Friday, June 28, 2013

Reaction to Stories and Photos on FamilyTree

CEO Corner: Inspiring Public Response to Photos and Stories

Dennis Brimhall's mother, fourth from the left, with her 8 sisters in a priceless family photo.When we launched our new Photos and Stories tools as part of the enhanced experience on FamilySearch, we figured it would become a popular feature. As much as we loved the new functionality, I am not sure how many of us expected the positive reaction we have received: in the nearly eight weeks since the enhanced website launched, we have had more than 320,000 photos uploaded by nearly 40,000 users. And based on feedback, users are enjoying the experience immensely. Here are just a few examples of what some of you have said:
Yea Aunt Pam!! Keep posting!
“How exciting. I found a picture I’ve never seen of my great-great-great-grandfather!”

“I had not read this account from my grandmother. As I read this, I could hear her voice and see her face. She has been gone many years and I did not have a chance to be with her very often. I always thought she seemed sad. Now I understand how loss can color the rest of your life. I am grateful she has been reunited with her dear husband and her children once again.”

“My sister, her husband, and I are going through old family letters together. This is a wonderful sharing experience between our family. We hope anyone who is interested will benefit from our work and that there will be many more letters to come.”
FamilySearch Photos tools are helping our users make impactful connections with their ancestors, and they share that magic with their family members, regardless of geographical distance.
I have felt this same magic as I have shared family photos with our new tools. You would think that in my position as the CEO of FamilySearch I would have a family full of genealogy buffs. But not so! For years, I have worked near tirelessly to get my own family involved in family history with limited success—until now, thanks to photos and stories.
A real breakthrough happened when I uploaded a photo of my mother as a young girl at a wedding (fourth from the left in the photo above) to FamilySearch and sent my family the link. Worked like a charm. Even my grandkids were drawn in—kids can’t not click on a link, right? I encourage you to give this a try to see if you don’t get the same reaction. Interesting side note about my mother’s photo: all nine of those pictured are sisters and they grew up in a house with a single bathroom!
For some of my family members, seeing my mother’s photo brought memories flooding back, and for others it put a face to the name they had heard so many times. In every case she became more than just a name; she became very real and tangible part of the family.
We hope you take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to gather, share, and preserve your cherished family stories and photos. It is our honor to help, and we will ensure that your precious memories are kept safe and easily accessible for the ages—so our future family yet unknown can be as touched by them as you and today’s generation are.
Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO

Saturday, June 22, 2013

PAF is DOA as of 15 July

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Is Discontinued

PAF 2Beginning July 15, 2013, PAF will be retired and will no longer be available for download or support. For full details and for information on alternative products, please visit
A Great New Opportunity
For the last several years, FamilySearch has focused on building relationships with partner organizations to deliver better overall services to the market. This has facilitated better patron experiences with FamilySearch and the partner products. The past several years have seen Ancestral QuestLegacy Family Tree, and RootsMagic introduced as significantly better alternatives to PAF. These products also all have free versions.
FamilySearch recently introduced the Family Tree to all users in multiple languages. Family Tree provides the capability for patrons to manage and share their family history information online at Each of the products listed above support synchronization with the Family Tree.
This change further underscores the commitment from FamilySearch to form strong partner relationships that will enable:
  • More and better conclusions about family information.
  • Best in class technology with many more choices.
  • Collaborative efforts that allow other organizations to build on and enhance FamilySearch products.
  • More records to be indexed and published.
  • Record availability from a variety of sites and products.

History of PAF
PAF was originally released in the spring of 1984 and has been a popular genealogy database application ever since, with over 3.2 million copies distributed. The current version of PAF is based largely on code provided by Incline Software (Ancestral Quest). While it has remained available to download, PAF has not been updated since 2002.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Timeline
Having been in service for about 19 years, it could be said that PAF is one of the longest running personal computing programs in software history. We recognize that as quite an accomplishment.
The Future Is Bright
At the same time that we give a big “Thank You!” and “Goodbye” to PAF, we are excited to embrace what the future holds. Beginning in 2007, family history-related online services of various types began to really take off. The growth of these services, including FamilySearch, has been an exciting thing to watch. Once isolated to paper documentation, or digitized record keeping on a single computer, we are now able to work together with family members across the globe on similar family lines in real time. Likewise, we see an increase in mobile and desktop apps that enable rich, interactive experiences, often connected to these online services. This is an exciting time for family history, with great new products and services that exist today and continue to emerge to fulfill evolving consumer needs!
Complete details and FAQs about PAF retirement and upgrades are available at