This week RootsMagic introduced a totally free and downloadable version of its RootsMagic software. This free version, known as RootsMagic Essentials, provides all of the core functions of the full version - but for free.
There are several software products available for Windows based computers and I have used most of them. Each of the major genealogy software products offers something I really like but unfortunately, no one offers a program I consider perfect - so I use the software I consider best suited to my preferences.
Many people who have expressed an interest to me in exploring their family roots know that there is software available but recognize that they don't yet know what would be best for them. My advice is usually always the same - if they offer a trial version, 'take it out for a test drive.' I have particularly suggested that they start with Legacy software as it provides a 'standard' version as a free download.
Legacy provides a very good user interface that allows for easy input of information and smooth movement between generations. Adding multimedia is also easy although I found the media 'library' view a bit awkward. As a free starter package though, it was, in my opinion, the best.
I would now add RootsMagic Essentials to that list for beginners to try or even for more experienced researchers who want to give RootsMagic a try. The full version of RootsMagic does offer much more, but the 'Essentials' version has all, well frankly, the essentials. Easy input of facts, source citations, multimedia, ease of switching between family and pedigree views, and a variety of printable reports.
I switched to the full RootsMagic software several months ago after first hearing about it from a distant cousin. The reasons for the switch were simple. While I prefer the large user interface screen layout of Legacy, I love the RootsMagic-To-Go portability feature that allows me to keep the software, my full database, and all of my documentation (records and photographs) on a USB memory 'stick.' In addition, I have come to fully appreciate the need for source citation (finally) and RootsMagic allows me to enter source information in the quickest, easiest, and most understandable way that I have encountered to date.
The 'Essentials' version does not include the portability function but the basics are all there so for anyone asking me in future, I'll be recommending they try Legacy and RootsMagic Essentials. So go ahead - get started, the only price to pay is a lot of enjoyment!