Monday, January 16, 2017

Finding Syllabus Material on the RootsTech 2017 Mobile App

The RootsTech 2017 mobile app for iOS and Android has been available for some time on the App Store and Google Play.

The website doesn't say much about the mobile app, but there has been information on the RootsTech Facebook pages about it.  Some of the comments I've seen include (from geneablogger Amy Archibald, related by Lynn Broderick, on Facebook):

""The speaker syllabi materials will ONLY be available on the APP. They will not be available via the website. You have the ability to download, email, and take notes on the electronic handout.

"Through the registration portal, you can select to purchase a printed copy of all the syllabi for $35.00. You pay for this in advance, and pick up onsite at the conference. There will be no printing available onsite - you need to order it in advance if you want one printed."

I downloaded the "RootsTech" app (note that it's not "RootsTech 2017") from the App Store to my iPhone and did not have to sign in with any RootsTech creds, but I did need to specify a credit card (which was not used) in order to download it (I have no clue if that happens to everyone).

I wanted to find the syllabus materials.  

1)  Here is the dashboard for the mobile app on my iPhone:

2)  The class list and the syllabus material can be found on the "Conference Schedule" page (top row, 2nd from right on the screen above).  I tapped on "Conference Schedule":

3)  The different tracks are shown.  I selected "Browse by Day," then selected Wednesday the 8th, and scrolled up and down to see the different classes and workshops.

4)   I chose one of the 3 p.m. classes and saw (two screens):

The page for each class includes the class location, date, time, speaker's name, brief class summary, the track, and resources.  If there is a Handout it will be in Resources.

5)  I tapped "Handouts (1)" and another line appeared:

6)  The handout is in the bottom link - I tapped that and saw:

The app gives me the option to "Take Notes on Handout," "Download Handout" or "Email Handout."

7)  Initially, I chose "Download Handout" and had to tap it again, then had to tap "Download App In ..." and saw the choices:

I could choose to put it in notes, Copy to iBooks, Copy to Adobe Acrobat or Copy to Dropbox.

When I selected "Copy to Dropbox" I could download it to a specific file folder, but it had a 24 digit file name that is not user-friendly.  There is a "Back to RootsTech app" link at the top left of the screen which I didn't see until just now.

8)  The better option, I think, is to "Email the Handout" to myself.  Before I did this, I created a RootsTech 2017 file folder on my computer, and then emailed them one at a time to myself.

When I received the email, I opened it, copied the presentation title and author (e.g., "Records Created at Death_Ackerson"), downloaded the PDF file to my file folder, pasted the title/author text as the file name, and saved it to the file folder.  After that, I was able to go back to the "Conference Schedule" page on the app and do the next class syllabus.  I was able to download over 40 class syllabi to my computer, and name the files something reasonable, in 15 minutes.

9)  When I go to RootsTech, and attend a class, I can download the syllabus item to Adobe Acrobat on my phone or tablet using the process above, and read it while watching the class, assuming there is wi-fi in the classroom.  However, it still has the useless 24 character file name.  I could also read it on my phone or tablet out of Dropbox, but I still have the file name problem.

I hope this helps!

The mobile app works fine, it's logical, and similar to the apps from past years.  There are several seemingly useless extra taps required.  The file name problem is difficult to overcome if you save a file to Acrobat or Dropbox or email, unless you change the file name when you save it to a file folder as I did in 8) above.


Disclosure:  I received a complimentary registration pass to RootsTech 2017, and earlier RootsTech conferences, for being a RootsTech Ambassador.

Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

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Louis Kessler said...


They've made the App available online as well (which is great for people like me who don't have Android or iOS but have a Windows phone). The online site is:

I think you'll find it easier downloading the Syllabus material by logging into the online site from your computer, because it will produce a PDF on each handout which you can then right-click and save to your computer, renaming it as you do so.


Louis Kessler said...

... and I should also say that sometimes the performance of the online app is not good. The pdfs sometimes stop loading mid-stream and I have had to go back and reload one 4 times before it came in.

With that performance now, I would not recommend trying to use the online version of the App at RootsTech. With 25,000 people all using the wifi at once, I'm sure it will be sometimes rough treading to try to access anything online.

I'm planning to have my full agenda and the Syllabus material I'm interested in right on my phone using OneNote and pdf files.


Marina Dececo said...

I also emailed the handouts to myself and then, when I opened the handout (PDF) I could simply save it to Evernote with a click.