RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – What is that button on the side?

I keep getting busy programming and forget to blog about all the great stuff coming in version 4, so I’m going to skip the rest of the little things and start sneak previewing the bigger stuff. I’ll leave the little stuff for you to find on your own when we release version 4 before the end of the year (there… there’s your first hint about the release date).

Back in a previous post, several people wondered what that button (1) on the left side of the screen was for. Of course I didn’t tell, which led to a lot of rampant guessing and speculation. So let’s put an end to the speculation. If you click on the image below you’ll see RootsMagic 4’s new collapsible side bar. Click the button to access the side bar, and again if you want it hidden. The side bar is available regardless of which main view you are using.

Side Index

The side bar has four (count’em) 4 tabs. The Index tab shown above is a list of the people in your database. You have incremental search and alternate name support, and if you are using color coding it will show as well. Select a person from the index list and RootsMagic will select that person in the current view (pedigree, family, etc).

Side Family

Tab 2 is the family tab which will show you all the immediate family members (spouses, kids, parents, and siblings) of the person selected on the main screen. You can select any of those family members and click the Go button to switch to that person.

Side Bookmarks

Tab 3 is the bookmark tab. Just press Ctrl+B or click the “Add bookmark” button to add the current person to the bookmark list.

Side History

And tab 4 is the history tab. Every time you edit a person, RootsMagic will automatically add that person to the history tab. Need to get back to someone you edited half an hour ago? This is where you’ll find them.

Oh, and just to make sure you can’t stop speculating, I wanted to point out (if you hadn’t noticed already), that there is another blurred tab that has magically appeared on the main screen. Where do those things keep coming from? Guess you’ll just have to keep reading the blog.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Alternate names

OK, so here’s a feature we have gotten a lot of requests for, and in RootsMagic 4 we’re going to deliver it.

Alternate Names

If you have ever added alternate names for people in your database, you can now have those alternate names appear in lists of people (like the RootsMagic Explorer). If you think you might get confused having a person appear under their multiple names in the lists, just unmark the “Show alternate names” checkbox and it will only list each person once under their primary name.

Clicking on an alternate name in the list will take you to the same place that clicking on the primary name would. It’s just that you can now find people by all those other names they may have been known as during their lifetime.

Stay tuned for more cool stuff. And thanks for telling your friends and families to check out what will be our biggest upgrade ever.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Websites with style

Today’s sneak preview is going to be short and sweet (and no screen shot on top of that).  But don’t worry, we still have plenty of new screen shots left to go.

While website creation in RootsMagic 4 is very similar to that in version 3, there is one big difference.  RootsMagic 4 uses Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) when creating a website.  If you don’t create websites, or don’t know what CSS is, you probably won’t find this very exciting.

However, if you have ever had to modify fonts, colors or other settings in a RootsMagic generated website, I can hear you saying “yes” all the way from here.  No more having to modify hundreds of individual html files.  Just edit the single .CSS file and all your pages will use the modified styles.

So for all you html’ers, this one’s for you.  For everyone else, we’ll be right back with more cool screenshots and features.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Multimedia is made to be shared

Media Album

An old adage says that a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are 3000 words worth of pictures about RootsMagic 4’s new multimedia features. As in previous versions of RootsMagic, you can add pictures or other media to people, families, sources, citations, events, or places. Here’s what the new Media Album looks like (click the image if you want to see it without squinting):

Indiv Media

The first thing long time RootsMagic users will notice is that you aren’t limited to viewing 6 pictures at a time for a person. Not only can you scroll to view all the pictures for a person, you can also adjust the size of the thumbnails by simply (1) dragging the slider at the bottom of the album.

If you’ve ever added a family picture to each member of the family, and had to re-enter that nice detailed description over and over, you’ll love the new RootsMagic 4 Media Gallery. Every time you add a picture to a person (or other item) RootsMagic 4 keeps track of the photo so that you can re-use the same picture along with its caption, description, and other information. When adding a new picture to a person, just click “Add from gallery” (2) to re-use an existing media item.

Selecting a media item will display its details (caption, description, file name, etc) in the (3) live edit panel.

Media Gallery

If you want to see all the pictures you have added, just bring up the master Media Gallery.

Media Gallery

Not only can you see all your media, but you can also click the “Show usage” button to get a list of every place in your file that the highlighted media is referenced.

Media Usage

I’m on my way to Indianapolis for my third conference in 3 weeks (which I will attempt to pass off as my excuse for not spilling the beans as quickly as I would like). I will try to pick up the pace a bit. We still have a ton of cool new features to cover.

By the way, if you have a friend you’ve been trying to convert to RootsMagic, let them know about our blog. We’ll help you out with that <g>.

RootsMagic Unwrapped – And the 4th Tab is…

People Tab

People? Mark Tucker’s guess sure sounded a lot more exciting.

But even if the People tab can’t automatically do all your genealogy for you, it will help you quickly and easily analyze your data in ways that used to require tedious creating and printing custom reports.

So let’s take a look at this People page. Click on the screen shot below so you can actually see what it looks like.

People Page 1

At first glance the People page looks like just another list. There are a couple of differences though, the first being the “Customize this view” button. When you click the Customize button RootsMagic will let you select which columns you want to display in the list.

Customize People Page

Select the column you want in the left list, then click the “Add to view” button (you can also just double click on a field to move it over). You can add up to 50 columns to the view, and you can change them anytime you want. Once you have selected the columns you want, just drag and drop them into the order you want them in the view.

Then comes the fun part. Any column you add to the People view is fully sortable. Want to see your people grouped by birth place? Just click the birth place header and your wish is RootsMagic’s command. Want to see everyone in death date order? Just click the death date column (just make sure you added that column first). Here’s an example of the People view sorted by birth place.

People Page 2

Oh, and if you do add 50 columns, RootsMagic will let you scroll to see them all (obviously), and will even keep the person’s name (in the first column) frozen on the screen so you don’t lose track of what information belongs to who.

Well, back to programming. I’ve been hearing rumors that some users want us to get this released.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Citation Quality

Another quicky while I’m at the BYU genealogy conference.

We all know how important it is to add sources for the information we enter. When adding a source in RootsMagic, we’ve always been able to enter the “quality” of the citation. But it has been limited to “primary”, “secondary”, “questionable”, and “unreliable”. Until now.

Citation Quality

As you can see, RootsMagic 4 now follows approved standards for evidence analysis in an easy to understand format.

To learn more about evaluating your genealogy sources, visit:

And our friend Mark Tucker over at has put together a Genealogy Research Map that covers the full research process (including assessing the quality of a citation). You can download it for free from:

This isn’t the only new source enhancement coming in RootsMagic, but we’re saving the best for later. Stay tuned.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Color Is Our Friend

I am at the BYU Family History Conference all week. But here’s a quicky for you.

If you’ve done much merging, you know that most of your time is spent staring at the screen comparing names, dates, and places. In RootsMagic 4 it is color to the rescue…

Merge 1

If you noticed all the green on the two possible duplicates on this merge screen, you may have realized that green means the fields match on the two records. So if you see a bunch of green, it means to don’t have to spend as much time comparing every field of the two records before making a decision whether to merge them. Now take a look at this one…

Merge 2

These possible duplicates have some yellow fields and a red field. Yellow indicates that the fields are close but not exactly the same, and red indicates they aren’t the same at all. So if you are seeing red, it means don’t waste your time comparing all those fields.

There are a several other areas where RootsMagic 4 uses colors like this, but we’ll let you have the fun of discovering those for yourself.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Files Made Easy

We’ve made a few minor enhancements to working with files (aside from the new file extension that Jon mentioned in a comment to an earlier post… we’ll talk about what that means in a future post).

Creating a New File

We’ve created a new “New File” form to simplify creating a new database and getting started.

New File

To create a new database just type in a file name and click OK, and RootsMagic will create the new database in the default folder you have selected. The “New File” form also gives you a couple of options for what to do after the new file has been created.

Opening a File

One of the most common tech support issues we get is from users who can’t find a file they created. Earlier versions of RootsMagic have had a “Search for files” command, but it was a separate command and not really available when you actually needed it. In RootsMagic 4 we bring the “Search for files” feature front and center. For example, when you choose to open an existing database (File > Open from the menu), you’ll see this screen.

Open File

Hopefully it is self-explanatory (or if not, please let us know what wording *would* be). So whether you know where all your files are, or are less than comfortable with the Windows file dialog, we’ve got you covered.

Searching for Files

If you select “Search for a file” from the form above, RootsMagic will immediately open this screen and begin searching. You can pause the search any time and select any file found up to that point and open it directly from the search results.

File Search

This search screen is also available from other places in RootsMagic 4, like when you are importing data from another program, or searching for a backup to restore.

Restore Backup

And of course it is still available directly from the menu.

Rename Can Now Move

Yes, the File > Rename command has put on its dancing shoes. In earlier versions of RootsMagic the Rename command simply changed the name of the database you were working on. The database had a new name but stayed in the same folder.

Rename File

In RootsMagic 4 you can still do a simple file renaming, but now you can also choose a new folder and have RootsMagic move the database to that new folder. For those of you who have tried to move a RootsMagic database before, you know you like this feature.

Hopefully you aren’t getting bored by these sneak peeks (see, I spelled it right this time) at some of the fun little things we have added in RootsMagic 4. Hang in there though. The big stuff is just around the corner.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – What’s Another Word for Spel Chek?

Time for a sneak peak at a couple more of the small features coming in RootsMagic 4. I promise the big features are on their way. Just want to give the little ones their time in the sun.

Live Spell Checking

While RootsMagic has always offered spell checking, version 4 now offers “Live” spell checking. You know, those annoying little squiggly red lines that show what a lousy speller you are without you even having to ask for it (click the image below to see them in their full glory).

Live Spell Check

The nice thing about live spell checking is that you can just right click on the misspelled word and RootsMagic will display a menu with suggested spellings (and other options). And yes, those who are allergic to squiggly red lines can turn off this option and continue to use the old fashioned spell checking.

Auto Correct

Don’t you get tired of typing “teh” instead of “the” all the time? RootsMagic 4 can now automatically fix that for you. If you type “teh”, RootsMagic will automatically correct it to “the” as soon as you enter the space.

Auto Correct

If “teh” isn’t your weakness, you can add your own problem areas for RootsMagic to correct. I personally use this feature to change “rm” into “RootsMagic” (yes, I really am that lazy).


At a loss for words? Or just tired of using the same words over and over?


RootsMagic 4 comes with an updated version of Roget’s Thesaurus, making it easy to look up synonyms (words that mean the same thing) for any selected word. And if the thesaurus suggests a word you find more appealing than your own, RootsMagic can replace your boring old word with the new one.

So keep it tuned here as we continue to unwrap RootsMagic 4. The best is yet to come.

RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped – Adding a new person

It looks like Mark Tucker over at ThinkGenealogy has gotten in on trying to figure out the hints on the new features I didn’t talk about in my first “unveiling”. I can’t believe he figured out our biggest new feature… the reversed note icon on the toolbar. Actually, we have no idea why it is reversed from version 3, but it really doesn’t mean anything. I will confirm his suspicion that the little arrow on the “Add Person” button means that the same menu as in version 3 will drop down there. As for the other items he picked out, we’ll just have to see what those are in future entries. There are still at least two other hints from those screens that nobody has mentioned, but that’s ok because they are probably harder to spot than Waldo.

Speaking of adding a new person, let’s show a new little feature we added in that area. This is what the RootsMagic 4 “Add New Person” screen looks like (or at least if you click on that thumbnail you will see what it looks like).

Add New Person

There are 2 changes that RootsMagic users will notice. The first is that we have added a cause of death field. The second (and much more exciting) new feature is that little link that the arrow is pointing to. Clicking that link will bring up this customize screen.

Customize Add Person

You will now be able to create your own custom “Add person” form by selecting the fact types you want displayed on that form. Choose which fact types and what order you want them displayed. Once you are happy with your selections, click OK and RootsMagic will return to your newly customized “Add Person” form.

Add Person 2

You can even have multiple copies of the same fact type if you want. That’s useful if you tend to add multiple census, occupation, or residence facts for people. You can have up to 50 facts on the add person screen, and RootsMagic will add a scrollbar if necessary to see them all.

Oh, and just a little “clarification” for readers who aren’t already using RootsMagic. What I’ve shown here isn’t the full-blown edit screen for a person (wait until you see all the cool stuff we added there). This is a “quick add” form that lets you enter basic details on the person before the full edit screen appears (which has no limitations on the amount of data).

So keep checking back. We haven’t even scratched the tip of the iceberg.