Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

MyHeritage releases Family Tree Builder Version 8.0 feels that the utility of a desktop genealogical database program is far from over. They have very recently released Version 8.0 of their very popular and free program for both Windows and Mac. Here is a quote from the release notice:
We're excited to announce the release of a new version of our popular free software, Family Tree Builder (FTB). New version 8.0 has all of the features that you know and love, with a totally rewritten internal infrastructure that adds support for very large family trees (up to 500,000 individuals), and delivers faster performance. 
Version 8.0 looks very similar to the previously-released version 7.0, but with a brand new engine under the hood. For a period of two years, we have worked hard to build a new framework for the software, designed to provide the best performance and experience for our users, and to support enhancements in the future. It includes all of Family Tree Builder's beloved features from previous versions such as Sync with MyHeritage, Smart Matches™, Record Matches, the consistency checker, charts, maps, book reports, and more. Version 8.0 is available for Windows, and a Mac Extension version will be provided for Mac users next month. [I downloaded the Mac version immediately and it loaded and works fine. No wait.
We've just completed a successful beta program of version 8.0 with a large pool of test users. Feedback was enthusiastic, and with help from the beta testers, we were able to complete final fine-tuning of the new version. 
The new version is much faster and more responsive: trees of up to hundreds of thousands of individuals are now supported, and they load very fast. The file format has changed: version 8.0 projects now use an .ftb extension instead of .zed and .uzed used by previous versions. Version 8.0 can load projects produced by earlier versions, and can also import GEDCOM and native genealogy files used by other programs (such as Family Tree Maker®). But note that project files created in version 8.0 cannot be opened by version 7.0 or earlier. When upgrading to version 8.0 from previous versions, Family Tree Builder will maintain a copy of your projects in the former format, just in case.
Family Tree Builder 8.0 delivers improved data integrity. This means that changes are now saved immediately and seamlessly upon making them, with no need to click on the "Save" button anymore. The chances of data loss while working on your family tree are now extremely small. 
Whereas in version 7.0 we loaded the entire database (all the project information) to memory when opening a project, version 8.0 uses a local database and loads to memory only what's currently necessary and not the entire database. This takes up less memory, making Family Tree Builder faster and more efficient. It also increases the program's scalability and the total size of the project it can handle is now much bigger. 
Our Family Tree Builder team will continue to enhance Family Tree Builder and evolve it in the future, adding new features and making improvements, based on the new infrastructure introduced in version 8.0. We will continue to provide users who like the power and convenience of desktop software with the ideal tool for growing their family tree and advancing their family history research, while the sync allows them to also benefit from having their data online and accessible in a mobile app. 
What's next? In our next release, we plan to add useful features such as undo/redo options, an even quicker sync with online sites, Instant Discoveries™ in Family Tree Builder, and more. 
We hope that you'll enjoy using the new version of Family Tree Builder. Download it today. If you encounter any issues, please tell us and we'll fix and improve.
MyHeritage team

#RootsTech 2016 Keynote Speaker Videos

Here are some more of the videos produced from the #RootsTech 2016 keynote address and interviews. I really liked some of these.

Here are a couple of more.

#RootsTech 2016 is now over

This was the most challenging and enlightening #RootsTech Conferences ever. During the entire three days of the official #RootsTech part of my week, I was so busy that I had little time to write, but I can assure you that I have blog topics galore to share during the coming weeks. Meanwhile here are a few of the videos that chronicle the event.

All I can say is that some of the Keynote addresses were outstanding and inspiring. I guess you will have to judge which ones they were.

#RootsTech 2016 Day Five (for me) The beginning of the end

I might get a chance to write a little more today, but I think I will put down a few impressions before I get sucked in to the crowds of the last day at #RootsTech 2016.

This year has been an emotionally draining one for me. I have been touched by seeing friends and many relatives at the Conference. I realize there is not much time to talk when there is a huge spinning crowd of people around, but the time I spent with each one was precious. I cannot thank you all enough for taking the time to say hello. I certainly regret not seeing and talking to all those I may have missed. There just is not enough time to see everyone.

My brain is literally spinning from all the information I have absorbed over the past few days. I have been making lists of topics to write about and share. I regret most of all the lack of an opportunity to sit down in a quiet place and talk to more people at length about their feelings, goals and ideas concerning the great topic of family history. I am abundantly blessed to meet and talk with everyone.

I do need to mention the winners in the Innovators Summit Competition. From my conversations, I understand that this year the competition was especially close and hard to decide. The judges had a very difficult time picking one competitor over another. None of those who tried should feel at all bad or left out. Someone had to win, but all were winners in that they have very good, well developed and thought out programs. I hope they all succeed, whether or not they got a prize.

Here is the announcement of the winners.
Today at RootsTech, the world’s largest Family History technology conference, TapGenes, won the Innovator Showdown and walked away with $45,000 in cash and prizes. The Chicago, Illinois-based, firm helps families identify and benefit from key health traits that exist between generations.
In front of a crowd of close to 10,000 live and online viewers, the six RootsTech Innovator Showdown finalists battled for $100,000 in cash and prizes and bragging rights in the rapidly-growing, multi-billion dollar family history industry. TapGenes was awarded $20,000 in cash and $25,000 in-kind prizes.

TapGenes provides the tools to identify the genetic thread that ties a family together. Founder, Heather Holmes, got the idea for TapGenes after her father became very ill and the family struggled with multiple roadblocks to share his family medical history that impacted his treatment, care, and recovery. Heather made it her mission, if her father got well, to make sure this kind of frightening and desperate episode would not be faced by other families.

Holmes has a background in healthcare marketing. In fact, her entire team comes from various fields of the healthcare profession, including computational genetics.

TapGenes uses the idea of “crowdsourcing” to help families create a more complete and accurate family medical history, online, together. The TapGenes platform identifies medical conditions that may run in their family and helps family members understand what steps they can take to live healthier together.
The six finalists were whittled down from 46 applicants from around the world. They had two minutes to win over the panel of five judges and the audience that their product was the most worthy of support from sponsors. 
After each moving presentation, there was a four-minute question and answer period between each contestant and the judges. After all six presentations, the judges selected the top three winners, and the viewing audience selected the People’s Choice Award winner. 
With $50,000 in cash and another $50K+ of in-kind prizes and services from sponsors at stake, the pressure, tension, and energy of this event was tremendous.
2016 RootsTech Showdown Winners
  • First Place Judges Choice ($20,000 cash, $25,000 in-kind), Heather Holmes of TapGenes.
  • Second Place Judges Choice ($14,000 cash, $15,000 in-kind), Studio (by Legacy Republic), Technology hardware and software for digitizing hard copy photo albums.
  • Third Place Judges Choice Award ($6,000 cash, $10,000 in-kind), Twile, a web app that populates a visual family timeline with data and media.
  • People’s Choice ($10,000 cash), Twile.
This is TapGenes’ second year as an Innovator Showdown contestant. Holmes credits the great exposure from its RootsTech 2015 booth which focused on FamilySearch data sharing integration, and listening to user feedback as key differentiates in advancing from semi-finalist in 2015 to first place in 2016. Holmes said they plan to use the prize winnings to expand TapGenes worldwide to save lives by making family medical history more available internationally. 
“It’s surreal,” said Holmes. “When you have a vision of something and you don’t know if it’s going to really happen and it does, it’s like a dream. You hope people are going to love it as much as you do. It’s great to get that confirmation that it resonates with them.”
Holmes says they will use the award money and support to help create TapGenes’ mobile app and to expand locally through additional languages. 
Other Finalists:
The other finalists included Ancestor Cloud, an online marketplace where those with family history needs connect with those who can fill those needs; JRNL, a journaling app for recording memories as they happen; and The History Project , a fun app for creating mixed media digital time capsules of a life. 
The judges for the final round included Amy Rees Anderson, Managing Partner, REES Capital; David Bradford, Chairman of the Board of FluentWorlds; Dennis Brimhall, former CEO, FamilySearch International; Judy G. Russell, JD , certified genealogist, The Legal Genealogist, and D. Joshua Taylor, accredited genealogist and host of the Genealogy Roadshow (PBS). 
The major sponsors of the Innovator Showdown this year include Sorenson Legacy Foundation, Lenovo,, Grow Utah, Utah Technology Council, David Bradford, Woodbury Corporation, Hero Club, and others. 
The Innovator Showdown, only in its second year, was designed to foster innovation in the family history industry.


#RootsTech 2016 Trying to keep up

This #RootsTech I have spent less time in the Media Center than any other. I have also spent more time talking, enough to lose my voice, than any other. One of the outstanding things about this time at #RootTech is the time I have had to talk to my friends from around the world. I truly consider everyone I talk to as my friends. I has been a marvelous experience. Either directly through previous contact or indirectly through online visits, I have hundreds of friends gathered over my years online and attending conferences. There is a complete sense of belonging to a wonderful, online-based community of people with the same or similar interest.

My thought was to begin a list of the wonderful conversations I have had the last few days, but then it might appear to be a form of favorites and do not want anyone to think I do not value their friendship simply because I list the contacts in some order or forgot to mention them in my list. But I am going mention a few companies that have made my visit to #RootsTech 2016 special. But I do what all those I talked to to know that my visits with each of you has been special and a very important part of why I am motivated to keep writing and talking into my dotage.

In know particular order let me thank the following so far for their warmth, friendship and conversation.

There are literally dozens more that I met and talked with over the past few days and I grateful to all who spent minutes or hours talking with me and helping to make this the most memorable conference I have experienced so far. 

I cannot begin to name all the individuals in these companies who have talked to me over the past few days without omitting someone. But FamilySearch certainly deserves a big thank you for enabling all this to happen. I also need to thank for a very enjoyable party on Friday evening.

I realize that I have spent much of any time writing this year, buy I do have a tremendous reservoir of ideas that will influence my blog posts for a long time to come. 

One last note, I was very happy to see programs originating in France to show up and talk to me this year. I really appreciate that and last, a great big thanks to all my friends from Australia, sorry more can not come to #RottsTech.

Friday, February 5, 2016

#RootsTech 2016 My Experience So Far

In past years when I came to #RootsTech  I thought I was involved. Even when I helped out by giving one of the Keynote addresses and presented classes, I somehow found the time to write and walk around and chat with the vendors. For the past few years, any idea that I had that I would go to classes was a pipe dream. I never even looked at the class schedule. Well, this year I finally began to understand what busy means. Thursday afternoon, I lot most of my voice presenting a class for If you know me, that is extremely rare. The genealogical community has really zoomed past the era when it was a bunch of old guys researching their ancestors. If I thought that I had a lot going on before, I was mistaken.

The interesting part of this whole experience is that it will not end when I drive back to Provo on Saturday. I am already scheduled at the BYU Family History Library to present a webinar on Monday. Maybe, by next week, I will be able to sort out part of the information I have absorbed so far.

Just one example of the changes that are coming. Dick Eastman in his blog broke the news yesterday that has announced the Largest Online Collection of U.S. Marriages from 1650-2010. In conjunction with, the database contains more than 150 million records and 450 million names.

One of my observations is that the companies competing in this year's Innovator Summit are vastly different than they were just a few years ago. When I was participating as a judge for the event, the programs were mostly proposals with a few lines of code. The programs entering this year were all full-blown, already actively online companies with a user base. The competition was high level and fierce.

Brigham Young University, in contrast to past years, has a huge consolidated booth with many of the different departments represented.

The Exhibit floor is not just bigger, it is almost overwhelming and the number of people I can talk to and who talk to me has exploded. I literally did not stop talking yesterday, except for when I was listening the entire day.

I hope that those who are coming to RootsTech 2016 feel the difference. The level of involvement and the content of the classes and the other events may be overwhelming but it is promising to shift the entire community into a much higher gear. has done an excellent job, despite the difficulty of managing these diverse interests, in pulling of a great Conference. We are all wondering what will happen tomorrow when many more thousands of people show up.