by Ileen Johnson
FamilySearch Certified Affiliates are third-party companies that provide products and services with features that are compatible with FamilySearch programs. Certification indicates the affiliate’s declaration of compliance with FamilySearch requirements. Note that these products and services are independently developed and supported by their respective organizations, not by FamilySearch. To see a list of certified software programs and Internet links to their Web sites, click this link: http://www.familysearch.org/eng/affiliates/index.html.
New FamilySearch features that can be certified are Access, Helper (assist others), Multi-Language, Ordinance Reservation, Ordinance Request, Ordinance Status, PAF Add-In, Print, Research Wiki, Print Service (poster-size reports), Synchronization (between new FamilySearch and personal database), and Update (publish new data to FamilySearch). New FamilySearch and all affiliate programs access the same database, but the affiliates add features to help users perform new FamilySearch functions. The affiliates also perform some functions not yet available in new FamilySearch, such as print charts and reports, and download data from new FamilySearch.
Do I have to use one of these affiliate programs? No. If you wish, you can work directly from within new FamilySearch, but the affiliate programs may help simplify and speed up your work, especially that of synchronizing your personal database with new FamilySearch and vice versa.
So, which FamilySearch Certified Affiliate Software is best for me? Well, that depends a lot on you. Does your computer use a Windows operating system or is it a Mac? Are you willing to change to another genealogy software program, or are you happy with the one you already have? Answers to these questions will help lead you towards the right affiliate program for you. This document will comment on five programs: Ancestral Quest 12.1, FamilyInsight, RootsMagic 4, MagiKey Family Tree and Legacy Family Tree, all of which have established telephone support lines and online tutorials or videos to help you get started.
Other affiliate programs not discussed here include several utilities that access new FamilySearch and provide one or more certified features. Some are Web-based, some associated with popular genealogy Web sites, and some are stand-alone programs to be used from home computers. New affiliate programs are being certified on a regular basis, so be sure to check http://www.familysearch.org/eng/affiliates/index.html frequently. Links to affiliate Web sites can be found by following the above link.
Personal Ancestral File (Win) has been available for many years as a free download and was last updated in 2002. The LDS Church will continue to support this product, but no further upgrades will be provided. PAF remains a good, solid program, but lacks some of the features newer programs have. Some fields added by affiliate programs are saved, but cannot be viewed in PAF. If you are using Personal Ancestral File for your personal database and want to continue to do so, consider Ancestral Quest or FamilyInsight. Both these programs work with PAF and can be accessed from the PAF Tools menu after installation.
Ancestral Quest (Win) is the program the LDS Church selected as the base for Personal Ancestral File 4 and 5, so there are a lot of similarities between the two programs. If you are a PAF user, AQ will look and feel like a major upgrade to PAF 5. You’ll enjoy using the familiar charts and reports, advanced filtering, and other screens. You’ll find new capabilities and reports, including the ability to synchronize your PAF data with new FamilySearch, spell-check notes, record research tasks, direct lookups on Ancestry.com and the ability to work on a single master file with relatives. If you are new to family tree software, you will find AQ to be a complete, easy-to-use program that will handle your needs and give you lots of extras. AQ can use the same .paf data file that is used by PAF 5, so you can use AQ by itself as a replacement for PAF, or if you prefer to continue to use PAF 5, AQ can be used along side of PAF to synchronize your PAF database with new FamilySearch. Ancestral Quest is ranked as having the best listing tool and the most comprehensive synchronizing, which means there are more ways to sync, and you’ll see more of the NFS data while syncing. It includes a built in utility for downloading ancestral lines from new FamilySearch, and an Ordinance Reservation and Tracking System that helps you reserve ordinances and maintain your ordinance card inventory. Ancestral Quest offers a 60-day free trial – not a limited “basic” version, but the full program. The purchase price is US$29.95.
FamilyInsight (Win/Mac) opens your PAF database, PAF backup or a GEDCOM from any family history database manager and uses it to search new FamilySearch. During the time FamilyInsight is in use, the PAF program cannot be used with that same file. This is to prevent loss of data if you were to edit the file in both programs simultaneously. FamilyInsight can be accessed through the tools menu in PAF 5 or by opening a file directly into FamilyInsight. When FamilyInsight closes, data is saved back to your PAF database, a new file, or as a new file type or name. GEDCOMs can be saved to various GEDCOM formats without loss of data. You can add new data fields, notes, sources, information or new individuals in FamilyInsight either manually or by updating from new FamilySearch or from other files. LDS Confirmation and Initiatory fields cannot be viewed in PAF but are saved and will show when the file is opened in FamilyInsight the next time. FamilyInsight is multi-lingual and is noted for its thorough duplicate record match capabilities. It has been ranked as best standardizer (of place names) and best separator. It is the only program that will let you separate incorrectly-combined records on FamilySearch easily and remain working in the program at the same time. When you synchronize a record with new FamilySearch, FamilyInsight will combine on new FamilySearch those records you marked as matches, add new individuals and information to your file, and copy data from your file to new FamilySearch. You can reserve names for ordinances or assign them to the temple to do. Ordinance Tracker, on the FamilyInsight tools menu, uses simple drag and drop to assign names to the temple, print Family Ordinance Requests, or unreserve names.
RootsMagic 4 (Win) is a full-featured genealogy software that won the 2009 FamilySearch awards for “Easiest to Synchronize with FamilySearch” and “Best FamilySearch Dashboard”. RootsMagic can directly import from Personal Ancestral File, FamilySearch, and other programs to quickly get you up-and-running. Most RootsMagic users use it as their main personal database, but data may be brought back into PAF using a GEDCOM file. In July 2009, Family Tree Magazine wrote, “Probably the best all-around genealogy program, RootsMagic offers a winning combination of features for both casual and serious genealogists.” With screens that are clean and easy to navigate, RootsMagic includes tools to find and fix problems, print charts and reports, and find and reserve missing temple ordinances. Other features include running RootsMagic directly from a USB drive, a SourceWizard which writes source citations for you, integrated web search, book publishing, creating Shareable CDs, and more. While the full version of RootsMagic sells for US$29.95, a completely free version named “RootsMagic Essentials” is also available which includes all of the FamilySearch features of the full version.
MagiKey Family Tree (Win) is a new application that uses a GEDCOM file, so there is no need to convert your database when exporting or backing up your file. It is a;; great option for performing temple reservations, reviewing ordinance status, opening helper mode, and pushing up or pulling down information from FamilySearch without leaving the program. To help their users, they have online tutorials, an extensive help system, and release new updates at least once a month to stay current as FamilySearch changes. Although the interface has been designed for a beginner genealogist, it has many research features for enthusiasts. Cost is US$29.95 30 Day Free Full Version Trial.
Legacy Family Tree (Win) has recently published version 7.4.06 containing some new FamilySearch features with a promise of more to come soon. Legacy users can expect frequent updates until the official release of Version 7.5. Legacy will directly import a PAF file, and keeps PAF’s RIN and MRIN numbers. The program is multi-lingual. Legacy comes in the Deluxe Edition (US$29.95) and also in a free Standard Edition. The same new FamilySearch features that are in the Deluxe edition are also in the free Standard Edition.
If you are still undecided about which software you should use with new FamilySearch, download the free or trial versions and try them out using a copy of your personal database. Be sure to keep a good backup of your current database before you begin experimenting. Lest you long for features your chosen software does not have, keep in mind that developers are working hard to keep up with the competition and your software may soon have the features you desire. And remember, you can always call your friendly family history consultant or stop in at the local family history center to try out the affiliate programs and possibly get help evaluating them.
Biographical note: Ileen and her family lived for many years in Minnesota. She started working in the Family History Center in Fargo in 1980 and has had FHC callings ever since–Zaragoza, Spain, Utah Valley Regional FHC at BYU, Geneva Heights FHC in Orem, and at the Family History Training Center in Provo. She was a FamilySearch Support missionary in 2008 and 2009 and has been the list owner of FHCNET since 1998. She currently serves as a Family history Consultant