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Glossary

TERM DEFINITION
access token The credential used to access resources provided in the FamilySearch API. For more information, see RFC 6749 (OAuth 2), Section 1.4.
agent A person, application, or organization that contributes changes to FamilySearch data.
API Application Programming Interface. The definition of the data and associated operations that external applications can use to interact with FamilySearch.
application key (app key) The FamilySearch client identifier that allows a developer's application to obtain an OAuth2 access token.
artifact A file containing information such as photos, stories, or documents that are relevant to a person or relationship in FamilySearch.
attribution Information identifying the contributor of a datum in FamilySearch.
authorities The set of authoritative information that FamilySearch uses to describe discrete historical entities that are not persons or relationships. Examples include the name authority, date authority, and place authority.
authentication The process of verifying an agent's identity to a system or an application, specifically to FamilySearch. The result of authentication to FamilySearch is an access token. See also OAuth2.
BFF Bulk File Feed. A delivery service for large batches of FamilySearch Family Tree records. The intent is to receive an initial download of all available records then receive periodic updates of added and changed records. No sources or memories are included. Only the person records and relationships are provided.
bibliographic metadata The core fields or elements that are used to identify a source to an agent and that are used in constructing and displaying citations. FamilySearch does not support the use of bibliographic metadata, but rather represents citations as free-form strings.
birth-like event An event that describes or implies the birth of a person. Examples include a birth event, a christening event, or circumcision event.
BRB Bulk Record Broker. A delivery service for large batches of FamilySearch historical records. The intent is to receive an initial download of all available records then receive periodic updates of added and changed records.
certification The process of verifying that a certain product has passed performance and quality assurance requirements stipulated by FamilySearch. For more information, see Certification.
change A modification, addition, or deletion of a person, couple relationship, or child-and-parents relationship. FamilySearch maintains a history of such changes.
child-and-parents relationship The relationship between a child and the child's parent1 or parent2 or both parents. An extension to GEDCOM X, this relationship is also referred to as a ternary relationship. For more information, see the Pedigree guide.
citation A text description of where to find a specific piece of information. Citations include not only source reference notes, such as footnotes and endnotes, but also source lists or bibliographies and document titles. FamilySearch uses a free-form string to represent a citation and does not support any other bibliographic metadata.
client identifier A unique identifier for an application, used to obtain an access token for FamilySearch. The client identifier is exposed to the resource owner. For more information, see RFC 6749 (OAuth 2), Section 2.2. See also application key (app key).
collection (1) A user-defined set of references to source descriptions. For more information, see The Source Box.
(2) A set of historical records which provides online access to indexes and digital images of records held by FamilySearch. For more information, see FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.
comment Text added by a user regarding a discussion or memory.
conclusion Information submitted by an agent as the most recent understanding about a genealogical entity. Types of conclusions include name, gender, fact, person, relationship, and so forth. Conclusions in the FamilySearch API context are not the same as defined for the Genealogical Research Process where a conclusion is regarded as information that is proved according to the Genealogical Proof Standard.
confidence A property that describes the level of confidence a contributor places on the factuality of an item of information or the likelihood of a conclusion being true. FamilySearch currently supports three levels of confidence: high, medium, and low confidence.
confidential client A client application capable of ensuring the confidentiality of its client identifier. At FamilySearch, confidential clients are clients who associate a symmetric key pair with their client identifiers. For more information, see RFC 6749 (OAuth 2), Section 2.1.
contact name The name that a contributor designates to be shared publicly with other agents.
contributor The agent who contributes or submits a conclusion to the FamilySearch Family Tree. Data is attributed to the agent who made the latest significant change to the nature of the data being attributed. See also submitter.
couple A relationship between two persons who have a recorded marriage, common-law marriage, or history showing they had a child together.
data format The way that a resource in the FamilySearch API is represented as a sequence of bytes. Similar terms include "serialization format" and "media type."
death-like event An event that describes or implies the death of a person. Examples include a death event or a burial event.
deserialization The process of extracting a data structure from a series of transmitted bytes. See also serialization.
dev key See application key (app key).
discussion A way to coordinate family history work with other FamilySearch users. FamilySearch provides a discussion board for most people in the system where users can work out issues that require interaction with other interested researchers. Users can post questions requesting more or better information about a person, or coordinate additional research with other interested users.
discussion reference A reference that links a discussion with a person.
display name The name that displays on-screen when a registered user logs in to FamilySearch.
example request An example of a single request and its associated response provided in the developers' documentation for each API resource.
fact Data about the life of a person used to model events, such as birth, death, and other characteristics. Facts substantiate conclusions about a person or relationship. A fact is distinct from a name or gender, which are also conclusions about a person.
GEDCOM A data format that was in use for many years and is still popular for exchanging genealogical data between applications.
GEDCOM X GEDCOM X is three sets of open specifications (core, record, and web service specifications) for exchanging the genealogical data essential to the genealogical research process. For more information, see GEDCOM X Specifications. The FamilySearch APIs make extensive use of GEDCOM X to provide representations of each resource.
header Specifically an HTTP header. Used to provide metadata in requests and responses to the FamilySearch API.
HTTP status codes Also known as HTTP response codes. Codes that indicate the result of an HTTP response. For an explanation of the use of status codes in the FamilySearch API, see HTTP Status Codes. For standards regarding HTTP status codes, see RFC 2616, Section 10.
JSON JavaScript Object Notation. A data interchange format, JSON serves as an alternative to XML.
marriage-like event An event that describes or implies the marriage of two persons, including a marriage event, marriage licensing, the reading of the banns, or divorce.
media type A formal definition of a data format, including a specific identifier for the data format. For example, 'application/json', 'image/jpeg', and so forth.
memory A container for user-contributed artifacts. Although a memory typically contains a single artifact, occasionally a memory can contain more than one artifact. A memory can have multiple artifacts attached to it, such as the front and back of a photograph, the multiple images required to capture a panoramic view, or a multi-page document such as a will, probate administration, or military pension record.
memory persona A tag that identifies a person in an artifact.
memory persona reference A reference that links a memory persona with a person.
MIME type See media type.
name In the FamilySearch Family Tree, people have one preferred name, although a person may have multiple alternate names. Each name has a type, a list of name forms, and a preferred flag.
normalization The process of formatting text to make it easier for users and applications to process.
notes Free-form, narrative information that does not fit anywhere else on a person’s record. You can add notes about an individual ancestor, a couple relationship, and a child-and-parents relationship.
OAuth2 A specification defining an authentication mechanism. FamilySearch uses OAuth2 to authenticate applications and agents. For more information, see the OAuth2 specification.
Person ID (PID) An alphanumeric identifier for a person in the FamilySearch Family Tree. It can be obtained from the ID property of the person whenever the person is read from FamilySearch API.
preferred name A name conclusion that is designated as the first one to use for a person for display purposes, typically the birth name.
resource A FamilySearch API function or data object. A resource definition includes a description and explanation of the operation and format of the resource.
resource ID A unique sequence of alphanumeric characters that serve as an identifier for a resource.
response codes See HTTP status codes.
serialization The process of writing a resource to a byte stream in a specific data format. See also deserialization.
source description The description of a source for information regarding a person or relationship.
source reference A reference linking a source description with a person, couple relationship, or child-and-parents relationship.
submitter An agent who submits information to FamilySearch on behalf of a contributor.
temple code A unique five-character identifier for a particular LDS temple.
user A person who is using an application to access FamilySearch.
user name A unique alphanumeric identifier used to authenticate an agent to FamilySearch.
XML A simple, flexible text format that is used as a serialization mechanism for FamilySearch resources.
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