RootsTech 2014

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

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ancestor Cloud



One of the major advantages to going to a large conference such as #RootsTech 2014 is the opportunity to talk with various software developers and investigate a lot of programs first-hand. Sadly, there is not enough time to talk to all of them individually, but I try hard to see and talk to as many as possible. This year's #RootsTech was highlighted by a lot of programs aimed at photos, stories and online collaboration. Many of the programs looked like "front end" accessories to FamilySearch.org's Photos and Stories application. Some of them actually connected with FamilySearch.org while others looked to have that in their future.

Some of the programs were definitely in the development stage. Others had well-developed, working applications that looked to have the ability to survive. Most were evidently based in part on the perceived need for more personal control over photos, documents and files than offered by the universal family tree approach of FamilySearch.org. One of my concerns is the same with all start-ups; whether or not they will survive. Some, such as Treelines.com, from RootsTech 2013, have survived and thrived. Others seem to disappear as the realities of financing and programming overcome a very good idea.

I spent some time at #RootsTech 2014 both during the conference and after, talking to Wesley Eames, the developer of Ancestor Cloud. Here is a description of the program provided by Wesley:
The two biggest headaches genealogists have (well, after the obvious one of not being able to find that elusive ancestor) are how to safely store all those photos and documents, and then how to effectively and simply share them. You try to find ways to showcase to family and friends the research that you are finding and connect with other genealogists. And sharing your information gets downright expensive and time-consuming when you’re handing out dozens of burned CDs and thumb drives, and reams of copied genealogies. 
Ancestor Cloud answers those problems, plus much more. Ancestor Cloud lets you store your documents and photos offsite, in the cloud. Its crowning feature is that it lets you share your files with a simple emailed invitation to family and friends. They access only the sections of your files you invite them to, and you never burn another CD again.
Ancestor Cloud is designed with networking in mind. You choose whether to post your information for the whole community or just your family. Gain the interest of family and friends by showcasing your research in a simple, easy-to-access way. Discuss photos and documents you post with others. Connect with other genealogists, and learn how they organize and store their research. Browse public records on the site by type, category, user, or chronology. Expand your own cloud of files from others. Keep in the research loop with the friends you’re following and see what they’re uploading. 
Check out the prototype at ancestorcloud.com today. Leave your email address and you’ll soon receive an invitation to join. Meanwhile, get your records ready because they’ll soon be heading safely to the cloud, and you’ll be building a network that can take your research to a new level.
Most of these programs seem to begin with a free edition and then add extra features for a "premium edition" later on. Hoping, of course, to keep paying users with the new features. This is one of the more interesting of the programs I investigated. See what you think.

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