During the 2011 BYU Family History Conference, Robert Kehrer, senior product manager for FamilySearch, spoke of features coming to FamilySearch.org. There were too many to verbositize.
- There are many improvements planned for the new Family History Library Catalog. I talk about these in tomorrow’s article, “The FHLC is No More.”
- Kehrer said that hopefully by the end of the year you’ll be able to connect source documents from FamilySearch.org to the new FamilySearch Tree.
- Making corrections to indexing errors is one of the top requests Kehrer receives. He said it takes a lot of development to make this possible. “We’re just beginning to spec out the system,” he said. Lots of works still needs to be done so we should not start looking for this feature until 2012. There will be pedigree chart and family group views of Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File.
- In the near future we’ll be able to upload to the pedigree resource file. It will be possible to compare a submission to the New FamilySearch Tree and move new information from the submission into the FamilySearch Tree.
- Hopefully by the end of the year you’ll be able to search individual collections using any or all of the indexed fields. Also coming is the ability to search groups of collections such as can be done today for Civil War collections. (See “Enlist Now the War is Over.”)
- The New FamilySearch Tree (NFS) will be brought in to become a part of the www.FamilySearch.org website.
- Audience members complained that FamilySearch.org is not organized clearly and it is hard to navigate. They pointed out how clear and easy navigation is on http://new.FamilySearch.org. “That is something our user testing has identified,” said Kehrer. “We are working to remedy that.” Someone else complained that when you are there, there is no indication that you are in the wiki. I hope that is part of the fix.
- The current image viewer uses the Flash browser plugin. Flash has many problems so FamilySearch is replacing it in coming months with a new viewer that works entirely in HTML, the standard used by browsers. This means it will work on mobile devices like smart phones, iPads, and iPhones. (Kehrer asked how many people used the thumbnail in the lower-right. It will be difficult to implement, so he considering releasing the new viewer before the thumbnail is available.)
- Kehrer said that record filters are very powerful but too “clicky.” It will be redesigned so it is easier to use.
- FamilySearch is working on documentation on par with what is available for the New FamilySearch Tree that explains how to use the FamilySearch.org website.
- Historical books, currently stored on a BYU website will be moved and made searchable on the FamilySearch website.
- Search results, currently stacked, will be laid out in columns. “I believe the most refined filter is the human eye,” said Kehrer. Additional control is being added to search matching. You can specify matching against exact results, results that are close, and results that match what you specified but the record lacks some of the information you specified.
- Kehrer is interested in finding better ways of specifying locations. Boundaries change and events occur in adjacent jurisdictions. He’s toying around with maps.
He is also looking to a distant future when each collection will have coverage information. He showed an example, but warned it hasn’t really been designed. Here’s my stab at what it might look like:
|Alabama Death Records
1908-1935: Available Online (Search Records or Browse Images)
1,858,819 Records, 504,847 Images
18 Aug 2010: Initial 1,038,919 Records & 305,975 Images
23 Nov 2010: Added 200,142 Records & 101,525 Images
04 Feb 2011: Added 645,365 Records & 497,186 Images
1935-1970: Available on FHL Microfilm (See Catalog or Order Microfilm)
About 2,000,000 Records
Currently Being Indexed (Help Index)
1970-Present: Individual Records Available from the State (See Instructions)
Alabama Center for Health Statistics
P.O. Box 5625
Montgomery, Alabama 36103-5625
(Order online from 3rd party vendor)
I’m sorry; did I just drool? Hurry, Robert, hurry!