I’m going to do some comparisons about the 1940 Census experience on the different websites. First up, the image viewers and load time. I’ll do image quality in a future article.
I used the Chrome browser and performed the test on Sunday afternoon in the 4pm MST hour. I used a stopwatch app on my rather old smart phone. I loaded images from Utah ED 3-15.
Ancestry.com had the fastest image load time, a bit over 3 seconds. Remember, your mileage may vary. The significance here is the comparison among the websites.
As I’ve reported before, Ancestry.com has switched to the Flash browser plugin (which I dislike). They no longer offer scroll bars, so getting from one corner to another can be painful. Zooming is smooth and easy using the mouse wheel or an onscreen control. Images can be downloaded or linked to people in your Ancestry Member Trees.
Ancestry chanced to the Flash viewer to provide some advanced features from indexed records. I’ll review those in the future. They’ve kept the old HTML viewer around, probably for mobile users. To switch back to the old HTML viewer select Actions > Options > Switch to Non-Interactive Viewer.
My smart phone isn’t smart enough to test image viewing on a tablet or phone. If you want to test it for me, try this URL: http://interactive.ancestry.com/2442/M-T0627-04210-00092?backurl=http%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.com%2fsearch%2fdb.aspx%3fdbid%3d2442%26path%3d&ssrc=#imageId=M-T0627-04210-00177
The image viewer for Archives.gov (Archives.com) is fast, taking about four seconds to load each image. The browser Back button doesn’t work. There is no zoom. The viewer is the only one of the four reviewed here that has scroll bars. Scroll bars allow you to quickly move to a desired area of the image. There is no way to directly jump to an image other than the previous or next images.
Images can be downloaded in standard or fine resolution. You can download a single image or an entire enumeration district. Before downloading, you have to do one of those obnoxious Captcha security checks. I suppose that is to prevent parties from “stealing” all these public domain images from the government.
To test the viewer on a mobile platform, use this URL: http://1940census.archives.gov/search/?search.census_year=1940&search.city=&search.county=Cache%20County&search.page=2&search.result_type=image&search.state=UT&search.street=#filename=m-t0627-04210-00177.tif&name=3-15&type=image&state=UT&index=24&pages=46&bm_all_text=Bookmark&searchby=location&searchmode=browse&year=1940
Image viewing is slowest on FamilySearch, taking about 34 seconds an image. FamilySearch has no scroll bars, so when zoomed in, moving from one end of the image to the other takes a little work. Speaking of zooming in, FamilySearch seems to artificially constrain how far you can zoom, stopping short of the full 100% supported by other viewers.
You can jump to any image in an enumeration district by entering the image number and you can use the browser back button to return back through viewed images.
To test the FamilySearch viewer on a mobile device, click this link: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-27861-7627-25?cc=2000219&wc=MM2Q-5RP:n20560615
Image viewing on MyHeritage.com took about 17 seconds for an image. However, if I go on to other images and then come back, the image is displayed almost immediately. Don’t try to use the browser’s back button to go back, however. It doesn’t work. Use the drop-down list of image numbers to quickly click to any desired image.
MyHeritage’s image viewer does not have scroll bars. That can be inconvenient because, unlike the artificial limitation of zooming on FamilySearch.org, MyHeritage allows zooming to 100% and beyond.
Test this URL on a mobile device: http://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10052/1940-united-states-federal-census-images?action=showRecord&itemId=15470088
Screen captures with programs like Snag-It are popular among genealogists. Screen capture from these image viewers is problematic. I tested the image viewers with Chrome’s screen capture and found most capture options did not work and any of the websites.
|Capture page region||Capture visible content||Capture whole page||Capture screen region|
Next time I will compare image quality of these vendors’ 1940 Census images.