At a Glance
Whether you're looking for your family's black sheep so you can blame your misdeeds on some genetic flaw, or just want to know where you came from and why, researching your roots can be both entertaining and enlightening. On the Mac, there's no better program for tracking and displaying your family's history than Leister Productions' Reunion. And version 8 brings OS X compatibility, as well as significantly improved charting features, to the program, so it will appeal to new and upgrading users.
No Bad Apples
Like prior versions, Reunion 8 sports an excellent online tutorial that leads you through the program's basics -- from adding the first person to your database to creating charts of your genealogical history. But the program is so easy to use that a minute or two with the tutorial is all you'll need.
Entering data is intuitive, and there's virtually no limit to the types and quantity of information you can enter about each person in your family tree, from the date Uncle Willie got his bunion removed to the exact place, time, and date Aunt Marion died. The program provides support for footnotes and other citations, and it lets you view the data in almost any fashion you wish. Simply choose the Views menu option; select which items you'd like to display, such as a relative's birth, death, and occupation; and then determine the order in which you'd like these listings to appear. New to Reunion 8 is extensive support for the temple ordinances of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such as baptism and endowment. Reunion also handles multimedia files with aplomb. You can store and display pictures, audio, and video -- each linked to individuals in your family file -- from within the program.
Once you've entered your family information, Reunion can calculate some fairly interesting information and statistics unique to the family you're viewing. For example, bringing up the Ages list for any individual displays his or her age at significant milestones in life, such as marriage, children's birth, or the death of a parent or spouse. Living relatives (if they're not faint of heart) can optionally display how much longer they're likely to live. You can also display statistics for entire family lines, detailing minimum, maximum, and average ages for events.
Charting the Past, Present, and Future
Aside from the program's migration to OS X, the most significant change to Reunion is in the way you create genealogical charts of your family history. The charting function now acts like any standard object editor, such as OmniGraffle (Reviews, August 2002) or the drawing tool in AppleWorks. You can edit and format text within a box, but only the chart, not the database, will reflect the changes you make. You can select and align objects or layer them on top of one another. You can add pictures to chart boxes or reformat the boxes by changing fonts or colors. Essentially, you have complete control over the way a chart is displayed or printed, a significant -- and welcome -- improvement over prior versions' fairly static chart-creation options.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Reunion 8 is a superb product. If you're a novice family historian, you'll appreciate the program's intuitive data entry, and you'll be able to learn the program in a matter of minutes. If you're a current user who wants better charting functionality, Reunion 8's OS X compatibility and first-class charting features make it a compelling upgrade. In short, unless someone else is doing the work for you, there's no easier way to track your family's history.