Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Family Tree Futures

Ron TannerAt a presentation a couple of weekends ago Ron Tanner, product manager for FamilySearch Family Tree, released additional information about the future of Family Tree. A kind reader shared his notes with me.

Presently, Family Tree uses a different search algorithm than Record Search. This makes it harder to locate people in the tree. Within the next few weeks Family Tree will begin using the same search algorithm as Record Search.

Because NFS is kept in sync with Family Tree, it is not possible to merge two people in Family Tree if that would create an IOUS in NFS. (An IOUS, Individual of unusual size, is an NFS person that contains more than 250 combined records.) Once synchronization between the two systems is broken, then it will be possible to merge such duplicate individuals.

While combining is no longer possible using NFS, the same operation is still possible via third party software. However, Ron recommended not using third party software to combine people for a while. Because of the synchronization, all the Family Tree data can be changed and FamilySearch identified as the contributor. This occurs because NFS picks the summary values following a combine and the summary values are copied over to Family Tree. Family Tree sources and reasons given for conclusions could influence your decision to combine, but are not currently available via third party software. And the Not-a-Match feature of Family Tree does not block third party combines. The third party software will soon be able to do a Family Tree merge rather than an NFS combine, after which these issues will go away.

FamilySearch has a photo upload feature in beta that should be available shortly. Ron tells me that by the end of March it will be possible to take a photo of a document, upload it, and put it in a source.

Finally, there is something in the works to allow users to share information to work together on living genealogies, but it is too preliminary to give information on. Ron would love feedback if people want this.

Family Tree Update

Last week in the FamilySearch blog, David Green talked about several imminent Family Tree features. Expect these in the next couple of weeks. Below I’m semi-quoting from the article:

  • The Helper Feature available in New FamilySearch will be available for Family Tree.
  • It will be possible to restore a deleted person.
  • Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be able to request ordinances from the person page.
  • Users will be able to view and review a list of individuals designated as Not a Match.
  • Match merge will allow users to switch records back and forth from the left and right side of the page. (While Family Tree is sharing data with there will be some requirements for some persons to be on the left side and will not be switchable.)
  • If a merge fails, specific error messages will appear providing information on why the merge could not complete the merge and what to do.
  • Family Tree will allow users to print family group records and pedigree charts in PDF format.

Finally, access to will be discontinued in the near future.


  1. Please review comments made in . The Summary values used by Family Tree ignores what might be at least forty percent of the "Hidden Others" buried in common Person Identifiers in the database. It would be irresponsible for the department to ignore the "Hidden Others" by refusing to separate them before discontinuing patron access to the nFS database. The premise to use only the Summary value is flawed as long as Hidden Others remain.

  2. You write: "Finally, there is something in the works to allow users to share information to work together on living genealogies, but it is too preliminary to give information on. Ron would love feedback if people want this."
    I have been searching for something that our very extended family can use to combine their disparate family trees. We have 4 genetically distinct colonial families, and many subgroups in those 4 families. I would love to find something that would allow only approved individuals to edit information for "works in progress" so that each family expert could be responsible for their branch of the larger tree. Anything coming that might allow this?

    1. Greg. I suggest you investigate the Collaboration feature in Ancestral Quest software that allows researchers to work on the same database files with other researchers anywhere in the world. Changes made to a file by one collaborator can automatically be seen by all other collaborators without the need for importing or merging.

  3. You wrote: NFS is kept in sync with Family Tree. My tree information from NFS did not fully transfer to Family Tree, so I am a little concerned about NFS being deactivated. Any advice? Thank you.

    1. Can you give a specific example? Be sure to include PID, what you expected, and what you saw instead.


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