Personal Ancestral File (PAF) Genealogy Program History Revealed

One of the reasons I started this blog was a disservice I saw taking place for the author(s) of Personal Ancestral File (PAF) current version 5.2 which is the largest user base of millions of users the World over for a genealogical software program.

The unsung heroes of this product and the author and owners Gaylon Findlay of Incline Software and new owner The Hope Foundation had created Ancestral Quest 2.2 and provided the full source code as a donation (YES, for FREE) to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints with the product initially renamed as PAF 3.0 with the only change for this initial Windows product by the Church in changes to icons and additional description of these icons. Little was said or acknowledged by the Church about this and millions of users and church employees, members, and others in the genealogy community have mistakenly assumed the product was created by the Church.

It was not. I repeat – It was not!

Minor press coverage, a limited time referral to The Hope Foundation for manuals by the Church was soon lost in the Church publishing a smaller, less complete manual of their own. Thus more lost revenues for a struggling genealogy software company.

Promises of working together and enhancements being sold by The Hope Foundation were not fulfilled and resulted in the demise of The Hope Foundation due to lost revenue and their product now available for free from the church to all the world while they sold their product for $39.95 at the time. The media made much news along with the genealogy community for the Church’s new product but little mention of its true authorship.

Many of the original members involved in the agreements written and verbal for the Church moved to other areas with new developmental staff taking over the project and software development with little knowledge of its origins. Hence more lack of acknowledgement of original authorship.

Unable to generate sufficient revenues the Hope Foundation could not fulfill its obligations to Gaylon Findlay and Incline Software/Ancestral Quest and others resulting in the product going back to its original authors. Since this donation Incline Software & Hope Foundation have parted with Gaylon and Incline reclaiming Ancestral Quest and adding additional updates and upgrades to it.

So the authors of the largest installed base of genealogy software while surviving in a lesser degree have remained in much obscurity.

Others have come to the forefront with enhancement products like PAF Pal or PAF Insight with PAF Insight [2011 Family Insight] author Ohana Software receiving substantial recognition and sales promotion. The same has not happened for Gaylon Findlay and Ancestral Quest even with their new product enhancements and overlays with enhancements for PAF users. I think that’s a travesty of justice and shameful.

So I’m writing to set the record straight. Hopefully to give some credit where credit is due. Hopefully to help people see the Ancestral Quest product upgrades not available in PAF and the overlays. And just maybe to get someone at the Church to correct the disservice done to Ancestral Quest/Incline Software and more actively work with Incline Software as they do with PAF Insight and others.[2011 With new partnerships with other vendors existing and more to come, no correction appears possible]

Having worked for many years with software development companies (SSI Software/WordPerfect, Electronic Text Corporation, IPRO, Invzn, and Optisys) I know that the church probably had to have spent for many years, over a million dollars in development of a Windows program that never made it to release with their receipt of the donated program from Incline Software originators. This donated software code, an immediately releasable product, not only expedited the release but was a better product than what the Church (more mainframe software oriented at the time) had and were working on and probably saved the Church another million or more dollars in development. So hopefully something better can come for these unsung heroes at Incline Software.

Incidently few enhancements have been made over the last several years by the Church to the program. I think its not to late to correct the matter. [2011 update: The Church is doing no further development on PAF and appears to be moving to online software with New Family Search gaining functionality from other developed or developing products.] I am not affiliated with Incline Software/Ancestral Quest other than a user of their product before and after the donation.

So I have nothing to gain. Hopefully, Incline Software and its authors will. Hopefully more than just a little recognition. Hopefully a lot more.

That’s all for now from the inside. James

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