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Refocusing Your Genealogy Research (Premium Podcast 198)

Refocusing Your Genealogy Research (Premium Podcast 198)

Premium Podcast Show Notes: A long-time listener says her current research project has gotten a bit chaotic and she’s not sure what to do next to find answers. Listen in as I tease apart her research questions, and provide a fresh new path to try and get the answers. Plus, I’ll throw in a few additional ideas that might just help bust through the wall. 

Listen to Premium Podcast Episode 198

 

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Show Notes

Write down the current research situation as a narrative

When you’ve tried many avenues and run into roadblocks it can help to restate the problem. This is also handy to have if you later decide to pull in assistance from other researchers.

Create a list

Using the narrative, list each item on a separate line. Our goal is to turn the situation into separate actionable steps.

Establish your research question(s)

While we’re not creating a formal research plan (which is certainly not always needed) we want to use that type of format. Typically, this means that we have an overarching research question. That question can often be broken down into separate questions or steps.

Connie wrote: David Bothwell’s and another sister’s death certificates did not have the parents’ names. I  have two more siblings to check. If I get the parents’ names, that will get me that much closer to Ireland. But I am having trouble finding death certificates for Troy, New York and Providence, R. I. where his siblings died. Do you know where to get death certificates for those two areas?

CASE STUDY QUESTION: where was David Bothwell born on June 5, 1821?

This question goes hand in hand with who were David Bothwell’s parents?

We can break out specific research tasks to start to create a research plan based on what Connie has already done:

  • Obtain the death certificate for (David Bothwell’s sibling NAME) who died (____________) in Troy, NY.
  • Obtain the death certificate for David’s sibling Mary Bothwell who died in 1893 in Providence, RI.

Establish the timeframe and location:

In order to know exactly where to look for records, we must know the jurisdiction at the time of the event. Therefore, the next step is to determine what the counties were at the time of the siblings’ deaths.

1. Google for the current county

  • Troy, NY = Rensselaer County
  • Providence, RI = Providence County

2. Verify the actual county at that time

Resources: Atlas of Historical County Boundaries or Google.com

Results:

  • Providence: Providence Co., RI = est. 1703
  • Troy: Rensselaer Co., NY = est. 1822

3. Determine when the desired records began in the appropriate jurisdiction

Resource: FamilySearch Wiki

Using the interactive map on the FamilySearch Wiki home page, go to the state wiki page.

Results:

  • The Rhode Island state wiki page states: “Death records generally began when the town began. Registration for births and deaths began in 1853. General compliance by 1915.”

Many state wiki pages will have links to pages devoted to certain types of records within that state. The Rhode Island state page, click How to Find Rhode Island Death Records.

Even if you find helpful information on the state page, drill down to county and then to town. You may uncover additional resources.

Results of drilling down the county and city wiki pages:

Providence County page

Death Records: 1630-1945 Rhode Island, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1630-1945 at FamilySearch — How to Use this Collection; index and images

Providence (city) page

1636-1930 On American Ancestors ($): Providence, RI: Alphabetical Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1636-1930.

1931-1940 On American Ancestors ($): Providence, RI: Alphabetical Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1931-1940.

CASE STUDY QUESTION: Obtaining David Bothwell’s Naturalization Records

Connie wants to obtain the full naturalization file. She currently has the single page final declaration dated Oct. 23, 1869, in Kings Co., NY (county court). She’s been unsuccessful in her attempts and wants to refresh her strategy.

Again, the FamilySearch wiki can help verify the correct path to the records.

  1. Use the interactive map at the FamilySearch Wiki to go to the page for Kings Co (Brooklyn) NY Genealogy.
  2. On the Kings Co, NY page, in the Contents column click Naturalization
  3. The Naturalization section states: The Family History Library has also acquired this comprehensive index for the years 1792 through 1906 on microfilm: FHL Film 1419807 (1st of 294 films). The courts this index covers are: City Court of Brooklyn, 1836-1894, Kings County Court, 1806-1906

What to do when you can’t go get the record yourself in person:

RE: Where was David Bothwell born?

Scour the records you have and brainstorm new avenues to pursue. In this case:

Research: Witnesses

Use the FAN principle by researching Friends, Associates, and Neighbors. The witness on his naturalization record was Patrick Formey. Extensive research should be done on him. He and David Bothwell have some sort of connections and very likely may have known each other prior to coming to America. If Formey’s home in Ireland can be identified, it could then be searched for the Bothwells. Determine where was David Bothwell was working and living in 1870 after he arrived in America. Was it near Patrick Formey? A search reveals that there was a Patrick Formey from Ireland living in Newark Ward 7, Essex, New Jersey. A quick online search provides a map showing that this location is a very short distance from Brooklyn.

Research: Newspapers

Find every available newspaper article on the subject and all of his siblings. For example, the family may have been involved in their church or other organization. There may be articles mentioning where attendees of events were originally from, particularly if several came from the same place in England or Ireland.

Research: Church Records

Church meeting minutes and other records in America may provide parents’ names or locations prior to coming to America.

Research: Internet Archive

Search for “David Bothwell” “Brooklyn” and try other variations and associated people. The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library publishes much of their materials to the Internet Archive as do many other institutions. The Internet Archive is an excellent for compiled genealogies and church records and minutes.

Videos mentioned in this episode:

 

How to Edit Home Movies

How to Edit Home Movies

Show Notes: Getting your old home movies into shape so that they can be easily enjoyed by audiences today can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right video editing tool and  a little bit of know-how you can turn digitized home movies into family history fare for all your relations. It’s time to get your home movies out of the closet and onto a screen near you. 

 

how to edit old home movies

Video and show notes

In this video, I’ll show you how to edit digitized home movies in my favorite video editing software program, Camtasia by Techsmith. (Use our affiliate link now through 8/26/22 to get 20% off Camtasia and / or Snagit. We will be compensated which helps support free videos like this one.)

If you already have another program, you can still follow along and learn best practices for great edited home movies that are easy to share and enjoyable to watch. 

Don’t have old home movies? You can also use Camtasia to create videos using static images and photos.  

Discounts:

Larsen Digital: I got my family video (and audio) tapes digitized at Larsen Digital, a family-owned business that cares about family history. Click here to get 15% off on your Larsen Digital order when you use our exclusive coupon code GenGem.

Camtasia: Use this link to Camtasia and our coupon code GENE15 to get 15% off for a limited time. (Note: Maintenance and asset add-ons are optional and can be opted out of if desired during checkout. Discount applies to Snagit as well! )

Watch the video How to Edit Home Movies:

Show Notes

Have you gotten some of your old home movies digitized, only to have them just sit on your computer. It’s it can happen really easily. It’s certainly happened to me. And in this video, what I’m going to do is show you how easy it is to edit your old home movies yourself, so that you can get them cleaned up and ready to share with your family.

I had a ton of movies that I got digitized a couple of years ago, and they just sat on my computer. Now, all I can say is I’ve been busy making videos for this channel. I guess that’s my excuse for not getting around to them.

Larsen Digital Exclusive Discount on Digitization

Recently, I found another batch of videotapes. I found VHS, High 8, and I even had an audio tape that needed to get digitized. So, I sent it off to my favorite place, Larsen Digital, a family-owned business that cares about family history. Click here to get 15% off on your Larsen Digital order when you use our exclusive coupon code GenGem.

Larson has done an amazing job getting my tapes digitized in the past. They send them back quickly, and you get them on DVD as well as mp4. Larsen Digital is graciously offering all of us a great discount on digitization. If you haven’t gotten your tapes done yet, they will take care of it for you.

When you get those mp4 videos back, they can be fairly large files. That’s because some of those VHS tapes can be six hours long. Therefore, we need to do some editing. If we don’t, they’re going to be really unwatchable. Typically, we have lots of stops and starts and fingers in front of cameras and blank spots on our videos. On our tapes we had lots of chunks where we had filmed TV shows. Then we started filming home movies again! So, home movie videos typically need to be cleaned up because our relatives are not going to want to sit around and watch six hours of random, chaotic stuff.

As family historians it is our job to edit the video into something watchable and enjoyable. The good news is these days it’s not a hard job thanks to the great tools that are available. I’m going to explain how I use my favorite video editing tool called Camtasia. In the video, I’ll show you how easy this is to do. I think if you see it, you will feel like this is something you can do. I really enjoyed editing my own films.

Camtasia Software Discount 

Use this link to Camtasia and get 20% off now through 8/26/22. After that you can use our exclusive coupon code for 15% off: Gene15 (works on Snagit too!)

Camtasia is definitely a terrific product and easy to use. I use it to create my Genealogy Gems videos, and I also use it for home movies and all kinds of other projects. If you have your own video editing tool already and maybe you just haven’t gotten started working on your home movies, I think you’re still in the right spot because I’m going to show you how quick and easy it can be to get these tapes cleaned up and made usable. If you don’t happen to have home movies, you might still want to keep watching because Camtasia does a terrific job taking photographs, images, other pieces of content you can add narration and music and all kinds of stuff making your own version of home movies.

Step 1: How to Import video files into Camtasia

In Camtasia you will see the media bin, I’m going to import my media which is my mp4 video file.

You can see on the left side that there are lots of different things we can do. We’re going to touch on the most important for you for editing your home movies. Whatever you have selected, that’s what shows in this column just to the right of the menu. Make sure you’re in Media. (You can also import media through the menu at the top of the screen.) Click the Import Media button and navigate to your video file on your computer and open it. This will bring it into the Media bin.

Step 2: How to Select the Correct Project Size in Camtasia

The second step is to select your project size based on what it is you want to do. It’s really important to think about what is going to be the final purpose of the video. Do you want to be able to Airplay this up onto your TV screen on a big screen and be able to see it? If so, then you’re going to need a pretty high-resolution (large) file. Or are you really interested in getting lots of fun clips that you can share out on social media? If that’s the case, you don’t need as big of a file to be able to have it viewed on a mobile device or on the web.

Camtasia makes it super easy for you to find the right project size. At the top, click the down arrow next to the percentage number (called Canvas Options) and select Project Settings. Here you can see the current project size. What we want to do is pick from the standardized dimensions for the product (output) that we need. Here are some examples:

  • Social media: 1280 by 720 px. That’s a very standard size that would look great on anybody’s tablet or phone.
  • Full size computer screen or TV: 1920 by 1080 px (HD). That’s a very standard format

You probably don’t have 4k home movies. If you sent your tapes to a very specialized company, they might have the ability to give you 4k output. But it’s really overkill for what you’re trying to do. Typically, the 1080 HD is going to be what you want.

When you click to select the size, it is populated in width and the height. Click Apply. Now you have that exact project size. I think probably one of the biggest mistakes I made early on in my editing career was not checking project size as the first step.

Step 3: Drop the Video onto the Timeline

Next, we’re going to bring the whole movie onto the timeline where can then edit it.

When we hover our mouse over the video in the media bin, we can see all the different shots (this is called scrubbing,) When you start to drag the video out of the bin blue lines appear around the screen areas where the video can be place: the video canvas at the top of the screen and the Timeline at the bottom of the screen where the editing actually is done.

If when you drag the video into your project it looks smaller than the canvas, that means the film is a lower resolution (size) than the project size you selected. You don’t want to get too far apart in those two things. If I had a very small film (low quality) I might want to think about making my project size a little smaller because I don’t want it to look blurry when it’s done. Typically, I think you’ll find that your video file will be a standard size and will fit pretty nicely.

Using Multiple Tracks in Camtasia

I usually drop video directly onto the timeline. The reason is because usually I’ll end up adding stuff additional content to the timeline, and that’s where tracks come into play.

Your project will have two tracks at first. However, you can add many more by clicking the plus sign. Each track gives me the ability to have a piece of content on there. So, I might have my home movie on track one, narration audio on track two, annotations (text) on track three, etc. Each track gives me the chance to have different pieces of content so that I can edit them without cutting up the other items. It’s really convenient having each item on its own track.

Moving Content on a Track

You can easily move your video around on the timeline to position it exactly where you want it. Click on the content (in this case the home movie file) and drag it to the desired location. You’ll see that Camtasia will sort of allow you to “snap” items into the best position. For example, pushing the video up to the beginning of the timeline  (the zero mark).

Editing a Video in Camtasia

How do you know where you’re going to be editing? Well, that’s where the playhead comes into play. The playhead is the marker on the timeline that shows us where we are at any point in the video. You can drag the playhead across the video – called scrubbing – to review it.  

If you want to see your entire video on the timeline, you will likely need to zoom out. Click the minus sign to zoom out, and the plus sign to zoom in. Keep clicking until you can see the entire bar of video. Hover your mouse on the video and you can see how long it is. My video is 32 minutes, and seven seconds. So, this is the whole film that I’m going to work on. As we do our editing, we’re going to want to be zoomed in because we want to be really precise with our cuts and clean up.

Initial Types of Editing

So, what kind of editing would you be doing? Well, first and foremost, I like to go through and just clean up stuff that I don’t want things like blank spots, damaged footage, and mistakes in filming. As you scrub through the video look for these areas.  

Clean-up makes watching home movies much easier on the viewer. Everything comes back to the experience of the viewer that you want to share your videos with. If you want to share home movies with your family, you got to make them easy to watch, right? We want to make them enjoyable. We don’t want them getting seasick or bored. That way when they watch the finished films, they’re going to really enjoy them. And they’re going to want to see more and talk about family history.

Scrub very slowly until you see something you don’t want. Zoom in a little bit more if necessary to see exactly where you want to make your cut. On the playhead grab the red handle and drag it. Then drag the green handle. This identifies the area you want to cut. Press play and the grey playhead will jump to the beginning of the section you marked and play it for you so you can make sure it’s what you want to cut. Review and adjust the handles as needed.

To cut the section, click the Cut button with the scissors icon. (Control X) Review the section one more time to ensure you like the cut. You will see a stitch mark where you made you cut.

These small cuts may not seem like much, but when you do this throughout a 32-minute film, you may end up with a 20-minute film that’s much more watchable.

Adding Transitions to Video in Camtasia

One of the other things that you might want to do to make your video even more watchable is to create some transitions between scenes or clips. To do this, bring the playhead back to the stitch mark where you made your cut, and zoom in to make sure you’re right on top of it.  Click the video to select it so that Camtasia knows this is the content you are working on. In the menu on the left, click to select Transitions.

There are many to choose from, however most people don’t really enjoy watching lots of wild crazy transitions. It can actually make them feel seasick. It’s better to go with something simpler and smoother. The whole point is to make it enjoyable and watchable for your family members. I really like Fade, and Fade to black. You can add these to your Favorites bin by clicking the Star. That will save you time, so you don’t have to dig through all of the Transitions every time.

  • Use Fade when cutting within the same scene or clip.
  • Use Fade to black when cutting between two different scenes or clips.

Place the playhead on the stitched cut, and then click the Split button. Now you can drag the transition onto that spot on the timeline. Camtasia will create a standard-length transition, but you can adjust it by dragging the transition. Move the playhead to a spot just before the transition and press play (or tap your keyboard’s space bar) to review it.

You can change the transition by dragging and dropping a different transition onto it. It will turn red indicating that you are changing it.

Camtasia Undo / Redo

You can undo or Redo in the menu at the top of the screen under Edit.

How to Create a Video Clip

If your film is a hodge-podge of different scenes or a mix of TV shows and home movies (like some of my VHS tapes were) then you’ll want to create clips of just the sections you want so that you can use them in another project. It’s easy to Produce / Export clips from your full-length video without creating a new project.

How to create a clip:

  1. Zoom in on the desired area
  2. Drag the green and red playhead handles to identify the desired clip.
  3. Right-click on the area and select Produce As
  4. This brings up the Camtasia production wizard. Select the desired production size. In other words, you can export the clip at any resolution you choose. It doesn’t have to be the same as your project size that you selected when you started.
  5. Name the clip and save it to the desired location on your computer hard drive.
  6. Click The clip will display on your screen when it’s done.

Additional Content that can be Added to Your Home Movies

Music and Audio files

You can import audio files such as MP3 and WAV into your media bin and then drop them onto a new track in your project. These files can be edited much like you edit video. You can get free music MP3 files from YouTube. Sign in with a free YouTube (Google) account, click on your account icon in the upper right corner of the screen and select YouTube Studio. In the studio, scroll down the menu on the left side of the screen and select Audio Library. Here you can search for and download music tracks.

Voice Narration

If you have a microphone hooked up to your computer you can narrate all or just sections of your home movie. This is a great feature particularly when working with older silent home movies. Select Voice Narration from the menu on the left, and then click the Start Voice Recording button. The recorded narration will appear on a new track on the timeline. You can even write your script and then copy and paste it into the Voice Narration tool.

Annotations

Annotations are a great way to provide more information about what the viewer is watching. For example, you can add text boxes to the video. Choose from a wide range of annotations. Drag and drop the annotation on the timeline. Drag the edges of the annotation to make it the desired length. Click on it to select it and then you move it anywhere on the timeline. When selected, you will see the annotation Properties on the right side of the screen which allow you to customize it. (Font, color, line thickness, etc.)

Our final step here is going to be to export this video. Now, clearly, I haven’t finished on my editing, I’m going to finish up my editing and we’ll come back and we will export the video as a finished cleaned-up film.

Step 4: Save and Export (Produce) a Video in Camtasia

After my initial clean up my 32-minute video is now 19 minutes and four seconds. I’ve saved my family from 12 minutes of video that just wasn’t worth watching and might have gotten them discouraged about watching home movies.

Now it’s time to save your work. In the menu go to File > Save As. Hopefully, you have already created a folder on your computer where you know you’re going to keep your project and all your content. That way, you can work on it again later if you want to make more changes or export more clips.

Next, we’re going to produce the actual edited film. Another way to say it is that we are going to export the edited video. In the menu go to Export and then select where you want to send your video. You can upload directly to locations such as Vimeo or YouTube or Google Drive. If you want to export to your computer select Local File. You will again get the wizard. The wizard is going to remember the last export you did, so be careful to review that and change it if desired. Select MP4 and then click Next and select the folder on your computer and click Finish.  Depending on the size of your video, it may take several minutes to render.

Edit Your Home Movies: Wrap Up

I hope that helps you feel empowered to get started editing your home movies. It’s really worth doing and it doesn’t have to be that time-consuming. The trick is to just set aside a little bit of time every week and start doing it right away because they’re not doing anybody any good sitting on your computer where they can’t be seen. Let’s get him out in front of our family and share that family history.

Resources

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members

 

RootsMagic 8

RootsMagic 8

Show Notes: Bruce Buzbee, CEO of RootsMagic, the leading genealogy software program joins Lisa Louise Cooke for an update on what’s new at RootsMagic.

rootsmagic 8 update

Video and show notes

You’ll learn:

  • why you need a genealogy software database rather than just an online family tree,
  • Bruce’s 3 favorite features of RootsMagic 8,
  • and what’s new at the RootsMagic website.  

Watch the Video

Resources

Download the  ad-free Show Notes handout  (Premium Members exclusive)

Show Notes

One of the best and most popular software programs for genealogy is RootsMagic. Here to give us the latest on RootsMagic and RootsMagic. 8, which is the newest version, is the developer and the CEO of RootsMagic, Bruce Buzbee.

Genealogy Software versus Online Family Tree

Lisa: One of the questions I get a lot is how is having your genealogy on a software database, like RootsMagic, different or preferable to having just an online family tree?

Bruce: We get we get asked that a lot, why should I do this when I can keep my tree on Ancestry or FamilySearch, or MyHeritage?

No one can change your data

The biggest thing is having your data on your computer, on your own computer. That way you have complete control over it. You don’t have to be connected to the internet in order to access your data, and you don’t have to worry about somebody else coming in and changing your data. Some of the places you can put your data are global trees (where all users contribute to one shared tree). This means that other people can go in and change your information.

Control over your data without a subscription

Some of the online trees are not global, and you do have your own tree. But you have to pay per year to do that. And if you stop paying, all of a sudden, you’ve kind of lost some of that control over your over your data and linked records.

Backups

If you have your genealogy database on your own computer –  the pictures, scanned documents, all of those things are on your computer – you can make backups of them, so they’re safe.

Protection from website changes

The other advantage to having it on your own computer is just the peace of mind that if that website has problems or goes down or something happens, you’ve still got your own copy.  So, you don’t have to worry about that.

Reporting

Another advantage of having your data on your own computer is the fact that there are unique things you can do in a desktop program that there just isn’t the computational power to do on a website. Things like doing massive merges and generating large reports. Those are things that if your data is up on website, the only way you can get all of the data, for example, for your whole database in a report is to download all of that data into a report or have the website actually have the computational power to generate that report, and then send you that report over the internet. Both of those are very difficult to do, transporting that data back and forth or being able to generate enough computational power for each individual user. If you have thousands or millions of users you can’t, as a website, dedicate that much power to each one of those users. Whereas on your own personal computer, that computer is only working on your what you’re doing.

Lisa: That’s a great point. I mean, I’m a huge advocate of having what I call it my master family tree in my software on my computer for all the security reasons you mentioned.

You also talked about, which I think is so important, that ability to slice and dice and have so many layers of data that we can analyze. And I think the more ways we can look at our data the better so that we can learn more from it.

The Origins of RootsMagic

When did RootsMagic begin? I feel like it’s been out there forever.

Bruce: The actual RootsMagic program was released in 2003. I actually had written a program called Family Origins before that, which was kind of a predecessor to it. It was sold through another company. I did all the development and everything and they did the sales and marketing. That was release in about 1991. So, we went about 10 years as Family Origins, and probably about almost about 20 years as RootsMagic.

RootsMagic 8

Lisa: that’s amazing. And it’s gone through many different versions. Of course, the most recent release was RootsMagic. Eight. Tell us about that. When did that come out? And what are what are we getting now?

Bruce: RootsMagic 8 came out October 2021.  In January 2021 we released a kind of public community preview. So, we did about 10 months of just letting users pound on it and complain about it and give us opinions  – you should change this, this doesn’t work right, or I like this, or I don’t like that. We were able to use a lot of that information.

We released it in October 2021 and it’s by far our biggest update. It was a total rewrite. We basically started from scratch, because there were a lot of things in the earlier versions that could really bog you down. You’d go into the older versions of RootsMagic, and you’d be looking at a screen with people, and if you wanted to see your places you’d have to pop up another screen. If you wanted to see your sources, you’d have to pop up a separate screen to see your sources. And so, you had to go into these multiple levels of depth, screen after screen. to get to things. Then, when you were ready to get back to your people, you’d have to close each pop-up screen to get back. So that was one of the things that we really wanted to fix with version 8.

In version 8 one of the big things is kind of the overall workflow to doing things. Instead of always being on a person screen, and then hopping to sources, or hopping to places or hopping to tasks or hopping to something else, and then going into that, and then when you’re done backing out, and then to go to something else, you have to go back, what we did is we created multiple views in the program. So, there’s the person view. You can be looking at any person, and if you want to see the places, you just change your view to the place view. It’s not a separate pop-up window. You can switch to that view and switch right back. And you can switch from the person view to a place view, and then switch directly from that to source view, and then directly to a task view or the address view. You can switch between these views without having to always come back to that person view. So, it really speeds up getting things done. 

Another great thing about these views is since they’re not a pop-up, whatever you’re looking at on that view stays on that view. So, if I’m looking at the places and I select a particular place, I see all the information about it. If I want to look at a source, I can switch to the sources. And when I switch back to that place view, I’m still working with the same place as I was before, I’m not having to go back into a place pop-up and then search for that place again to get back to where I was. It just it basically keeps in its’ memory a lot more things. You’re not having to search over and over for that same thing. When you’re on it, you’re on it.

Lisa: That makes a lot of sense. What you offer over an online tree is all of these different ways to look at our data.

Why Does RootsMagic Need Changing?

Is it that over the years with all the different updates those layers kind of accumulated and then it brings you to a place where it needs updating?

Bruce: Exactly!

And every time you come up with an update, we think ‘oh, we’re going to add this new feature.’ So, for example, in the past we added to do lists, and then we added research logs and then we added the ability to do more stuff with sources. Every time we added something it was like, ‘Oh, well, the best way to do that is to pop-up a new screen and put everything there.’ And every time you added a new feature, it just added another thing you had to, like going back and forth.

Now if we were to add a new type of feature, we don’t necessarily have to make a pop-up. We can create another view and make it always available so that you can switch in and out of it without losing your place within that view.

Lisa: So, it was a complete rewrite, and I know that it synchronizes with some of the online family trees websites. It had to have been an arduous process. You said that you went through months and months of user testing, which I think is fantastic. So many times, you look at a website, and you think they must never have run this past anybody who ever used it, because it doesn’t look like it runs the way a user would use it. How was that process for you? Was that a difficult decision to invest the time upfront, and have people wait until it can be launched the way you felt like it needed to be?

Bruce: We were still fixing bugs too. So, it wasn’t like we took a completely bug free program and asked users to try it out. They were finding bugs and reporting bugs, and they were also reporting this is overly complicated here to do. And so, there were places where we would tear something out and change it a little bit, or we would leave something the way it was working because we liked it.

Some of the users found it was harder than what they were used to. So, we went back and added functionality that was more similar to what they maybe were used to. Probably our biggest challenge even now is users that are coming from RootsMagic 6 or 7 that have been using it forever. All of a sudden 8 works different. It’s not the same, and they feel like ‘oh, this is harder to use’ when in reality, it really isn’t, it’s just different. We have new users that are coming over from other programs or from no program at all, and they overwhelmingly love the way it works. They love the way they can get around and switch to any view. They overwhelmingly love it.

It’s our own existing longtime users that seem to have the most issues with it, which is unfortunate. A lot of that is just because it doesn’t work the same as it used to. I’m the same way. I understand completely! For example, with my programming tool suite, if a new version of my programming tools come out, and they work quite a bit different than it was, I almost immediately hate it! But after I use it for a while, I’m like, ‘Okay, I guess I can see why they did this.’ But I had my I had my groove, and now my groove was disrupted. The hotkeys are not the same, for example. I used to be able to do all this, this, and this and something was done. Now it’s like, I have to do different alt keys, I have to click twice instead of hitting four Alt keys. And so, for them it feels like it takes longer, when in reality, there are fewer steps. It’s just not what somebody is used to.

Lisa: Right, change is always a little challenging!

Bruce: I understand it completely because I’m the same way.

Can RootsMagic Run on a Mac?

Lisa: Can we use this on a PC and a Mac?

Bruce: Yes. With version 8, we now have a native Mac version and a native Windows version. They both work exactly the same.

If you use one and then switch to the other, it looks exactly the same except it’s got little red, yellow and green dots instead of x’s. But yes, they have the same file format. They have the same set of commands.

Many times, you’ll have a software product that the Mac version and the Windows version are quite a bit different. That’s because they’re completely separate sets of code. You have one team developing Mac, and one team developing Windows. They look and work differently and maybe sometimes even have different file formats.

With this, they’re the same. They look and feel the same. The command structures are the same, the screens are the same, the file format is the same. In fact, when we sell the program, you get a key, and it’s good for both the Windows and the Mac version. So, if you have a Windows computer and a Mac computer, when you buy the program, you’re entitled to use both versions. You can install one on your Mac and one on your Windows computer.

Top Features of RootsMagic 8

Lisa: That’s terrific. So, we’ve talked about all the new great views, and that it works on both PC and Mac. That’s two great features. What’s your third favorite thing about the new program?

Bruce: Well, it’s a tie. It’s a tie between tasks, which are new, and our new report engine.

Reports

We rewrote our reporting engine. In the older version our reports were using a word processor control that we licensed. It had some limitations. It couldn’t create really large reports. And there was a bunch of things with it that we didn’t like, but we couldn’t fix because it was a third-party product.

When we switched to going both Windows and Mac, the product was only available for Windows, so we had to rewrite the report engine from scratch. It’s giving us a lot more flexibility to do things on reports in the future.

One of the things we can do in reports is instead of saving as a rich text file, we can save report as actual Word .docx files, an actual Word document. It comes into your word processor, whether it’s Word, or whether it’s Libre, or whatever you use. They can all read a .docx file. It’s a lot more structured. It’s not quite as rolling the dice that it will work as RTF as RTF was. 

Tasks

Then with tasks, we kind of combined things in RootsMagic 7.  We had to do lists. We had research logs, we had correspondence logs, we had all these things, which all were very similar. What we did is we kind of replaced those all with what we call tasks.

Tasks are super flexible. You just create a task, and that task in RootsMagic can link to almost anything. It can link to people, places, sources, citations, addresses, and media. What’s nice is, instead of having like a hardwired Research Log, where you go in and say I want to create a research log, and this is what it’s, and going in and manually adding items to that research, you can just create a task. You attach it to whatever people or families or events or sources or places you want. Then when it comes time to generate a report, you just say give me all the tasks that are attached to this group of people that are within 50 miles of this place. You end up with customized research logs. So, instead of having to create a fixed research log, and then adding individual items to it that only belong to that, you take these tasks that are attached to any number of things. Then you just tell it, give me a list of all the tasks for whatever criteria you want. The result is a completely customized Research Log, customized to do list, whatever you want to use it for.

That’s one of my favorites. It’s super flexible. It can be a little confusing to work with at the beginning. But once you kind of see what’s going on and the simplicity – that all you have to do is create a task and attach it to whatever you want – it’s great.

RootsMagic Help and Website Features

Lisa: Tell folks a little bit about the website. You guys have always been in the forefront of providing support and education for being able to use your program to its fullest capability.

Bruce: From the website, you can access, basically everything we have.

Help Chat

When you go to the website, down on the bottom corner, there’s a chat feature. You can chat with our tech support if you need help. They can answer questions and help you out.

RootsMagic Wiki

We also have a wiki. We’ve moved away from the online help of the past. You’ll find it on our website in the menu under Learn. It’s nice because it’s much better than help, for several reasons. One, we can keep it updated. With the old Help feature, if we change or add something, you don’t know about it unless we remember to update the Help file. Now, as soon as we add something, we can stick it on the wiki.

The other thing that’s nice about the wiki is that we can put videos and more graphics and links in there to other topics. Everything you could possibly want to know about how to use RootsMagic is there in the wiki. 

Videos and YouTube Channel

We have tutorial videos and our YouTube channel. We have a bunch of YouTube videos on how to use the program.

Webinars

We also have the videos of webinars we’ve done. We’ve been slacking a little bit, the last few months, and we haven’t had a webinar recently. We need to get back on that. But all of the webinars that we’ve had, and we’ve recorded, they’re available up there to watch as well.

Online Community

We have an online community, a message board, that’s very active. We of course have a blog with articles on all kinds of help topics. And we have our email newsletter. That’s kind of where we notify people when there are updates or if there are things we need to contact them about. We do that mainly through our email newsletter. So, all of those things are available through the website.

New Website

We redid the website at the same time that we released RootsMagic 8. The old website was kind of clunky. It wasn’t mobile responsive. So, we redid it all.

User Groups

Oh, I guess we also have a list of user groups on our website, too. There are user groups all over the country, in fact they are worldwide. It also includes a list of people who want to start a user group. So, if somebody wants to start a user group in their area because there isn’t one, they can give us their name and contact information. We can put that up so people can connect easily and quickly.

Lisa: There is certainly a lot that’s new this year at RootsMagic. Bruce, thank you so much for stopping by. It’s been terrific talking with you!

Resources

Download the  ad-free Show Notes handout  (Premium Members exclusive)

 

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