The luck of the Irish may have been wanting last week, depending on who you are. Ancestry.com announced they had shut down Old Search.
“Over the years, we have been maintaining two separate search experiences – ‘Old Search’ and ‘Primary Search.’” said Katharine Nester, director of product management at Ancestry.com. “We’ve consolidated the two systems…. This consolidated search brings forward and improves the best features of both search experiences.”
Maintaining old search was problematic. Having two technologies increased the complexity of adding improvements. The technology used to support old search was outdated and fragile. (You’ve probably experienced this yourself. You find your computer so old that the manufacturer will no longer sell parts for it. Or you find Microsoft no longer provides support for your operating system, which by the way, is happening next month for Windows XP. If something breaks, you’re toast. That means Ancestry.com can gracefully retire Old Search, or one day a blown transistor will catastrophically do it for them.)
Retiring Old Search brings benefits as well. “[It will] allow us to direct more investment into other areas like adding more record collections and correcting transcriptions on existing collections,” said Nester. Meanwhile, improvements in what used to be called ‘New Search’ will continue. “We will be continuing to improve our search over this year and have improvements planned in our location data, relevancy, results filtering, and more.”
As might be expected, users response from those feeling strongly enough to respond has been almost completely negative. Users have complained variously that New Search is too complex and forces them to change while providing no increase in productivity. Many of the users complaints are addressed by using “Category Exact Mode,” which interestingly, Ancestry.com didn’t mention in the shutdown announcement. I wonder if they are backing away from it. If you want to try it out see, “How to simulate old search using category exact mode” in the Ancestry.com help system.
To read the entire announcement, see “A Fond Farewell to ‘Old Search’” on the Ancestry.com blog.