RootsTech Developer Challenge Afterthoughts

So, yesterday my NoteFuser entry won the Grand Prize in the RootsTech Developer Challenge. With that came a whirlwind of emotions both good and bad.

First of all, I feel extremely honored that the judges saw value in the work that I created. If you want to check out the app, you can get it at Lots of people have asked me what I’m going to do with it: commercialize? sell it? what? Right now, I’m leaning heavily towards preparing the code to become Open, so someone else could take it, extend it, and fully support it. I’m not really interested in trying to run a commercial entity in the genealogy space. The rest of this post may explain why.

I’d like to say that I care deeply about my relationship with developers in the RootsTech community. I’ve always said that I work for the genealogy industry. What I mean by that is that I want to see companies succeed. I love seeing new products and ideas take off. Truly, in the deepest part of my heart, I desire to see the industry move forward, and to me, that means seeing lots of ideas, companies, and individuals succeed in this space.

This is why I love RootsTech. For me, it’s a time when other developers—who I truly consider friends—come together to take their companies, products, etc. to the next level.

Today, I received a comment today along the lines that a FamilySearch employee shouldn’t have been allowed to win the RootsTech Developer Challenge. That comment made me feel like there may now be a wedge of sorts between me and certain members of the community, and I hate that and apologize if I have offended any of my colleagues in the space.

My intent on entering the challenge was that I simply wanted to build something that solved a problem that I’ve wanted to solve for a long time: bridging my Evernote notes with my and tree records. The developer challenge gave me the motivation to set a hard deadline, work like crazy during evenings and weekends, and prove the concept. I worked really hard to create something that would potentially benefit genealogists that may wish to solve the same problem I was facing.

Of the other 5 Developer Challenge submissions, I think they were all awesome and I congratulate the developers that put their hearts and souls into building their innovative products. During a conversation at lunch, I discovered another entry from a BYU student, that wasn’t in the final 6, that was all about integrating a reputation system of sorts into I think that’s a fantastic idea, and I applaud his effort. I’m sure there were a ton of other great entries in the challenge. I hope I get to see those entries and perhaps I can do something to contribute to those ideas to help them succeed.

[Update: When I wrote this, the following information hadn't been released]

At the beginning of the Keynote today, David Burgraaf released a URL of participants. You can find that here:

A few of the other participants you have to check out include. Honestly, if I were judging, I would have placed the following far above NoteFuser.


3 thoughts on “RootsTech Developer Challenge Afterthoughts”

  1. Hey Jimmy, I think you did a great work on the notefuser and you deserve the win. We hope seeing you again in the next developer challenges. Regardless of being church employee or not, we need to see more people coming up with great ideas like yours that challenge the status quo in family history. Congratulations!

  2. Your entry was awesome, and you have nothing to apologize for. Well, except for the fact that we didn’t actually get to meet up and talk at the conference, but hopefully we can make that happen at next year’s RootsTech! :-)

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