RootsTech 2016: The Best and Worst Week of Our Lives?

As tech entrepreneurs with a mission to make family history more engaging for the wider family, we are counting the days until RootsTech 2016!

With a 15-hour flight from the UK – taking in the sights of Atlanta (airport) on the way – we’re looking forward to arriving in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. We can’t wait to be immersed in the family history community, catch up with Facebook and Twitter friends and meet some of our ‘biggest fans’.

The final preparations are being made, exhibition equipment is booked for our stand on Innovation Alley and everything is packed. However the realisation that we are leaving our biggest ‘little’ fans behind has set in.

As parents of small children, the excitement of travelling to the world’s biggest family history event is dwarfed at times by apprehension: none of us have been away from our children for this long since they were born.

We will miss them and their smiles and their cuddles. We will be wondering what they’ve been up to, what they have eaten, did they sleep well, are they missing us?

Thankfully our little ones remind us everyday why we created Twile.  We have used it to record their lives since they were born and we know that we won’t miss a moment whilst we’re away.  Grandma and Grandad are looking after them for the next week and they’ll be adding photos and stories to our Twile timelines. We’ll see that they are safe and having fun.

We also know they’ll see what we are doing: our photos from RootsTech –  including our time on stage at the Innovator Showdown – will be added to our Twile timelines for them to see.

They are very excited for us and have just one request – bring back jelly beans!

Twile Wins a Semi-Final Place in the Innovator Showdown at RootsTech 2016

We’re absolutely delighted to say that we’ve made it to the final 12 in the Innovator Showdown at RootsTech 2016!

RootsTech is the largest family history event in the world, held annually in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Combining a huge exhibition with talks and classes on family history, it attracts tens of thousands of visitors, from seasoned genealogy experts to absolute beginners.

As part of RootsTech, the Innovator Showdown competition aims to highlight innovative technology products that service the family history market.  We’ll be attending the conference and battling it out to win part of the total $100,000 cash and in-kind prizes.

It’s so important to us to have been recognised as innovators in our industry, by one of its leading players – RootsTech is run by FamilySearch, the largest genealogy organisation in the world.

This year the conference runs from 3-6 February, during which we’ll be pitching to secure a place as one of the 6 finalists and to present Twile on stage to thousands of attendees.

We had an amazing 2015 after launching our family history timeline in April and have worked closely with our customers to build Twile into a tool they love.  It looks like 2016 could be even more exciting!

We want to thank everyone who uses Twile, everyone that has helped us spread the word and all of the people that have given us advice and support since we started.

If you’re going to RootsTech this year, please come along to our booth and say ‘hello’ – we’d love to thank you in person!

You can read more about the Innovator Showdown on the RootsTech website.

How To Create A GEDCOM File

If you have your family tree in an online service (such as Ancestry) or a software package on your computer, you can now import your tree into Twile to automatically create an amazing timeline of your family history.

All of the people and events that are hidden away in your family tree will be brought to life on a timeline that you can share with your whole family.

We thought it would be helpful to add links to the step-by-step guides for exporting a GEDCOM file for some of the more popular genealogy tools…

Ancestry
http://ancestryuk.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/472/~/uploading-and-downloading-gedcom-files-on-ancestry#res2

Findmypast                                                     http://www.findmypast.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions/answer/can-i-make-a-copy-of-my-tree-export-a-gedcom-file

MyHeritage
http://helpcenter.myheritage.com/Family-Site/Family-Tree/634030922501488452/Can-I-export-a-GEDCOM-file-of-my-family-tree-on-my-family-site.htm

FamilySearch
You can’t currently export a GEDCOM file from FamilySearch, but you don’t need to – you can import it directly into Twile.  Simply click the ‘Import Family Tree’ button at the top of your family tree and choose the FamilySearch option there.

RootsMagic
http://helpdesk.rootsweb.com/FAQ/wcgedcom4RM.html

Family Tree Maker
http://ancestryuk.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/4376/~/exporting-a-file-in-family-tree-maker

Legacy Family Tree 
https://www.legacyfamilytree.com/bigGedcomExport.asp

Ready to import your GEDCOM file?
If you’re new to Twile, you can register for free here: https://twile.com
Otherwise, visit your family tree on Twile and click ‘Import Family Tree’ at the top of the screen.

If you need any help creating your GEDCOM file or importing it into Twile, please get in touch and we’ll do all we can to help.

Privacy and Security on Twile

Your privacy and security is top of our priority list.

Everyone involved in Twile is a parent with a young family and we completely understand how important it is to keep personal information safe online. We use Twile to share our family history, photos and memories with our family and have worked hard to ensure it is kept safe – for us and for our customers.

Your Timeline
You have complete control over who sees the content you add to your timeline. By default, anyone on your family tree that is registered with Twile can see the stories, photos and milestones you create.

However, if you want to stop sharing with individual people on your tree, you can do so in a few simple steps:

  1. Visit your family tree
  2. Find the person you want to stop sharing with
  3. Click/tap on them to open their profile
  4. Untick the ‘Share photos and stories with them‘ option
  5. That’s it – you will no longer be able to see each other’s content

Your Family Tree
Your family tree is private to your family – nothing is ever made public.

Anyone in your family can add to the tree to help keep it accurate and up-to-date. However, only the people you share with on your tree can view the content you’ve added to your timeline (see above).

Security
We use Microsoft’s secure infrastructure to store your content, so it will always be available and safe.

We will also never sell or rent your contact information, nor will we ever share any of your content with anyone outside of the family or friends you add. You always remain in control of your content.

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please get in touch: help@twile.com

Will Your Family Preserve Your Genealogy Legacy?

Here’s a summary of a guest post I wrote recently for Thomas MacEntee’s GeneaBloggers site…


A few months ago, Twile carried out a survey of 200 people who actively research their family history. We were interested in finding out why they were doing it and what they were planning to do with their findings when the work was ‘finished’.

Most said they had started their research looking for an answer to a specific question (e.g. who was my grandfather, where did my ancestors originate from) or it was triggered by an event (typically the death of a loved one).

What we found most interesting was that very few had given any consideration to what would happen to their research when they were no longer around.

Read the full GeneaBloggers article: “Will Your Family Preserve Your Genealogy Legacy?

Pink For Girls, Blue For Boys

We’ve just made a change to the Twile family tree to colour-code men and women, so that it’s easier to see at-a-glance what the make-up of a family is.

In deciding what colours to use for each, the only obvious choice was pink for girls and blue for boys. We were worried some people might not be too keen – especially as there is often heated debate around the stereotypical association of these colours in toys or clothes – but you’re still more likely to associate blue with boys and pink for girls, despite your opinion on it. So from a usability point of view, we think it makes sense.

But how did blue and pink get associated with boys and girls in the first place? I found an interesting article that summarises the history: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2014/10/pink-used-common-color-boys-blue-girls/

It seems that prior to the 20th century, pink and blue didn’t hold any gender-specific connotations and – even more surprising – until the 1940s it was more common for boys to wear pink and girls to wear blue. Pink was considered stronger and blue a more dainty colour.

By the way, if you’re not keen on our choice of colours, you can switch this feature off:

  1. Visit your family tree at https://twile.com/people
  2. Click/tap on yourself on the tree to open your profile
  3. Click/tap the ‘Preferences’ option
  4. Untick the ‘Use different colours for genders’ option
  5. Click/tap ‘Save’

What do you think of our use of pink and blue on the family tree?

Family History is About the Living Too

How much of your life will be remembered by your descendants?

The death of a relative can often bring to mind all of the questions we wished we’d asked before it was too late. Why didn’t we ask them more about their life? Why didn’t we pay attention when they tried to tell us their story?

Once they’re gone, we will dig through boxes of photos they’ve left behind, maybe find diaries that we didn’t know existed. For some it may generate a new (or renewed) interest in their family history, but no amount of research can uncover a person’s full story.

I think about this a lot. I remember that my Granddad – who lived well into his 90s – always had a story to tell. But we were too young or too busy to ever really listen. Now that I’m older, I would love to hear the stories about his time in the war. Where was he stationed? What action did he see? How did he spend his time in the days or weeks in-between?

And that makes me curious about how he met my Grandma, where they went on holiday or how life changed when my Dad came along. How was parenting different for them than it has been for me?

Mixed with this frustration is a fear that my grandchildren will know as little about me as I do about my grandparents.

So I’ve made an effort to record my life so far. My family has a Twile timeline that starts in 1843 (the birth of my great-great-grandfather) and runs through to this morning (when I took my daughter to dance class). My descendants will be able to explore my life in detail – photos of my school years, my time at university, my wedding, honeymoon, birth of my children… and all with comments and thoughts that I’ve added.

In time, my kids will start adding their own stories and photos to the timeline, hopefully building a tradition that will continue forever – an endless record of the family story, which starts with my great-great-grandfather (until I get the time to work out who came before him!).

I’m curious to know how other people feel about the stories they’re passing forward. Have you ever thought about what your descendants will know about you? Are you doing anything about it?

About Twile

We know that family history is more than just names on a family tree.

With Twile, you can create a rich, visual timeline of your family history, made up of milestones and photos, which everyone in your family can explore and contribute to. It’s designed for family historians who are passionate about learning more of their family history and want to share what they learn with the rest of the family. And it’s designed for the rest of the family, who can easily explore the family timeline and then add their own content to keep the family history right up-to-date.

By capturing your family history in the same place as everything that happens today, Twile turns your family story into something that never ends and never grows old.

Who we are
Twile was started by Paul Brooks and Kelly Marsden in 2013. We wanted our children to know who their ancestors were, what they were like and show how that history connects with their own early years and onwards.

Our mission:
“Make family history exciting and engaging for the whole family and preserve as many memories as possible for the future generations”

If you’re as passionate as we are about family history, join our online community or get in touch – we’d love to hear what you think about Twile and how we can make it even better.

Join the discussion on our Family History Facebook group
Like our Facebook page for regular updates

Follow us on Twitter: @TwileTweets

Send us an email: info@twile.com

Or get in touch with one of us directly:

Paul Brooks: paul.brooks@twile.com | @beingpb
Kelly Marsden: kelly.marsden@twile.com | @kellyjmarsden

Why We Created Twile

Twile is all about preserving family memories and family history for the future generations. We are building Twile because we have young children and we wanted them to have a record of their early years and a knowledge of where they came from, who their ancestors were.

We have relatives that spend their spare time researching our ancestry and building the family tree, but very little of what they find is shared with the family. And if it is, it’s either purely anecdotal or it’s in a format that is very difficult to consume – we knew our children wouldn’t have the interest or patience to try and make sense of a scanned birth certificate or black-and-white photo of someone they didn’t recognise.

Every person in a family has their own memories and their own story, which will be lost if not recorded in some way – and even though someone in the family is researching and recording the family history, it will be forgotten unless it is shared.

But sharing family history isn’t enough. We need to make it interesting, exciting, engaging – it needs to be accessible to everyone in the family.

We need to stop thinking of family history as something from the past. Family history is created every day: new babies, first words, holidays, school, university, marriage, death and everything else in-between.

We’re proud to be part of a movement in the genealogy community that is working to make family history more exciting and engaging for the whole family, especially the younger generations.

That is why we created Twile.