Monday, May 12, 2008

Programs that Sync with newFamilySearch

On Saturday May 10th 2008 at the UVPAFUG meeting we heard and saw presentations from, Ancestral Quest, Family Insight and Roots Magic on how their programs will be updated to sync with newFamilySearch (nFS). Each of these programs takes a little different approach to the task but all accomplish the same thing. Both Family Insight (next version of PAF Insight) and Ancestral Quest will work directly from PAF. Both demonstrated how their programs work with the PAF database. Both programs when installed add a function in the tools menu of PAF like PAF Insight does now. When you click on that function it opens their application and works directly with your PAF file. All changes made in Family Insight or Ancestral Quest’s sync process are stored inside your PAF file. Roots Magic requires you to import your data from your PAF file into Roots Magic and then to use Roots Magic from then on, so you convert your database over to Roots Magic and stop using PAF. With Ancestral Quest you can choose to use it from PAF and have all the changes made to your PAF database or you can convert over to Ancestral Quest and stop using PAF which ever you choose.

The sync process is very similar to the combining process in nFS. The desktop programs first sign you into nFS, they ask for your nFS user name and password. You must sign in each time you use the program, nFS is not allowing them to remember your password for you. After the program is opened and you are signed in, you select a name you want to sync. You are then presented with a list of possible matches from nFS and you choose which names are the same person as your name. If you select more than one name from nFS which matches the name in your file, the program combines those duplicates in nFS into one folder. The nFS ID number from the folder of the name you selected is stored in your PAF or Roots Magic database. Those names are now considered synced. (The term sync is the function of linking your name to a name in nFS) You also have the ability to select data from your database to be added to nFS or to select data from nFS to move into your database. To do this you are presented with a split screen with your data on the left and nFS data on the right. You select which data you want to move to the other program and push a button and the data selected is moved. You are given the choice to merge or add the data coming from nFS. If you choose to add it, the data is stored as an “Other Event” in PAF, if you choose to merge it, it replaces the data you had in that field. You can even select to add multiple birth, christening, marriage, and death dates and places. Not all data you move from nFS into PAF will be displayed when working inside PAF but it will be stored in the PAF database and can be viewed while using the other programs. An example of this is the nFS ID number will not be visible inside of PAF, you will need to open Family Insight or Ancestral Quest from PAF to see that ID number.

Each of the three programs had different ways of performing the functions I mentioned above. Family Insight worked just like PAF Insight in the way information was presented, with the added functions of syncing and moving data both ways. When you use Ancestral Quest with PAF you see your PAF file opened inside the Ancestral Quest program, which looks and feels a lot like PAF. You select names to sync from a pedigree or family view and are presented with the possible matches and options in either new screens or in pop ups. Roots Magic has all the syncing functions added as part of the Roots Magic program. The Roots Magic program seemed to me to be much easier to use. (It had less pop ups and questions to answer) Many of the functions in Roots Magic are done automatically in the background, including background searches which took much longer in the other programs.

All three programs can be used to do combining, linking, selecting defaults for the summary view, and to add new names to nFS. None of them will have the ability to clear names for the Temple until a future date after nFS allows the third party companies to offer that option. Family Insight said they will soon add a very easy, fast method to uncombined records in nFS. They all promised to keep adding functions as nFS allows them to perform new functions. Family Insight will also be providing a free download program which will allow anyone to download multiple generations of their family line directly from nFS into PAF. Roots Magic also has a built in function in their program which allows downloading multiple generations at once from nFS. Ancestral Quest had built in to their program the ability to download full families at once one generation at a time.
The timeframe for release of these programs has not been announced, but from the questions that were asked and from the information given in the presentations I got the impression that some of them might be available as early as this summer, but others will wait for full nFS rollout before they release their updated programs. There are also other companies besides these three that will be announcing sync capabilities with nFS.


Shoebox Genealogy said...

At first I too was impressed with the syncing features that these programs offered, and even after seeing how they function, I am impressed with the quality of the product. However, I am becoming increasingly more certain that I do NOT want to sync my database with NFS, as it is not getting cleaner, but messier as time goes on. Infinite loops, IOUS's, dozens of parent sets, and unmerged children, slow speed, the inability to delete info, and much more make this one of the most difficult databases to use in the history of computerized genealogy. I'll keep my bautiful, clean, and accurate PAF file as far away from NFS as I can. I'm only going to use NFS for it's primary purpose, submitting temple work. I'm not cleaning up my line, and all my relatives, just to let someone come in an merge and dispute and destroy all my good work. No thanks.

Adam Hodgkin said...

You may be interested in a free resource which is now available for family tree researchers who think their genealogy has aristocratic roots. The complete (3000 pp) reference book Debretts Peerage and Baronetage is now freely searchable. Personal annual subscriptions are also available for £75 but the searching, with readable snippet results is free and useful. See