When I started doing my family history a year and a half ago, I started by building an online tree on Ancestry. I soon realized that I wanted a copy on my computer in case Ancestry's servers crashed without a backup or the site closed one day. So I went shopping for family tree software. I decided to use Family Tree Maker 2008 because I wanted to tie together what I found on Ancestry and my Ancestry online tree to what I had on my computer.
After I purchased the software, I started hearing more and more about people complaining about FTM08 when compared to FTM6. Since I had never used FTM6, I didn't know what the big problem was. I found that the software was slow to load and crashed, but since I had never used any other family tree software, I didn't know who much was FTM and how much was my computer. I was also disappointed that I couldn't synch my FTM to my online tree at Ancestry. But I also found that it helped me to organize my data and cite my sources. I liked being able to add my media and attach things that I found on Ancestry (until I realized that I should just do it manually to avoid odd file names and follow good source citations.)
When RootsMagic 4 was being released, I thought that I would give it a try. I heard very good reviews about it. One thing that I like about RM4 compared to FTM was that I shouldn't have to purchase a new version every year. I understand that FTM releases another version each year to keep it on store shelves, but I didn't want to pay for it every single year. I also wanted to get the updates for the software for more than just one year (I wanted software that was supported long term).
After using RM4 for a few months, I think that I will be staying with it. At least until I find something better.
Here are some of the reasons that I like RM4 more:
- Faster load times
- Haven't crashed it yet. FTM would crash when I would try to add media to it WAY too often.
- Shared events. I love being able to add a census record once for an entire family. I use the "Residence (family)" fact and then share the fact with all of the children in a given household. If I would need to change this fact, I would only have to do it once. It also quickly shows me who an individual was living with when a census was taken.
- More source templates. When FTM09 came out, it had many more source templates that correlated to Elizabeth Shown Mill's Evidence Explained, but I find that RM4 has more.
- Customizable source templates. These are also available in FTM09, but I find that RM4 has even more flexibility. I will write another blog post about how I am using this later.
- I wish the sources for each fact were listed to the side of the page as they are in FTM. I think that sources are so important that they shouldn't be hidden away. RM4 only tells me how many sources I have for each fact, I want to be able to quickly see what they are.
- I wish that I didn't have to click around so much. I feel like it takes too many clicks to get to what I want. Once I'm on the person popup screen, I have to click on the fact, then click on sources, then click to add a source, then click text detail, just to add what was recorded in a source. I didn't feel that FTM took this long, but maybe I just was so used to it.
- I wish that you could edit the source details (like adding text that you found) right on the source page instead of having to click to another screen.
- I wish that it would give me more guesses when I typed in a place. In FTM, the software tries to guess what place you are typing. RM4 only gives you a guess to what you have already added. Although places change over time and FTM may try to guess a county that didn't exist yet, I like the feature for spelling purposes. I'll have to go through my places at a later time to check them instead of when I input them.
- I don't like that it tries to make every photo I add the primary photo, I wish that I could turn off this check box.
I do want to mention that I tried to use Legacy Family Tree when I got my netbook. This was right before RM4 was released and I was trying to decide what software I wanted to use. When I tried to open my GEDcom in the free version of Legacy 7, it would just crash. That was my first and only experience with Legacy and since I couldn't get it to work, I never tried it. I know that other people really enjoy using it, but if it can't even open my GEDcom, I won't be using it.
This is just a quick comparison list. I'm sure I could think of many more. Maybe I'll write a part 2 when I think of another list and after using it some more. What have you found in your own comparisons? What did I forget? Leave me a comment or send me an email genwishlist [at] gmail [dot] com.