Genealogy, web services and Perl

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FamilySearch, the world's largest repository of genealogical resources, announced its 2008 FamilySearch Developers Conference.

The newly released FamilySearch Family Tree API and soon-­to-­be-­released Record Search API will be main topics of discussion. Other popular topics will be how to read, write, combine, separate, and synchronize with new FamilySearch online resources, developer keys, tree cleaning, GEDCOM, and PAF.

Genealogy these days is all about lots of data mangling, web services, big databases: it's an ideal area for Perl to work in. Paul Johnson's Gedcom module has long been used to handle GEDCOM files, the standard interchange format for genealogical data.

I chatted with Pat Eyler about the FamilySearch project, of which he's a member:

"World's largest repository of genealogical resources" only tells part of the story. Imagine this:
  1. all of the microfilmed genealogical records that the LDS church owns made freely available
  2. a framework for indexing these (or any other genealogical images someone wants to donate)
  3. a unified database of individuals and relationships with varying levels of access control, available to anyone through a rich web client or through web services
Billions of names, petabytes of image data, and the tools to access and use all of it.

There's quite a bit of data here for the examining. Even if you're not interested in the conference, check out what's going on with the data. It seems to be an ideal dovetail with the open source community.

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Ouch, on re-reading this I should have been more clear. The 'imagine this' is supposed to mean, 'our target is'. We're in early stages of release on these:

1) access to microfilm, see: to see our prototype. The Web Services API is going to be released at the conference.

2) indexing framework: see: to see/sign up to work on this

3) unified data: this is currently in a closed, limited release. (It's looking really good so far though.) The API is available, but of limited value without being in the limited release program.

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