Category: RootsMagic

Heredis 2014 genealogy software: Only $10.99 US until Sunday.

Heredis is offering their Heredis 2014 genealogy software for a special deal for three days only, until Sunday.

Heredis Genealogy Software LogoOf all of the genealogy software packages out there, there is one in particular that has always piqued my interest – Heredis 2014.

You may think the circumstances of this post strange (and you’d be right), but even though I don’t use Heredis 2014, I do love it.

Why is that, you ask?

Each and every time Heredis has upgraded their software, I’ve downloaded a trial version to check on one thing they need to change. Have they made Heredis 2014 capable of accepting custom date formats?

In my case, our family genealogy is extensively Quaker and therefore the dates are usually in the original recorded format of the time: i.e. 30d 7m 1732.

While I was using the software trial, I fell in love with it.

It’s a beautiful program and I’d love to be able to use it. The problem is that in genealogy it is always recommended to record birth dates in their original format to avoid errors through conversion. Date conversion can be complicated and confusing, and many mistakes are easily made.

Due to this issue, I have and still do use RootsMagic because it does allow entry of custom dates with a converted sort date entered in the background. However, I would switch in a second if Heredis ever made custom date entry possible.

I have corresponded with Heredis after each and every update about this very issue and even went so far as to send them a sample of my genealogy for them to get a look at the date setup, at their request. Nothing has ever changed.

If you’re one of the millions of genealogists who deal with old time, Quaker or custom date formats, I would not recommend this software.

It is possible to use this software with custom dates if the original date is entered in the notes for the event. This is more than I’m willing to deal with. If you don’t mind the hassle, and would like to use a beautiful genealogy software, then by all means give Heredis 2014 a try.

Heredis 2014 is available on their site in both Mac and Windows versions.

photo credit: Heredis

 

RootsMagic 6 now automatically converts and formats old style and new style Quaker format dates.

RootsMagic 6Finally, in the newest free update to RootsMagic 6, they have fine tuned the date calculations so it can understand, reformat, convert and sort an entry in the old Quaker date format.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll have noticed that I’ve had my trials when looking for a software program that will handle, understand and convert Quaker dates (both old and new style) within the program.

For the longest time now, up until recently, RootsMagic was the only software that would accept the custom date format, but it didn’t have the capability of converting it to the modern format for the sort date. This meant that every time I entered a Quaker date, which could be written one of a number of ways, I had to manually calculate and convert the date and enter it in the background sort date cell so events would sort correctly.

RootsMagic 6 reformats and converts quaker date formats (old and new style).

The yellow circle shows the date entered as it appeared in the original source. The green circle shows the sort date entered manually.

For example, while transcribing data from a source in which the date is noted as “22 11th mo 1724″, I would type it exactly as seen in the source. Then I’d have to calculate the actual date in modern terms using a confusing and complicated formula that I won’t go into here because with RootsMagic 6 there’s no need to know it. RootsMagic 6 now magically reformats the date I’ve typed, “22 11th mo 1724″, to show as 22da 11mo 1724 in the main date field. Meanwhile a few cells lower, the sort date has automatically converted the Quaker date to the modern equivalent for accurate sorting and timelines, “22 Jan 1725.”

RootsMagic 6 reformats and can convert quaker dates.

The yellow circle shows the automatically reformatted date from that entered in the previous image. The green circle shows the automatically calculated, equivalent, modern format date.

I love this! Several times now, I’ve corresponded with the staff at both Family Tree Maker and Heredis, hoping they would update their software to at the very least, accept and show custom date formats as entered and allow the user to manually enter a sort date. My correspondence with Heredis was just a few months ago and I must say they were interested and emailed me right away, asking for a copy of my gedcom and RootsMagic file so they could take a look at how it handles custom date entries. I’ve heard nothing since. Then, a week or so ago, I received an announcement that they were releasing a new version and I was so excited, hoping it had been changed to use custom date formats.

I immediately downloaded the trial and entered a gedcom that has custom dates entered, but alas, no such date management feature had been set up.

I’m hoping this was because they heard RootsMagic 6 was improving its date handling and wanted to see it first, not that they shelved it. Since the Heredis software maker is in France, it’s been difficult to convince them just how prevalent Quaker ancestors are in American ancestries.

My Ideal Setup for Genealogy Research

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Over fifteen years of genealogy research, I have added to, adjusted and tweaked my setup until I have achieved what I believe to be the ideal setup for genealogy research.

In the Beginning

When I started, I had only an early personal computer operating Windows 94 and Microsoft Office, a basic scanner, small black and white printer, and for media I used floppies and a zip drive.

There were a lot of negatives about operating in those early years. Although the internet was beginning to open doors for researchers, there was not much data transcribed for online access, even if it was free. This meant a good portion of my research had to be done the old fashioned way using ‘snail mail’, the telephone and the fax machine. The internet helped me locate the resources and organizations to whom I should correspond and what specifically was available to be accessed.

I used the original free Ancestry Family Tree software that was available prior to Ancestry.com taking over Family Tree Maker. Although I had tried Family Tree Maker, I hadn’t like it at all because it was primitive and the interface was rather unattractive and ‘clunky’. Had Ancestry.com decided to work with and improve the original Ancestry Family Tree software, I’d probably still be using it.

Learning and Adapting

During the years following until about seven years ago, I operated with the same equipment, becoming much more proficient and knowledgeable. The software, however, was another matter. I was never happy with Family Tree Maker and after doing some research, I switched to RootsMagic. I loved the smooth interface, reports, charts, source cataloging, and data entry features including the flexibility handling unorthodox formats for dates, etc.

By this time, I had become very dissatisfied with the image editing quality in Windows software. I had long been considering switching to a Mac, and soon after moving to British Columbia, my Windows computer crashed and I took the opportunity to switch. I immediately realized how much better the Mac was for working with documents and images, but there was one huge drawback – there was no Mac version of RootsMagic.

I diligently researched all Mac software available and wasted a lot of money trying several. The first one I tried was the Mac version of Family Tree Maker. I didn’t like it any better than the Windows version. In order to continue with my genealogy research and input, I tried two virtual environments, Parallels, VMWare and VirtualBox,  so I could operate RootsMagic on the Mac. Parallels caused a lot of performance issues on the computer, ranging in severity from system slowdowns to outright crashes. VMWare was only slightly better. I finally tried and liked VirtualBox and although it wasn’t as smooth and seamless as I like, I continued using it.

Stumbling Along

During the next couple of years, I tried Mac Family Tree, Reunion, MyBlood and Legacy. While using all of these, I missed RootsMagic horribly and ended up purchasing a NetBook so I could operate RootsMagic on the required Windows operating system.

Then I heard about Heredis, a new software that operated on a Mac. I purchased it because the free trial would only allow working with a small, limited quantity of individuals, leaving lots of areas in my database of 115,000+ individuals where I was unable to assess its suitability. I loved this software, but there was one huge drawback I couldn’t live with. It did not provide the flexibility and variety of date formats I needed. I’m a stickler for observing the ‘record dates exactly as they appear in the original source and only use the calculated date for the sort’ camp. My husband’s ancestry is deeply rooted in the Welsh Quaker culture and therefore I frequently find, use and interpret the Quaker date formats like ‘3d mo. 17 1682′. In Heredis, this had to be translated to a more standard date format and left a great deal of room for error.

I installed RootsMagic once again, and I still use it today. I use the Mac for the more intricate and detailed image editing and everything outside my genealogy pursuits. I would still love for RootsMagic to release a Mac version, but after years of requesting they do so, I’ve given up.

Another issue I’ve experienced through the years is ensuring the security, storage and portability of data. I tried everything up to and including CDs, DVDs, and flash/thumb drives. All of these options have notoriously short shelf lives and are vulnerable to malfunction, corruption and damage. Instead, I invested in an external hard drive a couple of years ago and it has worked out very well. I still keep my files on my computers and back up frequently to the external hard drive. This drive is easily ejected and inserted for portability and is not nearly as vulnerable as the other storage media choices.

The result is, unless RootsMagic is ever offered in a Mac version, I feel I have the best system possible for my genealogy research, data input, graphic and image editing, file storage and backup, and portability of data.

computer cubicleMy Ideal Setup

Mac computer

  • Its resident image editing software is much more intuitive and gives higher quality results, especially when trying to improve poor images.

Windows notebook computer

  • RootsMagic software requires Windows.
  • For portability when traveling or away from home.
  • Photoscape free software for backup image editing. Although not as good quality, it’s a great backup when away from the Mac or travelling.
  • Sticky Notes is great for quick saving of notes and ‘cut and paste’ of data.
  • Wordpad for working with and quick editing of longer strings of text before inputting into software.

External Storage

  • 1T external hard drive for backup and secure storage of genealogy data and files.
  • CDs for portable storage and mailing of data and files.
  • Flash/thumb drives for immediate, short term, portable storage of files and data.

High Resolution Digital Camera

  • To take high resolution digital images of publications pages and documents in libraries and archives, especially where there are restrictions on photocopying and scanning.

Software

 

  • iPhoto and Preview
  • Grab

 

  • RootsMagic (paid)
  • Photoscape (free)
  • Sticky Notes (free with Windows)
  • Wordpad (free with Windows)
  • Snipping Tool

Mac/Windows Option: For me, this setup is ideal because I love to use the higher quality Mac graphics capability and much prefer RootsMagic genealogy software, that is only offered for Windows.

Windows Only Option: For those who are happy with using Windows only, the list above less the Mac computer would be ideal.

Mac Only Option: For those who only want to use the Mac, the list above without the Windows computer items would be great, except a Mac genealogy software would have to be used in place of Rootsmagic.

photo credit: archie4oz via photopin cc

Blythe Genealogy Database update and repair is now complete.

Mark-Blythe-to-Barack-Obama-Relationship-Chart_11-583x10241.gifUpdate, August 1, 2013:

The links from within my posts of transcriptions to images and individuals are now reset and functional, and the images, documents and sources on my Blythe Database are now working correctly. If you find a broken link, just enter the  Blythe Database also linked in upper horizontal menu), and go to the surname search to find individuals, or photos to find media and sources.

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Update, July 26, 2013:

Because I had to reinstall the site completely, the links from within my posts of transcriptions to images and individuals are not functional. I am in the process of updating the links but it will take a while as there are a lot of them. If you find a broken link, just enter the Blythe Database (also linked in upper horizontal menu), and go to the surname search to find individuals, or photos to find media and sources.

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In a previous post I described the problems I was having with Family Tree Maker 2012 (FTM 2012) and how I was trying to  work around it.

As mentioned in that post, I worked to re-convert the gedcom file from FTM 2012 to be used in RootsMagic 6 as I had decided to return to it. Despite my fickle nature and several attempts to take advantage of newer technology and features in several other programs, I end up returning to RootsMagic 6 every time.

In other programs I tried,  I had issues with custom dates, facts and events; image and media handling, etc. Although they were good in some areas, tere  was always something lacking that was crucial to how I do my genealogy.

FTM 2012, however, was by far worse as it actually caused damage to my original data in that I was never consistently able to do backups or export to gedcoms. In the end, after six months of use, I couldn’t export to gedcom at all,  and this is crucial for use of the data in other software and on my Blythe Genealogy Database website.

Due to the problems I’ve been working on fixing, my Blythe Genealogy Database site has been severely affected for a couple of weeks now. Images were not being linked properly to individuals, sources or events, making it difficult to access images and sources directly from the database entries. Instead, images could only be accessed through the main ‘Media’ link, search, and list.

Today, after several unsuccessful attempts to rectify the situation without having to delete the database and start from scratch,  I finally broke down and did just that.

The database is now a brand new tree and import, and the links and data are all up to date and functional.

I do apologize for the inconvenience to those of  you who had difficulty accessing information you were looking for. By all means, please try again now and you should have no problems. The image below shows how the website pages now look with the images and links set up properly. (Click the image for full size view.)

Sample Blythe Database page.

 

 

RootsMagic is again my main software, but I figured out how to still take advantage of the hints of Family Tree Maker 2012.

After all of the problems I’ve had with Family Tree Maker 2012 (FTM), I had decided to return to my old favorite, RootsMagic. I was, however, sad about losing the shaky leaf hints feature of FTM 2012 as it was extremely productive for me.

At first, I was totally despondent at the thought of the six months of work I’d put into the database in FTM 2012 and ended up losing when I was unable to successfully export to gedcom. Yesterday, however, I decided to figure out if I could still use the hints in FTM, while entering the data in my main database in RootsMagic.

full screenshot


Complete screen image of both programs open side by side to the same individual to work with hints (see yellow boxes).
Click for full size image.

It worked surprisingly well!

Here is the procedure I use step by step for those who would like to follow suit:

Open FTM in a window resized to fit in half of the screen.

Ancestry Family Tree hints window

Copy hint url from FTM 2012 browser (see yellow box).
Click for full size image.

Ancestry Family Tree 2012 hints in separate browser

Pasted hint url in new browser (see yellow box).
Click for full size image.

Open RootsMagic (or whatever other software contains your main database) and resize it to fit the other half.

Proceed to the individual in the main software (hereinafter I’ll refer to RootsMagic) where you would like to start.

If the individual exists in the FTM 2012 database, go to the same individual there as well.

If the individual does not exist, enter the new individual in FTM 2012 and refresh to show any leaf hints. If none show, enter more data such as birth date, marriage, death date, etc.

With those individuals for whom there are no leafy hints, move to the next closest relative(s), continuing until you find a hint that provides new information. In my case, I’m well ahead because I had imported my entire RootsMagic database into FTM and the majority of the people and all of their known data were already entered. Due to this, I am at present inundated with hints to work from. If I find new people to input, I input just the name using the procedure mentioned above, adding additional data if needed.

When I find a hint I want to work with, I open it in a new browser window resized to fit over the FTM window, and use my trusty old-fashioned cut and paste, save and download to obtain data and images – entering them in RootsMagic.

By using my software this way , I am able to remain confident in the stability and security of my database in RootsMagic, and bypass the hugely risky and inconvenient problems with importing, exporting, and uploading to the internet in FTM. The ability to continue to use the shaky leaf hints in this way means I don’t have to consider the money I spent on my subscription to FTM 2012 a waste any longer.

Ancestry.com’s Family Tree Maker 2012 leaves a lot to be desired.

FAMILY TREE MAKER 2012DON’T BUY FAMILY TREE MAKER 2012!

I don’t mean to be fickle. My innate tendency to believe and trust sometimes can result in undesired consequences- such as in the case of my switch to Family Tree Maker 2012 from my beloved RootsMagic 6.

As I described in a previous post, I was dazzled by the ‘bells and whistles’ supposedly added or improved upon in FTM 2012. In previous releases of FTM, there was plenty of criticism to be found online including: program crashes, system crashes, database corruption, data loss and incompatibilities.

This newer version of FTM 2012 was heavily touted to have corrected all the known issues, so I downloaded and installed it, liking how it was working at first. My last few months working with the program, however, have been pure HELL!

The whole time I used FTM 2012, I was actively working full time hours using the Ancestry.com ‘leaf hints’ feature, which I loved – and which was the main reason I switched.

After a week or two, I noticed I was unable to export the file to Gedcom successfully. I still expected this could be rectified and continued working with the software while researching my issues through the forums and technical support available online. One of the first recommendations I came across was to be sure to compact the database frequently, especially if the software crashed or closed unexpectedly.

Mark was helping me with researching the issues online and found references to others having the same problems and eventually being able to successfully export a gedcom after several attempts – so I kept trying, while at the same time continuing to compact the database.

break pencil

Nothing worked! Yesterday, I called it quits with Family Tree Maker 2012, and returned to RootsMagic 6. To do this though, since I had never been able to successfully export a gedcom in FTM 2012, I had to use a six month old RootsMagic file and subsequently I’ve had to write off all the work from those six months.

broken heartIt was heartbreaking!

This is the second time I’ve attempted to switch to Ancestry Family Tree over the years and the second (and last)  time I’ve been disappointed.

My advice?

If you want to feel confident about the security of your data, don’t use Ancestry Family Tree 2012. I feel so strongly about this that I have blacklisted all ads for this software from my sites as I wouldn’t want to lead someone else into the same frustrations and heartache.

DO BUY ROOTSMAGIC 6 (AND GENSMARTS)!
RootsMagic

GenSmarts Logo

GenSmarts screen.Why have I included Gensmarts when recommending RootsMagic 6?

Although I was dumping FTM 2012, I still loved the idea of the linked, intuitive search and hints and wanted to see if there was anything similar available elsewhere. I was so surprised to discover the program Gensmarts, which is perfectly compatible with RootsMagic 6 – at least so it says.

GenSmarts analyzes existing genealogy files and produces an extensive and precise list of research recommendations to both free and paid sites, databases, research and genealogy libraries, etc. Gedcoms are unnecessary as GenSmarts reads the data in your file directly.

Small symbols (or icons) beside each entry indicate at a glance whether the recommendation is to a free or paid resource, is a direct line ancestor, and whether the information sought fills missing data. In addition, as you work with the research recommendations, you can quickly and easily select icons to indicate the status, including whether the item was found or not found, whether you plan to search further, and whether the file can be ignored in future.

As with RootsMagic 6, GenSmarts uses a very simple but comprehensive interface with far more advanced functions and features than you’d expect.

In addition to RootsMagic 6, it is supposed to work with many other popular genealogy research and family tree progams. No matter which program you use, it would be well worth your while to check the list of compatible programs and if yours is on it, you really should check it out.

Yesterday, I purchased and downloaded Gensmarts and I’m thrilled. It may not be quite as ‘wired in’ to Ancestry.com as the leaf hints in FTM 2012 are, but that’s more than made up for by the extensive list of other resources it searches and links.