9 Feb 2008
Introduction of Speaker by Brian Cooper
Main Presentation: Gordon Clarke – FamilySearch Web Services and 3rd Party Products
Gordon Clarke joined the Family and Church History Member Needs team over 2 years ago. He is coordinating Developer Services and Affiliate Marketing in addition to his product management responsibility for the FamilySearch Web Services. Previously Gordon was the founder and president of ici MEDIA. Over the last 25 years Gordon has organized and led numerous companies and projects, creating and delivering Internet, desktop computer, audio/video, and enterprise solutions for many different industries.
Gordon Clarke – FamilySearch Web Services and 3rd Party Products
I really enjoy users groups and have been a big advocate of software user groups. I worked with various software developers’ user groups in California and now in Utah I work with the Flex user group. Which is geek speak for flash developers that are using flash for enterprise or internet applications. There is some connection from that resent experience and what I am doing now at the Church developing a community for software developers that are working to interface with our new FamilySearch.
Web Services and 3rd Party Products - Web services is where a programmer can access a website. He does it through means different than just launching a browser. 3rd Party Products when you get right down to logic it should probably be second party products. 3rd Party Products is determined in the industry if you look at FamilySearch offering media services and they are offering it through another entity other than FamilySearch we call it 3rd Party. This presentation is going to be about our web services and now it is going to be made available and accessed to third parties.
To kick off the introduction to it I like to play two minutes of Sister Virginia Pierce talk at Presidents Hinckley’s funeral where she talked about “7 Generations”.
“In the year 1837 in the back country of Ontario, Canada, John E. Page preached the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Wearing the coat that Joseph Smith put on his back in Kirtland, Brother Page and his companion taught the gospel to the Hinckley and Judd families as well as many others. Lois Judd Hinckley, Gordon B. Hinckley’s great-grandmother was among those baptized. With her children and other family members she followed the saints south. By 1843 they found themselves in Springfield, Illinois. Her son Ira Nathaniel Hinckley now about 14 years of age found his way to Nauvoo. He became a skilled blacksmith and laborer, he married. In 1850 on their way to the Salt Lake valley cholera claimed Ira’s young wife and his half brother. He buried them himself on the same day. And he picked up his 11 month old baby and finished the journey.
Ira would spend the rest of his life answering the needs of a colonizing church. Cove Fort stands today as the product of his able workmanship and devotion. Ira Nathaniel’s son Bryant S. Hinckley, father of President Hinckley was an educator, teaching at the Brigham Young Academy and LDS Business College. He was president of the largest stake in the Church for many years. He knew heartache and faced challenges that would test the faith of the strongest saint but he never wavered in devotion to the Lord and his Church.
Speaking at a devotional at BYU in 1999 President Hinckley recalled “These three generations of my forebears who have been faithful in the Church.” Reflecting on their lives he said “I look down at my daughter and her daughter who is my grandchild and her children my great-grandchildren I suddenly realized that I stood right in the middle of these seven generations, three before me and three after me. And there passed through my mind a sense of tremendous obligation that was mine. To pass on all that I would receive as an inheritance from forebears to the generations that now come after me.” As part of those generations who have would come after him we thank him and our mother for the temple and strength of their wake between our forebears and us. Our parents loved us, they taught us, corrected us, laughed and prayed for and with us, we honor them. And we likewise pledge to pass on to future generations our complete devotion to the Savior and his Church.”
What this causes me to reflect about - I really like that 7 generation thing. Again every time I say something I am NOT making a Church announcement that we are going to have a seven generation program. When you get your three generations of descendants totally organized, picture and audio, and then you get your three generations above and put it in some electronic file and ship it to the Church. OK, I am not talking about a 7 generation program. I just want to highlight in your minds the idea that this is about family up and down. Hopefully that message comes across. Especially with the tools that are surfacing on the internet because not only can you learn about your living relatives and share information, and photos and divide up genealogy work. This work of trying to pull together the family both the living and the dead is really what we should be about at this time.
Third-party websites and desktop products are quickly making it possible to gather and share information about our deceased and living relatives. That is what I am thrilled about, third-party programs about desktop products and it’s also about web based applications. I am going to share how those can work together.
The press release went out just last week announcing the FamilySearch Developers Conference. We will talk a little bit about this; I will read two paragraphs about that. “FamilySearch announced today its first annual conference for the software and Web application developers. The 2008 FamilySearch Developers Conference will be held on Wednesday, March 12, 2008, in conjunction with the Brigham Young University Computerized Family History and Genealogy Conference in Provo, Utah. FamilySearch engineers and community developers will discuss new FamilySearch Web Services (API) and share best practices from its application to a variety of popular environments. Attendees can register online at http://FamilyHistoryConferences.byu.edu/familysearch.
FamilySearch now has a full platform for software developers – genealogy content, interfaces, tools, code, support and training. This platform enables developers to launch a new business or boost their target markets by adding features that are programmatically linked to FamilySearch’s expanding online resources. “Developers can produce solutions that integrate private, shared, and public data about living and deceased individuals, including rich stories, photos, audio, and video. FamilySearch is putting developers into the driver’s seat to do what they do best – effectively create and deliver innovative products wherever there is a need and profit,” said Gordon Clarke, FamilySearch Web Services Product Manager.
This idea of a platform is a tool so everybody is not waiting for the Church to come out with the next release of its next product. That the whole industry is working on - multiple products for multiple purposes that are sharing some common data amongst them so everybody develops. I put together this little diagram (stadium) that this platform is not just one stadium it’s a league. I call it the FSGL – FamilySearch Genealogy League. It’s a league and hopefully as big organizations join with us you will have multiple teams and multiple spectators and multiple players. It will be more of a united work that can happen.
Our Wildly Important Declaration
Provide to Software Developers
The Family History Platform of Choice
Technology and Content
My objectives have been in creating this platform is to provide the technology. The FamilySearch group has done a great job on providing content. By content you have heard about new FamilySearch - the all new centralized database that is working on a master family tree. You may have heard about Record Search this is where online you will view the complete archives of the granite vault. It will take about 6 years to get all those microfilms digitized but all of that is going online.
Developer Services I will share a little bit later on what we are doing to make it easier for software developers to make new product. Then, lastly how we can help encourage the development of new product so that there is a financial incentive for this league of software developers.
I made mention about the March 12th Developers Conference. That is a day before the Tech Workshop, which is the day before the two days Family History Computerized Genealogy Conference. At the Tech workshop we are going to have the people that we have products that we have been working with - that interface with new FamilySearch. That was going to be more of a tech talk - it is if their difficulties or methodologies interface with NFS. Then at the Computerized Conference, Friday the fourteenth we are going to have a Product Showcase, so that the early adopters of this interface will be able to show their ability to search NFS and draw associations to choose to synchronize their data with our data. It is all happening the week of March 12th. I am personally quit excited it is a beginning of a new era, I think, in sharing the development of software products and data.
So What About PAF?
I start right out I am talking to a PAF User Group. What About PAF? What I can say, what I won’t say, what I can say. No! I am only going to tell you what I can say. What I can say is:
- FamilySearch is very focused on the successful roll-out and maintenance of the New FamilySearch website.
-Support of PAF 5.2 application will continue for many years into the future.
-There are many software companies working on products that will be compatible with the PAF file and the New FamilySearch.
-Some individuals and companies are working on New FamilySearch compatible products using the PAF Add-In Software Development Kit with the New FamilySearch Web Services (API).
The NFS compatible products use something that I’m responsible for and our department has been shipping for four or five years. It’s what’s called a Software Development Kit and this Software Development Kit gives examples and instruction and sample code so that software developers can create files that create programs that read and write PAF. An example of that is Ohana Software they use the PAF SDK, the shorten version, to make their product. The other organization that is very familiar with the reading and writing of PAF is Ancestral Quest. In fact Ancestral Quest is going to be presenting at the Developers Conference how to use the PAF SDK to store information that is capable with NFS.
Right there before I go on let me tackle the questions so they don’t brew. Does anyone have questions about PAF and then I will move on.
-SDK is a term in the industry for Software Development Kit. It is given to programmers so they know how to write compatible programs with the PAF file format.
- I will make comments about Legacy when I give a complete list later on. They were one of our early affiliates. We worked with about ten of them before opening the doors to anybody else. That smaller group was very, very helpful and successful in getting this interface done.
-Support is looked at more in a training and systems support.
-The question is in layman’s term is somebody does product using the SDK what does that mean. The PAF application has a menu that goes across the top. And in that menu across the top when you click on it, it gives a drop down or a sub-menu. The first thing that PAF SDK does is show people how to put new menu items in that tools sub-menu. In that sub-menu they can call their program that will read and write to the same data on the file disk that the PAF application is writing to. So you as a user will seem like you are using one product because it is in the menu and it is writing to the same data the other menu items are writing to. So that means that they can integrate their application add-on with the PAF product.
- Let me clarify that Ohana Software is the company name; PAF Insight is the product name. So if you are familiar with PAF Insight they definitely will have a NFS compatible upgrade or product. I can’t make announcements for them in detail but I know they have been working with this. I have seen their demonstrations.
- I can say from my stand point, looking at what is happening in the Third Party market place there is wonderful solutions. Whether or not if the Church will decide to do something new with PAF I cannot comment. The future has unknowns in it.
- I would direct you to a website which is DevNet.FamilySearch.org.
- I can speak for myself and my endeavors that I am seeing wonderful solutions in the third-party market place. Subjects about what the Church will or will not do in the future is that the future has unknowns.
-FamilyTree Maker – the question we paused on here was PAF. Do we have any more PAF questions or I will move on with web services so you can understand how Third-Party Products can access NFS.
- He said that he is aware of a knowledge document that in the cases for questions about PAF’s future might answer some of these questions. He is going to route that to me because I was not aware of exactly what that knowledge document says.
What is a Web Service?
I kind of gave you a preview of Web Services. FamilySearch is making it possible for many existing and new software products to work in conjunction with New FamilySearch through the use of Web Services.
Software developers, programmers, web masters, or “computer geeks” will be excited to hear about FamilySearch Web Services. If you are one of these, want to become one, know one, are married to one, or have a son or daughter that is one, tell them about FamilySearch Web Services and the Developers Conference.
(He showed a video of “Got the Knack?” a Dilbert cartoon.)
The point was that engineers are a special wonderful class, but they always talk a different language than we do. They have motives that might be different than our motives. That’s my market place. Again, spread the word if you potential one of these geeks, or someone that has the knack. Tell them about what we are doing at FamilySearch Web Services.
How I have to go a little bit into geek talk. I want to do it slow so I can learn if these concepts can be learned by the everyday genealogist. I have been told that the majority of you have been working with computers for a long time.
Simple concepts – Web Services makes it possible to programmatically exchange data with a website. To talk to a website and get data back. So we have a website representing the FamilySearch Tree and we have a product. The way it talks to it is it sends a list of letters. http://api.familysearch.org/familytree/v1/person/N9CR-1M7 And you many have seen these letters coming and going in the location bar the address bar of your browser. I won’t go into it but it is readable. What you get back is a bunch of data that is in a format called XML. The reason that is helpful is that it separates all that information so that a programmer can say “Ah, I can write a program that will know what to do with this so it can be displayed on your screen and action can be taken upon it. If you have ever heard of HTML, XML is a Mark-up language that programmers like; it is more machineable if you will than HTML.
(He shows an example of what can be returned in making search into the New FamilySearch web services.) In HTML if you have seen it you have seen the little brackets, the greater than and the less than sign. Those are what isolate these various words so they give meaning to them rather than just have a sentence. So it kind of chops up the sentence so programmers can know what those words are. Basically this is showing the hierarchal order of how information comes out of our NFS. That they are the person, person ID, there is the information about the person, with the gender, the living, alternative arches and the assertions.
This system is all about assertions that relates to the event. Because it has this beginning and ending descriptions programmers can get that text and write a program that knows what to do with it and what the organization is, what assertions is associated with what person and what events are associated with that person. I won’t go into this format just saying that XML is the easiest programming data to read. They translate this easy data into stuff that is even more complicated than this.
-FamilySearch Family Tree & Record Search
Cross-linking (“ornamenting the tree”)
-Why use Third-Parties
-DBA for Genealogy Society of Utah (GSU) sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
-Branding used for Family History products and services
I am training myself to use FamilySearch as we moving more to a non-member market place. To say FamilySearch and in effect that is the organization that I work for. For branding purpose FamilySearch is what we are going to use for everything dealing with genealogy.
-Website for searching and sharing family history information
-Online repository for genealogical records
-Website for learning about and accessing resources from the Family History Library
-New website with a combined, collaborative family tree
-The “new” will go away after more data and features are added to it.
Back last June for certain temple districts those that heard about it saw new.familysearch.org. If you were in that temple district you were able to actually register. We have been rolling-out to the temple districts, there are over 20 now. More and more people are able to access the new.familysearch.org. What I wanted to highlight was that eventually the “new” will go away.
And the process of that is www.familysearch.org an then we have the new.familysearch.org, the new.familysearch.org will be a new program that we have to move data from new resources to and data from the FamilySearch website to. So it has been all combined together. If you go to search by index on the www.familysearch.org you can search by Ancestral File, IGI and other sources. Those have all been merged together on the NFS with the addition of membership historical information and temple historical information. So that is all in one place now and the beauty of the new online system is we will get on going updates from temple activity and from membership activity.
If you are online in your district and your ward person is on the ball and they are recording deaths or baptisms on a regular basis they will show up on the website for those that have the right to see it. If you go through the new process and take the names to the temple because of these on going updates, it is an immediate update really, they get entered in at the temple then the activity that happens at the temple will be recorded on the website.
Before I move onto how programs are moving to locations are there any general comments about all this data being put on the new.familysearch.org. (Answers only)
-Pedigree Resource File had a big merge and then there are some ongoing updates that go to it.
-There would be I think at some point storagement for members to submit to PRF they should be submitting to the new system, because then you have access to it. You should go to the new system directly then trying to get it to go to PRF.
-I will talk about all that new additional data further on in the conversation.
- When will the Wasatch Front get NFS – before the end of the year and it might be sooner.
There is the first look at the data – now we have new features being added to NFS. Every three months we go through new features. Hopefully on this new website before the end of the year we might see indexing on new website. Records Search on the new website.
So there will be new programs accessing new data on the new website. This last screen shows that when the work is all done that they get everything that we need onto the new system what will happen is the old system will fade away. The new system will drop off its “new dot”. That is the progression we are going through in a very simple way.
Back to your question about the data – we call it “The Pipeline”. There are crews all over the world that are digitizing information with cameras. That is coming in to online systems through many, many value added processes. That is why we call it “The Pipeline”. The microfilm out of the libraries it is estimated that six or seven years all microfilm will be digitized and available online.
A third area is that we are teaming up with what is called “Record Access Affiliates”. I will give you more clarification on this later. Record Access Affiliates partner with us and people that actually have the data, whether it is a national archive or a genealogy society. To help them get their information digitized and online. So we are in the roll of working with third parties to help additional records get online beyond what we’re digitizing ourselves either through crews that go out or working at the granite vault.
The big part of this is the online index. How many of you have used the FamilySearch Indexing? Great! We plan to expand that volunteer force since about 150,000 now we’re hopeful to reach a million volunteers doing it. Because if you can imagine all this data that is being put online. It needs to be indexed to be searchable. Not to call it a bottle neck, but I will call it a very, very important step in this pipeline is the indexing of information. There are ways to index it for fast retrieval to at least get people to the image and then there is a way to get all the vital information off of those records so that you have a more detailed search capability.
That will make all that stuff that has been indexed make it available through this word called “Record Search”. Record Search you can see working on labs.familysearch.org. I will show you that URL a little bit later. That is where you can see what is coming, were we are prototyping, getting feedback before we actually release it to the Church at large. But there you can see the records search application. I will show you some samples of it. So if you look at the two worlds I am suggesting here the records world and the tree world it is part of the pipeline. Through the goodness of all the work of people that have drawn conclusions about lineages and have submitted that to us and then all of you that are going to be working on the NFS we are going to expand the availability of not only the number of names that we just search but how they are related and build that tree.
The next one is build the tree and draw the conclusions online so that people can share that information and discuss it and collaborate about it. Then on the back end we have a very, very large preservation effort. What that pipeline that I come back to is these two areas – Records Search and new Family Tree. Before I move on any questions about the difference between these two areas?
-I will show you in the next slide. The question was how do you get stuff out of Records Search into new Family Tree?
-Yes, that is what I call cross-linking internally.
Family Tree you have seen the demos you’ve been to presentations. You might have been on beta a couple of times. So you have a sense of what Family Tree is. (Common Pedigree, Identify Relatives, Reduce Duplication, Collaboration) Here is the look of it (shows slides).
Then Records Search is based upon Records (electronic information), Images (digital captured records) and Collections (Census and Lists, Migration, Military, Court and Legal Records and Vital Records). If you go to labs.familysearch.org you will see screens like this where you can search information, get back reports that you can re-filter and re-sort to narrow in and find people that might be your relative or might be somebody that you are researching. So that’s Records Search
Now if you need to correlate data between two websites either you do it manually or if you have web services both directions a program could be written that will bring the both in. What I am looking at here is the idea of what we call it an Affiliate Product. We have a certification program so that if an Affiliate Product is searching the records search, get the information so that that product can be used to review that data and associate it with their local database then that information in the future will be able to put into NFS not all the information, the image doesn’t go all the way through, not all the detail data is going to go all the way through, but probably enough to say what the information is and what person does it relate to and how do I get additional information. So with that in the Family Tree then the Family Tree will go back to their original online source if you want to get the image and additional information. So that way everybody doesn’t need to get a copy of everything they are concerned about they just have to keep a save and remember how to look it up to get the additional information.
Question was asked and response: Hopefully having the family tree as your back bone that’s where you are looking to see where that is happening and where the duplicates are to know where you are at. Where do you see the merging happening? Let me review a little bit about the family tree.
The Family Tree is collaborative non-destructive environment. Presently on the family tree everyone body opinion is valid. Nobody gets to be the authority to say you’re right and I’m wrong. In that case the word merge in what you may think about it in a desktop product goes away. You can’t put two records together. You can associate them, look at them different ways but you won’t be able to put them together. There is no destructive merge on the collaborative tree. You get to see what everybody thinks.
Questions (Answers only)
-The issue here is more so than the ID. There is lots of reasons for alternate IDs. The real issue here and I need to couch this that this presentation is not about NFS or the web application. The point here is every contributor is associated to a fact. You can have ten contributors that are saying this person was born on 10 different dates. That will all show up in the Family Tree.
-She explained what Ancestry.com is doing it is a valuable feature and certainly that makes sense in our world too. The current web app doesn’t allow you to automatically search and find things in Records Search. That is definitely the plan so that you can be navigating the tree and look up sources and associate that source with my person then have the tree remember that or a third party product looking both directions at once can do the same thing.
-What we are finding is that it is better to push the responsibility to individual patron the contributor to decide if two people are the same people or if a source is actually tied to that person. Those decisions of what sources and who should be combined more times or not through the elaborate combining work we went to, now we are to the point any additional combining with association to sources is going to be the patrons that do it.
-FamilySearch is the umbrella there are multiple applications. The first application we released is called New FamilySearch it really is a Family Tree application. The second application we are going to release is going to be Records Search and then you have already seen the internet indexing that hasn’t been integrated into this new environment. So there will be multiple applications that can work stand alone, then they can share information amongst themselves. That is the direction we are going.
-We can do a ranking and third party products share our ranking and they do their ranking. There are all sorts of tools to help people decide who is a match and who isn’t. Then place your vote and push that up to the new system.
- You can contest information, disagreement or dissertation what ever word you like. But you can say I think you are wrong so to speak, have your notes and why and please get in touch with me. That frees the collaboration circle.
This idea of cross-linking can happen between two, third-party products. We want to facilitate it happening between a more uniform way; so that the sharing of genealogy information can go through not only our two or three website applications but with other third party website applications, and for the purpose of ornamenting the tree so to speak.
The new FamilySearch Family Tree has its first type of cross-linking in that it will display on a Google map all of the events of a person you are looking at. The map is not coming from our website the map is coming from Google’s website.
Rich media, Geo-mapping, Family Communities, other people and trees, richer information about the place and topics, Research Collaboration - This is the directions but I can’t tell you when it all will come together. We will give you announcements are they come up, but this is the direction we are going. The internet is wonderful to share information and associate that information even though it might be coming from multiple vendors and multiple websites.
What About PAF?
Who are some of our current Web Service Affiliates? Desktop Applications that read PAF Files.
-Ohana Software (PAF Insight)*
-Progeny (PAF Companion)
-RC Martin (Has not released a product but has been working with us and will sometime release a product that does read PAF.)
Note: *These programs will Read and Write PAF files compatible with New FamilySearch.
One thing to note this idea of connecting to NFS means you are going to have to do a new process. You are going to have to search, you going to have to compare, you are going to have to say the person that is on NFS is my person in PAF, draw that relationship however the programs does it. You can’t just plug in a PAF add-in and have it work magically with NFS. You’ve got to decide the people in that local database are in NFS and which ones aren’t, then push up the new ones or just link the ones that are the same one. If the information changes then you have the choice to push up the new information or keep it local. So it is a new paradigm to look at your own little horde so to speak and then the stuff that you share and contribute to the master family tree. Many of these products I see give you the choice of what you share and what you don’t share and how you update your local system with what is happening in the shared community.
Who are some of our current Web Service Affiliates?
-World Vital Records
-GeneTree (Sorenson Media)
-One Great Family
-Find My Past
-The Generation Network (Ancestry.com)
The next list is of people that already have websites that have additional services. They are working with us so that if you are looking at the master tree we are working as a backbone for this correlation that is going on. They are looking to work with us so they know who our people are, you put a media or biography or stuff up on their website for certain people then it can all come together for a common viewing of that.
Family Pursuit is a hosting service specifically to genealogy which has a collaboration element so that you can talk to other family members about what is on that website. Living Genealogy similar situation. GeneTree is an interesting situation, Sorenson Media just announced their new website which they are going to associate DNA information from one of their websites with people information and with our tree and rich media. So that way hopefully these applications will come so that you can on your system look up a person and go hey where can I see additional information about that person in whatever format that it is. The richness of learning about your relatives is what makes us more sensitive to them and is part of the spirit of Elijah but also a part of your own experience of learning about your relatives, or learning about your living relatives. Many of these hosting sites will work for living people of deceased people it is family collaboration.
Looking at this initial list remember it next month is when we are starting to say hey software developers lets give us your best creativity. We are just starting to roll out this idea and these interfaces and the desire to create more applications.
Any questions about these two lists about affiliates that have been working with us to learn how to read and write the NFS through web services? (answers only)
-We feel a responsibility for certain features to give a certification status and a logo that relates to that. That process has not been completed with any of these products. We think most of these early adopters are going to be certified. But there will be a certification process so that we can give you some level of confidence that the product features will work as they are intended to and that we are aware of them and we know how they work. We are not going to say which product from a users stand point is better than another. But we will have a bear minimum standard to say which product we are ok with.
-Later on I will tell you what a Record Access Affiliate is. Footnote is a very meaningful Records Access Affiliate. They haven’t yet decided to consume our web services.
-At the Developers Conference we have libraries for Macintosh developers to have them write programs that interface into NFS.
-We are working with companies based in Europe in one of the slides was Find My Past. This is just the beginning to get the starter team together so that we open it up to more. We are just barely starting.
Why Use Third-parties
For a desktop application?
-Integration between Records Search and Family Tree
-Interface that appeals to different audiences
--Genealogical or computer experience
--Counties and cultures (internationalization)
-Ability to work with data offline
-Maintain private, living, and research data as you desire.
For a web application?
-Share with others
-Work with “living” data
-Handle rich content (stories, photos, audio/video)
-Interact with other contributors more effectively
It’s one way of intergrading between multiple web services. It makes it possible for software developers to target different audiences. That audience might be an interface that belongs to their computer experience or genealogy experience, language, cultural difference. We want to have all the data roll up and be available to everybody to that they can find their family connections. We are not looking at creating a separate software program for all target markets out there that we see.
This group has been wonderful you have one program that we created a long time ago and it was kind of like one program for all people for all reasons. As you find you have all learned by these users groups of how to stretch it and use it for your needs and work around. By opening this up there will be more products out there, smart developers, smart companies will find special niches and they will make products that are specific to those niches.
The ability to work with data offline is available things which you are used to. Some people love the website orientation where no matter where they are just go to the web if they can get to a computer they can go to our website and they can do their searches, and decisions and make it happen. There are other people that like to deal with bigger volumes of data where they want to download a lot of data, look it over at the time, make decisions and then commit those changes onto the server. The sometimes connected model - a lot of people like that. Many of you are in a situation where you may have never been connected. In a very simple way the PAF product does allow you to do searches to NFS so that is very similar to this situation.
Answer to questions asked:
-The pipeline that I showed you in the very beginning we have tremendous amount of effort. It’s kind of like if we are focused on getting records accessible that is a big enough effort it itself. To try to create a product that delivers all those things to different audiences it is too much for us. One of our biggest focuses is the Granite Vault, working with third-parties for all the different records custodians as we call them, in whatever form they might be, they might be libraries, national archives, to digitize all that stuff there is a major, major effort going on and will continue to get billions and billions of names online over the next ten years.
- He is referring to the way we are going about working with various record custodians. We do what is called a request for information. So we might target certain censuses, certain archives and we say hey who wants to join our team in putting these collections online. Then we put together a team and then we sign contracts and we go to work. Those types of announcements you will see again, and again, and again of new projects started to digitized and put information online.
- A few years ago a lot of the contracts that where identified and most that I have heard about have been renegotiated for these types of electronic rights. So there is a major, major effort started even before I came to the Church two years ago to renegotiate the rights of a lot of this stuff. There is so much work to do if there’s 10 percent that we don’t have rights to right now things might change later. 10 percent I am not quoting I am just saying for instance. There is plenty of work to team up with the market place and our team to digitize.
Why a desktop application through a third-party? This idea of providing your own research your private data and living data and choosing, there are two worlds here, choosing what you want to share and what you want to keep local. As people get more and more into this and understand more how the collaborative experience works I think they will find that they will want to share more and more. They will start to find that the more they share the more other people will share and the more there will be available. This is how communities get built. Contributing to the whole will benefit you individually. But it is a little bit of a different thinking that people have been working on in their one database at times. We are hopeful that this paradigm shift will change.
Why for a web application? The big thing is here is a way to share electronically. A subject matter that you share electronically everybody can look at it and benefit from it. There are some web services that allow you to opt in. Opt in means it’s an option - are you sure you want other people to see this data? Do you want them to see under these conditions or not. Third party websites can let you make all sorts of choices of how they allow people to see the data. We have some restrictions that are historical that doesn’t make the Church’s merger data as open as we would like it. So there will be other websites might be able to share other data that might be more open that ours. So there is going to be a value of having these online resources because it means more possibilities are going to be available to identify your ancestors.
Lastly the whole idea is there are many, many websites just starting up that allow you to collaborate with living people interested in the same subject matter, whether they are relatives or they are just interested in the same line, people and places. That’s the beauty of the website it’s coordinating and collaborating with living people about the deceased. We see lots of things happening in that area there is very, very fast growth.
My role is to get more developers involved in this work and more companies involved in this work. You may have seen similar things happening on other websites that are out there.
Compared FlickR, Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay and Google to what FamilySearch will have all of: Registration, Email / List Servers, Forums, FAQs, Knowledgebase, Newsletter, Blog, Documentation, Sample Code, Client Toolkits, Sandbox Testing, and Support
FlickR has web services so that you can pull pictures and everybody that you want to can see the pictures. Because there is a web service there you can have that exchange happen from your program and the website. Yahoo has its web services as do Amazon, and EBay have their web services. You can use the web applications but there are lots of third parties that have created applications that have a different look and feel, but they are getting at the same data. That is the focus of offering web services it is to make the data available and then have people compete to make up various products that expose that data. Google you’ve all seen Google Maps like Map Quest.
So we’ve seen and my job is to see what’s out there and to make the decisions of what to offer the market place to attach software developers that are interested in genealogy and software development. So that means we have a community we need to create. Where they register, join, they talk to each other, they share their experiences, it’s like an online users group. Just like to all do here. Newsletter, blogs, documentation, sample codes, we want to have this website which is started at devnet.familysearch.org. This is where software developers for major commercial companies, individuals or students at university can get together and talk about projects and learn how to write code that will talk to these web services.
--Dedicated email address
--Dedicated toll-free phone number
Tech.LDS.org – A community that has LDS programmers get together and talk about things that are happening in the Church in regards to programming and projects that are happening whether or not it is genealogy based, or family history based.
Labs.FamilySearch.org is family history based it is where we show applications and ideas that we are working on, prototypes of new interfaces. If you go there now you will see what used to be called the Pedigree Viewer is being called the Family Tree, there’s a Life Browser, Records Search is there and eventually we will have a new look, where you can go as well to FamilySearch Indexing.
Support – we have developers support isolated from world-wide support and if you call in and ask for developers services you will get routed to people that understand our API and learning more about it everyday. API is geek speak for web services it stands for Application Program Interface. So you are able to interface with the application that is on server programmatically. Web services is a general one that you may have heard that we are usually talking about geek speak as an API. For those that qualify there will be a toll-free phone number to assist developers in working on their projects.
Web Service Affiliates Program
-Press releases and Industry announcements
-Web marketing activities
-Featured Affiliate product articles
-Affiliate Column in FHC Newsletter
-Benefits according to Affiliate Level
-New FamilySearch exposure
-Trademarks, Logo, and Link Logo Plan
-Certified Features listing
For the marketing incentives we are starting to prepare some press releases of things that are happening. The first one was the Developers’ Conference. As products are going to be released from third parties we are going to certify them and announce which products are certified. Press releases, emails, posting on websites - whole lists of things that developers find very valuable and encourage them to develop new products so that they can get some mind share of the market place.
Possible Web Service Affiliates
-DESKTOP INSTALLED BASE
--Additional Genealogy Software Vendors
--PAF User Groups
--PAF Add-In Developers
-ONLINE CONTENT PROVIDERS
--Images and Records Services
-OPEN SOURCE DEVELOPERS
--LDS Open Source Developers
--Ruby, PHP, Java, Perl
--Open Source developers at large
-ADOBE DEVELOPERS (Flash, Flex)
-MS.NET DEVELOPERS (VB.net, XAML, WPF, WPF-E, ASP.net)
My market place is not geographical in a sense it is North America right now, but I can find these geeks different places. They hover around existing software or certain software languages. You may of heard of Open Source, Open Sources developers have different languages they will like, be it Perl, PHP and there are all these buzz words out there. Then there are those developers that are following what Adobe is doing and those developers that are following what Microsoft is doing. So I’m looking for the cross-over between people that are Church oriented or family history oriented and they like programming or have been in the software business. Those are the type of people that were looking for to assist them in creating or improving products.
Types of Affiliates
Web Service Affiliates – Affiliates that create desktop or web products to access FamilySearch Web Services such as Family Tree API and Records Search API
Record Access Affiliates – Third party organizations that assist FamilySearch in helping records custodian provide online access to their collections.
Family History Center Affiliates – Their products or services can be used for free by FHC patrons, who may then choose to purchase them for home use.
Right now we have three different types of affiliates. I’m focusing on affiliates that are going to be consuming our web services; they are going to be using our web services. Then there are the affiliates that are assisting us in putting records online. They’re called Record Access Affiliates. You will see press releases about record access affiliates as projects are determined and they sign up for it. Then there is a third area you may have heard about which is a Family History Center Affiliate. These are affiliates, that could either be the two above; that have agreed to offer their product or website through a Family History Center for three years. An announcement has gone on about that. It is a joint thing they get special PR and then we get for patrons free products in our Family History Centers. So those are the three types of programs and agreements and affiliates that we have. My focus is really the top one and then the bottom one is a service that can be offered from the web service affiliates.
Questions and Answers
-Security – We have a higher standard than many of the websites out there. We have studied the techniques. All the big websites have a lot at risk and their techniques to prevent security be it Google, be it EBay with a financial interest, the banks, we have studies all and we are implementing secure measures so that this environment will be able to work between us and other vendors.
-Images – we are hopeful as the volunteer marketing of indexing expands that we will keep up.
-Affiliate collections are owned by companies. We will not make arrangements with organizations unless the indexes the important information, is available for FamilySearch. We want information to a point to flow freely. Now these third parties need their profit incentives and they also want traffic, so there is a payoff here getting the most amount of traffic by what you offer for free verses when you get to the point that you are going to have to charge. Some companies are looking at making everything for free except the actual original image. Other companies looking at a summary citation so vital information about the people will be on the record but if you want to get more detail information you will have to pay. There will become, now the Church won’t make you pay, but for some third parties there will be that level that this is free, this is free, and then you will have to pay.
-A big part of this records access program is not only to make all of our data freely available but to have a business strategy method to encourage other parties to make more available. We wouldn’t be endeavoring to do this unless we felt very strongly that we have a case to get more information available from third parties.
-We are teaming up together with Footnote.com. They are one of our earliest record access affiliates. We are thrilled with the amount of information that membership is going to get from that arrangement. That is a wonderful example of a very positive arrangement with organizations that knows how to index and understands this world. That’s going to make a lot of this information available with the members. There was a press release from the Church about Footnote.
- We will have the records portions of that online before the end of the year, through the roll-out of our Records Search application. So Records Search will be here before the end of the year. If you want to look at it you can go to lab.familysearch.org and see how that all works. That will start showing stuff from Footnote, our archives, the digitization efforts that we are doing with our Church owned teams, we have an enterprise of members and non-member and Church and non-church people working on getting stuff digitized.
-Cindy’s List is and Information Portal about genealogy. She is linking to all sorts of resources and gathering some of that herself. I don’t know how she fits into this presentation. She is a website that has chosen to gather information about lots of other websites, lots of other resources she is kind of like an online genealogy portal. She is not building a master family tree, and she is not tamped into the actual owners of records. She is on the web providing a great, great service but doesn’t really fit into this. I don’t see it anyways.
-Have any of your programmer friends drop by DevNet.FamilySearch.org short for developers network have them sign up and register. That is how we communicate with developers.
-The majority of all these applications focus on how do you find the matches and make it easy to combine people to reduce the duplication. So you will find that is a big part of our certification is how do they do the matching and combining. That is a very important process and you are going to find a lot of competition in the interface of how that happens. Have any of you used PAF Insight this comparison I think will work for you. You notice how you have your local data being compared to what’s on the IGI. You got it on the right side and on the left side. What I am seeing now is not the combining of the IGI data with your local PAF but what’s happening now is you’re looking at a list of the person you are concerned about, a list of all the duplicates and that same comparison method you get to in group one by one and I’ve seen different application in how it will help you through that process for you to say this person is the same as all those people. So a major component of all these third party applications is the matching of duplicates on the family trees so you can actually tie it together.
This presentation is available on DVD #135 for UVPAFUG members to borrow or purchase.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
FamilySearch Web Services and 3rd Party Products
Posted by Renee Zamora at 4/30/2008 03:36:00 PM
Labels: presentations, UVPAFUG press release
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Thanks for sharing this overview of what is going on in the Church software program. Very informative.
Hal Richmond, Plano, Texas
Post a Comment