Modern Software Experience

2012-12-18

RootsMagic for iOS icon

free companion app

RootsMagic app

RootsMagic 5 was released late in 2011. The first 2012 post on the RootsMagic blog, New Year’s Resolutions for 2012, revealed some of the goals and resolutions for 2012. An image of an Apple iPad and iPhone, both displaying the RootsMagic logo, accompanied their text about new platforms, in which they stated that they been laying the groundwork to bring RootsMagic (and our other products) to new platforms and even new devices.

There was that New Year's Resolution, but other than that, RootsMagic remained silent on their plans to apps for mobile platforms. RootsMagic 6 was released almost a month ago, on 2012 Nov 19, without any apps. In fact, the press release, posted on the RootsMagic blog, does not even hint at mobile apps. Yesterday the RootsMagic blog announced RootsMagic App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

The RootsMagic site consistently talks about RootsMagic App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. I guess we have to grateful they didn't decide to go with RootsMagic App for iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, New iPad and iPod Touch.
I'll call it RootsMagic for iDevices.

RootsMagic App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

The RootsMagic site consistently talks about RootsMagic App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. I guess we have to grateful they didn't decide to go with RootsMagic App for iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, New iPad and iPod Touch.
I'll call it RootsMagic for iDevices.

RootsMagic 4, 5 and 6

With RootsMagic for iDevices following so closely on the release of RootsMagic 6, it's only natural to wonder whether they originally intended to release it together. Perhaps they did at some stage, but it is good that they didn't, because that might easily have led people to think that the RootsMagic app only works with RootsMagic 6. The RootsMagic app actually works with all versions of RootsMagic released since the RootsMagic rewrite; RootsMagic 4, 5 and 6.

The RootsMagic app supports RootsMagic 4+ files (*.rmgc). It does not support anything else. It does not support RootsMagic backup files. It does not import GEDCOM files, databases created by older RootsMagic, or files from any other genealogy application. It is a companion to RootsMagic on the desktop, nothing else. To use the RootsMagic app with anything else, you'll need to convert it to RootsMagic 4+ database first. The RootsMagic 4+ desktop application can import many other formats into RootsMagic 4+ databases.

free

The RootsMagic app is totally free. The new RootsMagic app is free on iTunes. The RootsMagic app only works with RootsMagic for Windows, but does not require to buy RootsMagic Standard Edition. The RootsMagic app works just fine with the free RootsMagic Essentials.

good news, bad news

The good news is that the RootsMagic for iDevices app is free, that it works fine with the free RootsMagic Essentials, and that does it not even require RootsMagic 6; it works fine with RootsMagic 4 and 5 too.

The bad news is that the RootsMagic app requires iOS version 4.3 or later. For reference, iOS version 4.3 was introduced with the iPad 2, released on 2011 Mar 11. Many older iDevices can not run iOS 4.3. That the original iPhone does not run iOS 4.3 isn't too surprising, but the iPhone 3G does not run it either. You need an iPhone 3GS or newer.

The RootsMagic app's best feature is that it works with native RootsMagic databases.

genealogy viewer

The RootsMagic 1.0 app isn't a genealogy editor, but a genealogy viewer; it does not allow you to edit your data, it simply allows you to carry all your data with you.
The RootsMagic app's best feature is that it works with native RootsMagic databases. There is no need import, export or convert, you merely need to copy your database via iTunes or DropBox.
In case you don't know how to do that, the RootsMagic web site has a FAQ that provides step by step copying instructions.
Another important feature is that the viewer does not need an Internet connection. once your data is on your iDevice, it does not matter whether you have a connection or not.

The RootsMagic app supports all RootsMagic databases created by RootsMagic 4 or later. RootsMagic databases do not contain high quality photos, these are kept external. RootsMagic databases do contain thumbnails of external images, and the RootsMagic app can show these.

free combo

There are quite a few genealogy viewer and editors for iOS already. Some of these you have to pay, others are free. Many of those that are free work with something you have to pay for. The RootsMagic app works with RootsMagic for Windows, which is a commercial application. RootsMagic Standard Edition isn't expensive, but RootsMagic Essentials is free, and does, as its name suggests, indeed offer all the essentials, without size limitations. Together, RootsMagic Essential and the RootsMagic app form a free combo that makes RootsMagic even more attractive.

conversion utility

The RootsMagic App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch page suggest that you can Use the free desktop software to convert other genealogy files including PAF, Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, and GEDCOM into viewable RootsMagic files..
They are suggesting that the RootsMagic app is not only for RootsMagic users, but that users of competing genealogy software can take advantage of the RootsMagic app as well; just use RootsMagic Essentials to convert your database.

RootsMagic can be used as a one-step conversion utility because the RootsMagic app uses native RootsMagic databases, and it compares well with other conversion utilities because it features excellent and fast import from GEDCOM as well from major competing applications.

That suggestion is not just a vendor trying to boost the bullet list for their new product, it is actually a very practical suggestion.
One reason utilities such as GedStar Pro for Android aren't more popular is that converting your data into involves two steps; first you have to export to GEDCOM, and then you have convert that GEDCOM to a GedStar database. It is too much hassle, and it is often exacerbated by how slow the export and conversion are.
It would be less of hassle if GedStar Pro read your RootsMagic database directly; then there would be just one conversion step. For RootsMagic users, the RootsMagic app does not involve any conversion step at all. They merely need to copy their database.
Most users of competing genealogy applications have just one conversion step to deal with; import into RootsMagic. Some users may need to export to GEDCOM, but RootsMagic will directly import data from Personal Ancestral File (PAF), Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Maker. Moreover, while many conversion utilities are slow, RootsMagic import is fast. This makes converting your data to a RootsMagic database a relatively pleasant experience.

RootsMagic as a conversion utility for its mobile app, compares very well with other conversion utilities for mobile apps. Vendors of competing products should take note why this is so; RootsMagic can be used as a one-step conversion utility because the RootsMagic app uses native RootsMagic databases, and it compares well with other conversion utilities because it features excellent and fast import from GEDCOM as well from major competing applications.

Of course, RootsMagic is not making its suggestion out of generosity. RootsMagic hopes that, once you have RootsMagic on your desktop in support of the RootsMagic app on your mobile device, you'll start exploring RootsMagic a bit more and will eventually come to prefer over whatever you are using now.

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