Thursday, October 25, 2012
Thoughts on Personal Records Management Software
This topic is a difficult topic in our training zone. For many years the focus of the zone has been to teach new missionaries how to research and document, placing the sourcing of that research into the Free software PAF.
There are commercial products such as Roots Magic, Legacy, Family Tree Maker, but we have been teaching PAF to not be endorsing a commercial product. After years of using and teaching PAF the Church leaders are asking us to stop teaching to document to PAF, shift to FamilySearch Family Tree.
The trainers here struggle with this transition. The main reasons are that they know PAF so well, they know what is in PAF is accurate and not corrupted by someone elses actions, and that the reporting options are so good. Family Tree has no printing or reporting options at the current time (such as pedigree charts), and may never have them.
I might point out here that all of these desktop programs have ways to syncronize with new.familysearch.org and will likely be soon syncronizing with Family Tree. There is a danger in this if you bring down information to your desktop software that you have possibly corrupted the data you thought was accurate, as you put it in. We do not teach how to sync to your PAF for this reason. To me that point dismisses one of the reasons people buy these programs.
In the training zone, we have almost 10 days with new missionaries. What do we teach is the question? We are being asked to document to Family Tree. Do we document twice, to the Tree and to PAF? Some say yes. I've decided no is the right answer. Certainly we can educate people to the benefits of a personal records management desktop software but we have limited time.
Family Tree is not built to make everyone into accredited genealogists. Most who participate will have limited time, similar to ours in the training zone. They are likely to be like the missionary I recently heard about. His trainer was having him do sourcing into both PAF and Family Tree. After a while the trainee said this is grueling, lets just do it once. Believing in PAF, he said OK, and they only sourced to PAF.
That decison defeats the purpose of Family Tree, and diminishes the huge investment the church has made in building Family Tree. Those who use Family Tree, participate in the discussion parts of the Tree, add documents, photos, stories to the Tree, and provide sources are becoming collaborators with each othe in building the facts and stories of our ancestors.
To me the answer is that we should make people aware of the options they have, but with limited time recognize that the priorities are in using our time to work on the tree and to become the best researchers we can be.
Moving PAF from the primary curriculum to a conversation is difficult, but for many with an interest in gathering new information and skills vs allocating our time to double entry sourcing the Tree may turn out to be the best solution. Time will tell if I change my attitude.