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# Monday, October 25, 2010
Inside FamilySearch's "Renovation Project"
Posted by Diane

One of the most interesting parts of the FamilySearch Blogger Day was a talk by Dan Lawyer, the guy in charge of what he termed the “big renovation project” that is the FamilySearch.org makeover.

“Genealogy is hard” is a conclusion his team reached after studying how genealogists were using FamilySearch. Which isn't news to family historians who've done some research, but Lawyer pointed out three factors that can make it difficult:

  • Life circumstances may not allow people the time or other resources needed to do genealogy.
  • Logistic and technical hurdles, such as getting online and knowing how to use a computer.
  • The way genealogy is often presented to a newcomer can make it appear not-so-engaging.

Do you agree with these findings? Click Comments at the end of this post to let us know.

So the goal for the renovated FamilySearch site—which FamilySearch Beta will become—are:

  • Make genealogy easier.

  • Make the site suitable for beginners and advanced researchers—so you don’t have to be a genealogist to use it, but even advanced researchers will find it useful.

  • Facilitate giving and getting research help on the site, as well as learning how to research.

Though researchers have been using the beta site for months (as of earlier this week, it had 35,000 visitors from 17 countries in October alone), it’s still being tweaked.

User input into the site is spurring improvements in features such as, to name some minor ones: the hard-to-find arrows that let you expand search results (see the tiny gray triangles on the right side of the screen shot below) and the loooooong Advanced search panel on the left side of the search results (it continues beyond this screen shot).

Within the next three to six months, Lawer says, updates will include adjusting search forms, adding browsing filters, boosting the quality of results, and adding how-to content. (Interestingly, but not surprising to me, was the finding that new genealogists don’t look around the site at that how-to content until after they’ve used the search function.)

The Pedigree Resource File from the current FamilySearch.org will be added to the beta site's Family Trees search, which already contains the Ancestral File.

The beta site will probably become the official FamilySearch site sometime between December and February, Lawyer said. “New” FamilySearch, the online tree-building software available to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, likely won’t become part of the site for some time, as developers work out a way to handle conflicts among different users' trees for the same lines. 

See my Bloggers Day disclosure in this post.

Learn more about "classic" FamilySearch and other popular genealogy websites in our Web Guides digital downloads, available from ShopFamilyTree.com.


FamilySearch | Genealogy Web Sites
Monday, October 25, 2010 12:29:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [8]
Monday, October 25, 2010 4:28:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
My frustration is when I search for someone by first and last name, and then I get 1 to 128 hits out of 24,389!! It is not helpful to have thousands of hits. Here is another example. Recently I was searching for Helen Kaptur in the 1905 New York State Census. Regardless of what I did, I could not find her. Then I entered only Helen and Buffalo, Erie, New York. So I had a lot of Helen hits and had to scroll through a number of pages. But then she appeared as Helen Kaptur, spelled just like that. Made me wonder about the quality of the search engine. I hope this feature will be well tweaked soon.
Joseph
Monday, October 25, 2010 5:18:34 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
I've been enjoying your posts about Bloggers Day. Changes are occurring at lightning speed and I don't even try to keep up but these posts have provided helpful snippets of insight.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 10:24:11 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Diane, you wrote, "The Pedigree Resource File from the current FamilySearch.org will be added to the beta site's Family Trees search, which already contains the Ancestral File."

Can you tell us if that will be the INDEX to the Pedigree Resource File, which has been available online for several years; or will it be the complete submissions, which have been available only on CDs and DVDs? This would be very useful information. Thanks!
Dee Ziegler
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 3:31:27 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Hi, Dee,

Thanks for your question! According to Dan Lawyer, "our plan is to put the entire submission of data from the CD/DVD including notes and sources. We will remove data about living persons."

Diane
Diane
Thursday, October 28, 2010 4:50:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
"'New' FamilySearch, the online tree-building software available to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, likely won’t become part of the site for some time, as developers work out a way to handle conflicts among different users' trees for the same lines."

I am eager to see how they choose to reconcile these differences. With another site, Geni.com, it is very frustrating to enter data that you have confirmed from primary sources, only to have their family tree builder program automatically replace your information with someone else's, making it seem more correct than something you may know to be fact. Looking forward to FamilySearch developing a way to avoid this inconvenience. And hoping too that the service remains free! Thanks for all your great info and tips, Diane!
Karen Chakroff
Thursday, October 28, 2010 8:36:02 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
I hope they also fix the beta site for easier copying of information. On the Pilot site, you can save the index information and it goes to the Clipboard, which makes it easy to paste into Word or even directly into a genealogy program. When I tried the beta site, that wasn't an option.

Kay
kay
Friday, October 29, 2010 4:56:31 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
HI: I HAVE BEEN IN THE BETA SCREENS..
I FOUND SOME THINGS HELPFUL..BUT, SOME NOT SO HELPFUL.

1. I COULD NOT FIND A *HELP SCREEN* TO TELL YOU...

A. HOW TO GET FROM THE FIRST SCREEN (OF YOUR SEARCH) TO THE NEXT PAGE.

B. WHEN I TRIED TO SEARCH INFORMATION FOR CANADA AND ENGLAND..THE BETA WOULD ONLY REFERENCE THINGS FOR THE U.S.A..
LIKE USA. CENSUSES.. (WHICH IS COMPLETELY USELESS TO ONE SEARCHING FOR MORE INFORMATION OF THEIR RELATIVES WHO CAME TO CANADA FROM ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND..(THIS IS FOUND FRUSTRATING!!)
ARE THEY ONLY ENTERING THE GENEALOGY FROM THE UNITED STATES RIGHT NOW??

C. I FIND THAT SO FAR..THEY HAVE ONLY ENTERED GENEALOGY UP TO THE END OF THE 1800'S. (I TRIED FOR SOME DETAILS FOR THE EARLY 1900'S BUT, THERE WASN'T ANY.)

D. WHEN YOU HIT THE RETURN ARROW..IT FLIPPED YOU RIGHT OUT TO A "BLANK SCREEN" WHERE YOU HAD TO RE-INPUT YOUR DETAILS (OR ADJUST SOME OF THE DETAILS YOU HAD..)

GRANT IT..I KNOW THAT THEY ARE TRYING TO IRON OUT THE BUGS..
AND I DID HONESTLY TRY TO FIND A HELP MENU...TO TELL ME HOW TO DO THINGS..

(WHEN, I WAS NOT ABLE TO GET ANY RESULTS. I THEN HAD TO GO BACK TO: FAMILYSEARCH.ORG AND LOOK UP THE DETAILS THERE.)

THANKS FOR LISTENING..
P.S. I HAVE NOT USED THE BETA IN A FEW WEEKS..(I DO INTEND TO USE IT AGAIN, THOUGH.

DOLORES RODDICK, CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA
DOLORES RODDICK
Monday, November 01, 2010 5:26:52 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
The easiest way to find the records for Canada is to Browse by Location (at the bottom of the home page). You can limit your search to records for Canada only and then by record type you can limit to census records or Birth, Marriage, and Death records. Once you find the record type that you want, you can search that record only.

Linda
Linda
Comments are closed.