Friday, October 29, 2010

FamilySearch Bloggers Day - Software Community

One of the presentations on the FamilySearch Bloggers Day (21 October) was by Gordon Clarke (Software Community Manager) speaking on "FamilySearch Software Community: Collaborating Technology to Increase the Frequency of Patron Success."

As part of New FamilySearch, they have been working with software developers to create open source or commercial products that can access and use the FamilySearch platform.  FamilySearch offers an Application Programming Interface (API) to facilitate this access.  Some of these developers have been certified in certain functions to work with the FamilySearch Family Tree, and conform to FamilySearch standards and systems.  You can see the FamilySearch list of Certified Affiliates at

Here are the notes I made for myself and my Twitter audience during this presentation (with a time stamp; #FSBlogDay is the Twitter hashtag useful for collecting tweets; times are PDT, MDT times were one hour later):

#FSBlogDay Gordon Clarke on FS Software Community: cat herder video, who knew? metaphor for software folks? 11:35 AM Oct 21st

#FSBlogDay Software: mobile, desktop and web applications. more data, records, images, websites, software - all for FS integration 11:37 AM Oct 21st 

#FSBlogDay Software: direct companies/programmers to 11:38 AM Oct 21st

#FSBlogDay software: they discover, develop, certify and market software that integrates with FamilySearch 11:41 AM Oct 21st

#FSBlogDay software: 776 members, 439 in sandbox, etc. 11:41 AM Oct 21st

#FSBlogDay software: "web services" API - list of them on link at 11:43 AM Oct 21st

#FSBlogDay - 3 products - FamilyTree features, FamilySearch features, others - cemetery, collaborate, DNA, geo-mapping, media, wiki, etc. 11:43 AM Oct 21st

#FSBlogDay software: do they meet minimum standards to certify? No judgment or rating due to non-profit LDS status. Community can rate 11:46 AM Oct 21st

#FSBlogDay software: new certified: TreeSeek; Mac Family Tree; Traces of the Past iPhone; Cemetery Maps; ChArtist by Generation Maps 11:47 AM Oct 21st 

#FSBlogDay: software: many more, see the list! Try them out. Group software for working together. 11:49 AM Oct 21st
Here are some of the significant points that I heard and saw in this presentation:
1.  The funniest video of the day was played at the beginning of this talk by Gordon - have you seen the Cat Herder video here?  Gordon likened this to working with software developers. 
2.  Software developers that want to interact with the FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT) can obtain an API at Gordon noted that there are 776 members of the DevNet site, and 439 are working in the "sandbox" to connect to FSFT.  There are aslo 532 web service affiliates.  Of these, there are only 24 Certified affiliates, of which 23 access the FSFT and only 1 accesses the Research Wiki.
3.  The list of the Certified Affiliates are at  Each product has a description, and a list of the features that can be used in FSFT.  The definition of the features is at the bottom of the web page. The Certified affiliates include:
 4.  There are also Related Products and Services that are not specifically designed for the New FamilySearch Family Tree (some of the above sites are on this list also - I added their features to the list above):
5.  FamilySearch will make no judgment or rating as to the "best" software or website service in each category - they will let the market sort it out.  Theoretically, users will find and use the "best" service. 

6.  He noted that Individual Software will provide more privacy, features and processing power than group software or public websites.  The Public Collaborative Software on websites invite everyone to search, post and comment on information and conclusions that everyone can see.  Group Software is for working together on gathering information about persons, places and events.

7.  There was no demonstration of how all of these Certified software applications will work with the New FamilySearch Family Tree.  Obviously, the LDS Ordinance features will work on that part of the FSFT available only to LDS church members.  Desktop genealogy software will be able to "Sync" to the FSFT (upload data to FSFT, download data from FSFT) for user-selected persons.  Collaboration (discussions about persons, places, events, sources, etc.) may occur through the Group or Collaboration websites.  The Media software and websites will enable adding images and other media to persons in the FSFT.  Users of FSFT will be able to use the Print services to print out reports and charts (or contract out the printing for a fee). 

8.  This presentation went by very quickly, and it is potentially the most important presentation for users interacting with the FamilySearch Family Tree.  A user can see videos on several websites on how these Family Tree interactions might work - Legacy Family Tree has some, as does RootsMagic, and I'm sure that others will also.

Disclosure: I am not an employee, contractor or affiliate of FamilySearch. FamilySearch paid my way to this Bloggers Day in Salt Lake City, including airfare, hotel, some meals and incidental expenses. I am trying to be as objective as possible. I really appreciate FamilySearch's efforts to inform the genealogy community about their products and capabilities.

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