Friday, March 27, 2009

A History of the NFS Rollout B.R.Z.

This article is a historic snapshot of the rollout of New Family Search (NFS) in the period "Before the Red Zone" (B.R.Z.). The Red Zone has also been called "the extended Wasatch Front" and consists of Utah and Idaho. Like the letter Y among vowels, Las Vegas was sometimes included. This article previously appeared as "Temple Districts Using New FamilySearch." The current article can still be found at that link.

Table data: through Tuesday, 27-Jan-2009
Map date: Tuesday, 14-Oct-2008
Latest Article: NFS Rollout

This map shows the state of the New FamilySearch (NFS) roll out as of the date indicated. Green dots are districts using NFS. Yellow dots have been notified the rollout will occur soon, usually within 3 or 4 months. Red dots are other temples and purple squares indicate where future temples are in various stages of construction. Internet Explorer users can hover over a dot to see the name of the temple.

New FamilySearch Rollout Map for 14-Oct-2008

Temple Districts With New FamilySearch

This table shows temple districts using NFS and the order in which they were released. LDS Tech states that the rollout "will take about 18 months from when the first temple is put online," which was St. Louis on 26-Jun-2007. In this and subsequent tables, asterisks (*) mark new or recently updated information.

# District Notified Activated
1 St. Louis Missouri 9-May-2007 26-Jun-2007
2 Reno Nevada 9-May-2007 17-Jul-2007
3 Billings Montana 15-Aug-2007 28-Aug-2007
4 Orlando Florida 2-Jul-2007 28-Aug-2007
5 Albuquerque New Mexico 5-Sep-2007 30-Oct-2007
6 Cardston Alberta 5-Sep-2007 30-Oct-2007
7 San Diego California 11-Oct-2007 27-Nov-2007
8 Baton Rouge Louisiana 9-Oct-2007 4-Dec-2007
9 Fresno California 8-Oct-2007 11-Dec-2007
10 Guatemala City Unknown 11-Dec-2007
11 Villahermosa México Unknown 18-Dec-2007
12 San Antonio Texas 8-Nov-2007 8-Jan-2008
13 Sacramento California 8-Nov-2007 8-Jan-2008
14 Winter Quarters Nebraska 8-Nov-2007 15-Jan-2008
15 Los Angeles California 4-Nov-2007 22-Jan-2008
16 Colonia Juárez México Unknown 29-Jan-2008
17 Guadalajara México Unknown 29-Jan-2008
18 Columbus Ohio 8-Nov-2007 29-Jan-2008
19 Mesa Arizona 8-Nov-2007 5-Feb-2008
20 Snowflake Arizona 8-Nov-2007 5-Feb-2008
21 Oakland California 8-Nov-2007 5-Feb-2008
22 Boston Massachusetts 8-Nov-2007 12-Feb-2008
23 Detroit Michigan 8-Nov-2007 12-Feb-2008
24 Asunción Paraguay 30 Nov 2007 19-Feb-2008
25 Kona Hawaii 8-Nov-2007 19-Feb-2008
26 Laie Hawaii 8-Nov-2007 19-Feb-2008
27 Bismarck North Dakota 8-Nov-2007 8-Apr-2008
28 Monterrey México Unknown 8-Apr-2008
29 Oaxaca México Unknown 15-Apr-2008
30 Toronto Ontario 3-Jan-2008 15-Apr-2008
31 Dallas Texas 8-Nov-2007 22-Apr-2008
32 Melbourne Australia 8-Nov-2007 22-Apr-2008
33 Perth Australia 19-Nov-2007 22-Apr-2008
34 Bern Switzerland <8-Feb-2008 29-Apr-2008
35 Adelaide Australia Unknown 6-May-2008
36 Brisbane Australia Unknown 6-May-2008
37 Campinas Brazil Unknown 6-May-2008
38 Sydney Australia 8-Nov-2007 6-May-2008
39 Houston Texas 29-Nov-2007 13-May-2008
40 Lubbock Texas ~22-Jan-2008 13-May-2008
41 Porto Alegre Brazil Unknown 13-May-2008
42 Bogotá Columbia Unknown 20-May-2008
43 Chicago Illinois Abt Jan-2008 20-May-2008
44 Halifax Nova Scotia 9-Jan-2008 20-May-2008
45 Manhattan New York 20-Dec-2007 20-May-2008
47 Accra Ghana Unknown 3-Jun-2008
46 Curitiba Brazil New Temple 3-Jun-2008
48 São Paulo Brazil Unknown 3-Jun-2008
49 Vera Cruz México Unknown 3-Jun-2008
50 Madrid Spain 26-Jan-2008 10-Jun-2008
51 Nashville Tennessee 24-Dec-2007 10-Jun-2008
52 San Jose Costa Rica 30-Dec-2007 10-Jun-2008
53 Ciudad Juárez México Unknown 17-Jun-2008
54 Hermosillo Sonora México Unknown 17-Jun-2008
55 Birmingham Alabama 22-Jan-2008 24-Jun-2008
56 Raleigh North Carolina 3-Jun-2008 24-Jun-2008
57 Caracas Venezuela Unknown 8-Jul-2008
58 Johannesburg South Africa 21-Dec-2007 8-Jul-2008
59 Newport Beach California 29-Nov-2007 8-Jul-2008
60 Redlands California 8-Nov-2007 8-Jul-2008
61 Santiago Chile Unknown 8-Jul-2008
62 Buenos Aires Argentina 30 Nov 2007 15-Jul-2008
63 Frankfurt Germany 2-Jul-2008 15-Jul-2008
64 Freiberg Germany <8-Feb-2008 15-Jul-2008
65 Lima Peru Unknown 15-July-2007
66 Manila Philippines Unknown 15-Jul-2008
67 Apia Samoa Unknown 29-Jul-2008
68 Copenhagen Denmark 30-Jun-2008 29-Jul-2008
69 Helsinki Finland 2007 29-Jul-2008
70 Recife Brazil Unknown 29-Jul-2008
71 Nauvoo Illinois 21-Apr-2008 5-Aug-2008
72 Stockholm Sweden 6-Jul-2008 5-Aug-2008
73 The Hague Netherlands 21-Apr-2008 5-Aug-2008
74 Tuxtla Gutiérrez Mexico Unknown 5-Aug-2008
75 Mérida Yucatan México Unknown 12-Aug-2008
76 Montevideo Uruguay Unknown 12-Aug-2008
77 Panamá City Panamá Unknown 12-Aug-2008
78 Papeete Tahiti Unknown 12-Aug-2008
79 Columbia South Carolina 14-May-2008 19-Aug-2008
80 Santo Domingo Dom. Rep. Unknown 19-Aug-2008
81 Suva Fiji Unknown 19-Aug-2008
82 Tampico México Unknown 19-Aug-2008
83 Edmonton Canada 14-May-2008 26-Aug-2008
84 Guayaquil Ecuador Unknown 26-Aug-2008
85 Nuku alofa Tonga Unknown 26-Aug-2008
86 Palmyra New York 14-May-2008 26-Aug-2008
87 Atlanta Georgia 20-May-2008 9-Sep-2008
88 Columbia River Washington 24-May-2008 9-Sep-2008
89 Louisville Kentucky 22-May-2008 9-Sep-2008
90 St. Paul Minnesota 22-May-2008 9-Sep-2008
91 Cochabamba Bolivia Unknown 16-Sep-2008
92 Denver Colorado 29-May-2008 16-Sep-2008
93 London England 29-May-2008 16-Sep-2008
94 Preston England <29-May-2008 16-Sep-2008
95 Regina Saskatchewan <25-Jun-2008 23-Sep-2008
96 Seattle Washington 5-Jun-2008 23-Sep-2008
97 Washington, D.C. 5-Jun-2008 23-Sep-2008
98 Medford Oregon 18-Jun-2008 30-Sep-2008
99 Memphis Tennessee Unknown 30-Sep-2008
100 Spokane Washington 12-Jun-2008 30-Sep-2008
101 Anchorage Alaska 19-Jun-2008 7-Oct-2008
102 Montréal Québec 19-Jun-2008 7-Oct-2008
103 Oklahoma City Oklahoma 19-Jun-2008 7-Oct-2008
104 Portland Oregon 19-Jun-2008 7-Oct-2008
105 Aba Nigeria Unknown 14-Oct-2008
106 Hamilton New Zealand Unknown 14-Oct-2008
107 México City México 28-Jul-2008 18-Nov-2008
108 Las Vegas Nevada 2-Dec-2008 27-Jan-2009

Temple Districts In Transition

Registered family history consultants and leaders are notified when their temple districts are about to change to NFS. (Consultants and leaders may register at .) The initial notification usually gives an approximate time frame of 3 or 4 months for the NFS release, but not a specific date. A final notification gives the date to stop using TempleReady, the date all temple district members can access NFS and the date the temple will begin using NFS.

The table below shows an alphabetical list of temple districts that have received notification, but are not yet using NFS.

. District Notified Release Target

Temples Possibly on Hold

. District Date of Info Information
. Boise Idaho Oct-2008 On hold
. Idaho Falls Idaho Oct-2008 On hold
. Rexburg Idaho Oct-2008 On hold
. Twin Falls Idaho Oct-2008 On hold
. Bountiful Utah Oct-2008 On hold
. Jordan River Utah Oct-2008 On hold
. Logan Utah Oct-2008 On hold
. Manti Utah Oct-2008 On hold
. Monticello Utah Oct-2008 On hold
. Mt. Timpanogos Utah Oct-2008 On hold
. Ogden Utah Oct-2008 On hold
. Provo Utah Oct-2008 On hold
. Salt Lake Oct-2008 On hold
. St. George Utah Oct-2008 On hold
. Vernal Utah Oct-2008 On hold

Temples Using Non-Roman Writing Systems

If Hong Kong is delayed until 2009 as rumored, it may be that some or all of this group will be delayed as well.

. District Date of Info Information
. Fukuoka Japan - Non-Roman
. Hong Kong China 19-May-2008 May be 2009
. Seoul Korea - Non-Roman
. Taipei Taiwan - Non-Roman
. Tokyo Japan - Non-Roman

* Recently updated

Other NFS Articles

Let me know when New FamilySearch is announced in your temple district. Write me at

Papeete Tahiti Apia Samoa Nuku alofa Tonga Suva Fiji Johannesburg South Africa Aba Nigeria Accra Ghana Anchorage Alaska Edmonton Alberta Cardston Alberta Kona Hawaii Manila Philippines Hong Kong China Taipei Taiwan Seoul Korea Fukuoka Japan Tokyo Japan Cebu Philippines Hamilton New Zealand Melbourne Australia Adelaide Australia Perth Australia Brisbane Australia Sydney Australia Laie Hawaii Santiago Chile Montevideo Uruguay Buenos Aires Argentina Asunción Paraguay Porto Alegre Brazil Curitiba Brazil Campinas Brazil São Paulo Brazil Recife Brazil Cochabamba Bolivia Lima Peru Guayaquil Ecuador Bogotá Colombia Caracas Venezuela Manaus Brazil Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Guatemala City Guatemala San Jose Costa Rica Panama City Panama Quetzaltenango Guatemala San Salvador El Salvador Tegucigalpa Honduras Mérida México Villahermosa México Tuxtla Gutiérrez México Oaxaca México Veracruz México México City México Guadalajara México Tampico México Monterrey México Hermosillo Sonora México Colonia Juárez Chihuahua México Ciudad Juárez México Madrid Spain Bern Switzerland The Hague Netherlands Preston England London England Frankfurt Germany Freiberg Germany Kiev Ukraine Copenhagen Denmark Stockholm Sweden Helsinki Finland Vancouver British Columbia Regina Saskatchewan Halifax Nova Scotia Montreal Quebec Toronto Ontario Palmyra New York Boston Massachusetts Manhattan New York Washington D.C. Louisville Kentucky Memphis Tennessee Nashville Tennessee Raleigh North Carolina Columbia South Carolina Atlanta Georgia Birmingham Alabama Orlando Florida Detroit Michigan Kirtland Columbus Ohio Chicago Illinois Nauvoo Illinois St. Louis Missouri Winter Quarters Nebraska St. Paul Minnesota Bismarck North Dakota Oklahoma City Oklahoma Lubbock Texas Dallas Texas Houston Texas San Antonio Texas Baton Rouge Louisiana Denver Colorado Billings Montana Boise Idaho Twin Falls Idaho Rexburg Idaho Idaho Falls Idaho Albuquerque New Mexico Snowflake Arizona Gila Valley Arizona Gilbert Arizona Phoenix Arizona Mesa Arizona Spokane Washington Columbia River Washington Seattle Washington Portland Oregon Medford Oregon Reno Nevada Las Vegas Nevada Fresno California Sacramento California Oakland Californai Redlands Californai Los Angeles California Newport Beach Californai San Diego California St. George Utah Monticello Utah Vernal Utah Logan Utah Manti Utah Provo Utah Mount Timpanogos Utah Draper Utah Salt Lake Bountiful Utah Ogden Utah Jordan River Utah Oquirrh Mountain Utah

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Death of's living person database's Gary Gibb recently announced the demise of the U.S. Public Records Index, a database with a billion names culled from records created between 1984-2008. The database will be replaced with a new database of the same title, containing half that many names but not extending past 1990. Removing the post-1990 records opens the door for to try for a fifth time to establish a mutually beneficial partnership with a living-people-finder website.

(I have wonderful intentions to write an article about corporate memory and the role good product specs play. While doing some work for Hewlett Packard I saw a wonderful example. Good multi-generational, internal product/project/program specifications, descriptions, and outcomes outlast today's transitory workforce. Not that such specs guarantee an organization won't make the same mistake twice... Not that I'm saying is making the same mistake twice... But I digress...)

Here's a history of's dead live-people finders. before it

Back in 2002 The Generations Network (TGN), then known as, Inc., acquired a live-people finding website, See the press release for more detail. You can see to the left how, as best as the Internet Archive can remember, BigHugs looked before it died:

There's also a book that came out of this acquisition: Lost and Found: The Guide to Finding Family, Friends, and Loved Ones. 

Home page of MyFamily People Finder in 2005MyFamily People Finder

Next,, Inc., produced a service on the website called MyFamily People Finder. It looked like this before it died:

Without breaking any NDA, I can say as a knowledgeable person in this marketplace that a non-living-people-finding company that wanted to produce such a website would generally want to partner with a living-person-finding company to provide the data for such a website. Click here to see an example of the detailed information that could be obtained from public data sources and provided on such a website.

Long Lost People websiteLong Lost People

MyFamily People Finder was replaced with a totally separate website named Long Lost People. Before it died, it looked like this:

I don't know if I can call this one dead or not. I was able to do a search and get veiled results, although I couldn't get the terms and conditions or privacy policy links to work. Its probably an invitation for civil suits to operate the site in this condition. Obviously, it's not drawing any attention from TGN.

I've shown the results of a search for Barack Obama below. Notice the link to that I've circled at the bottom-right. The link implies that the same results and more are available there.

Search result on Long Lost People

Sure enough, the same results—and more—are available in the soon-to-perish U.S. Public Records Index database on

Search results from the U.S. Public Records Index [1984-current]

What was that next website?

Some time after the U.S. Public Records Index appeared on, I started noticing links to yet another living-people finder website among the search results. Was it No; if memory serves, it had dark brown text on a not-as-dark brown background.

Link to Living People FinderOne example where a link used to lead to the third-party website was the left side of the Old Search UI result list. I've shown it circled, to the left. At the time of this writing, that link merely goes to the U.S. Public Records Index.

Another link was located on the individual result page. I can't remember if it was below the data in the record or in the Page Tools box, which used to be located to the right of the data. I've shown an old example that doesn't show the link, circled, below.

Snippet showing Page Tools
Apparently, this partnership didn't meet with one of the party's expectations, as the links are gone and TGN has found another partner.

That brings us to #5. Along with the change to the U.S. Public Records Index, Gibbs announced a partnership with another living-people-finder website,, formerly BEWARE! Numerous complaints have been posted about this choice. See, for example,


I'm sorry. By the time you read this the old U.S. Public Records Index will be gone. Had I given you enough warning, you could have saved all the records you needed from the database to your tree. These links are supposed to continue to work after the new version comes online.

Wait a minute... Same database name... Links all continue to work... Year coverage drops in half... Number of names drops in half... Something about this new and improved database seems vaguely familiar...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Church History Library closing, not the Family History Library

FamilySearch has issued an announcement designed to ward off confusion that might be caused by the similarly named Church History Library and Family History Library. The two facilities are both owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are both located on the Church's Salt Lake City downtown "Temple Square" campus. The Church History Library is moving across the street from its present location in the east wing of the Church Office Building.

Map showing Family History Library versus the Church History Library, which is moving

The statement reads in part,

The temporary closure and relocation of the Church History Library will have no effect on the Family History Library's operations and services as they are completely separate facilities. The Family History Library will remain open.

The Church History Library has announced the following regarding its temporary closure:

  • The Church History Library will close 10 April 2009. It will open again for service on Monday, 22 June 2009.
  • Duplication requests will not be accepted until the new facility is opened.
  • Other walk-in and call-in requests will be accepted through noon on 10 April 2009. E-mail requests will no longer be accepted until the new facility is opened.
  • Call the customer service staff at 801-240-2272 should you have questions.

One exciting new service you should try when the Church History Library reopens is imaging of select microfilm resources. Remind me in July and I'll tell you more about this service.

Church History Library's 48 year journey

"The new LDS Church History Library will technically have taken even longer [than the Salt Lake Temple]—more than 48 years to build—when it opens early next year," according to Lynn Arave, Deseret News writer. The Salt Lake Temple took an incredibly long 40 years. But over 48 years ago, on 7 October 1960 the Deseret News announced a Church history archive and genealogical building to be built where the new Church History Library and Archive now stands.

The original plan for that building called for 11 stories of steel and concrete, with 400,000 square feet of space. A later plan increased the height to 15 stories. The building was to house the church historian's office, library and the archives/library of the genealogical society.

Several evolutions made a 15 story structure unnecessary. One was the adoption of high-density storage equipment. Another was the Granite Mountain Records Vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon which began service in 1963. The Vault contains about 65,000 square feet of floor space.

Another change was the decision not to create a mission training center in the four lower floors of the Church Office Building! That led to temporary homes on these floors for the Family History Library in the west wing and the Church History Library in the east wing. In 1985 the Family History Library moved to its current building on West Temple. The Family History Library has five floors and 142,000 square feet of space.

And this year the Church History Library and Archives moves to its new location on the site originally planned for it some 48 years ago, into a building with five stories and 230,000 square feet of floor space.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Conference on Computerized Family History

While you're waiting for my remaining reports of the FamilySearch Developers conference, I thought I could depend on the kindness of strangers to provide you coverage of the Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy held last Friday and Saturday at BYU.

Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy masthead

Check out these reports.

GreenBulletSusan Easton Black, keynote address; as reported by R. Scott Lloyd, "Family history is professor's 'great joy'," Mormon Times ( : published 16 March 2009).

GreenBulletLoretta Evans, "My Ancestor on eBay?" as reported by Michael De Groote, "Your ancestor on eBay?" Mormon Times ( : published 18 March 2009).

GreenBulletClaire Brisson–Banks, "Genealogy and Family History — The Perfect Social Media" as reported by Michael De Groote, "Finding family history connections online," Mormon Times ( : published 16 March 2009).

GreenBulletKory L. Meyerink, "Cemetery Research Online: Pitfalls and Promises" as reported by Sharon Haddock, "Cemetery stomping a thing of the past," Mormon Times ( : published 16 March 2009).

GreenBulletDaniel M. Lynch, "Google Images, Video and Other Tools for Genealogists" as reported by Michael De Groote, "Finding family history images and videos with Google," Mormon Times ( : published 15 March 2009).

GreenBulletAlan E. Mann, "What's New in Family History Technology" as reported by Sharon Haddock, "Sharing -- the newest thing in genealogy," Mormon Times ( : published 14 March 2009).

GreenBulletJoseph Irvine, "No Experience Needed: Beginner's Guide to FREE Family History Websites"; as reported by Michael De Groote, "Building a free family history Web site," Mormon Times ( : published 13 March 2009).

GreenBulletJohn Vilburn, "Collaboration Clean Up"; as reported by Sharon Haddock, "Modern-day genealogists need to fix mistakes," Mormon Times ( : published 16 March 2009).

GreenBulletJames W. Anderson, "Some nFS news," FHCNET, discussion group ( : published 16 March 2009).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

FamilySearch Developers Conference: Family Tree

A new release of FamilySearch Family Tree has probably been released by the time you read this, so I thought I'd report what I learned about it at the FamilySearch Developers Conference.

One nice thing about covering the 2009 BYU Family History Technology Workshop live last Thursday was not having to go back and try and write an article out of my cryptic notes. Since I didn't do that for the FamilySearch Developers Conference last Wednesday, I still owe you several reports.

After lunch Tim Cross and Jason Butterfield made a presentation about FamilySearch Family Tree. Tim is the product manager and Jason is the lead engineer.

Tim Cross

Tim mentioned that the team is thinking about making the various software components of Family Tree (developed using a computer language known as Flex) available to 3rd-party software developers. That would give 3rd-party developers a tremendous head start in producing web sites that tied into the pedigree database sometimes called Common Pedigree or New FamilySearch.

NFS2FTHe also shared a slide with us that looked like this diagram. Tim told us that New FamilySearch, the "Classic" user interface, is used by about 20,000 different people each day, and they view about a million and three-quarter pages per day. By comparison, the new Family Tree user interface is used by very few people. One reason is that Family Tree doesn't have all the features that the Classic Client has. Tim's goal is to make using Family Tree so compelling that by November, the situation will be reversed, with most people using Family Tree and just a few still using the Classic Client.

There is an entire list of features that they know are necessary before that will happen:

  1. Full temple experience
  2. The ability to add, update, and delete information are some of the features added this week
  3. A relationship column is needed for move records so one can make certain the move is right
  4. Move history - See who keeps recombining the records you separate
  5. Show possible duplicates that might need to be combined
  6. Show side-by-side compare for evaluating possible duplicates
  7. Give a mechanism to quickly combine multiple spouses, fathers, mothers, and siblings
  8. "Un-reserve" or remove from temple list
  9. A "What's Ready?" or "You've Got Names" feature to flag where temple work is needed on your pedigree
  10. Provide the ability to login to Helper mode to assist another person

Tim mentioned that after #9 is implemented, flags or push-pins on the pedigree could be used to indicate all sorts of conditions that might need your attention, such as events that need sources, or possible record matches in Record Search. (No, he didn't say "shaky leaf." 

While not at this conference, Tim has been saying some new and interesting things at other conferences:

  • For patrons bringing FORs from out of state, Idaho and Utah temples will soon be able to handle FORs. In other words, temples in the red zone are converting to NFS, even though NFS is not being rolled out to patrons. This is possible because a temple using NFS has the capability of accepting a TempleReady submission.

This explains the various, odd rumors going around that the Such-and-such Utah Temple is getting NFS even though family history centers and consultants aren't hearing anything about it. We had someone come into our Family History Center recently carrying cards printed from an FOR at the Provo Temple.

  • The goal is to have NFS installed in all temples within 45 days, or about 1 May 2009.
  • NFS will be released in the red zone by stake rather than by temple district.
  • It will be released to 5 or 6 stakes a week. Then they will watch to see that the system is able to handle the additional users.
  • They anticipate that by the end of the year, everyone will be on NFS.

Jason Butterfield

Remember, Jason's a programmer, so his presentation portion was more technical. He showed us the diagram below. It shows how pieces like Family Tree, Record Search, software components, and so forth fit together.

FamilySearch Flex architecture diagram

Family Tree and Record Search now share a common library of software components. There are 25 different components, among them: pedigree viewer, timeline, search, image viewer, event map, temple list, person summary, and family group record. The Data Model layer defines interfaces used by components to talk to services. Some of the services and domain pillars are: Family Tree/Common Pedigree, Authorities, Identity, Record Search, Ordinance Reservation, and Temple.

By this time I was starting to phase out. "Pillars blah, blah, ... share a common queue... blah, blah ... to call the API. This is the same API that 3rd party developers call, so we're on an equal footing."

In the question and answers, the only snippets that caught my attention were:

  • Long list of reserved temple requests take a long time to display and come up piece meal. [This] week's release will be faster; it will request 30 at a time.
  • When displaying the pedigree, we get batches of 3 people at a time. Version 2 API will be faster and we may revisit this batch size.

That's it for now. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

FamilySearch by the numbers

I see numbers and various stats published pretty often and I think, wouldn't it be great to have all of them collected together in one place? I've decided this is the place! I'll add new numbers as I see them, leaving a historic record to show where we've come from. Feel free to leave a comment with newer numbers and the source of your information.

Thanks to Arlene H Eakle for posting these opening numbers on her blog.


Number of camera teams worldwide: more than 200 as of December 2008 Source
Number of countries more than 45 as of December 2008 Source


Family History Centers

Number of FHCs worldwide: more than 4,500 as of December 2008 Source
Number of countries 80 countries as of December 2008 Source
Number of affiliated public libraries 200 libraries as of December 2008 Source


Family History Library

Number of books over 1 million as of December 2008 Source

FamilySearch Digitized Books

Number of books online 25,000 as of December 2008 Source


FamilySearch Indexing

Number of indexers more than 150,000 as of December 2008 Source
Number of names a day more than 1 million as of December 2008 Source


Family Tree

The target year it will be released to all 2009 as of December 2008 Source


Granite Mountain Record Vault

Number of microfilm scanners at the vault 25 as of December 2008 Source
Number of images created per year 500 million as of December 2008 Source
Number of images stored in the vault 20 billion as of December 2008 Source


Record Search

New images released more than 30 million 31 October 2008 Source



Number of images [needing indexes?] in the world 70 billion as of December 2008 Source
Number of hours between digitizing and online availability future goal of 24 hours as of December 2008 Source

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Disturbing family secrets...

Did you see this comic in Sunday's funny papers?

Click for a larger, readable copy.

Click for a larger, readable copy of this Cul De Sac comic
© 2009 Universal Press Syndicate - All Rights Reserved. Courtesy GoComics.
Visit to share, subscribe, save, or print this and all your favorite strips.
This reduced-size, reduced-resolution, barely legible image is a fair-use copy and has no commercial value.

P.S. Happy St. Patty's Day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

BYU Family History Technology Workshop report

Family History Technology Workshop masthead

Ancestry Insider covers conference live

On Thursday I tried a grand experiment: live coverage of the BYU Family History Technology Workshop using Twitter. If I can figure out an easy way to do it, I may re-post the coverage here on my blog. But I may not, so if you're interested in hearing what transpired at the BYU Family History Technology Workshop yesterday (Thursday, 12 March 2009), visit my Twitter site, . I've got the most comprehensive coverage of this event that you can find anywhere. Period.

But be warned: the posts are in reverse chronological order! That means you need to start at the bottom of the page and work your way to the top. How confusing! Once you finish a page, click the "Newer" link at the bottom of the page to move to the next page in order.

Here are some starting points from which to work backwards. Click on the link and scan through the tweets until you find the one shown in the list below. Then work your way towards the top of the page and click Newer. On each newer page, start reading at the bottom.

  • BYU Family History Technology Workshop 2009 is underway
  • Session one is "Handwritten Records: Reading & Recognition." I also look forward with great hope to this session each year.
  • John Finlay, Neumont University is the Demonstration Chair. In the next 15 minutes, 15 people will give 2 minutes to introduce their demo
  • Session 2 is titled "Data Extraction & Organization." The session chair is Anne Roach, FamilySearch. All presenters are students
  • I'm off to lunch now. I won't be taking my computer, so you're not going to get a report of the lunch speaker.
  • Session 3. "Record Digitization & Application Interfaces". Session Chair: Bob Leaman, ASU.
  • Back from break. Panel Discussion session, "Conversion and Publication of Genealogical Content: Best Practices, Challenges and Unmet Needs"

To see if I'm covering live the Friday-Saturday BYU Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy, check . No promises.

Why Mormons Build Temples

At the FamilySearch developers conference on Wednesday, Gordon Clarke mentioned the July 2008 milestone when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorsed mainstream use of the Internet. (See "Blogging at FamilySearch.") Even as Clarke spoke, the Church posted a new video on YouTube that might be of interest to those curious about the Church's intense interest in genealogy.

Given recent public interest in the Church's temples, "Why Mormons Build Temples" gives 3 minutes of information from the Church's point of view. If media coverage has made you curious, I recommend watching the video not so much for the information as for the mood, images and music because these reflect the deep feelings of reverence Church members feel towards temples, which is something you won't get from outside media coverage.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

FamilySearch Developers Conference Awards, Take 2

As I mentioned earlier, the 2009 FamilySearch Software Awards were announced and handed out during lunch on Wednesday (11 March 2008).

"The purpose is to publicly and formally celebrate the software achievements of those developers and companies that are making important contributions to the family history and genealogy industry," said Gordon Clarke, FamilySearch Web services product manager.

The Best Features Awards were judged from among products and vendors that are FamilySearch certified, with the exception of TreeSeek. (I believe Gordon Clarke told us that TreeSeek was done by Matt Misbach prior to the time FamilySearch hired him to work on the New FamilySearch Family Tree team.) A panel of judges compared the products. Clarke told us that all the judges except two were outside FamilySearch. The Best Features FamilySearch Awards for 2009 are:

Contestants for the Developer Choice Awards were nominated by the development community and voted on by the development community, making them true, developers' choice. The Developer Choice 2009 Awards are:

  • Developers Choice Best API Library: David Pugmire’s
  • Developers Choice Greatest Potential Future Impact: Ben Godard’s fs-ubiquity

Information about other Developer Choice nominees can be seen here.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

FamilySearch Developers Conference kickoff address

First, some random thoughts.
  • At the start of the keynote I was concerned that I'd not seen ANYONE from But fifteen minutes in, I saw someone arrive. At lunch I saw a couple more. Their numbers were down from a dozen or so last year. Of course, I was one of those and this year I was with FamilySearch. Actually, I paid my own way last year and gave me time off to attend.
  • The slides on the CD are sure different than what some presenters showed. It's amazing how much things can change between the CD deadline and the conference. Some presenters announced decisions made just in the last two weeks.
  • The software used to record the sessions for use by later developers was a real pain. I don't think there was a single presenter that wasn't affected by it. Some started late while equipment was set up. Some had slides that were affected. Others were not able to demonstrate their APIs on the machines provided for presenters.

Gordon Clarke, product manager for the FamilySearch web platform and 3rd party development organized the conference and gave a kickoff presentation following the keynote. He reported that there are 481 developers signed up for the program. Of those, 211 have received API reference system accounts. Of those, 48 projects are in some stage of development. Of those, 22 have become affiliates and are working towards certification. Of those, 9 products have received certification! What a long way we have come!

Clarke grew up watching X-15 tests over Edwards Air Force Base during recess at a nearby kindergarten. He showed a clip of milestones in the space race. I couldn't find it online, but it is similar in tone to this one, except for the NASA promotion. Then he challenged us to a "family race" in place of the "space race" to create a genealogical ecosystem where no single entity dominates and all win by embracing Windley's vision of Open Data.

Clarke closed by announcing the conference's 3 tracks: FamilySearch APIs, 3rd party libraries (computer code for connecting programs with the FamilySearch APIs) and Emerging Technologies, and then dismissed us to go to class.

OK. I lied. Before dismissing us, Clarke announced the public release of the FamilySearch Wiki API. This API is available today. It is available to everyone. It is even available to the Wasatch Front. And it is available to all, members of the Church or not.

When they say everyone, I guess they meant it.

To learn more about the API and to start using it (if you are of the programming variety), go to

This is also the web service endpoint. Available services include categories, links, images, open search and end-user watch lists.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have time to share some insights from the tracks, and maybe I'll be too busy reporting on tomorrow's conference. Either way, expect the complete list of award winners at 9:00am MDT.

P.S. I might try total flow of consciousness reporting using Twitter at tomorrow's conference. Then I won't have to edit my notes for intelligent posting later. What a scary thought. If it happens, it'll be at . Stay tuned...

FamilySearch Developers Conference Awards

As I mentioned earlier, the 2009 FamilySearch Software Awards were announced and handed out during lunch today. [Oops! I was just asked to embargo this information until tomorrow at 9:00am. Well, if there was another blogger at the lunch, you might find out before then. Look for this article again, tomorrow. -- The Insider]

"The purpose is to publicly and formally celebrate the software achievements of those developers and companies that are making important contributions to the family history and genealogy industry," said Gordon Clarke, FamilySearch Web services product manager.

The Best Features Awards were judged from among products and vendors that are FamilySearch certified. A panel of judges compared the products against the categories. Clarke told us that all the judges except two were outside FamilySearch. The Best Features FamilySearch Awards for 2009 are:

  • Best Web Features
  • Best Desktop Features
  • Best Productivity Features: [RootsMagic 4 has already announced they received an award for their dashboard, so I don't have to embargo that. I don't remember if there were other awards given in this category.]
  • Best Use of Media
  • Best Tree-Cleaning or Syncing Interfaces: [RootsMagic 4 has already announced they received "Easiest to Synch" award, so I don't have to embargo that. There was at least one other vendor award in this category.]

Contestants for the Developer Choice Awards were nominated by the development community and voted on by the development community, making them true, developers' choice. The Developer Choice 2009 Awards are:

  • API Library
  • Most Useful to Developers
  • Potential Future Impacts

Congratulations to all the winners!

FamilySearch Developers Conference Lunch and awards

We just had a wonderful lunch, over which awards were presented. I'll try and get a list, so I don't leave anyone out.

FamilySearch Developers Conference keynote

The keynote was given by Phil Windley, PhD, CTO of Kynetx and former CIO for the state of Utah. His title was, "The Power of Open Data."

Phil started with a story from his days as CIO for the state. In 2003 the Deseret News did a story about gas pump accuracy. They got a dump of inspection data and posted it on the web. Two weeks later the data was outdated, making this NOT an example of Open Data.

Jon Udell, a friend and writer for Infoworld, noticed something about Amazon book URLs. They include the ISBN number, albeit identified as an ASIN number. Jon was aware that many library catalogs can search using an ISBN as part of the URL. He was able to create a simple browser favorite (or bookmark) that allows users to lookup books in their local library while viewing books on Amazon. For more information, see "The LibraryLookup Project."

This is an example of Open Data. Meaningful URLs and standards allow the creation of serendipitous applications. "That's the power of Open Data," said Windley.

One-size-fits-all web portals are losing traction. Windley calls this "deperimiterization." We're seeing highly specialized websites arise that provide specific functionalities. For example, DISQUS provides a comment system for blogs. A little JavaScript allows blog owners to use the DISQUS system in place of the default comment system from their blog software. Eventbrite is another example. One can embed something on a website to schedule, promote and manage event attendance.

Windley then delved into technology demos of REST, CRUD, XML, JSON, RDFa and Microformats. (For the later, try the Operators Firefox add-in on the website .)

He gave software developers in attendance this counsel:

  • You're already building an application. Give it an API. Give each resource on your website a URL, and don't let resource URLs change.
  • Play nice with HTTP's verbs: Queries should use GET (which are cacheable). Use POST to create new resources. Don't forget PUT and DELETE.
  • Use existing standards where you can: Like RSS, ATOM, OPML (outlines), GEDCOM
  • Handle authentication and authorization, not with HTTP AUTH (which doesn't work well for 3rd party access), but OAuth.
  • Document your API and data structures, following conventions established by someone else (like Twitter)

Windley closed by showing an application he wrote for his website, Utah Politics which utilizes a Twitter site, utahpolitics. His app searches among all those "following" @utahpolitics. If any of his followers post a "tweet" containing "#utpol", then it is "retweeted" back to the utahpolitics tweet site, where it can be fed to his website.

Windley pointed out that Twitter's API creators didn't foresee: retweeters, analytics, hash tags, or a hundred other things we're seeing developed from the API.

"The value of the data is unforeseen," said Windley. "Open Data enables serendipity." He pointed out that Open Data is allowing creative additions that are giving value to producers and consumers alike. "And that is the power of Open Data."