Import your memories from FamilySearch

Our FamilySearch import feature now also brings in memories and photos, allowing you to create a visual timeline out of the pictures you have in FamilySearch.

Since announcing our integration with FamilySearch back in September we have had some great feedback and suggestions – the most requested addition has been this import of memories.

If you have dates associated with your FamilySearch memories, Twile will automatically add them to the right point on your timeline, along with your family’s milestones – such as birth and marriage.

Photos make it much easier to get the rest of the family engaged in their history, by giving them something more visual to explore.  Give it a go – import your FamilySearch tree and see what your family timeline looks like.

Note: If you already have a Twile timeline, re-importing from FamilySearch data will overwrite your existing Twile tree and timeline.  We are working on a merge tool that will let you import as often as you wish.

Twile Integrates with FamilySearch

OK, so this is exciting! Today we have launched our FamilySearch integration, which lets you import your FamilySearch tree into Twile to automatically create a rich, visual timeline of your family history.

Twile now connects securely to FamilySearch to import your tree and generate a timeline, made up of key milestones such as births and marriages – onto which you can add photos and more recent events to bring it to life.

The integration means that – for the first time – FamilySearch customers can now share their research privately with other family members. The family’s non-genealogists can then explore their ancestry through milestones, stories and pictures – and add content of their own, such as their own life events and recent photos. Families can start to collaboratively record not just the past, but the present and future too.

We have been working on the integration since our success at RootsTech earlier this year. It’s taken some time to build, but we have a passionate community of FamilySearch users who have waited patiently while we built it. Some of our users have helped to test it over the last few weeks, so a huge thank-you to them. We’re delighted that it is now here and ready for you to use!

In a press release issued today, Steve Rockwood, FamilySearch CEO said “FamilySearch is always looking for fun, engaging experiences that help our patrons make new personal discoveries and family connections. Twile’s rich, custom timeline of key family history events does exactly that!”

We are delighted to be working with FamilySearch and we will soon be adding support for FamilySearch’s memories and photos, plus an automatic synchronisation that will keep the Twile timeline up to date as FamilySearch records change.

If you are a new FamilySearch user, simply register for Twile at www.twile.com to start your free trial – plus, our new Twile Free package allows you to add up to 10 events and 10 photos every month with no subscription fee.

Do more for free with Twile

Who says you don’t get anything for free?  From today, Twile’s free subscription allows you to add up to 10 milestones and 10 photos to your timeline every month.

Until now, only our paying customers could add content to their timeline, but we want to encourage everyone to record their family memories, even if that means adding just a few events from time to time.  We hope this free service will encourage the wider family to contribute, where they might not have had enough need to justify paying for it before.

Our mission at Twile is to make family history more engaging for the whole family, especially the younger generations, and Twile Free is an important step towards that goal.

Twile Free
Our free subscription now allows you to add up to 10 milestones (such as birth or marriage) and 10 photos to your family timeline every month.  You can also add any number of people to your family tree and invite any of them to explore and contribute.

Twile Premium
Our Twile Premium subscription allows you to add unlimited milestones and photos to your timeline and also lets you import your family tree and import photos from Facebook.  Twile Premium is £29.99 ($49.99) per year.

Twile Family
Everyone in your family can add unlimited milestones and photos when you subscribe to Twile Family.  One payment of £74.99 ($124.99) per year gives everyone on your family tree all of the benefits of Twile Premium. And they’ll love you for it!

For a full breakdown of what’s included in each subscription, take a look at our pricing page and when you’re ready to give Twile a go you can sign up for free at www.twile.com.

New Milestone Types: Military and Legal & Justice

We’ve just added a number of new milestone types to Twile, including two new categories: “Military” and “Legal & Justice”.

Milestones are events that you can add to your family timeline to tell the story of each person’s life.  Most people on your family tree will have key events like birth and marriage, but adding more detail can help you and the rest of your family understand what their life was really like.

Now you can add military milestones – such as conscription, awards or even court-martial – and legal milestones – such as arrest, sentencing and execution! We’ve also added a few extra milestones into other categories, such as wedding anniversary and blessing.

To add a milestone to your timeline:

  1. Login or register for Twile at www.twile.com
  2. Click the ‘Add’ button at the top of your timeline
  3. Click ‘Add milestone’
  4. Choose the type of milestone you’d like to add
  5. Choose the person you’re adding the milestone for, enter the date and other details
  6. Click the ‘Add’ button to save the new event

Watch our video for an overview:

All of the new milestones we’ve added have been requests and suggestions from our customers, so please keep those ideas coming – you can add a comment to this blog post or send us an email to help@twile.com.

Behind the scenes: What we’re building now

Since expanding our development team over the last couple of months, we’ve been working hard to build the new features you’ve all been asking for.  We thought you might like a sneak preview of what’s coming soon.

Recent additions

Here’s what we’ve added to the site over the last couple of weeks…

  • Inventions
    You can now add our new ‘Inventions’ stream to your family timeline to see big inventions from history alongside your own family story.  What was your family up to when the automobile was invented?
  • Questions
    We’ll send you questions about your family each week to help you fill the gaps in your timeline.
  • GEDCOM merge
    You can now merge any number of GEDCOM files into your Twile family tree to keep it up-to-date and to combine research from multiple members of your family.

Coming soon!

And here’s a couple of exciting features we’re working on right now…

  • FamilySearch Integration
    If you’re a FamilySearch user, you’ll soon be able to import your tree into Twile, which will automatically generate a timeline of your family history for you to share privately.  More details later this month!
  • New Streams
    Following the launch of our inventions stream, we’ve had so much feedback and many requests for different history topics. We are currently working on streams for the American Civil War and War of Independence.  If you have a specific request for a new history stream, please add a comment below or send us an email to help@twile.com

We will be posting more information soon!

Merge multiple GEDCOM files into one family tree

We are really excited to announce a significant new feature. It has been requested again and again by our customers, so we’re really pleased to finally have it finished!

Since early 2015, users have been able to import GEDCOM files into Twile, but have never been able to bring in multiple versions. With many of our customers wanting to keep their timeline up-to-date for their wider families to explore, we’ve added a new feature that allows you to merge multiple GEDCOM files into one family tree and keep it updated with future changes.

This means that family members storing their research independently in different family history sites such as Ancestry or Findmypast, can now bring all of their findings together in one private family tree on Twile and import newer versions as they further their research.

As well as generating their tree, Twile will use the data in the GEDCOM files to automatically add events to the family timeline, such as births, marriages and deaths.

The merge tool will intelligently match people from a GEDCOM file by comparing their names, genders, dates of birth and relationships, requesting the user’s help with any matches that aren’t obvious.

It’s now possible to for the whole family to explore their complete family tree, with all of the family’s historians combining their research together.

Try it now

Coming up next… keep checking our blog to see the upcoming features we are working on at the moment.

Questions about your life

You may have noticed a new email landed in your inbox over the weekend.  As well as sending you updates about what your family has been up to, Twile now automatically generates questions for you to answer that will help to fill gaps on your family timeline – and sends them to you by email each week.

Twile family history questions by email

In a recent survey, we found that very few family historians record their own life, meaning that a lot of their memories will be lost to future generations. Half of the people we surveyed said their great-grandchildren would know very little about their life.

We encourage our Twilers to add events from their own lives, in addition to documenting what their ancestors got up to.  This means adding your own early life events (schools, homes), career (college, jobs) and everything that came after that (holidays, marriage, children).  It’s your opportunity to paint a clearer picture of your life for future generations to explore.

The questions we send you each week will help identify pieces of your family story we think are missing.  It might be milestones from your own life or it might be events and details about your parents’ or grandparents’ lives that you may know.

As with everything we build into Twile, we’d love to hear what you think of the new Questions feature.  Please add a comment below, or just send us an email to help@twile.com.

Twile supports #CreateUK

This week we have been supporting The Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s campaign #CreateUK, a week long celebration and showcase of the creative industries in the UK.s300_CREATE_UK_GOV.UK

As a tech startup in the UK, we’re delighted to be amongst a community of fellow creatives who are generating almost £10m every hour for the UK economy!

When asked why we create, many reasons sprang to mind and it reminded us of an article that Paul Brooks (Twile co-founder) wrote to TechCityInsider earlier this year:

“When we first started Twile in 2013, we had dreams and expectations of quick success, exponential growth and big investment. As it turns out, building a startup is a lot more than that. Along with my co-founder Kelly Marsden, I launched the company as part of the first Dotforge accelerator in Sheffield and quickly managed to close a small seed investment round from local angel investors.

We soon found that growing a consumer userbase with a small budget and an early product is not easy. We regularly worked 70-weeks with very little to show for them except a little more understanding and gradually improving product. We managed to maintain the confidence of our investors and they put more money in to two more rounds over the next two years, giving us the runway we needed to experiment, pivot and chase product-market fit. There were many times when we didn’t think we’d last long enough.

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Based in Yorkshire, it has been difficult to attract big investment and raise our profile in the tech community. While there are initiatives such as Tech North , to address the challenges faced by entrepreneurs outside of London, the capital is still very much the centre of the UK tech community.

To secure investment, you need to meet as many investors as possible and work to build long term relationships with them, keeping them updated on your progress and successes. With limited budget, it hasn’t been possible for us to travel to London regularly or spend large periods of time there. The fact that everyone involved in the business has young children has made this even more difficult. Of course, there are investors in the North, but from our experience most of them are lacking an understanding of the tech industry, especially web software. For example, it is fairly typical for a consumer app to prioritise growth over revenue at the start, but most investors we have met in the North East, for instance, expect to see a healthy turnover and strong balance sheet before they’ll even glance at the cover of a business plan.

Despite these challenges, our perseverance and hard work is paying off. In 2015 we started to gain recognition as an innovative visualisation tool for the family history market and started to acheive real growth.

We attended the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City in February and won two of the four innovations awards as part of the innovator showdown competition – returning to the UK with $16,000 in cash and another $10,000 in “in-kind” support. We are looking forward to returning to RootsTech in 2017.

On our return, we learned that we had secured investment and a partnership deal with Findmypast, one of the leading names in family history. This gives us the resources and support we need to grow Twile into a global brand.

In under three years, we have evolved Twile from an early concept into a robust, fully featured product that solves a real problem for our customers. We have made a point of talking to our users as often as possible and we’ve used their input to intelligently prioritise development. We’ve put a huge amount of effort into every phase of the business and we’ve acknowledged our failures as essential steps to success.

If there’s a moral to our story, it’s that our own hard work is going to deliver the results. It’s easy to blame market conditions, geographical location, lack of government support of any other external factors for the failure of a start-up, but we’ve seen a number of early stage businesses (including Twile) succeed in recent years and every one of them has put a lot of effort in to overcome the obstacles they’ve been faced with.

Fortunately, recent investment in the infrastructure for start-ups outside of London is beginning to amplify the hard work that entrepreneurs are willing to put in.

Organisations like Creative England, (who have been hugely supportive in our journey, backing us from the beginning) and Tech North and accelerators like Dot Forge and Ignite are making it easier to start and succeed. If this can be matched by investors with an appetite for opportunities outside of London, I believe we will see many more successful northern startups in the near future.”

The #CreateUK campaign this week reminds us that with hard work we can continue to thrive and take advantage of the new opportunities which are opening up to do business across the world. Why do we create? Because it’s our dream, our passion, our mission to succeed.

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Twile is now even faster!

You asked, we delivered: How your feedback improves Twile

In April 2016 we made some big changes to the invisible parts of Twile, which means that the whole website now runs faster and can handle any size of family tree. You will hopefully notice that everything loads more quickly, especially if you have a large family on the site.

Now that this work is complete, we thought you might be interested to have an insight into the challenges of building a website like Twile and keeping it running smoothly.

We build Twile in a ‘lean’ way, which basically means that we build new features as quickly as we can to get your feedback on them sooner. We don’t try to make everything perfect straight away – we could spend a very long time getting a feature just right, only to find that nobody wants it! Instead, we will build a simpler version of a feature and then make some changes and improvements to it over time, based on the conversations we have with customers like you.

The family tree is a good example of this. When we first built the tree in 2014, it was only designed to display 10-20 people (and GEDCOM was but a twinkle in our eyes). It couldn’t show multiple marriages, often displayed siblings in the wrong order and it didn’t look anywhere near as pretty.

But, it allowed us to collect feedback and prove that we were heading in the right direction. We’ve since improved the family tree gradually, adding new features. tweaking the design and allowing it to handle much larger and more complicated families.

The performance work we’ve done in April is the latest in a long and continued line of work on the family tree. The site can now comfortably handle any size of tree (we’ve tested it with 100,000 people so far).

All of this comes from the conversations we have with our customers. Some of the changes we’ve been asked for – and are still planning to build in – are support for adopted families, multiple trees and admin controls for the tree owner. These are all on their way.

The challenge of building a product like Twile is deciding what to work on first. We have a lot of customers asking for lots of different things, so we have to prioritise the ones that will improve Twile the most for the largest number of people. It is for this reason that we encourage you to give us your feedback – the more people that ask for a particular feature, the more likely we are to build it soon.

And in between the launch of new features, we’re always working on the hidden aspects of Twile – making it faster and more reliable. This is a never-ending task, as we have more users and more complex features every single day.

So we hope that you will be patient with us while we make Twile as amazing as we can. Our team is expanding, with two new developers joining the Twile team in May, which will mean that progress on some features will be accelerated. We ask that you keep telling us what you like, dislike and would like to see – in that way you’re helping us build the perfect tool for you.

Image by Freepik 

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