all the hard work we put into those features.

After releasing the Ancestry integration it was tempting to just take some time off, but we knew we needed to get back to work on RootsMagic 8 since it had been pushed to the back burner for a year and a half.  We also knew that we needed to release an update to our Personal Historian software which we had been working on prior to the Ancestry announcement.  The update was already close to ready, but we hit a little snag with the main new feature, importing from Facebook.  In order to import from Facebook, we were required to submit the program to Facebook.  Normally that would have been a simple procedure, but Facebook was in the news for allowing companies to take users data and use it in ways the user didn’t want.  Facebook cracked down on accepting new developers with products that could read data from Facebook.  We were finally able to get approved since we were able to show that we (RootsMagic) didn’t get the data ourselves; that the data was simply downloaded onto the users own computer.  At first we were concerned about releasing an update that read from Facebook, but then we realized we actually were providing a feature that Facebook users needed… the ability to get a copy of all of their data downloaded onto their own computer.  Personal Historian 3 was released in March 2018.

So where are we today?  And what does the future hold for RootsMagic?  When we started this blog years ago, the main purpose was to give a sneak preview of our soon to be released RootsMagic 4, and for the next little while we’re going back to those roots to give you a peek at RootsMagic 8.

Of course everyone wants to know what new features will be in version 8 (we all like new features).  And while we’ll have new features, let me just say that  RootsMagic 8 is being designed with our current users in mind, simplifying existing functionality, reducing “clickiness”, and other improvements requested by users.  Underlying code is being redesigned to provide us with a framework for additional functionality in the years to come.

So stayed tuned to this blog as we begin to unveil the most exciting version of RootsMagic ever.

Join us at RootsTech 2019 and get a sneak peek at version 8!

RootsTech-Booth-2017

It’s almost here! We’re pleased to again sponsor the largest genealogy conference in the world: RootsTech! It’s being held Wednesday, February 27 through Saturday, March 2, 2019, at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve been a part of it since the beginning and this year is no exception.

Expo Hall

Don’t miss the expo hall with the largest gathering of genealogy products and services in the country. Be sure to visit the RootsMagic booth (#1125) to meet the RootsMagic staff, ask questions, and get special discounts on RootsMagic products.


View a Map of the Expo Hall

Expo Hall hours (subject to change) are:

  • Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 6 pm – 8 pm
  • Thursday, February 28, 2019, 9 am – 6 pm
  • Friday, March 1, 2019, 9 am – 6 pm
  • Saturday, March 2, 2019, 9 am – 2 pm

And while you’re there, you can be one of the first to see our latest creation- RootsMagic 8!

RootsMagic 8 Preview

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Stop by our booth to see a special preview of our amazing new release- RootsMagic 8 (coming soon)! We’re also giving away a full license for RootsMagic 8 with every copy of RootsMagic 7. That means that you can buy RootsMagic 7 for only $20 at the conference and get a free upgrade to RootsMagic 8 at the same time. It’s your chance to get this future release at today’s prices!

RootsMagic 8 in the Demo Theater

After you’ve walked the halls of RootsTech, nothing sounds better than a soft, comfortable couch. And the Expo Hall Demo Theater is full of them! Join us for a quick demonstration of RootsMagic 8 in the theater where you’ll get a chance to relax, learn something new about your favorite software, and maybe even take a little nap.

Time: Thursday, February 28, 2019, 4:20-4:35 pm
Place: Expo Hall Demo Theater, Salt Palace Convention Center

Other Classes and Keynotes

RootsTech also has some amazing speakers lined up including Patricia Heaton, Emmy award-winning actress; Saroo Brierley, bestselling author; Jake Shimabukuro, chart-topping ukulele artist; Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch; and Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan K. Bednar. There are also over 300 breakout sessions taught by industry experts for beginners and experts alike.

See You There!

As you can guess, we’ve been very busy working on RootsMagic 8 and getting ready for RootsTech. We’re excited to show you a little of what we’ve been up to and to meet with so many of you in person. For those of you fortunate enough to be able to attend RootsTech, we look forward to seeing you. And if you’re not going to be able to join us there, don’t worry- we’ll be sharing more news in the near future.