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MouseBytes, September 1010

Reunion 9 Review

Newsletter of the Bay Area Macintosh User Group

For Genealogy: REUNION 9 IS THE ONE TO USE

I had originally wanted a genealogy program to enter all my and my husband's family records into one place where I could look up birthdays, anniversaries, etc. It started that way. With the help of Reunion by Leister Productions, Inc., this has been an interesting and wonderful journey, learning more than I had anticipated. For someone that never thought they would take the time to investigate ancestors, I have taken a complete turn-around and now I am on the lookout for past relatives and information about them.

When you're working on important projects, you want to make sure that you have all the tools available to complete that project with the best possible result. I know I do. Genealogy research and documentation is important to me and takes up hours and hours of my time. I want assurance that I am not wasting my time and then finding out that a software application does not give me everything I need.

With that said, I have looked into and compared some genealogy applications and my first comment is "You get what you pay for." Reunion is a bit more dollars to spend for working on your family history but I can say without hesitation that it is the best and the easiest to use, by far. Even MacWorld, MacAddict and MacHome Journal magazines have said so.

Comparing with Others

When a comparison was made of Reunion and five other Macintosh genealogy software applications on the web, Reunion rated very high on most examples such as:

  • Amount of features and display options
  • Importing
  • Output Formats
  • Ease of Use
  • Help and Support

All in all this program rated best of all others, totally. I had worked on a previous version of Reunion and recently had a few questions from members about which program to purchase. I've used the Reunion application since 2004 and wanted to know if Leister Productions, Inc. had made many changes or any major overhauls. I had hoped no major overhauls because it then meant relearning this program.

When you first open the program and want to start a new family file, a window will come up where on the bottom you can click NEW FAMILY FILE. You then name the Family file (Chilcote-Pacholski Family, Smith-Jones Family, etc.) You can then start entering information such as mothers, fathers, dates, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised to see, when I opened my family file for the first time in the newest version 9, that it looked somewhat the same. At that point I was looking forward to seeing new features of the program.

Recognize us? Reunion opened showing the Home Screen with our baby pictures that I had inserted, with my information on the right side and my husband's on the left. The very first change that I saw was that the bars with our names were pink and blue designating male and female. Gosh, I wondered what it would show if it were two females or two males (married legally in particular states.) Just saying!

Each person's parents are listed above with their birth date and death date if deceased and any other pertinent information. This couldn't be simpler.

It's easy to add multiple spouses or various marriage details such as children with different spouses.

You can always click on the Home Screen if you get lost or there is always that Back button as shown above on the Home Screen.

Besides documenting all family data that I can find, it helped me to have one file where I could go for information that I just couldn't remember. For example, I can't remember some details about my husband's nieces and nephews and all their children. My family data file is a great place to look for a particular person and check for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. You can then set reminders to display, at startup, any birthdays, marriages or other family events.

The bar on top (the Toolbar), as shown on my home screen example and also on page one, is where you can easily access features of the program.

A few of the Buttons

  • The Index button will list all entries in the family file. When I indexed everyone I was able to see where I had made mistakes by entering a person twice where I shouldn't have. And you can sort by any category as in all Mac programs.
  • The Manual button is in a perfect place, especially when you are learning the program. It covers, after the introduction, a tutorial, how to navigate, how to add links, people, and correcting mistakes and also editing a person's info. This manual is very comprehensive and was such a big help as I went along. This is a new feature so that you don't have to go to your web browser of choice anymore. There is a help button in almost all windows, also. When in a particular window, just click on the ? in the corner and it takes the user to the manual area that concerns that page.
  • The Multimedia button shows what you have added in regard to pictures, videos, audios or any other documents. I am in the process of scanning various documents that will be put into my family file such as immigration papers of my grandparents, birth and death certificates and marriage licenses of various family members.
  • The Ages button. This button takes you to a list of events in the life of a particular person. You can choose, in the Ages preferences, whether or not you want various information to show. For instance in Stanley's life, as shown, he was 10 years old when William H. Taft was elected President of the U.S. This area is very customizable as are many areas of Reunion.
  • TreeTops. You can now see a quick list of a person's earliest ancestors.

New Stuff

There are new features in Reunion 9 that aren't apparent at first glance.

Just a couple:

  • Family Card. Customize the toolbar on the family card. Resize card to as large as your screen is. If you option/click someone’s record, a pop-up will show siblings, children and spouses. I found this one really useful.
  • Fixing errors directly in the Index and List. When in these areas you do not have to find the the original record of a person to correct your error, just do it there.
  • Integration with MobileMe and iDisk when creating reports. The Apple App store sells an App for the iPhone and the iPod Touch that allows you to make changes or corrections to your information while away, maybe at a family picnic where family members tell more history of the family. Then when you get back home you can enter these changes into your family file in Reunion.
  • Searching is more advanced than in earlier versions.
  • Support for MP3 audio files

There are many enhancements to Reunion, too many to list here. You can look at them all at: http://www.leisterpro.com/doc/version9/newfeatures/newfeatures.php

Charts

Looking at charts makes it easier to understand the different generations and the relatives you have. They are a big help, being able to see your information in different ways. There are various charts that you can make such as:

  • Pedigree Chart is a graphic showing a person and moves backward showing parents of each person.
  • Timeline Chart will show a bar for each person and the length represents the lifetime span of that person.
  • Fan Chart is sort of like a pedigree chart but in circular form. It is another way to view your generation data.

Lists

  • Calendar List can show a list by births, deaths, marriages, divorces, etc.
  • Reminder List can be shown by particular date or from two to 14 days in advance and can show birthdays, death dates, marriages, whichever you decide you want to list. This is easily customized by a few clicks.
  • Statistics List lists all people with a total amount shown on top. You can get a great overview of what you have in your file such as how many living people, ages at first marriage, death, first child. Also shows number of spouses. This list will show statistics for all and also for male and female individually.

Other lists

You can make lists of those with mailing addresses, places of births, deaths, etc., sources and ages.

There are so many features in the Reunion program, like the Gedcom export and import feature. This is where you can transfer family files with anyone else that is working on genealogy, even if they are working on another program or another computer platform such as Windows. That is, if they also have this feature. And Reunion makes it so easy to publish your records on the internet.

After comparing Reunion with others, I find that everything I look at within it is easily understandable. I am still in the learning stage but their manual seems to answer every question I have and I am progressing very well. I just can't imagine working on genealogy with any other tool than this program.