Thursday, February 12, 2009

Syncing with new FamilySearch - Part I

Some of you might remember that I had an article series called the "New FamilySearch Tree Sagas". It was about my adventures in working with NFS. It lasted 12 weeks and the last article was on August 16, 2008. Just because it ended doesn't mean that I finished the combining of my family members on NFS. I actually only got as far as the first four generations.

It was so hard to be motivated each week to work on my families in NFS and write an article about it. When I missed a few weeks I decided to just let it die. I love NFS, I just hate how painfully slow it is to do anything in it. Then I had to keep track of what I had in my own genealogy database vs. what NFS had. The switching back and forth just switched me off of using it. Besides, I knew there was a better way coming. I could afford to wait, since NFS wouldn't be live in my area for a long time.

Since my last article FamilyInsight and Ancestral Quest 12.1 have come out, and each will sync your PAF files with NFS. I have been invited to test both of these programs and write a review on them. Let me just say that since I don't use PAF or AQ I wasn't feeling to motivated to try either of them. But, I knew it would be a good thing for my readers. Plus and it would allow me to learn how to help family history center patrons that might be using those programs.

Then something interesting happened... I started participating in the RootsMagic 4 Community Preview. In this preview you can sync your RootsMagic database with NFS. It's been fun again to work on NFS. In fact it can be down right addicting. I know I should be helping out and testing other features of the program but I wanted to move through my people on NFS and work on the combining. Everytime there is a new build of RM4 I have to start all over again on the syncing with my RM database. The good thing is that the combining I did through the program on NFS stays combined. I am actually killing two birds with one stone.

This all got me to thinking about reviewing all of these family history programs that will sync with NFS, i.e. Ancestral Quest, Family Insight, RootsMagic and eventually Legacy. I am going to make myself do it! My first item of business is to watch the tutorials that each of the vendors have provided.

Ancestral Quest
12.1 -
10 Tutorials = 50 min. One short overview = 11 min
(60 day free trial of the program)

FamilyInsight -
3 Tutorials = 14 min.
(60 day free trial of the program)

RootsMagic 4 -
4 Tutorials = 25 min
Not yet available but will be soon! Watch for the Public Beta announcement on this blog.

If you followed along with me and watched all the tutorials it is now 1 hour and 29 minutes later! Here are some of my impressions of the videos.

Ancestral Quest scares me. So many, many screens and procedures to remember. The lack of color of the video made me almost fall asleep. Come on Gaylon get a little color into your life. It's so colorless and bland that it's distracting. That said, AQ does give you detail. I think I just need to appreciate what's in the package and not how it's delivered.

FamilyInsight - Love the new website design John! Made me look forward to seeing your videos. They were well done. It wasn't until I saw the video on "Edit places with FamilyInsight" that I remembered that's why I left PAF for Legacy. I needed to clean up my localities in my database and there was no easy way to do that in PAF. Appreciated the color on your screens. You have given PAF a new coat of paint. I also think FamilyInsight is the only one that shows how to uncombine people on NFS.

RootsMagic - Well, I am very biased on this program. It's also the only one I have hands on experience with. Appreciated the color Bruce - it's easy on the eyes. Hopefully those watching it could see that the pop-up screens are very intuitive and lead you as to where you need to go, while working with NFS. Love FamilySearch Central.

Well, if you haven't watched the videos I suggest you take the time to do so.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!


Anonymous said...

Renee -

Thank you for starting this series. I've been waiting for someone to tackle it, and almost ready to start my own blog just to do it. I appreciate you saving me the trouble (insert wink here).

Thanks also for starting at the tutorials. So many people jump firectly into the programs thinking they can just "figure them out" as they go. This might be true, but there's a lot of features they might miss (or misunderstand) along the way.

Keep smiling!

- Stephen

Anonymous said...

Do you know, if FamilySearch will have a Free Program as PAF to work with the nFS?

SueM said...

Never say never --grin-- however,the LDS Church has often said they are not in the software business. They seem to be happy that the third party vendors are developing software to enhance nFS. They have designated several of them as certified to work directly with nFS. Personally, it's well worth the few dollars to purchase one of these programs. My software of choice is RootsMagic, then RootsMagic, then RootsMagic!

Renee Zamora said...

All the commerical applications that will sync with NFS are available to Family History Centers for free. Patrons can use the software there. I think this frees the Church up from having to put out their own program to sync with NFS.

Anonymous said...

I have been using Ancestral Quest now for some time and love it. You can do everything on it without going to the NFS site. I did watch the tutoral several times before tackling it but once I got started I love it. Have gotten a couple of things I couldn't figure out but they are there and so helpful to put me on there right track. So much faster than going into NFS to combine and work with families and also I know which ones I have worked on. What can I say, it is a great program.

Henry said...

I have sampled the available software and for me it is Roots Magic 4, easier, cleaner, quicker,and Roots Magic To Go is such a blessing. For FH Consutants to be able to take the program to a member's computer and work in nFS.
I left Insight in favour of Roots Magic last year.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea when they will rollout for the Northern Utah Area? I am very anxious.


Anonymous said...

I have asked this question in several places, but I get no response or no one knows. So I thought I might ask you if you know.

I would like to change the names in my PAF file to the standardized names of nfs. I can do that quite easily using FamilyInsight. I will keep the integrity of some historical places and not change those to the standardized names. What I want to do as my next step is to transfer my updated names from my PAF to my information at nfs. Do you know if Ancestral Quest will do that through their synchronization function? FamilyInsight told me I have to add an opinion for each name and change the information manually and I don't want to do that. If you can direct me to someone who knows, I would appreciate the help. I have asked AQ, but they either don't understand what I am asking exactly or don't choose to put an answer out there. One lady who was not LDS tried to address it from AQ, but I still don't have a definitive answer. Thanks for listening. I enjoy your blog very much.
Rosemary Hopkins (You can reach me at if you do not want to comment here.

gfindlay said...

Rosemary -

If I understand your question correctly, you are wondering if you can transfer a standardized place name from your PAF 5 file back to nFS through Ancestral Quest.

That depends. Let's say that in your PAF file, you have entered the standardized name of "Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States." If the "original" place name in nFS is "Salt Lake City, Utah", nFS will also have a standardized name which matches your name in the PAF file. During the sync process, AQ will match on either the "original" name or on the standardized name, so it will find that this is a match, and will not let you add yet another opinion of the same data.

If, however, nFS did not have Salt Lake City for a place, or had an odd abbreviation for which nFS couldn't determine that it was "Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States," then AQ would not see this as the same place, and it would let you add your standardized place name.

Renee Zamora said...

Thank for commenting on Rosemary's question Gaylon. For those that don't know Gaylon Findlay is the creator of Ancestral Quest.