Tag Archives: reunion

Genealogy Software for the Mac

This week I’m attending the IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Boston. Last night I attended the Mac BOF (Birds-Of-a-Feather) meeting. It was packed from one of the room to the other, thanks to the hard work of Doris Loeb Nabel and other volunteers.

I first attended a Mac BOF meeting back in 2011 in DC. Like two years ago, both Duff Wilson from Ancestry and Daniel Horowitz from MyHeritage spoke briefly about their future Mac offerings. Both, by the way, are planning new Mac offerings by the end of the calendar year. Ancestry is planning a new Mac version of FTM that is closer in feature-parity to the Windows version than previous versions. Wilson also noted that the price of the Mac version, which is currently higher than the Windows version, would likely come into line with the Windows version. MyHeritage is working on the first Mac version of FTB, which will also not have all the features of their Windows version. MyHeritage wants to get a version out, but doesn’t want to wait until all the features they have built over the years in their Windows version, have been coded for the Mac. Hopefully both companies will bring their Mac version into sync with their Windows versions over time.

One of the things I noticed at the meeting was that many of the people did not know about all the Mac genealogy software available. Most knew about Reunion, and Family Tree Maker, but many did not know about others. I thought it would be useful to take a quick look at the genealogy applications available for Mac. Most of these I’ve discussed in the past to differing degrees, but this is probably the first time I’ve listed them all together. The list consists of most Mac genealogy software (in alphabetical order) that have been updated in the past year (and I’ll point out a few that have not been recently updated recently at the end). If I miss any that you use, post in the comments.


Not a traditional genealogy program based on people – Evidentia is based on recording sources and building a case to prove claims. Costs $24.99 on the web site (although currently on sale, 20% off through August at $21.25).

A very powerful genealogy program, GEDitCOM II‘s main drawback is its antiquated interface. GEDitCOM II has a few power features that no other genealogy program has, such as scripting with Applescript, Python or Ruby, and outputting a book in LaTeX format. These are not features most genealogists will ever use, but for some advanced users, these features definitely set it apart. Costs $64.99 on the web site.

GRAMPS is a free and open-source genealogy application originally developed for Linux, but now also available for Windows and Mac. I’ve discussed GRAMPS in the past (here and here), and now there’s a new version out, version 4. Free from the web site.

Developed in France, Heredis is popular in Europe and is available for both Mac and Windows. I’ve mentioned Heredis in the past but have not done a full review. Two interesting features Heredis has are its illustrated charts and book publishing. Free companion app for iPhone. Available on the web site, and via the Mac App Store, for $59.99.

Recently updated to version 7, MacFamilyTree has a very modern user interface, and lots of options for charts and reports, and can integrate with FamilySearch family trees (the only Mac software that can that I am aware of). Syncs with MobileFamilyTree, a paid app, on iPhone and iPad. Normally costs $59.99 on the Mac App Store (only), but currently on sale for 50% off for a few more days (until Aug 11).


Reunion is a very popular genealogy program for the Mac, with advanced reporting and charting capabilities. Relatively easy navigation through your tree. A very active support forum. Paid separate companion apps for iPhone and iPad. Costs $99 on their web site, and from some retailers including Amazon.

There are also some other genealogy programs like iFamily for Leopard, myBlood, ohmiGene, and PA Writer II. Not all of these are updated frequently, and I’m not as familiar with them. I also took a look at the various genealogy applications available through the Mac App Store back in February. This includes a few I don’t mention here, including the app Memory Miner, which is not strictly speaking a genealogy program, but a ‘digital storytelling’ application, and can import GEDCOMs to help assign names to people.

What program do you use? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it. Have you been thinking about using one of these programs, but not started?

MacFamilyTree 7 Released – upgrade pricing for everyone

A Fan Chart in MacFamilyTree 7

I’ve been using the same genealogy program for about twenty years (Reunion), but that doesn’t mean I don’t look at what else is available. I’m always looking at what other genealogy programs are available for the Mac, and although I haven’t switched, I am open to it if I found a program that really fit my needs better. I’ve written in the past about genealogy programs available through the Mac App Store (and others that are not), so I’ve mentioned MacFamilyTree before.

Yesterday MacFamilyTree received a major update, to version 7, so I thought it was worth mentioning again. It’s also worth mentioning because they are offering upgrade pricing ($29.95 instead of $59.99) to everyone who buys it in the Mac App Store through July 31. It’s a strange quirk of the Mac App Store that in essence companies cannot really offer upgrade pricing to their existing users. When you buy an application from the App Store, you own it forever. To get around this problem, some software companies release a new version of their program on the App Store as a separate program, and then reduce the price for everyone for a limited time. In this case, Synium Software, the makers of MacFamilyTree, are allowing anyone to get the upgrade pricing for the first two months, which I think is quite generous (sometimes companies only offer the upgrade pricing for a week).
Research Assistant feature in MacFamilyTree 7

There are a lots of nice features of MacFamilyTree. In the past, my biggest problem in switching programs was the handling of images. Reunion has a very nice feature that allows you have one image, and cut out the faces of multiple people for use in your family tree. For example, if you have a family portrait with ten family members in it, and it is the only photo you have for all the people, you can select out the faces from the one photo for each family member. This might not seem like a major feature, but when you use it extensively to attach photos of people to their records, it’s hard to switch to a program that doesn’t offer that (and doesn’t import the cropped images I’ve already set up). I don’t know if MacFamilyTree 7 has a similar feature or not, but that’s one of the things I will be taking a look at when I look at the software.

Here’s a look at the new version of MacFamilyTree in a video that Synium released:



When I find the time to take a look in depth at MacFamilyTree 7, I will try to post a review here. If I do end up switching, I’ll try to explain how I moved everything over.

I should just add that I’m very happy that there are now several good options for genealogy software for the Mac. Besides Reunion and MacFamilyTree (Mac App Store), there’s Heredis (which is 35% off through June 9 – $38.99 instead of $59.99 – on their site and in the Mac App Store) and GEDitCOM II (software which has some very unique features that I like, but needs a major overhaul to make it competitive with these others). One of the nice features of most of these programs (not GEDitCOM II) is the availability of a companion app that runs on the iPhone and/or iPad. Reunion has separate apps for iPhone/iPod Touch ($14.99) and iPad ($14.99), MacFamilyTree offers MobileFamilyTree which can run independently of MacFamilyTree (normally $15.99 – now also 50% off through July 31 at $7.99), but can also share data with it, and Heredis offers Heredis for iOS (which is free).

Also of note is that MyHeritage, which offers their free Family Tree Builder software for Windows (a $75 Premium version is also available), has said that the next version (Version 8) will be available on the Mac. It will be interesting to see how that software compares with these other programs. I hope they will offer the app through the Mac App Store, and offer the premium features and subscriptions through in-app purchasing.

Update: Synium Software responded via Twitter that they do support cropping multiple images out of a single photo, as well as importing and exporting that information. Always happy to see companies that respond quickly and directly to customers.

Some observations from the IAJGS Conference

So last week I attended the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Washington, DC.

As mentioned in a previous post I also spoke at the event, on the topic of Utilizing Belgian Archives for Jewish Research. I’ve posted a page on this site with the links mentioned in my presentation, although the page is not fully fleshed out yet. The page has a link to it in the tabs at the top of the page. It has all the links and e-mail addresses I mention in my presentation, but without hearing the lecture, not everything on that page will make sense. I plan to flesh out the page into a full article, and perhaps to take the actual presentation I used and put it up as a video with voice-over. If readers of this site express an interest in such a video, I’ll try to get it done sooner.

This was the second IAJGS conference I attended, and it was definitely interesting. I can’t speak about everything I saw at the conference, but I thought I would mention a few small things I noticed.

The Resource Room and ProQuest

The conference Resource Room had a large number of commercial databases available for searching during the conference. Most of them I either pay for already or didn’t have much information on my family. ProQuest allowed the conference to have access to their database (normally only available through libraries and other institutions) for one day only in the middle of the conference, and indeed that database with its numerous newspapers had quite a bit of interesting information on my family. I haven’t had time to sort through everything yet, but I tried to copy as many of the articles as I could to a flash drive for later review (since computer usage was limited to one hour on the day the ProQuest databases were available).

Many thanks to Suzan Wynne (I’ve mentioned her book on Galicia in a previous article) who organized the Resource Room at the conference and did a great job.

The 2014 Conference Will Not Be in Jerusalem

I mentioned this was my second conference. My first was in Jerusalem, Israel in 2004. I actually did the page layout for the souvenir booklet for that conference. It has been a tradition that every ten years the conference is held in Jerusalem (on the 4s) but this year it was announced that the 2014 conference, while previously announced to be held in Jerusalem, would instead be held in Salt Lake City. There was a lot of chatter at the conference about this change. Many people were disappointed as they had planned to come to Israel for the conference. The reason for the change were not clearly given at the conference, but for those familiar with the Israel Genealogical Society (IGS), the reason was quite simple. The IGS underwent a leadership change a couple of months before a major deadline imposed by the IAJGS for the 2014 conference. The new leadership did not have enough time to complete the work required by the IAJGS for the conference and had to give it up. There is the potential to have the conference in Jerusalem in 2015 instead, so hopefully the IGS will have a formal submission ready in time to get the 2015 slot.

In the meantime, the next conferences will be held in Paris in 2012, followed by Boston in 2013. Paris is a bit closer for me here in Israel, and Boston is where I grew up, so I will hopefully be able to attend both conferences. While Salt Lake City is the Mecca of the genealogy world, 2014 is a bit too far out for me to determine if I’d be able to go or not.

Younger Genealogists

One interesting aspect of the conference was the group of younger participants who got together at various times, sometimes officially but mostly unofficially. In the world of genealogy it seems ‘younger’ is defined as under 50. Certainly the vast majority of attendees at the conference were over 50, indeed probably over 60. The group of 20s, 30s and 40s got together and discussed their approaches to genealogy. There was a general consensus that the conference planners had not geared the conference for younger people, and indeed perhaps did not understand how to do so since none of the planners were young. The group will try to stay in contact and influence upcoming conferences and events to be more appropriate for younger genealogists, to encourage more younger genealogists to present at these events, etc.

Many thanks to Elise Friedman, who it seemed at times to be running multiple events at once, who organized almost all the events targeted at younger genealogists (dubbed appropriately for a genealogy conference – next-gen genealogists).

Mac Genealogy

As many of you know, I use a Mac for my computer. I attended the Mac BOF (Birds Of a Feather) meeting at the conference, where there were about 50 other Mac users. An informal show of hands indicated that the vast majority of those there used Reunion for their genealogy research. For a program that hasn’t had a major upgrade in over four years, that’s pretty amazing. Indeed I use Reunion also, and so far I haven’t found anything as easy to use as it even though I’ve looked over the years. My first post on this blog was actually a look at Family Tree Maker for Mac. One feature added in the past four years to Reunion was the ability to sync with versions of their program on the iPhone and the iPad (sold separately). Yesterday was a year since Reunion for iPad was launched, so hopefully in he meantime they’ve been working to update their Mac product.

iPad Genealogy

One very noticeable trend at the conference was that large number of iPads being used, and every one that I saw was running Reunion for iPad. Presumably those people were syncing with Macs, but it’s possible they were just using it on the iPad, I’m not sure. There is no Windows program for the Reunion for iPad program to sync to, so they either were syncing to a Mac or not syncing at all. There were many iPads around. I don’t currently have an iPad, but it’s usefulness at the conference was clear. I was constantly looking for a place to plug in my computer, something those with iPads didn’t need to do (at least not as often).

An Interesting Encounter

I thought I would share one interesting encounter from the conference (although there were many). A woman who attended my lecture approached my afterwards and said she remembered her father had some connection to a man whose last name was Trauring (my last name). They both had lived in Belgium at the same time (which was clear to her from my lecture), and both were involved in the diamond business in New York (which she confirmed by asking me after the lecture), but she didn’t know what the connection was. While searching the ProQuest databases (mentioned above) I came across an announcement of a business lease for an office which mentioned both the name Trauring and her father’s name. Pretty amazing since a day earlier I hadn’t even heard of her father. Just minutes after I left the Resource Room with the article on my flash drive I bumped into the same woman and showed her what I had found. She was (as I was) amazed at the coincidence of finding the article that confirmed the connection so soon after she mentioned it.

While talking to her while copying the file, she noticed that I was also researching Kleinhaus (the name badges at the conference listed surnames being researched by the wearer) and she told me she had a photo of a woman which it turned out was my grandmother. Small world indeed. My 96 year old grandfather was able to confirm that his brother had been in business with this woman’s father (not my grandfather) but he had known him well. The moral of this story is sometimes personal contact is the only way to find connections, and that there are non-relatives out there with information on your families (such as the photo of my grandmother) that you wouldn’t normally think of when doing your research. This is one of the reasons that attending conferences like this one can lead to breakthroughs in your research.

Conclusion

At the conference I also came up with several ideas for new articles for this site, so I hope to get those written and posted soon. I am expecting an addition to my own family tree soon, however, so my time to write may be curtailed. Please be patient if I am slow to post new articles. Even while I may be slow to post articles in the near future, I will be trying to answer questions on the Facebook page. ‘Like’ the Facebook page for this site at facebook.com/jewishgenealogy to join this site’s page and participate. Everyone is also welcome to answer research questions on Facebook. I’m trying to build the Facebook page into an interactive community where people can ask and answer questions on Jewish genealogy, so if you are on Facebook (or have been looking for an excuse to join) then go to the Facebook page, press the ‘Like’ button and join the conversation.

If you attended the conference in DC and want to share your experiences, please post them in the comments below.