I have been using The Master Genealogist (TMG) for years now. It’s flexible, allows infinite tweaking of charts, and I can import sources and fact types directly into a new project for each new client. I was so impressed that I started the TMG Sydney User Group in 2004. But a year or so ago TMG was discontinued and I started looking around for a replacement, with the goal that I would use TMG for as long as I could but would be using something new in a year’s time. I figured that sooner or later – a new version of Windows or lack of drivers or something – TMG would no longer work properly and I’d be stuck with all my client projects, not to mention my own family tree.
I did some looking around and from a shortlist of three programs – Legacy, RootsMagic, and Family Historian, all of which I owned – I decided on Family Historian. Family tree software is an individual thing and what works for some doesn’t work for others; just look at TMG! I started a new client project from scratch, a tree that even now only has a dozen or so people in it. Last week when I was trying to add new facts I started getting frustrated and decided to import it back into TMG so I could get on with my work. Family Historian uses a GED file and so I thought I could import that file directly into TMG, but TMG didn’t like it, telling me there was no header record.
I wondered whether it was a TMG problem, and imported it into RootsMagic, without any problems, and so I went on with it in RootsMagic. And I’ve changed my mind and made a momentous decision.
I’m going with RootsMagic.
- Interface Working with a family tree program is an individual thing, where the interface and navigation comes down to personal preference. Once I started using the program for real I liked it better. It seems closer to TMG, which I liked because I could see everything on the screen at once and I could move it around to suit myself.
- Charts It uses the same software as TMG does, or at least it looks the same to me. I can select the chart that best suits my needs and then once it’s open in the charting program I can move things around to fit on a page, or join two trees together, or whatever I want. This is important to me, and is almost a reason in itself to choose RootsMagic.
- Sources I can create templates to suit my own standards, and I can then export them and reuse them in future projects. This gets me up and running quickly on a new client, and was such a help to me when it was introduced into TMG a couple of versions ago that I was dreading being without it.
- Android App – there is an Android app (and a iPhone one as well) that uses Dropbox to sync the tree to my many Android devices. It’s read-only, which is all I want, and I can update it directly from the file menu within the program.
The more I use it the more I like it. I’m sure I’ll have more to say when I’ve used it a lot more.
It’s a momentous decision for me because I spend a large part of nearly every day in my family tree software, working on clients’ trees. I have at least a dozen running at any one time, often more.
RootsMagic allows you to import a TMG file directly, and I have yet to do this successfully because I have to set up my source templates. There are instructions on the website to do this, and there is a helpful forum and Facebook group. I’ve ordered my Getting the most out of RootsMagic book, and it’s been a long time since I’ve ordered a printed book to help me learn something new. I think you can still buy the program at the upgrade price if you are a TMG refugee, and to be honest it’s worth the money even if you only use it for the charts. I already had the previous version so I upgraded to V7.
This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
Late Edit Just for the record, I also tried to bring the GED file from Family Historian into Legacy. The import process goes into a loop and never finishes. I like Legacy but the interface doesn’t do it for me, a very subjective thing, nor the charts.