If you're a stickler for documenting your sources, RootsMagic 3.0 from FormalSoft, Inc., with its logical interface and simple navigation, is the best for you. With it you can easily import GEDCOM files.
The program's SourceWizard formats sources consistently, allowing you to bring up fields with examples of how you should complete each. The Home Page Wizard easily creates Web pages. However, you'll have to purchase separate programs for research, mapping, and event management. The edit screen allows you to add an unlimited number of facts for every individual, and the Problem Search allows you to catch relationship errors.
RootsMagic also offers GenSmarts, a guided research program that integrates with it, which suggest sources for additional information about designated individuals.
As with the above programs , RootsMagic's workspace offers three views–family, pedigree, and descendants. RootsMagic Explorer helps you search within your family tree, especially if you have many ancestors. You can also search six genealogy sites on the Internet or the
International Genealogical Index through Family Search, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You can try RootsMagic for free, but remember that the trial version will limit what you can do.
Ancestral Quest 12.0 from Incline Software is a simple program if you're interested in discovering your family history. Its clear and user-friendly interface integrates with Ancestry.com, but remember the monthly fee. If you enable the interface to work with Ancestry.com, the number of trees featuring a particular name on your tree will appear in the Pedigree View. You can either begin your family tree from scratch or work with an existing one.
Data entry is a simple and thorough process. You can add unusual events, then preview the narrative you've created. By clicking on the "S" next to each entry, you can add sources.
You can also link to Family Search, World Vital Records.
Ancestral Quest offers the three standard views–family, pedigree, and individual–and its input screens are easy to navigate. Drop down menus allow you to add new entries for a linked individual. The program even allows you to add nicknames. With Reports and Charts, you can create standard charts while customizing fonts, colors, and lines.
If you're a novice on a budget, you may want to try Personal Ancestral File 5.2, a free program supported by the LDS Church. It's a powerful program, nonetheless, offering a straightforward, simple interface that's perfect for recording and organizing your information. If you wish to create charts, you'll have to purchase the add-on PAF Companion for $8.25.
And finally, there's BirthWrite 2.5, a shareware genealogy program that has been around for awhile. You'll find it easy to use, with simple navigation through both ancestor and descendent tree views. It also allows you to import, export, and merge GEDCOM files, and its Relationship calculator checks for errors. But if you're going to pay the $20 for this program, you might as well go for the extra $10 for a full-featured program.