RootsFinder Delivers Powerful New Tools to Genealogists for Free

I suspect this is going to be a major tool for all genealogists. The following announcement describes the latest project by several people, including Dallan Quass, a well-known software developer who has produced several excellent genealogy products in the past. He was the Chief Technology Officer of FamilySearch from 2002-2004 and the creator of WeRelate.org and GenGophers.com, two of FamilyTree Magazine’s top 101 genealogy websites.

RootsFinder tries to be a great tree for supporting genealogy researchers at all levels, but especially new genealogy researchers. It also focuses heavily on pictures, stories, and videos to make things more interesting for a younger audience.

Here is the announcement:

RootsFinder.com is a free, online family tree that makes researching family history much easier. Unlike other online trees, which only provide hints to their own content, RootsFinder provides hints and search suggestions to websites such as:

  • FamilySearch
  • FindMyPast
  • AmericanAncestors
  • BillionGraves
  • FindAGrave
  • Ancestry
  • MyHeritage
  • and more

In addition, seamless sync with FamilySearch, integration with GenSmarts, evidence analysis, embedded research logs, and DNA tools (coming soon) add to RootsFinder’s powerful offering.

Along with these valuable tools, RootsFinder has also developed two Chrome Browser Extensions. The extensions make research and recording information faster and more accurate.

  1. WebClipper – Copy records and source citations quickly and automatically into your family tree from major genealogy websites such as Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and more. It adds records to entire families at once.
  2. ToDo Creator – Save search ideas for later by attaching action items to specific people in your family tree, adding them to research logs, and marking them complete when done.

RootsFinder also has tools that make it easy to share your genealogy with your family safely and securely:

  • Invite others to your tree, but you control who edits
  • Ancestor reports with stories and pictures can be turned into family history books
  • Descendancy reports in the register format
  • Videos & photo mosaics created from your media
  • Fan charts and wall charts
  • Pinterest-like media wall for scrolling through photos

Two plans are available: an ad-supported Free-Forever plan, and a $35/year Pro plan that removes ads and includes additional storage and advanced features. Everyone gets a 30-day Pro plan for free.

A small group of dedicated genealogists and software developers have been working on RootsFinder for the past three years. Our goal is to provide a free online family tree that is focused on the needs of the genealogy researcher. We think we finally have something worth talking about. – Dallan Quass

About RootsFinder

RootsFinder (https://www.rootsfinder.com) was founded in 2015 by Dallan Quass, CTO of FamilySearch from 2002-2004 and the creator of WeRelate.org and GenGophers.com, two of FamilyTree Magazine’s top 101 genealogy websites. Dallan is joined at RootsFinder by Heather Henderson, Erin Harris, and other experienced genealogists who share his love of family history.

14 Comments

I am going to use this as the main research tool immediately. I have been a genealogist for over 30 years, use FamilySearch and Ancestry at least 5 hours a day. To find a product that flows so well and interacts with the FS is exciting. Kudos to the software guys who listened to the genealogists!

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Why must genealogy programs be synchronized with a larger web site? Why can’t a genealogy program just be separate, able to be used without uploading it, and able to be uploaded to a web server not connected to Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, or any other corporate-owned genealogy web site? While wavy leaves or other “reminders” may or may not be pertinent, once they are looked at and closed because they don’t actually pertain to the person shown (name might be the same, but it’s the wrong year, wrong generation, different family, wrong location), they should not be allowed to be shown again.

Pinterest format? I’ve yet to figure out the reason for the Pinterest web site. On the surface it appears to be just a jumble of unorganized images which may or may not be connected by a common theme, not even in chronological order. (I’m not a registered Pinterest member, so if there’s a secret internet handshake involved to make sense of the site, I’m unaware of it.) Wouldn’t it be better just to leave images (photos, maps, document images, newspaper clippings, etc.) only on pages pertaining to the person/people or family in those images or documents so there is some kind of context to those images?

I’m still waiting for someone at Ancestry to figure out that a Residence and Census are NOT the same thing. Sometimes one finds a child listed as a member of a family in one location…, and that same teenager is listed in the census info for boarding school. There is also the case of a spouse working away from home and listed as head of household and also listed as a lodger at a boarding house in the next state where he is working. Or a child listed in the entry for the parents’ household, and in the household of the grandparents where said child is staying while mother is recovering from a new childbirth, or if it’s an older teenage child, said individual may be residing with grandparent(s) or aunt/uncle and working and living away from home temporarily. Census needs to be listed under Census, not Residence. I’m an editor on several Ancestry trees, and when I see Census data always listed under Residence (apparently as a default setting since the wavy leaves always put Census info under Residence?), and then can’t even make a sensible simple two-paragraph formatted plain text Note to explain a double Census entry because Ancestry has stripped Notes of any formatting whatsoever and everything is run together, my eyes glaze over and I no longer have any interest in working on the tree since I have to then change all the Residence classifications to the correct Census classification, etc.

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    —> Why can’t a genealogy program just be separate, able to be used without uploading it, and able to be uploaded to a web server not connected to Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, or any other corporate-owned genealogy web site?

    They can.

    In fact, that is how most of today’s genealogy programs work, including Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic, FamilyHistorian, Ancestral Quest, Reunion, Mac Family Tree, Heredis, GRAMPS, and some others. They do not connect to any online sites to automatically upload your data and to compare it to data uploaded by others. They work well even on computers that are not connected to the Internet.

    In addition, several programs, including Family Tree Builder and Family Tree Maker, can operate as separate programs with the OPTION to connect to web sites. You can use those programs forever and ever without ever connecting to any online service, should you wish to use them in that manner. There is no requirement in those programs to upload or compare data with any online site. Simply never click on SYNCHRONIZE or whatever the command is called. Both Family Tree Builder and Family Tree Maker work very well all by themselves, even on computers that are not connected to the Internet.

    As always, you should find a genealogy program that meets your needs and preferences. There are many to choose from.

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On Ancestry and also Familysearch you can dismiss the hints that don’t pertain to your ancestor.

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Tried “start your family now” button Did not work

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    —> Tried “start your family now” button Did not work

    It worked for me and apparently has worked for a lot of other people as well. Do you have any pop-up blockers or other “unusual software” installed in your computer?

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    Feel free to contact me (support@rootsfinder.com) if you need help getting started. I’ll help you work out why the button isn’t working.

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Thanks for the info.This sounds pretty good. Can’t wait to try it. Do you know if they have a mobile app? I do quite a bit of genealogy work on my phone.

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Tried it but not worth the data entry. Prefer my family details kept private. Be sure to read and understand the agreement and public aspect of the free version.

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I’ve tried RootsFinder for a day (so far), and there’s a lot that I really like about it. As an aspiring professional genealogist, my wish has long been for a cloud-based genealogy program that will show my research to family members and other interested researchers, but do so according to my high standards of source citation and formatting. No software is going to please everyone, and I worry that my specific concerns make me enough of an outlier to a developer trying to make a tool that will appeal to enough users to be profitable. That said, I think RootsFinder could actually be the solution I need.

My main question mark so far is, unsurprisingly, source formatting. My GEDCOM was quite large (13K+ individuals, 1500+ sources). I’ve never done a GEDCOM import from one software to another that didn’t make a mess of the sources, and RF is no exception. I format my citations according to Mills’ Evidence Explained, so to fix/standardize them all in RF would take months of work, and I’m not sure there’s a way to make RF (or, again other software I’ve tried) understand layered citations. I can’t tell how the various fields of the Edit Source window translate formatting-wise, so thus far least-unsatisfactory result I’ve been able to get is to write and format the EE-style citation in the “Bibliographic Citation” field of the Edit Source window and ignore the rest of the fields.

This concern with source formatting is a big stumbling block for using the Hints and Web Clipper extension which are so central to RootsFinder. Don’t get me wrong, I think the research hints and Web Clipper are really slick features. The problem for me is that if you use the Hints/Web Clipper to add an event and/or a source and you re-format the citation in any way from its original text at the source, you’re going to keep seeing that same hint because the software doesn’t recognize that it’s the same thing. Anyway, there are other things I’m not sure about as well, but this comment has gone on more than long enough.

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    I’m sorry to hear the GEDCOM import didn’t work as well as you hoped. If you’ll email me the URL of your tree I’ll be happy to look into it for you. As for citations, RootsFinder gives you a default citation, which we try to make pretty close to ESM but it’s not perfect. However, you _should_ be able to override the default citation with your own. Again, email me and I’ll be happy to review it with you. We take source citations pretty seriously, so your comments are something I’m very interested in following up on: dallan at rootsfinder.com

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I started with Family Tree Maker back when you had to buy cds of other people’s family trees. I migrated to RootsMagic a few years ago, but I’ve never trusted whether or not the information is updating correctly with Ancestry (where I have a very large tree with media, sources, and cousins). Also, RootsMagic has been munging the gedcom exports, and is tedious to fix.
So I’ve been using RootsFinder for several months, and was HAPPY to pay someone $35/year for this amazing tool. Please, allow me to help fund such high quality development and support!
I use this mostly for the superior DNA tools. I’m a visual thinker, and the many novel ways of displaying my DNA matches has helped my research and to locate cousins on obscure family lines. RootsFinder integrates with data from GEDmatch (there’s a cludgy but very usable copy all/paste method that will be easy to explain to my parents). There are helpful, short videos in just the right places to walk you through pretty much everything. I can’t wait for DNA integration with FamilyTreeDNA. Then all my DNA cousins will be in one place (except for Ancestry, whose customers “don’t show any interest in chromosome segment matching”).
Seriously, you should try this product purely for the triangulation view and the circle view.
I wonder if RootsFinder and DNApainter/WhatAreTheOdds would be a good fit for integration or merging? That would be next on my wishlist – right after Chromosome Segment Matching on AncestryDNA…
The only fault of RootsFinder is a lack of more in depth tutorials on what the views are showing you – why are there some tight groups in circle view? What does a taller link mean exactly? How are the triangulation groups formed exactly? We need to know the nitty-gritty details in order to accurately read the displays. I get the idea that more advanced discussions and explanations are coming once the raft of DNA site integration is working…

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