Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No AWT in Ancestry New Search?

Dear Randy,

Screen image from Ancestry's New Search Preview I've meant to respond to your question about Ancestry World Tree (AWT) for some time now. Now that you've asked it again, I'm going to get it done. You asked, Where is Ancestry World Tree in the new Ancestry Search? You wondered,

Ancestry World Tree is not included in the "new Ancestry Search" list. I wonder why? Is it because it is associated with Rootsweb and is now accessible only through Rootsweb...?

You're in the ball park. However, there is no plan (that I'm aware of) to make AWT accessible only through RootsWeb.

While you're aware of the connection between AWT and RootsWeb, for our readers that don't, let me explain that AWT is nothing more than a re-branding of RootsWeb's WorldConnect technology, which Ancestry acquired when it bought RootsWeb. As a result, AWT data is not stored in an Ancestry search-system database.

Back in the days when Ancestry had no tree technology of their own, adding special code to the search results to show the number of matches in AWT had a large benefit. But while the presentation looks integrated, giving AWT result counts in old search is smoke and mirrors. When you start to drill down, you quickly get shunted from off to, which runs on RootsWeb technology.

I say "old search" but it's really "old-old-old search." We were 3-generations back in our search technology in those days. That was before new search, before the dread 4-tab search (internally called "bucket search") and before ranked search. Back then, all searches were exact. Searching across multiple databases never gave a list of ranked records but always gave the number of matches in each category. As a consequence, smoke and mirrors integration of AWT into the search technology was straight-forward and low cost.

If you think about it, you'll notice that AWT results have never been integrated into any of the new technologies. The ranked (non-exact) search technology has never shown AWT records mixed among the Ancestry search system records. Neither does non-exact bucket search.

Since New Search is still in preview, might AWT results be added? At least to the category results page?That depends on Ancestry users. At the top of the page, New Search Preview sports a link labeled Tell Us What You Think. You won't be heard if you don't say anything.


-- The Ancestry Insider


  1. Insider,

    I just went to the new search page and AWT is on it. Did it just get added or is it not in fact searched by the new search engine?

    My biggest complaint for searching on Ancestry is that the advanced type of search capability with an ability to make any search term an exact one, is mostly only available through the main search engine instead of that for individual databases. For example I would like to go to an individual census year and have a better search capability just on that database and avoid the clutter of results from other census years.


  2. Can anyone compare and contrast AWT and OneWorldTree for me?

    I'm unclear on the concepts.


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