Re: The Ancestry Insider: The Future of PAF
- Thank you, Shanna, for including my article. As it was somewhat
ambiguous without formatting, here is a copy with the official
material indented with the ">" character. The original can be seen at
The Future of PAF
As my previous posts<http://tinyurl.com/4jsjrv> have sparked some
online discussions that may have propagated misinformation regarding
the future of PAF, I feel like I need to share the exact wording of
the statement from Gordon Clarke, FamilySearch Third Party Product
Manager, given at the FamilySearch Developers Conference and the BYU
Computerized Genealogy Conference.
At these two conferences Clarke read a statement that he
characterized as official and explained he would read it word-for-
word so he would not get it wrong. Afterwards Clarke e-mailed the
text of the statement to third-party developers, stating
that "FamilySearch has updated it[s] 2008 Messaging to include 'The
Future of PAF'."
I've inserted some commentary, which is not indented.
> The Future of PAFFor more information about New FamilySearch (NFS), see the several
> Personal Ancestral File (PAF) is a free genealogy software
> program offered by FamilySearch. PAF has amassed millions of
> users since its introduction in 1997. Over the years, many
> other genealogy software programs have been introduced by
> commercial companies. Most of these programs offer additional
> features while often supporting the GedCom and PAF file formats.
> The last major release of the program was PAF v5.2 in 2001.
> Since then, FamilySearch has been developing a web-based
> genealogy system that will allow the general public to
> create, search, manage, and share their family histories
> completely online. This online system will also replace
> TempleReady, a software program used exclusively by
> Latter-day Saints to prepare records for temple ordinances.
> The first phase of the new system (referred to as
> New.FamilySearch) is being rolled out to members of The
> Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Once the system
> is complete, it will be available for free to the general
> public and in multiple languages.
posts I have made about it.<http://tinyurl.com/48n7g6> Note
that "system complete" is defined by this statement to be the point
in time when New FamilySearch is released to the general public. NFS
will be a much advanced system compared to the version that has
previously rolled out to members of the Church.
Today, users of NFS will definitely need to continue using PAF or one
of its competitors. NFS isn't set up to handle the living people in
your file. It doesn't allow multimedia content. It doesn't allow
export. It doesn't allow private content or temporary-working data.
The system for inputting and saving sources needs to be overhauled
and in my opinion there's a risk that any work you do with sources
now may have to be redone in the future.
> PAF does not currently support two way data transfers toTwo points here. First, many have pointed out that one should not and
> the new online system. However, data in PAF can be
> exported to the new online system by creating a GedCom file
> of the PAF data and then importing the file into new
> online system. In the future two way data transfers
> between PAF and the new online system will be accomplished
> via a third-party add-on utility.
can not currently export one's entire PAF database and import it into
the current release of New FamilySearch. Doing so can
create "Individuals of Unusual Size," which bog down the performance
of the current system. Engineers are currently addressing this
problem, so this restriction is temporary.
Second, third-party developers are working to allow two way data
transfers between PAF and NFS. Ohana Software, the PAF Insight people
are upgrading PAF Insight (and renaming it to Family Insight) to
allow this. Ancestral Quest is also being upgraded with this
capability.<http://tinyurl.com/45k3dj> The two companies are
collaborating on extensions to the PAF file format to make this
While Ohana's offering presupposes you will continue to use PAF 5,
Ancestral Quest's product looks and feels just like you are using PAF
5 (they were the original developers of PAF for the Church), so PAF
users won't need to change the way they do things.
> PAF users can continue using PAF until the new online systemRemember that "system complete" refers to a much more mature version
> is available to them. Once the new system is available, PAF
> users will have several options available to them:
of NFS than the current release. FamilySearch spokespeople give
assurances that PAF will be supported for a very long time. You can
continue to use it, and the Church will assist you with its support
department for the foreseeable future.
> 1. Upload their current GedCom file one time and thereafterWhile upload of entire GEDCOM files is currently not allowed, we're
> work exclusively from the new online system.
speaking of a future time when this restriction no longer exists.
> 2. Continue using PAF and exporting any new data via a GedComMany of you have expressed a desire to continue to use PAF for the
> file to new online system. This option will require any data
> that is added to the new online system by others, to be manually
> entered back into your PAF if you want to have that information
> on your computer.
remainder of your sojourn on this earth. This option is for you,
particularly if you've been burned so many times importing GEDCOMs of
other people's garbage that you'd just as soon type new information
in by hand. There's a lot to be said for this level of control over
your PAF file.
> 3. Purchase a third-party add-on utility for PAF that enables dataIf you've grown comfortable with PAF Insight, this option is for you.
> transfers between PAF and the new online system, or
Continue to use PAF and PAF Insight as you do now. A future upgrade
of PAF Insight will work with the NFS instead of the IGI.
> 4. Purchase a third-party full-featured software programBugs in PAF are not being fixed. You should really consider one of
> that supports automatic data synchronization with the new
> online system.
the third-party software programs. I've already mentioned Ancestral
Quest allows you to continue using your PAF files and the PAF way of
doing things. Once this point in time comes, I'm sure you'll be able
to try out free versions of these programs at Family History Centers.
Did I hear that Legacy will include NFS support in its free, entry-
level offering? Don't short-change yourself by not learning about the
time-saving features that have been added to PAF's competitors.
> There are benefits for users who wish to use both the new onlineYou don't have to rush into a decision. It will take many, many
> system and one of the full-featured software programs. These
> programs will allow users to:
> 1. Work offline and then enable genealogical data to be
> automatically updated and reconciled with the online system.
> 2. Maintain a working copy of your genealogy file on your own
> computer hard drive, and
> 3. Use additional or advanced features that will not be
> offered in the online system.
> The decision is much easier for those who are just beginning
> their family history and those who do not have an electronic
> file of their family history--they will simply be able to
> build their family histories completely online. No other
> software will be needed.
months before NFS is released to the general public. During that
time, many, many bugs will be worked out of these third-party
offerings. The NFS support in these programs will be demonstrated at
conferences, user groups and family history fairs.
Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
Developers Conference Presentations
Presentations from last month's FamilySearch Developers Conference
have been posted online.<http://tinyurl.com/3qxacd> Be forewarned;
these are mostly of a highly technical nature. I'll explain non-
technically some of it in future columns.
RootsMagic is also being updated to integrate with NFS. The
RootsMagic NFS integration was demonstrated in St. George, South
Davis, BYU, and Logan conferences in February and March.