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MouseBytes, March 2004

MouseBytes is the monthly newsletter of the Bay Area Macintosh Users' Group in west central Florida.

Reunion 8 Review

By Virginia Chilcote

If you're thinking about researching your family tree, putting it all together for your enjoyment, for posterity, for your children, or for whatever reason... don't waste your time looking into any other program than this one - Reunion 8 by Leister Productions. I can't stress enough how easy Reunion 8 is to use, no long learning curve here.

If you would have asked me a year ago if I was interested in genealogy, I would have told you "no way, no how, no time." But at a recent afternoon club meeting at the library someone mentioned that we had so many senior citizens in our group and many of them would like to do a family tree but didn't know how to start or what program to use. I got to thinking that we should have a review of one of the programs in our newsletter and maybe a demo at one meeting, also. I started asking around and one program's name was mentioned more than any other - Reunion 8. I decided to try it.

I'm now hooked.

When I got the program, I didn't quite know how to start. Do I start with my ancestors or my children or what? I talked with member Bob Pitman, who uses the program, and he said to just start with my husband and myself and work backwards for ancestors and forward for any kids. After all, it's our family tree. He showed what he had done on his family history. He had pictures and movies in his file and it looked great. Pure simplicity to use, he said. So, I just jumped right in and started to work. I worked on it for two weeks and already have 208 names in it. Wow! Didn't know I had all those relatives and ancestors.

Reunion 8 helped me to document and store all the information I needed about my husband's and my family and ancestors. I was able to record names, dates, places, any facts, even insert pictures and movies.

There are a lot of ways to view the information. The work area is where you enter the information. Just click on a name to add data such as birth date and place and any other pertinent information related to that person. The connections between families, once the information is entered, are so easy to understand. If you look at the work area you see that the husband's name goes on the left side and the wife's on the right side. The parents' information is filled in above them and the children's below.

One thing this project is doing is helping me to see what family information is missing, like for instance a cousin's husband's name or the birth and death date of a grandfather. It's one thing to talk about the relatives and ancestors but then when the actual information gets entered and put into a chart it just seems more interesting and important; it takes on a whole new meaning. I could then see the family relationships in a graphic form and could understand the ways the relatives are linked. Reunion 8 does this in such a graceful way.

The Internet

Do you want your family to see the information? Reunion 8 makes it easy to put your family tree on a web-site with great web-site production tools.

View the Data

  • Index: This lists all names in your data file (so far I have 208).
  • Calendar: The calendar can list events such as births, deaths, burials, marriages and divorces in any particular time frame. I will be able to look up any person in my list having birthdays in March, for instance, in case I want to send greeting cards to them.

Relatives

The Relatives list can categorize and list, for instance if you like, only parents, siblings and children or maybe you want a list of only aunts and uncles. In fact you can even tell the program to show you only living relatives.

Statistics

One example in this area shows minimum, average and maximum age at first marriage, age at death, age at first child. It even shows by female and male as well as an age distribution. The age distribution tell how many people you have entered that are between the ages of 1-10, 11-20, etc. It also breaks it down to female and male.

Ages Button

An interesting way of viewing your own history is the Age list. It shows how old a person is when events in their life happen, such as how old you were at your wedding, when each of your children were born, when your parents died, etc.

Options

There are so many options in Reunion 8 so that you can customize how you view your data. Just a few:

  • Fonts: You can change to preferred fonts for the family card the data entry/lists, pedigree chart, etc., even the user's manual can be customized to the font you like.
  • Dates: You can view dates any way you like. For instance, you might like to view dates as numbers or instead of that to see the months spelled out. Reunion 8 gives you these choices.
  • Speed Names: Last names and place names such as Reno, Nevada only have to be typed once. After that, when you start to type them again, the name fills in. Reunion 8 will remember up to the last 500 names you have entered.

There are about 18 different options.

Marking people

You can put "marks" on people so that you can work with subsets so that only those that have marks on their names will be in the lists, reports and charts. This is great if you want only part of a family in a subset to make a chart to send to relatives.

Importing and Exporting

You can import and export Reunion 8 files as a text file. more importantly you can import and export GEDCOM files. GEDCOM, an abbreviation for GEnealogical Data COMmunications, is a standard format for transferring information from one genealogy program to another even on another platform such as Windows. most genealogy programs can import and export GEDCOM files. So, if your relatives are interest in getting the information that you've collected in Reunion 8, you'll be able to share it in a number of different ways.

Bottom Line

I have found the program to be flawless, easy to use, has many features and is pure joy to use. It never crashed once and those that I spoke with that use it... they all say the same thing. I highly recommend it.