Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tech Tuesday - Using Asana for Family History

Asana is a task management tool created by a co-founder of Facebook and one of its early engineers. I've been using Asana since it launched out of beta last year, and have found it to be a very powerful web application and organizer in my primary field. Recently I have been finding uses for Asana in tracking family history queries and progress toward my First Families of Tennessee application.

Asana released an update to their iPhone application a few months ago, which has made it much easier to use on the phone. The application works great through mobile Safari on the iPad, but I like the speed of the iPhone app and use it for quick checking of tasks and storing information. It supports pdf documents as attachments within tasks, and it is an alternative to services such as Basecamp.

Below is a sample page showing my First Families of Tennessee prep work.
I have the page separated into headings, which are customizable in real time and can be dragged and re-ordered. For this project I have listed the requirements at the top, and the candidate families that I am tracking shown as priority headings.

When I click on the Resident in Tennessee before 31 Dec 1796 task, it opens a view on the right (see below):
Using Lamon as an example, when I click this family I have listed my direct ancestors in order (these are subtasks in Asana). I can click on these further to make comments and attach files or link to my information on the blog or Ancestry as pointers to references and other evidence.
I can also use this as a collaboration tool if working with other researchers. This would make a great tool for historical societies. Two or more collaborators can send notes and track progress on research tasks, assign due dates and use it to share files. It keeps a log as you update, so you can go back and see progress. Asana can also send you daily reminders to your email.

Below is an example of how I'm using Asana to track queries and future items to research. At any given time I have many queries on various lines that I'm researching, and it's easy to forget what has been sent out or what needs a follow-up if one doesn't keep track.
I'm only beginning to scratch the surface of how useful this tool is for research and family history. I hope you find it to be a good addition to your online genealogy kit.


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