Heredis for Mac Review

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Anyone who’s ever done genealogy on a Mac will be able to jump right in and start using Heredis, no manual required (though there’s an 89-page PDF user guide, just in case). Fast and easy data entry is a particular point of pride for Heredis, which lets you enter and edit data not only on an ancestor’s “card,” but also in a Family Group Data view. Maps for your ancestors’ places are generated automatically—no more wondering where that village is located. Almost everything, including the toolbar, is customizable. Synchronizing with the optional iOS apps or with Heredis on other Macs, and even PCs, is a snap.
Casual users may stumble, however, over the welter of buttons, arrows and drop-down menus. Do you really need a drop-down for whether an ancestor can sign his own name? Heredis’ French origins also might give you pause, with funny phrasings (“Signs Perhaps”) and awkward translations in the manual (“You have found some photos or copies of acts?”).

File management

Import and export of GEDCOM files is fast and seamless. Heredis is unforgiving about importing sources that don’t follow strict formatting, however, and you may find yourself with a long list of untitled sources.

Charts and multimedia
Heredis produces especially gorgeous charts (purists, in fact, may deem them overdesigned)—ancestor, descendant and hourglass. Once you’ve selected a tree format, it’s easy to customize the text, field styles, pictures and borders. Add multimedia elements—photos, audio, video, document files—with Mac-intuitive drag and drop.

Documentation and publication

Adding and editing sources takes just a few clicks, although Heredis’ tendency to detail may intimidate casual users with fields such as Medium and Call# and a Quality of Data slider. The categorization of source types is quirky, with census records and passenger lists, for example, lumped together under “Namelists.”

You can output customizable books and a variety of reports (called Sheets) to your word processor, but not directly to PDF, RTF or HTML formats. Notably lacking in Heredis’ otherwise powerful and attractive output options is any way to directly generate a family website.


You can search by name, find duplicates or filter by criteria such as dates of events, relationships, even the cryptically labeled but useful “Figures” (age at death, age at marriage, number of children, etc.). Indexes cover surnames, given names, places, sources, media and oddly, occupations. There’s no built-in searching for data online.

The verdict

Mac lovers who want to customize their programs’ interface exactly their way will appreciate Heredis’ almost overwhelming flexibility, as will genealogists who want to record absolutely everything about their ancestors and sources. Heredis’ right-out-of-the-box, two-way syncing with its free iOS apps and even Heredis on a PC is also a huge draw if you have those gizmos. Beginning researchers and casual users might be put off by the bells and whistles and by Heredis’ foreign feel, as well as the lack of built-in website generating capability.
From the October/November 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine.