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    In my effort to explore software alternatives, I gave RootsMagic a try. They offer RootsMagic Essentials for free, so why not? I also found review of v.6 and digging around more on that site, I learned that Tamura Jones actually recommends RootsMagic over Legacy. There are a lot of geek reasons for this — I won’t pretend to have understood a lot of the techy talk on that site — but the recommendation is a good place to start.

    “RootsMagic Essentials is a free genealogy program that contains many core features from the award-winning RootsMagic family tree software. Downloading RootsMagic Essentials is absolutely free and is the easiest way to start tracing your family tree!”

    The key word there is “start.” Don’t try this at home if you have already invested years in your genealogy database.

    My first mistake was forgetting the distinction between RootsMagic and RootsMagic Essentials, I’m realizing now.

    On the page that compares the two programs, under Compatibility at the bottom of the page, it states “Direct Legacy import (versions 2 and later).” Okay! Let’s go!

    When it didn’t work, I set out digging through the forums to find out what I did wrong. I didn’t find a lot of posts about problems, but they were there, some of them quite old. So I’m thinking there’s got to be a fix here somewhere. No. One poster suggested submitting a support ticket, so why not? I really want to give this software a try.

    When I entered the subject of my inquiry in the online form, some links to possibly helpful articles came up, one of which was “Converting from Legacy to RootsMagic” — and dated Aug of 2016, it’s pretty recent, too! Great! That’s what I’m looking for!

    “To export your data from Legacy:
    1. Open your Legacy program
    2. Do “File, Export to, GEDCOM file” from the main menu.”

    . . . um, that doesn’t look like a “direct Legacy import” to me. But, what the heck, let’s try that. The result, as you can imagine, was the expected mess in that my custom events disappeared. Okay, that’s what happens when exporting a Legacy .fdb file to GEDCOM. So I went ahead and submitted a ticket. While waiting, I’m checking out some of the other issues potential Legacy converts were having, and I managed to find them all in my new import.

    I received a response from support within just a few hours — impressive!

    “We can direct import Legacy files . . .”

    Um, no they can’t.

    “. . . though if you had data problems in the Legacy file, those problems would also be in the new RootsMagic file.”

    But . . . I don’t have data problems in my Legacy file.

    “Try doing a cleanup of the Legacy database first, using the database tools.”

    I’m already doing this on a regular schedule — that’s how I know I don’t have data problems in my Legacy file.

    “If there are errors in the direct import, try a gedcom.”


    Remember I mentioned that I wanted to try new software, but not literally start from scratch? Well, as far as I can tell, I can import my names, dates, and some of my events and facts, but not all of them. With a direct import of a Legacy file, the image paths are broken. With a GEDCOM import, along with other obvious problems, the PDF document links were broken, though the images were fine.

    So giving it one more try, I mentioned this in a response to support: “PDF files are not readily accepted by the free version, but can be added as File type media in the full version” and, sure enough, going back to that features list, you can save reports to PDF, attach PDFs to people, sources, etc., with the full RootsMagic program, but not RootsMagic essentials.

    RootsMagic must be a great program. It’s frequently mentioned in the groups/forums, etc., I follow. And it’s cheap. A lot of the people who reported problems with Legacy conversion in the RootsMagic forums ended up just buying the program to see if that would work. And, five years ago, I probably would have put out the 30 bucks without worrying about it too much. But the Legacy conversion does not work as stated.

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