Occasionally I break my long-standing rule to never review software products and talk about using a particular program. I am not going to "review" RootsMagic or any other software program. I have long recognized that choosing one of the commercially available software programs is a highly personal decision and my opinion is highly skewed by my years of sitting at a computer using software. I sometimes end up using one program over another for very specific reasons that usually have absolutely nothing to do with the "features" that are advertised. Additionally, I seldom, if ever, use even half of the features of many of the current programs. The fact that any particular program has a mapping feature or some other such thing, means nothing to me if I do not use that particular feature. So the common practice of listing a program's features and comparing versions of the same program or other programs from features alone, means nothing to me unless the one thing I am looking for is missing.
With this background, I approach the subject of the recent announcement by RootsMagic.com and MyHeritage.com about the fact that the newly updated RootsMagic 7 program will directly search MyHeritage.com utilizing the MyHeritage.com Record Match and Record Detective search programs. This search does not require the RootsMagic user to have a subscription to MyHeritage.com. RootsMagic will do the same thing with FamilySearch.org's records. To understand the importance of this development, it is necessary to review the status of online genealogy databases.
The ability of a program to directly search an online database is not new, but until now that ability has been essentially with tethered programs. Ancestry.com has Family Tree Maker. MyHeritage.com has Family Tree Builder. FamilySearch.org has its "compatible" products. But with the exception of RootsMagic, none of the FamilySearch Compatible products can search the Historical Record Collections directly. Some can synchronize records but the searching function is left entirely to FamilySearch.
This is the main difference between RootsMagic and the rest of the programs. In this case, RootsMagic can use the user's own records to search both FamilySearch.org and MyHeritage.com. At this point, adding the sources found to the RootsMagic database requires manually copying and pasting the entries. This is essentially the case with the tethered programs with the exception that they have a "synchronization" function. But RootsMagic also can synchronize records with FamilySearch.org. I am talking here about desktop programs that store your genealogy database, not purely online family tree programs. The difference is blurring, but the distinction is that the desktop program is available even if you are not connected to the Internet. Obviously if you want to do any searching or whatever, you need an Internet connection. The difference is where the information is stored. A desktop program stores the information on your personal computer (or other device). An on-line family tree is only online and you must connect to the Internet to see or use it.
The difference here is that RootsMagic has developed the ability to search the two online databases, not just view sources and synchronize the source entries. Previously this was a tethered program function. In other words, Ancestry.com's Family Tree Maker could use the entries on your own database to search Ancestry.com online but you needed a subscription to Ancestry.com for it to work. RootsMagic is not directly associated with either FamilySearch or MyHeritage but it can now search the online databases. Adding the sources to your desktop RootsMagic program is still a copy and paste procedure. This may not seem significant, but it is a major step towards source integration in the online genealogy database world.