Monday, August 18, 2008

New FamilySearch 0.94 on the way?

As I predicted last week, an update would be coming 15-August or soon thereafter. Sure enough. On the 15th this notice appeared on

Image from NFS login page next to announcement New FamilySearch will be down for maintenance on the following dates:

August 18th 12:00 AM to 1:00 AM MDT
August 25th 12:00 AM to 3:00 AM MDT
August 31st 12:00 AM to 1:00 AM MDT

In other words, NFS will be down the first hour of each day on Monday, 18-August; Monday, 25-August and Sunday, 31-August. I wonder about that last one. Will FamilySearch be working on Sunday? Is it a typographical error? Should it be Monday, 1-September? Of course someone in Virginia is working every Sunday, shepherding the server farm. If a server starts blowing smoke, someone has to be there to unplug it.

Icon link to list of recent NFS updatesHistory of New FamilySearch Releases

Underneath the announcement is the regular link to view recent updates. From this source (and others, as linked) we can put together the history of NFS releases. Working backwards in time, they are:

  • 15-Aug-2008? - Version 0.94 - I searched the publicly accessible knowledge base to see if any information has already been released about the upcoming release. KB #104359 discloses that the preference to see only your own contributions is being removed because it is slowing down everyone but the option is used by too few users to make it worth the slow down Removing the option speeds up 97% of the screens in NFS.
  • 18-Jun-2008 - Version 0.93? - Interim release deployed on 29- and 30-June. I've never seen any official word on this intermediate release, but immediately afterwards users started seeing error messages when combining two individuals would result in an individual with more than 85 constituent records. (See KB #104044.)
  • 19-May-2008 - Version 0.93 - Fixes for Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese and Chinese bugs. (Also see KB #103512.)
  • 15-Feb-2008 - Version 0.92 - Users rather than system choose which information to show in summary view. Individuals choose which set of parents to show in pedigree view. Easier way to request corrections to deceased individual membership records. New changes to help combine duplicates. New changes to help un-combine duplicates. Limit IOUS problems by warning and restriction on GEDCOM import. (Also see KB #102950.)
  • 15-Nov-2007 - Version 0.91 - Telephone number or e-mail address needed for registration. Easier search results. See all sources for an individual. New person identifiers. Allow editing of notes larger than 300 characters. System for claiming legacy information. More easily combine duplicate records. Reject GEDCOM files from Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File and the IGI (duh!). (Also see New Features in .91.)
  • 26-Jun-2007 - Version 0.9 - Released to St. Louis Missouri temple district. (See What's New.)
  • 15-Dec-2005 - Version 0.9, Beta I.

You must be logged in to New FamilySearch to use some of the links, above.


  1. All these horror stories about NFS sound like FamilySearch messed it up again, that they are once again in over their head.
    Rejecting GEDCOM files from Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File and the IGI... OMG! Don't they test?!
    They abandoned PAF, they are neglecting GEDCOM, all for the shiny new NFS...except that it aint so shiny :-(
    I vote to pull the plug on this failure and update PAF.

  2. I have located the Levi Howard Family on the cences for 1850 in Daviess County Kentucky. and they have roots to the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia in i607.

  3. Dear Janet,

    "Again?" What have they messed up before?

    "Once again in over their head?" In what way are they in over their head? Their world-class microfilming operation and collection? Their world-class storage vault? Their world-class family history library? Their world-class genealogical research guides? Their world-class, genealogy records extraction (abstracting) projects? Their world-class fiche publication of extracted genealogical data (the extremely large IGI)? Their ground-breaking GEDCOM standard? Their ground-breaking single world pedigree, Ancestral File? Their ground-breaking, world-class (at the time) FamilySearch CD-ROM publications? Their world-class (at the time of its launch) free FamilySearch website? Their world-class microfilm digitization operation? Their ground-breaking web/Java volunteer indexing program?

    Not that mistakes are bad. I'm a big fan of the book, Built to Last. The authors' studies showed that companies that stand the test of time make lots of mistakes. They iterate. They try and try again. They evolve as required. I hold my disdain for the organizations that do nothing in fear of mistakes.

    For your objectives NFS is a failure. For what I think are FamilySearch's near-term objectives, NFS is just short of a home run. Like built-to-last companies, they will iterate, NFS will evolve, it will become what it needs to be.

    Commercial companies are listening. Your vote has been counted and you've won!! PAF has been updated. GEDCOM has gotten new capabilities. For less than the per-monthly charge for your cell phone, your cable TV or your high-speed Internet--for less than what you pay in a single month for any one of these, you can buy an update to PAF (by the original author, no less). Substitutes that some people prefer over PAF are available for free and for similar prices.

    Oh my gosh! In this environment, why would FamilySearch ever want to spend money ever again on PAF?!

    -- The Insider

  4. "world-class", "world-class", "world-class", "ground-breaking", "ground-breaking", "ground-breaking", "world-class", "ground-breaking",
    Did I get them all? ROFL.
    Seriously now. She really hit a world-class nerve, huh? ;-}

    "PAF has been updated. GEDCOM has gotten new capabilities."
    Hm, as much as I love watching you two fight it out, you lost me here.
    Pray enlighten.

  5. Why shouldn't they reject GEDCOM files from AF, PRF, or IGI? They already have all of that data, why re-import it and cause more duplication? It will be a bit awkward for a while until the desktop clients can fully synchronize with nFS, but things will be so much better then.

    FamilySearch is having some struggles with the new system, no question about it. But it's a big bold move and genealogy has many hard problems to solve. I'd much rather have nFS with it's warts than go back to the PAF-GEDCOM match/merge game/torture that almost no one can play correctly. Collaboration is the future of genealogy, I'm glad nFS is headed that direction, even if they ran into a few bumps along the way (granted, for some people there are bigger bumps).

    I think about year from now, when there are several tried and tested desktop clients (including PAF), and whatever issues with IOUSes are resolved, we will not miss the old PAF or the old way of doing things. It just might be a bit rough until then.

  6. Dear George,

    Diagnosis spot on.

    Yes, in the heat of battle, I wasn't very specific, so I can see how I could lose readers.

    Gaylon Findlay is the original author of PAF for Windows. Apparently, Findlay's agreement with FamilySearch allows him to continue enhancing his program, although he can't call it by FamilySearch's trademarks "PAF" and "Personal Ancestral File." So, he has continued to enhance his version of PAF under the product name "Ancestral Quest" and company name Incline Software.

    Thus, by any other name, a more sweetly smelling rose would still... ah... smell... ah... as... ahhhhh...

    Well, you get my point.

    Findlay, along with John Vilburn of Ohana Software have enhanced the GEDCOM standard. Their separate products using these enhancements have each been certified by FamilySearch.

    It's a defacto standard, although I don't know if they have made their enhancements public. If Gordon Clarke is monitoring these comments, perhaps he can chime in.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the fight. Tell your friends. We'll be here all week.

    -- The Insider

  7. A.I.,

    I believe you confused a few things.

    To the best of my second-hand knowledge, PAF is based on AQ3 code.
    PAF and AQ still look and feel quite similar, but are not the same program.
    Incline Software is working towards AQ13, but PAF has not been updated since PAF in 2002.

    I believe Ohana worked with FamilySearch to extend the PAF file format to support NFS via a companion program.
    The last release of GEDCOM is GEDCOM XML 6, also from 2002, but the last PAF update did not add support for it.
    Practically, GEDCOM 5.5.1 from 1999 is the last version.
    One multi-vendor GEDCOM extension worth knowing about is GEDCOM 5.5 EL (Extended Locations).

    - Tamura Jones

  8. For those of you who are dense. What is trying to be said is PAF will not be updated by the Church, but third party companies are providing additional features to PAF. AQ and FamilyInsight will both work from inside PAF to add updated features, including the ability to sync with nFS.

  9. Please update PAF for free, I can't possibly be expected to pay money for updates. No one should be expected to pay money to do Family History work it should all be provided to us at no cost.

    Ebenezer Scrooge

  10. Dear "Anonymous",

    "For those of you who are dense."
    Whoa! Hold your horses buddy. You don't make friends this way.

    "What is trying to be said is PAF will not be updated by the Church, but third party companies are providing additional features to PAF"
    Hm, right above your post Tamura Jones corrected the "Ancestry Insider" already.
    You can't have missed it. That post is days old already.
    No need to keep repeating it. What is **YOUR** contribution to the discussion?

    - George


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