I wrote a rather long software review a few weeks ago about RootsMagic, a very popular genealogy program for Windows. You can find my earlier review at http://wp.me/p5Z3-Dk. Yesterday the producers of RootsMagic announced a new addition: MacBridge for RootsMagic 6, a software product that allows RootsMagic to run on a Macintosh without installing Windows. Today, I will review MacBridge for RootsMagic.
NOTE: This article will focus primarily on the new MacBridge for RootsMagic and how well it functions. I will not describe RootsMagic in detail as that information is available at RootsMagic.com.
RootsMagic has many devoted customers who love the product and have no interest in switching to any other genealogy program. However, more than a few of those customers have replaced or would like to replace their Windows computer with a Macintosh system in order to gain better performance, better reliability, no issues with viruses, and easier operation. However, installing RootsMagic on a Macintosh system has always required software that creates a virtual computer inside the Mac (VirtualBox, Parallels, or VMware Fusion) or the dual-boot capability called BootCamp. Using any of the virtual computer products also results in a slower running system. Use of BootCamp is quite speedy but means the loss of using Macintosh programs simultaneously while using Windows programs. The dual boot option called BootCamp requires running either the Macintosh operating system or the Windows operating system, but not both at the same time.
With any of these solutions, a copy of Microsoft Windows has always been required, adding expense and complexity while introducing virus issues again.
The new MacBridge for RootsMagic is advertised as being much simpler to install and operate, and it does not require a copy of Microsoft Windows. Quoting from the announcement:
MacBridge for RootsMagic 6 allows you easily install and run RootsMagic on your Mac in mere minutes with almost no additional setup or configuration.
MacBridge for RootsMagic is different than other solutions you may be familiar with. For starters, it does not install Windows on your Mac. It also does not create a slow and bulky virtual computer. It runs right on your Mac, using your Mac file system. You can even put the RootsMagic icon on your dock for easy one-click access! So while we are busily working on an actual native Mac version of RootsMagic, MacBridge for RootsMagic 6 gives you the ability to work on a Mac today.
MacBridge for RootsMagic is an add-on for RootsMagic. It includes a copy of RootsMagic Essentials, the free version of RootsMagic. You can use RootsMagic Essentials for as long as you like. However, if you would like to upgrade to the full version of RootsMagic, you can do so at any time simply by purchasing the product, entering the new registration key that you will receive in email, and immediately start using the full program.
If you already own a copy of the full version of RootsMagic, you simply download MacBridge for RootsMagic, launch RootsMagic Essentials, and enter the registration key you already have. The full copy of RootsMagic will appear immediately and be ready for use.
MacBridge for RootsMagic has a normal price of $14.95 but is being offered for a limited time for $9.95 US. Purchasing MacBridge for RootsMagic is simple: go to the ordering page at http://www.rootsmagic.com/mac/ and use a credit card or a PayPal account for payment. I used PayPal as that is considered to be safer and easier than using a credit card online. However, the purchase should work equally well with a normal credit card or with a debit card. A few seconds later, I received two email messages: one was a receipt for the purchase and the other contained directions for downloading MacBridge for RootsMagic.
My test machine for this review was a 5-year-old iMac that has been running a bit slowly lately as the hard drive is getting close to full. Nonetheless, I had no problems running MacBridge for RootsMagic except that it seemed a bit slow. Assuming that this was caused by my iMac’s performance, I later installed MacBridge for RootsMagic on a nearly new MacBook Air laptop computer. Everything operated in the same manner on the two-and-a-half pound laptop except that performance was much faster than it was on my old iMac.
I clicked on the download link in the email message, and the 244-megabyte file containing MacBridge for RootsMagic started downloading. The speed of the download will obviously depend upon the speed of your Internet connection. In my case, the download required about two minutes. I then clicked on the newly-downloaded RootsMagic-6-Mac.dmg file. A few seconds later, a pop-up appeared asking me to drag the RootsMagic app to the Applications folder. (This is identical to almost every other Macintosh program I have ever downloaded and installed, except for programs downloaded from the Macintosh App Store that have an even easier installation process.)
I dragged the RootsMagic app as instructed. The copy required a few seconds to complete. I then opened the Applications folder and clicked on RootsMagic.app. (There are other ways to find and launch the program as well. Use whatever method you are used to.) A pop-up appeared, reminding me that I was attempting to run a program that had been downloaded from the Internet and asking if I wished to proceed. I clicked on “OPEN.”
A few seconds later, a screen appeared asking if I wanted to use the full version of RootsMagic or the free RootsMagic Essentials. For my first test, I selected the free RootsMagic Essentials.
I soon was looking at the opening screen for RootsMagic, the same as I have seen many times before. Rather than entering all my information manually, I elected to import a GEDCOM file created by a different Windows genealogy program. RootsMagic even offered to search my entire hard drive looking for all my GEDCOM files. However, I already knew where it was saved, so I navigated directly to the folder and clicked on the file I wanted.
My GEDCOM file contains about 3,000 of ancestors and other assorted relatives. It imported quickly and easily into RootsMagic with no error messages. A few of the dates did not import perfectly, but that is to be expected any time you are importing GEDCOM files created by a different genealogy program. In fact, there were fewer import errors than I am used to seeing with other programs.
I navigated around MacBridge for RootsMagic for a while and found it to be familiar. In fact, it worked exactly the same as what I described in my earlier review of RootsMagic (at http://wp.me/p5Z3-Dk) running in a Windows system with a few exceptions. That is not surprising when marrying together two rather different operating systems. The MacBridge for RootsMagic support pages state:
Most RootsMagic 6 features run perfectly on a Mac using MacBridge for RootsMagic 6. However, there are a few features that are not compatible and are not available when running through MacBridge for RootsMagic 6. These features include:
Burning the Shareable CD to CD (files are created and must be burned manually)
Backup to CD
Built-in backup to Dropbox & Google Drive
Save to DropBox
Even though the software built into MacBridge for RootsMagic 6 may not save files directly to Dropbox or to Google Drive, I was still able to save the files to the Dropbox folder or to the Google Drive folder. From there, they are then backed up into those services within a few minutes. In short, if you wish to use either Dropbox or Google Drive, I wouldn’t worry about the “missing features” listed on the MacBridge for RootsMagic.
I know that printing reports is an issue in some software emulators that allow a program designed for one operating system to run on a different operating system. One of the first things I did was to print a few reports. The reports seemed to take a long time to start. I waited and waited. I was about to begin troubleshooting when the printer “woke up” and started printing. Even though there was a bit of a delay, the printouts appeared to be identical to the reports I had printed earlier when running RootsMagic on a Windows system.
MacBridge for RootsMagic appears to be based on a package called WINE (an acronym for WINdows Emulator). It provides Windows-compatible DLL support files that do not exist in the Macintosh operating system. As a result, some Windows programs, although not all, will run on a Macintosh.
I experimented with WINE a few years ago and gave up on it. The software was buggy, and only a few Windows programs would run on a Macintosh with WINE. I could never get anything to print when using WINE. I became frustrated with WINE in those days and erased it from my computer.
Apparently one of two things has happened since those days: either (1.) WINE has been improved and many of the bugs eliminated or (2.) the RootsMagic programmers have modified WINE to work properly with their program. I suspect the truth is a combination of those two. Whatever the reason, I found that MacBridge for RootsMagic worked well. I didn’t experience any frustration when using it. Even the printing worked exactly as it should.
I was quite satisfied with using MacBridge for RootsMagic 6 with RootsMagic Essentials. I then entered my registration key for the full version of RootsMagic 6 and am now enjoying all the features of RootsMagic, except for the items listed above as not available. Best of all, I can do this on the Macintosh, not on a Windows system.
I would consider the price of an additional $9.95 to be a bargain for using this powerful genealogy program on a Macintosh. It seems to run as fast, or faster, than other programs on my aging iMac. In short, I plan to keep MacBridge for RootsMagic and will use it often.
For more information about MacBridge for RootsMagic 6, look at the FAQs (Frequently-Asked Questions) at: http://www.rootsmagic.com/mac/FAQ/. You can also watch an informational video about MacBridge for RootsMagic 6 at http://www.rootsmagic.com/mac/Videos/MacBridge-Installation.aspx.
You can purchase MacBridge for RootsMagic at http://www.rootsmagic.com/mac/.