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This page was originally written as a proposal by the author, Member #1112 of the Tay Valley Family History Society. It suggested that members be invited to supply their Family History Program Data to the Society for use in a computer program named - Personal Ancestral FileŽ, a family History computer program from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

This page was intended to be read as a source of information to members, or potential members, of the Tay Valley Family History Society, but now is open to all readers with an interest in Family History in the Tay Valley area of Scotland

There are other related pages (see below) and you are advised to read ALL of these in order to find out about the PAF database proposal.

MARCH 2001 - The Webmaster recently tested this proposal by multiple IMPORTING of his own records into a dummy file of about 20,000 records.  This was first carried out with an aging 486 PC using PAF 3.0 in MS-DOS from the prompt (not a DOS Window).  The results were very disappointing and the time taken was unacceptable. On a more modern Pentium 2 PC using PAF the results were the opposite! - very fast.  It seems, therefore, that in order to make this project work the use of a fast PC is required.  Whether the effect of using MS-DOS or Windows affected the result is unknown.  If you are knowledgeable in such matters I would like to hear from you.

It is very unlikely that TVFHS would fund such an exercise in the foreseeable future is very doubtful.


July 1997

Dear Member/Potential Member

This proposal will be better understood by readers who already use "Personal Ancestral FileŽ " but applies also to others who use a computer to maintain their Family History Records in one of many other commercial Family History (FH) programs such as Trees III, Reunion and Brothers Keeper.

Such programs usually have the facility to EXPORT part or all of your records into a GEDCOM file, from where it can be IMPORTed into other FH programs, or, because the system was introduced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). It is by using this internationally recognised system to exchange FH data that I propose that a very large database is created by (or on behalf of) the Society.  One of the features of Version 3.0 of PAF is - 

Larger data files; up to one million records

(You can read more about the new version - use the link below.)

Using the feature of 1,000,000 records I thought that we could compile a huge database of members' FH records, which could be made available to the membership (and others?). After consultation with LDS in Birmingham (England) I understand that there are two kinds of records - Personal and Marriage/Family. For the technically minded each record consists of a fixed area for data (whether data is entered or not) and an additional variable area to cope with NOTES which can vary from one line (see elsewhere why EVERY RECORD will have at least ONE line).

As an exercise I divided the size of my computer PAF DATA file (N.B. in PAF not GEDCOM yet) by the number of mixed (Personal and Family) records of 1311 and reached a figure of approximately 500 bytes (0.5k) and I have used that calculation as a rough guide to other statistics below.

A survey which was carried out by Tay Valley Family History Society confirmed that (out of the replies received) many members are using computers to record their research.

It is with this in mind that I am proposing that a huge database is created using data from members.

You should read the other pages linked to this as mentioned below before forming your opinion on the matter. After doing so you may feel the need to communicate with me, details are available below, by using E-mail.

Although I mention 1,000,000 records above this is likely to equate to, say, 700,000 persons and 300,000 families. It is obviously impossible to calculate the size of any file as we do not know the number of records to be supplied, BUT using my figures as typical and receiving 1311 records from each "computer" member (remember this is only a representative figure - you may have 20,000 records or just 100) AND taking into consideration the replies to the recent computer survey, we could (probably) easily accommodate all members' data files (in GEDCOM format). Again to the "techies" out there, the limitation is 1,000,000 records and not the size of each record which would only vary by size of the NOTES. It is considered that one gigabyte drive will more than cope. The eventual problem could be one of success - if, in time, we are supplied with more than the record limit - but based on current calculations every paid up member (1700?) could supply data for, on average, 666 records before the total is reached. Unless the Computer survey received a very poor response, or suddenly all members buy computers, it is quite a long way off until we have to worry about the 1,000,000 limit. If my figures are typical 750 members could supply files of the same number of records as me, and nowhere near that number responded to the the survey.

If you have read THIS FAR you must have some interest in the subject - please contact the webmaster, thanx!



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This page was updated - 09 December, 2014