Reunion has long been known as one of the top software names for genealogy projects on Mac computers and Reunion 9 does not disappoint. Its user-friendly interface and substantial level of detail make it a great program for beginners and advanced genealogists alike. Reunion 9 earns our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award in Mac genealogy software because it provides a comprehensive database for ancestral and familial information.
Reunion 9 leaves little to be desired in the way of features, displays and reports. This program won us over with its numerous options; users are able to make a customized family database. Individuals in the database can be linked to photos, videos sound files and .PDF or text documents. (The files are linked. If you move the file on your computer, the information will have to be re-linked to be used.)
Reunion is also capable of creating an individual or family timeline, highlighting user-specified events in the individual or family’s history. Timelines can help users spot inconsistencies in data, such as a child having a birth date before his mother’s birth date. They’re also convenient tools for sorting data. Reunion also allows for filtering of individuals in the database by sex, age or other user-specified criteria.
Another feature unique to Reunion is the ability to flag individuals in the database as important historical figures or even as “research complete,” providing the ultimate convenience when performing complicated historical research.
Reunion is also great with encountering situations that many modern families face, such as same-sex couples, documenting non-married couples who have children and specifying half- or step-siblings. Some of the lower-ranked genealogy programs struggle with these issues, but Reunion handles them with finesse.
Reunion was the only software we reviewed that includes a register report output format. A register report is named for the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. It is the preferred document for genealogy information and utilizes a narrative paragraph for each person and his or her spouse and descendants. It includes an alphanumerical coding system to reference individuals in the report.
The main benefit of moving genealogical information to your computer (as opposed to hard copy only) is having the ability to include photo, video and audio files in your family’s database. While Reunion lets you link individuals in the database to media files, the files are just that—linked. If the file on your computer is moved or deleted, you will have to re-link it to the individual before it can be used. Also, when you save your data to a GEDCOM file, the media files won’t be saved.
Reunion nearly sweeps this category. It exports directly into nine of eleven categories; the only two it does not cover directly is CD/DVD and Mac applications such as iCal or Address Book. However, the manual for the software discusses how to save the file itself (with all the data in the database) onto a CD-ROM for file transfer. Additionally, Reunion can produce a mailing address list for all individuals in the database that have that information recorded.
Some of the screens themselves, like Events and Facts, can be customized further. Users decide whether or not to include any of 29 different types of events like birth, death, adoption, baptism, census, bar mitzvah, graduation or retirement, to name a few. Similarly, the Facts section can be edited to display any of 24 details, including education, married name, namesake, occupation, and even physical features like eye color, hair color and height.
Adding a new individual is a simple matter of double-clicking the blank spouse or parent placeholder to bring up the Edit Person box and typing in known information. Adding a child is a simple matter of clicking the + Children button, selecting a gender and editing information in the Edit Person box. To edit an existing person, the user can just double-click the name he wishes to edit.
Running a report or a visual representation of familial data is as easy as clicking Create in the file menu and selecting the display option you would like to view.
The support systems backing the Reunion software are incredible. The program comes with a built-in user manual (called Contents) as well as a tutorial to help new users get started. Reunion also has a Shortcuts manual for quick reference. The Help menu also includes options for checking for new software and contact information with an email address, Web site, user forum, telephone support and USPS mailing address. The Web site also includes “Top 10 Questions,” FAQs, video tutorials and examples of Web pages created by other Reunion 9 users.
Overall, we have to say that Reunion was the most flexible program we tried. On top of that, Reunion has an excellent help and tutorial guide, not to mention an amazing volume of customizable personal data for each individual in the database. While the price may be a deterrent for some, we have to say that it will be worth the extra cash for some users.
Suburb help and support options are likely unnecessary, but they’re there if you need them.
This was by far the most expensive product we reviewed.
We can recommend Reunion to anyone who is serious about the genealogical research.