Friday, July 18, 2008

The Future of PAF (Take 2)

A statement on the future of PAF received widespread distribution recently when it was sent to the FamilySearch Family History Consultant E-mail list. The Ancestry Insider previously published the statement with added commentary. The statement has been fine tuned. Some of the changes correct misunderstandings in the Insider's previous commentary.

I have included underlined numbers in parentheses to indicate spots referenced in my commentary. My commentary is indented.

The Future of PAF

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) is free genealogy software offered by FamilySearch. Millions of people have used PAF to do family history work. Over the years, many other genealogy software programs have been introduced by commercial companies. Most of these programs can work with PAF and GEDCOM files, and they offer additional features that PAF does not have.

The last major update to PAF was PAF 5.2 in 2001. Since then, FamilySearch has been developing a web-based genealogy system that will allow people to create, search, manage, and share their family histories (1) online. This online system will (2) replace TempleReady. The first phase of the new system is being made available temple district by temple district to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day [Saints] and is temporarily accessed at Once the system is complete, it will be available for free to members and the general public at (3)

1 "Completely" was removed from this spot and
2 "Also" was removed from this spot. With the removal of these 2 words it no longer sounds like New FamilySearch (NFS) "completely" replaces PAF. These are not the only changes to this effect. Anywhere where the previous statement talked about the end of PAF have been changed. I've previously noted why FamilySearch doesn't want to communicate that PAF is completely dead.
3 This is a new sentence. It reflects that, as previously reported, FamilySearch is concerned that the public does not understand the temporary nature of the URL and term "New FamilySearch."

Currently, family history information cannot transfer automatically between PAF and the new FamilySearch system. You can create a GEDCOM file in PAF and export information into the new system, but you cannot export information from the new system into PAF. You need to manually enter any information you find in the new system that you want to add to PAF. To avoid duplication, it is not recommended that members export large GEDCOM files into the new system. (4) The system includes guidelines on how members should add information.

4 My previous commentary stated that the restriction against importing large GEDCOM files was temporary. It seems I was wrong.

In the future, you will be able to purchase software developed by other companies for use with PAF that will allow you to transfer information between the new FamilySearch system and PAF. As another option, you will be able to purchase and use genealogy software programs developed by others that allow automatic transfer of information between the programs and the new system. (5) (6)

5 Previously, the statement was biased towards Family Insight and Ancestral Quest. Now, the statement includes "another option" that is inclusive of Legacy or other PAF alternatives. Other changes in the statement were made for the same reason.
6 There used to be a paragraph here saying PAF users could use PAF "until" the new system was available. This was followed by a list of 4 alternatives. While 2 of the alternatives included continued use of PAF, the organization of the material was decidedly anti-PAF. All that is gone.

There are benefits for those who wish to use both the new online system and one of the commercial software programs. These programs will allow them to:

  • Work offline and then enable genealogical information to be automatically entered into the online FamilySearch system.
  • Maintain a working copy of their genealogy file on their own computer hard drive.
  • Use additional or advanced features that will not be offered in the online system.

PAF users who consider the purchase of another program should contact the manufacturer of the software to ensure that it will allow them to transfer and update their data between the software and the new FamilySearch online system. (7)

7 This paragraph is new.

The decision is much easier for those who are just beginning their family history and for those who do not have an electronic file of their family history—they will simply be able to build their family histories completely online using the new FamilySearch system. No other software will be needed. (8)

8 After carefully changing the rest of the statement in support of 3rd-party developers, it's interesting that the final sentence preserves the message that NFS can completely replace PAF.

1 comment:

  1. With the new FamilySearch system, I like the ability of interacting with others on my family line via the internet. Along these lines, I am interested in your opinion regarding blogging family histories, photos, and vital records. I thought it would be an effective way to share family information with family members, but I am hesistant of posting the information on the internet. Should I be hesistant? If you have time, I would appreciate your opinion regarding this matter.


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