When I first registered for RootsTech 2014 I thought that I would not attend "Developer Day" because after all I am not a computer programmer and I thought it was just for those who are creating software products to help with family history. But I did purchase a full access pass. Then I got an email advertising this pre-conference event that sold me on going. It would not cost me extra, so I looked at the class options and registered for the ones that looked interesting. RootsTech renamed this day "Innovator Summit" Day.
The keynote speaker was Chris Dancy, "the most quantified human." I attended a funeral that morning, so I was not able to hear Mr. Dancy. But I heard reports that it was a very interesting presentation. It is supposedly online at the RootsTech website, but I have not been able to access it. Maybe I will write another blog post when I finally get to view it.
The first class that I chose was DEV1130 Getting Started with FamilySearch API taught by David Hale and Vaughn Hepworth. These gentlemen are employees of FamilySearch and I was very impressed with their knowledge and expertise and their sincere desire to share with all the RootsTech attendees. In fact, I could write this about all the presenters at RootsTech. There were no presenters that I did not like!
The first thing that I learned from the class was that API stands for application program interface. So the class was about writing programs or applications that will interface with FamilySearch. I do not see myself ever doing this, but it was interesting to learn a few things about the process and about authentication, access, certification levels, SCOE (source centric open edit), etc.
My second class for this day was DEV1283 Tap into Billions of Historical Records and Family Tree Profiles with the MyHeritage Matching API taught by Richard Stauffer, the lead software architect at My Heritage.com. He talked about smart matches and record matches and the way that MyHeritage software can find matches for individuals in your online family tree. I resolved to look more closely at the record matches for the individuals in the GEDCOM file that I uploaded to My Heritage.com last year.
My third class was DEV1981 Customer and Mobile First taught by Andrew Fox of Find My Past.com. He emphasized that it is important for developers to understand their users. He gave impressive statistics showing that more and more Internet users are using from mobile devices. So it is imperative that applications be optimized for mobile devices. One of his themes was "Utility beats Aesthetics."
He also talked about coming developments in gaming and visual realities in family history applications. He believes that family history is closer to a game than traditional web service.
While I was riding Trax back home I chatted with another RootsTech attendee who works for Kinpoint, Inc. a Utah-based company that is developing video games related to family history.
It was a "mind-blowing" day, just filled with new ideas and glimpses of technology advances for the future. A lot of the classes were really over my head though. I am not sure if anything I learned will have direct application for me, at least not direct application for my immediate goals.