Slowly Unveiling RootsMagic 4

Tuesday, 15 Jul 2008 | by Mark Tucker

Earlier this month, Bruce Buzbee of RootsMagic started his own blog. Welcome to the genealogy blogging community and the blogosphere! I met Bruce back in March of this year and he is a very nice person. I’m looking forward to reading as he shares the inside scoop on what is happening at RootsMagic.

In the last few posts at RootsMagic Blog, Bruce has leaked some new features of the upcoming RootsMagic 4. He says he will start small and progressively reveal more. The buzz is starting and you can sense the excitement as you read the comments. Some readers are trying to guess what the new features will be while others are hoping that their wishlist items will be included. Not all of the new features hinted at in the screen shots are explained by Bruce, so I thought that I would get in on the fun and use my keen eye to try and figure things out.

I honestly have no inside information myself, so don’t take my guesses as fact.  I simply opened my copy of RootsMagic 3 and compared it to the screen shots of RootsMagic 4.  It was almost like trying to solve one of those puzzles you would find in the Highlights magazine.

The first thing that I noticed was a tiny down arrow to the right of the Add Person toolbar item:

RootsMagic - Add Person

This probably drops down the same Individual, Spouse, Parents, Child menu as in RootsMagic 3. This is a simple change but a better user experience as it indicates that there are choices to be made.

The next thing I noticed was that the Notes icon on the toolbar has been flipped:

RootsMagic - Notes

Not really a new feature, but did anybody else notice it too?  This makes me wonder if Bruce received a lot of e-mails from users who were bothered by what they thought was a “backwards” image.  ;-)
The next to last icon on the toolbar is a tree icon that looks very similar to the tree on the new FamilySearch website:

RootsMagic - New FamilySearch

It is already known that RootsMagic 4 will support the new FamilySearch (NFS) once the APIs are ready. This is probably just what the icon will look like. It is my understanding that RootsMagic has been working a long time with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on implementing the NFS API. RootsMagic might just be the first desktop genealogy application to support it.

I noticed that on the Pedigree, Family, and Descendant tabs on the far left side is a long thin bar with an arrow:

RootsMagic - Sidebar

My guess is that this would open a sidebar that contains the list of people in the database and maybe even allow for searching.

The big mystery so far is what is the fourth tab? In the screen shots, the tab next to Descendants is blurred out.

RootsMagic - Tabs

I’ve spent a few minutes looking at the size of the smudge and comparing it to a smudge I made for the word “Family.” My guess is that the smudged word contains 5-7 letters. So that excludes “Map”, but the word could be “Source” or “Person” or “Synch.”

Go ahead and post your guesses. You might be right in which case you will have bragging rights. If not, you can join the rest of us interested guessers.


  1. [...] looks like Mark Tucker over at ThinkGenealogy has gotten in on trying to figure out the hints on the new features I didn’t talk about in my [...]

    Pingback by RootsMagic Blog » RootsMagic 4 Unwrapped - Adding a new person — 17 Jul 2008 @ 12:48 pm

  2. I think the button at the far right end of the icons on the toolbar may be an arrow that opens the customize and button style menu screen.

    Also there is a vertical line of dots to the left of the first icon on the toolbar and to the left of tree icon on the top Menu row. If the row of dots have any function, I can’t guess what that may be.

    I really can’t come up with what the blurred out word is. I would be surprised if the tab doesn’t open up a different type of entry screen for families.


    Comment by Laura Beeman — 17 Jul 2008 @ 3:26 pm

  3. Laura,

    Open up any of the Microsoft Office products. The 3 dots are a handle, a place to click and drag the toolbar. It allows you to reposition it and usually detach it, placing it anywhere on the window.

    The down pointing triangle is usually a toolbar customization menu.

    Comment by Mike Thompson — 17 Jul 2008 @ 4:55 pm

  4. Mike, thanks for the information.

    I don’t have any MS Office products on my computer.

    I just checked OpenOffice and tt also has the dots and the down pointing triangle.

    I had just never noticed them before as I seldom use OpenOffice..

    RootsMagic is the most used program on my computer and I have set the .rtf reports and text reports to open in Wordpad. instead of OpenOffice.


    Comment by Laura Beeman — 17 Jul 2008 @ 8:04 pm

  5. I noticed the vertical and horizontal scroll buttons on the right and at the bottom of the Descendants view, which leads me to believe that when the user switches the generations slider (with greater range of choices)…the presentational text onscreen no longer has to “size” down smaller (to fit a fixed width) and instead the amount of scrolling “travel” would merely increase, while the text size remains the same. Perhaps one can even adjust the presentational text sizes more flexibly.

    BTW, my “guess” for the long thin bar with an arrow (on the far left) is that it brings up, for the highlighted person, that “full-blown edit screen…” with “…all the cool stuff” ( that Bruce mentions in his blogpost of the 17th ;-)

    Comment by Kevin Benson — 17 Jul 2008 @ 9:00 pm

  6. I am hoping the blurred out word is To-Do which opens up a list of outstanding to-do items and possibly other information like problems and outstanding research for the individuals or generations currently being displayed on screen.

    If it’s not I hope Bruce takes in under consideration for the future.

    Comment by John James — 18 Jul 2008 @ 7:57 am

  7. I hope the smudge is “Share”, “Search” or “Research”. Producing a Web 2.0-like experience where you can collaborate with other individuals and databases to improve your database. Allowing users to easily interact with the new FamilySearch website.

    Comment by Steve Parker — 21 Jul 2008 @ 2:31 pm

  8. My vote is for “Research”. Been the geek that I am, I copied the image into paint shop pro and applied some strong sharpening.. It’s still unreadable but the shames seem as though they might match up..

    Comment by Gary — 30 Jul 2008 @ 6:17 am

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