Sunday, April 06, 2008

Alternatives to PAF must be found if…

SOFTWARE SATURDAY: Alternatives to PAF must be found if…

In plain terms, you may need to find an alternative to PAF (Personal Ancestral File) genealogy management software if you want to synchronize your PAF data & the newFamilySearch. I took copious notes during the keynote address given by Timothy G. Cross, a Product Manager for newFamilySearch, at the 2008 My Ancestors Found Family History Expo in Logan, Utah March 22, 2008 at the Eccles Conference Center, Utah State University. FamilySearch was a co-sponsor of the event. My comments are listed parenthetically in red italic lettering:
Continue to use PAF until (the emphasis added reflects Tim’s intonation) newFamilySearch goes live, then you have three choices:
  • Keep your genealogy completely online using newFamilySearch (This won’t include information on living individuals such as your children and grandchildren.)
  • Use a bridging program between your existing PAF database and new
    FamilySearch (I took this to mean PAF Insight and FamilyInsight by Ohana.)
  • Use a full-fledged genealogy software program instead of PAF that has full
    compatibility with newFamilySearch. (I took this to mean programs like Ancestral Quest, LegacyFamilyTree, RootsMagic, and such.)
Tim then explained that there are genealogy software companies doing great work and that FamilySearch seeks opportunities to associate in full cooperation with these and others. Next, he introduced three affiliates whose developers were also attending the conference in Logan, calling them to join him at the podium. They had each previously sent 3-4 slides that were incorporated into Tim’s PowerPoint. (A very efficient transition in my view. Each mentioned the ability to directly access your existing PAF data.)
  • Generation Maps
  • RootsMagic
  • Ancestral Quest

Each company rep had about 2 minutes to demonstrate with screen shots how his product interfaces with newFamilySearch. Following these three mini-presentations, Tim returned to his part of the Keynote address explaining that classes on newFamilySearch and FamilySearchIndexing would be convened at specific hours throughout the day.

Please note that these three are not the only affiliates, but they were the only affiliates whose developers were in attendance at the MAF Family History Expo in Logan in March 2008.

WHAT IS newFamilySearch? is about half-way through the LDS roll-out of an online collection of genealogy data designed specifically to reduce duplication of LDS temple work for ancestors.

The whole-world roll-out of newFamilySearch will involve a multi-language, free-access, internet-based environment for all genealogists -- providing workspace for collaboration, eventually including capabilities to link scanned images of proof documents for each generation. The current roll-out is limited to LDS church members, but I see this as a laudable solution, working out the bugs with a small user group before the world roll-out goes forth. We all remember how busy the FamilySearch servers were when it first appeared on the Internet as we individually sorted through the disappointment of slow access and the confusion of a new resource. Given the partial roll-out of newFamilySearch to LDS first, it is likely that you’ll find support from experienced local LDS Family History Center volunteers when newFamilySearch is available to you as well.

To save time, we tend to spot check the work of reliable genealogists, and then incorporate their work into our common family lines. Beginners don’t – but unfortunately readily accept anything found in any published form, as the truth about one’s heritage. The ability to combine our genealogy data with online presentations of proof documents in a free-access environment will revolutionize genealogical research coordination. I won’t need to spend time locating source documents on my infamously obscure Dolly YOCKEY if someone else has already solved that brick wall and has the documents to prove it. (One can only hope!)

Genealogists with an eye to accuracy in lineage studies have long recognized the problem of blatantly erroneous entries in the IGI, Ancestral File, and the Pedigree Resource File. The newFamilySearch has the option to dispute and provide alternative lineages with attendant notes and proof documents. The links to images from the FamilySearch scanning of FamilyHistory Library microfilm and other ancient documents is a key component of newFamilySearch and it key to compiling accurate lineages.Responsible genealogists value the results of “double, blind data entry indexing systems” such as the Name Extraction Program, with its updated younger sister, FamilySearchIndexing, since both provide reliable searches that lead to original records.

Name Extraction projects include: projects, most found currently at under “record search”, include:

  • 1850 US federal census & mortality schedule
  • 1900 US federal census
  • 1930 Mexico census
  • West Virginia Deaths, now at the WV (State) Division of Culture and History) website, 41% complete as of this morning.

I’ve personally twice heard this statement about PAF from FamilySearch officials, as I’ve reported in paragraph 2 of this blog entry, though it is not listed anywhere in the newsroom of either the LDS Church nor its genealogy component Another person blogged about the “Future of PAF” with an “official public release” dated 31 March 2008 attributed to Gordon Clark, but in my direct communication with Gordon Clark, he stated that this is not an official public release from him or anyone else at FamilySearch, so I have not included a link here.

So you must rely on DearMYRTLE (the real life Pat Richley) for her careful note taking, and accurate report of what she heard.

Until now, finding a workable alternative to PAF (Personal Ancestral File) was something devoted PAF users tended to avoid because they felt would not abandon the genealogy management program. Most PAF users are aware that other genealogy software programs are available with enhancements.

The other programs’ enhancements not found in PAF involve options to not merely compile genealogy info including births, marriages, deaths and notes; but to systematically update temple ordinances, assign surety values of sources, search alternative record groups, creatively share our genealogy with others in dynamic book or CD format and now to directly interface with newFamilySearch as it becomes available.

Digital TV broadcasts will become the industry standard by federal mandate in 2009. At that time our existing old style non-digital televisions will need an adapter (like old-style PAF needs a bridging program) or we will need to purchase digital television sets (like PAF users may elect to purchase new genealogy management software, which have been designed to directly import PAF databases.)

Fortunately, the choices for improved genealogy software other than PAF are not as expensive as the upgrade we’ll each have to make for digital compatibility.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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