Open Plan Office Print E-mail
Written by Greg Patterson   
Thursday, 26 February 2009

Agile methods emphasize face-to-face communication over written documents. Most agile teams are located in a single open plan office to facilitate such communication. An open plan office environment makes collaboration much easier. Communication is clear and open between all members of the team. In our agile development environment, it is important that we get things done quickly with a partnership between designers, developers, and QA. Because of our workspace, there aren’t geographic divisions between different groups. Each environment has strengths and weaknesses. I really like this open plan office because it encourages communication, team unity, and the spirit of agile development.

Employee Spotlight: Jimmy Zimmerman Print E-mail
Written by Cassie McDaniel   
Tuesday, 24 February 2009

QuestionJimmy Zimmerman

What is your current position at the Church and what are your responsibilities?


I am a FamilySearch support engineer for third party developers. Software engineers from around the world are connecting to FamilySearch data through our RESTful Web services. I help companies and engineers learn about
our API and integrate their products with our systems.

More specifically, my responsibilities include:

  • Giving presentations at conferences and Webinars
  • Writing sample code and documentation
  • Recruiting developers to the FamilySearch Developer Network
  • Networking with key individuals in genealogy industry
  • Troubleshooting API bugs
  • Maintaining the FamilySearch Developer Network Web site
Trends in Information Security at the Church Print E-mail
Written by Mark Sanderson   
Tuesday, 17 February 2009

With a chief information security officer and key roles established for policy and training, engineering and operations, risk assessment, and security testing and compliance, we are ready to execute on opportunities, challenges, and expansion that await the Church.

Leadership and Governance

Which is more vital to security in an organization: the right people or the right conceptual-framework? The Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria (TCSEC), also known as the Orange Book, on computer security for the Department of Defense was first published in 1983 by a team of top scientists at the National Security Agency (NSA). Its groundbreaking information was considered useful for almost two decades, a singular accomplishment in the realm of technology. While the right people and the right criteria are both important, leadership and the staffing of key roles have been vital to beginning a new age of information security at the Church. While working at NSA, the INFOSEC chief scientist mentioned to me that no matter how great or important any produced criteria were, the criteria would only be sustainable as long as the right people were attracted, retained, and cultivated by the organization. At the Church, we are now beginning to adopt recognized standards and implement a governance framework that increases accountability and improves results. Leadership and governance is the cornerstone of our information security.

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LDS Philanthropies Print E-mail
Written by Brent Harris   
Thursday, 12 February 2009
The Greek root of the word “Philanthropies” means love of humankind. This year, my assignment has been to work with LDS Philanthropies, an organization with a vision that helps change and save lives. I wish more people knew about LDS Philanthropies and the work they do.


LDS Philanthropies operates as a department of the Office of the Presiding Bishopric with the responsibility to correlate, encourage, and facilitate voluntary philanthropic contributions—beyond tithes and fast offerings—to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its affiliated organizations and activities. For Church members, LDS Philanthropies provides a way to make charitable gifts to Church institutions and priorities.

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2009 FamilySearch Developers Conference Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 February 2009

FamilySearch announced today its second annual conference for software and Web application developers and its inaugural FamilySearch Software Awards. The 2009 FamilySearch Developers Conference will be held on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, in conjunction with the Brigham Young University Computerized Family History and Genealogy Conference in Provo, Utah. Attendees can register online at

The 2009 FamilySearch Developers Conference provides a unique forum and opportunity for developers of genealogy-related desktop and Web applications to meet with other professionals who use similar development technologies to confront common technical challenges and share effective solutions. Conference attendees will learn about new and updated FamilySearch web services from FamilySearch engineers and best practices from current community developers.

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The Local Unit Copier Program and How It Can Help You Print E-mail
Written by Dennis Horne   
Thursday, 05 February 2009

Copiers have long been useful in enabling local units to communicate with and inform members of necessary things, such as programs, lessons, minutes, talks, certificates, phone number and address lists, and roles. All of these would either disappear or become far more time-consuming and expensive if not for today’s copiers and multifunctional devices (MFD).

Since 2005, for the U.S. and Canada, the Church has instituted a copier purchase program. Purchased copiers have been placed in all authorized meetinghouse locations in the United States and Canada. Under the direction of the Presiding Bishopric, this new program replaced the former leasing program, and is administered cooperatively by the Materials Management Department (Purchasing Division), and the Physical Facilities Department (facilities management groups). These groups work with the Headquarters Copier Administration team to set standards, develop guidelines, choose vendors, and negotiate prices. Better and faster copiers or MFDs have been purchased at a much lower cost than would otherwise be possible.

How's Your Process? Print E-mail
Written by Tom Welch   
Tuesday, 03 February 2009

Processes are an important part of every business. A well-defined process can help the security, quality, and cost savings of a product or service rollout. However, some ugly side effects can result from even the best-planned processes. I've identified three general problems that creep up in many processes. I hope that we can come up with innovative solutions to make our processes run smoothly.

Square Peg, Meet Round Hole

One of the biggest problems with many processes is that they take a “one-size-fits-all” approach. For example, if your business is used to handling large projects, and a small one comes along, you may end up spending much more time, money, and effort forcing the small project through the large project process – an ugly side effect. This has happened recently on one of my projects. It took months of effort before we could even start the development. The process effort far surpassed the amount of work the project required.

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Welcome to the Church's Technology Website Print E-mail
Written by Tom Welch   
Sunday, 31 December 2006

Welcome to the official technology web site for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are excited to share with you information about our culture, process, and projects. Most importantly, we want you to get involved! Read about the purpose of this site.

New Web Site Launched Print E-mail
Written by Tom Welch   
Tuesday, 30 January 2007

The new web site was launched on January 30th. This new website is the result of a lot of research and development in an effort to make the site more usable. 

Gospel Library 

According to Larry Richman, the Director of the Internet Coordination Group, the new site will use the new Gospel Library which is a completely new database of XML text (with links to associated PDFs, audio files, etc.). If you have links on your sites to content on the Gospel Library, you will need to update those links to the new URLs. To prevent your links from breaking immediately, we will keep the old Gospel Library functional for some time (at least six months). 


We welcome your feedback on the new site. Just click the "Feedback" link at the top of any of the pages of the new Web site.

Customization Print E-mail
Written by Joel Dehlin   
Friday, 16 February 2007

My background is in software development so my first inclination in solving a business problem is to turn to custom software. I have to fight that urge as off-the-shelf applications are often more cost effective than custom-developed ones.

Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications are wonderful if they match your business process. Many of these applications incorporate process models which are based on industry best practices and thus if you can match your business processes to industry practices, you can benefit from an industry’s collective wisdom. Plus you have many more users testing “your” code for you. Your company may use a small percentage of the available features of a given solution, but the economies of scale a vendor leverages in creating a COTS application make a 10% value proposition worth the full investment in the product.

Note I said “if they match your business processes.” If they do not then you have two choices. You can change your business process to match the tool (much easier said than done) or you can customize the tool.

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