Friday, October 12, 2007

Insights into Insight

I received the latest edition of Ohana Insights, a newsletter from the creator of PAF Insight. It gives us some light on what is happening with PAF Insight, Family Insight and new FamilySearch, that deserves to be reprinted here.

The Past, the Present, and a Bright Future

Sometime in the late summer or early autumn of 2003 I dropped into our Family History Center and found Paula Vilburn testing software developed by her husband, John. She enthusiastically told me about their new company (it had a Hawaiian name that meant family) and the software would help people clean up their PAF database and search the IGI. She was thrilled with the IGI capabilities. I wished her luck and hurried off as I was busily preparing for a mission.

In January of 2004, my husband and I began serving in the Family and Church History Mission in Salt Lake City where we worked with staff who were heavily involved with the rollout of what is now called the new FamilySearch. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be writing a newsletter for Ohana Software and explaining how Insight will interact with the new FamilySearch. However, here I sit with my past and future intertwined in the present. I could not be happier. As you read today's edition of Ohana Insight, I hope you agree that our future is bright!

Cina Johnson

Insights into Insight: FamilyInsight and the new FamilySearch

The opening line from "New York, New York" jubilantly exclaims, "Start spreading the news". That fits our mood at Ohana Software as we may finally put into writing upcoming changes to PAF Insight. First, we are changing our name from PAF Insight to FamilyInsight. The name change to emphasize family as the foundation of the work we do. After all, Ohana is Hawaiian for family. It also emphasizes our continued ability to connect to FamilySearch. FamilyInsight takes the program into the next generation by providing you with two-way synchronization with the new FamilySearch.

Second, FamilyInsight will have the capacity to read and write to GEDCOM files without importing them into PAF first. You can see the quality of the file by opening the GEDCOM into the Edit RINs and Pedigree mode. You can also open your file and the GEDCOM file in the Compare and Snyc mode and update your records directly from the GEDCOM.

Last of all, the Edit Places mode in FamilyInsight will have increased functionality. When you open your file into this mode, the program will scan every place and check it against the place authority database in the new FamilySearch. Using the suggestions for unrecognized places, you can correct, complete and standardize the place entries in your file. You may also mark places as valid if you know they are correct.

As you can imagine, we are excited about the forthcoming improvements to FamilyInsight and its ability to synchronize with the new FamilySearch. I imagine you have some questions so let's see if I can guess what they are.

Why will I want to use FamilyInsight with the new FamilySearch?

I think there are three reasons for using FamilyInsight. First, since you are accustomed to comparing IGI records with the records in your file, you will probably find it easier to continue using this format than the format used by the new FamilySearch.

Second, you can select information found in the new FamilySearch and add it directly to your PAF file as easily as you currently update records from the IGI.

The third reason needs some background. The new FamilySearch combines all temple ordinances for deceased individuals. LDS membership records, and records from both the Ancestral File and the Pedigree Resource File into one massive database. If you or your ancestor's information exists in any of these databases, it now exists in the new FamilySearch.

Now, think of each of these entries as papers within a folder that represents your ancestors. With this analogy in mind, you should now understand the huge change or "paradigm shift" for sharing information. Uploading a GEDCOM of your complete set of records to the new FamilySearch will be redundant. Therefore, the third reason we will use FamilyInsight with the new FamilySearch is for the two-way synchronization of records. Not only will you get information from the new FamilySearch into your PAF file, as you do now, but you will also add information from your file to someone's "folder" in the new FamilySearch!

Will my information be over written by what someone else adds?

NO! Remember how I describe each person's "folder" with "papers" from the various sources? When anyone finds a family member in this system, they can connect the person to their personal family tree. Then, using FamilyInsight, you can add missing pieces of information to their already existing file. You may also "dispute" existing facts by providing alternate information along with sources. Instead of adding a completely new entry (or "piece of paper"), you simply add supplementary information without duplicating or overwriting existing records.

What should I do when I first log onto the new FamilySearch?

You should begin finding matches to your records and tying them to your family tree. As you build your tree in the new FamilySearch you can also update your records and synchronize your information with existing records.

As a progress, FamilyInsight will detect changes to your family records on new FamilySearch. You can review changes and accept or dispute them as you see fit.

When can we expect to see FamilyInsight?

FamilySearch invited the early web service affiliates to participate in a very limited beta test of their software with a copy of the new FamilySearch. This test is set to begin about October 22nd and the testers have been selected and notified. After this test period of about three weeks, we hope to have a live Beta version available for download from our website. At that point, anyone wanting to participate in the beta may do so but only those living in a temple district using the new familysearch will have the full functionality of the program. BUT ONLY THOSE LIVING IN A TEMPLE DISTRICT USING THE NEW FAMILYSEARCH WILL HAVE THE FULL FUNCTIONALITY OF THE PROGRAM. Those of us living in other temple districts will be able to test using GEDCOM and all the other great features we haven't even mentioned. We hope many of you will test these functions for us.

I am not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When can I use new FamilySearch?

The new FamilySearch must be deployed to members in all temple districts before it will be opened for general use. Staggering the initial use of the website allows for better support and education. All of us who are waiting for the new FamilySearch should continue our file cleanup efforts. We should also strive to understand the new model of collaboration made possible by this new program.

Will I be able to reserve names for doing temple work through FamilyInsight?

FamilySearch has not implemented the procedures for 3rd party products, such as FamilyInsight, to reserve names for temple work. When FamilySearch approves the procedure, FamilyInsight will then provide this function.

Will I have to purchase this new program to get FamilyInsight?

No. Updating to FamilyInsight will be like all other updates. If you have a current license for PAF Insight, you will be able to download the update to FamilyInsight. If your license has expired, you may renew at any time and download FamilyInsight.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the future. Keep reading Ohana Insights and visiting our website for more information on the beta test and eventual release of FamilyInsight.


Kelly Wiltermood said...

Hi Renee,
We are having a genealogy conference in Chico, CA and last year Ohana participated. I do not have the correct contact information for them and the phone number that is listed isn't working. I do not want them to miss out on being recognized in our press releases. If you know how to contact them would you please email me with that information?

Renee Zamora said...

You can contact the owner and developer John Vilburn at