21 March 2013

My RootsTech 2013: Day 1 - FamilySearch reveals website beta and vision, BillionGraves tech plans

I guess most of all I am glad about the focus to beginners and pre-beginners. We need to share the joy of story, family, love, etc. Many of the "reveals" at the conference are "soft"and this added beginner emphasis is an important aspect of FamilySearch's vision.

With about an hour left until I head to the Mormon Tabernacle to listen to the choir, I hope to give a somewhat decent overview of highlights from my first day. With so much to do, everyone's experience will be different.

Favorite classes
  • Genealogy Legislation with David Rencher
  • Unconferencing with Dennis Brimhall

Favorite exhibit hall happenings
  • Meet a few more enthusiasts who I previously only knew online: James Tanner, Dan Peay, John de Jong, Carol P., and several others who I spent less time with.

I was not as interested in some of the afternoon classes today so I spent a couple of the class periods in the exhibit hall collecting ribbons for my badge and meeting exhibitors. I did the card for entry to win an ipad, got my picture taken at both the FindMyPast and FamilySearch Indexing booth, and picked up two free family history charts, a t-shirt, took my photo in front of the BillionGraves booth to tweet as part of their contest, enjoyed a demo in a nice cushy sofa chair, and just loved the feeling of being with a bunch of wonderful people who love this stuff as much as I do.

What's new? This is subjective and biased by my opinion.
  • FamilySearch reveals website overhaul (mobile friendly, additional LDS features, photos, stories, fan chart view...)
  • BillionGraves anticipates My Legacy Memorial app to be available in the iOS store within days-weeks (in Apple approval now)
  • BillionGraves working to use OCR on headstones to provide a draft transcript that transcribing volunteers can then correct (instead of transcribing from scratch) One of the staff at the booth told me.
  • FamilySearch wants to reach out to those who don't use computers, reach out to youth, reach out to everyone. Only 8% of sponsor's members are registered for FamilySearch.org. Family history is more than genealogy, includes discovering self, talking to family (focus from CEO Dennis Brimhall)
  • FamilySearch still working towards form and letter recognition (regarding FamilySearch Indexing), as well as availability in more languages. (No release date, but closer than last year. Some additional relationships with companies and organizations who can help them reach those goals.) Dennis Brimhall was the source for most of this.
  • Lots of story sharing apps and tools


  1. Looks like you had a BLAST at rootstech!
    One update to add, is that the Legacy Mobile app was released on the itunes store last weekend! It is FamilyTree Access certified and allows you to sync your family tree to your mobile device.
    Included in the app is our patented technology called Legacy Tec, that allows anyone to take a picture of any headstone in the world and pulls all of the genealogy information available for that person. Just like BillionGraves, Legacy Mobile is completely free to use. Check it out!
    As it's our first release, we would love any feedback you may have to help us make it better!
    Best to you!

  2. how does BillionGraves differ from FindAGrave (which I've found very helpful)?


Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments.