With the release this week of search filters, FamilySearch can breath a sigh of relief. Search filters allow users to cut the number of search results by dynamically adding search criteria.
Prior to December 2010, users could keep search results to manageable numbers by specifying birth and death events in the search form. (See the screen image to the right.) When beta.familysearch.org replaced classic.familysearch.org, a new, simplified search form restricted searching to a single event. This increased the number of results, often to unworkably large numbers.
“RecordSearch pilot validated the search model of doing an initial search with…a single event and then filtering the results by secondary events and parameters,” said Robert Kehrer, FamilySearch product manager. Unfortunately, while filtering was not ready for release in December, there was some advantage in immediately adopting the single-event search forms according to Kehrer.
“This was a very difficult decision,” said Kehrer in a statement at the time. “There will be a short interim period between releases where searching on multiple events will be [unavailable], but we've decided to move forward with the new forms now because…this represents the shortest development path to the target search experience. To those who need to restrict results based on multiple events or relationships, we understand your need, please be patient over the next weeks as we put in place the tools you require.”
“Filters are now our highest feature priority and we intend to deliver this key function after the holidays,” he said.
The holidays came and went. Weeks turned into months. Short stretched into very long.
“I feel it was a poor decision,” a user told Kehrer last December, “to activate a partially developed search page…and decrease the functionality of the site.”
In his defense, I’ve met with Robert many times and can assure you he is top notch. I expect one day he will be stolen away by an obscene offer no sane person can pass up. He’s that good.
Which raises some questions I’d like to ask him—maybe when things are not so hectic. How did a four week project balloon into 20? How helpful did it turn out to be, the December elimination of multi-event search? If he knew then what he knows now, would he do it differently?
In any case, now that filters are available I’m sure he’s breathing much easier.