RootsTech 2013

RootsTech was big this year. I can’t believe how big it has grown. The keynote moved into last year’s expo hall for larger seating capacity and the keynotes were pretty packed. On top of that, select conference sessions were streamed to thousands of attendees around the world.

The predominant theme of the conference was centered around capturing, preserving, and sharing our own life stories and the life stories of our families. This is a theme that resonates very well for me as the story is what got me hooked to family history.

Unfortunately, I had to skip out of the conference early in order to attend a scout camp, so I missed the last couple of sessions of the developer day. I was able to attend some very good sessions about the historical-data microdata format, the Clojure programming language, and using triple stores for graph searches. The sessions I wish I could have attended were the FHISO and GedcomX presentations.

I spoke with several developers at the conference who said that they wished RootsTech would hold the Developer Day on the Wednesday before the conference. George, from MyHeritage/Geni said he thinks they would send their whole team out for that. Robert, from Google said that he missed the developer-centered feel of the first conference and agreed that holding the developer day the day prior would be a good move. I hope we can do it, so that the vendors who come out to the conference can attend sessions and not feel that they are losing sales by leaving their booths.

I met some great people this year at the conference and I was able to catch up with a few people in the vendor area. This is perhaps my favorite thing about these conferences. There are so many smart and friendly people who are creating innovative products to serve the genealogical community.

I met Tammy, the winner of this year’s developer challenge. She is friends with Brooke who was a winner from last year’s conference. I was able to catch the two together at the booth. Tammy’s story is very inspiring. She came to RootsTech for the first time last year, and came away knowing that she had to jump in and build this product. A couple of months later, she quit her job to work on it full-time. She pulled off a very impressive product and I’m happy for her success.

Me, Brooke, and Tammy – 2012 and 2013 winners of the RootsTech Developer Challenge

I’m excited to try out the new products that were exhibited in the expo hall. It is great to see that the industry is still moving in a positive direction.

I already can’t wait until next year’s RootsTech conference. I expect it to once again be bigger and better.