The fifth incarnation of the popular RootsMagic family tree software programme packs as big a punch as its predecessors! First released in 2003, it is designed in the US by Bruce Buzbee and distributed in a British format by S&N Genealogy Supplies (via www.RootsMagic.co.uk).
There are several different packages of the new software, starting with the Basic edition (£24.95 on CD, or £19.95 if you wish to download it from the website). If you have the previous version, then you can upgrade for just £19.95 on CD, or by download at £16.95.
The Standard edition (£34.95) includes Bartholomew's Atlas of 1898 for England and Wales, and topographical maps with an index of some 35,000 place names.
However, I reviewed a copy of the Platinum edition (£49.95), which includes a whole host of goodies: a UK change of names index (covering 1760-1901); a General Armory of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1894; a CD listing English and Welsh landowners' valuation returns from 1873, with Scottish and Irish equivalents from 1872-73 and 1876; and a basic three month subscription to TheGenealogist.co.uk.
While some software packages may take forever to load up, and use an extraordinary amount of space on your hard drive, RootsMagic is much simpler and every bit as powerful! When installing the software, you do not have to replace your previous version if you wish to experiment with the upgrade first.
The interface comes with a default Tahoma 14pt font, which can be quite garish, but you can customise the look by visiting the Tools option in the menu, and choosing Program Options followed by Design.
Once comfortable with your preferred set up, you can import a file previously created through earlier versions of RootsMagic , Family Origins (version 4 onwards), Family Tree Maker (2006 or earlier), Legacy, PAF, or via a simple Gedcom file - or alternatively you can start from scratch.
The main part of the screen carries six key interface screens - three basic family display areas (Pedigree, Family, Descendants), followed by a more detailed People index facility, a WebSearch screen and a Timeline facility. An index box on the left of the screen can be easily removed with a simple click. Double clicking on a person's data box produces a seperate 'Edit Person' box, into which you can input the relevant information.
You can attach images, sound and cideo and even scan images through the program, while the Reports tab at the top menu allows you to generate various reports and charts, which appear in a seperate viewing screen. You can also export material to a website or CD to share with the rest of your family.
New additions to version five include several enhancements to the research logs and other basic tools, the new Timeline view, and an 'on this day' feature noting family events on a particular date.
There's also a useful county check facility, which can tell you if a particular county existed at the time of an event you are reporting. And RootsMagic To-Go allows you to transfer your tree to a laptop using a USB memory stick, without having to load the full software to read it.
RootsMagic has a deservedly high reputation, but you can download a basic trial before purchasing - and you'll soon be back for more!