Wednesday, March 5, 2014

#RootsTech – FamilySearch Family Tree: What’s Next

Ron Tanner speaks at RootsTech 2014On Thursday, Ron Tanner, a FamilySearch product manager, presented the session, “FamilySearch Family Tree: What’s New and What’s Next.”

“Some reports estimate that we duplicate up to 80% of our research,” said Tanner. “I want us to quit doing that.” He said that using Family Tree, we can eliminate duplication by working together.

“I’ve got a few ideas I’d like to share with you as you consider working in Family Tree together,” he said.

  • Be objective.
  • Be courteous.
  • Be patient.
  • If you edit, share your email.
  • Assume the other person is well intentioned.
  • Write good reason statements.
  • Don’t make changes just because you “know.” Use sources.
  • Rarely delete a person. Usually, the person belongs to a different family. Don’t delete the person, just remove them from the family.
  • Don’t guess when merging. Do your homework.
  • If the possible duplicates list presents a person who is not a duplicate, use “not a match” to remove them from the list.

New FamilySearch is now read-only; that is, users can’t change it directly. However, FamilySearch still synchronizes new FamilySearch and Family Tree. That’s because behind the scenes there are still necessary parts of the system that work only for new FamilySearch. When those parts have been implemented for Family Tree, then the synchronization between the two can be broken. Until that happens, it will not be possible to merge IOUSes. (See “Medieval IOUSes in FamilySearch Family Tree.”)

“Family Tree continues to evolve. We release a new version approximately every two weeks,” said Tanner. “We only do that to make it better, not to keep you confused.”

FamilySearch is working on an Android and iOS app that will allow you to interact with Family Tree. (For a little more information, see my story, “Find A Grave App Coming Soon, FamilySearch to Follow.”)

FamilySearch is working on a smart phone app for Family Tree

FamilySearch is also working on adding support for living persons into Family Tree. Matching deceased persons exist in both New FamilySearch and Family Tree and are synchronized between the two. This is not the case for living persons. Behind the scenes, living persons are stored only in New FamilySearch. There are no living persons in Family Tree. The software just makes it look like there are. Consequently, you can’t attach a source to a living person or attach a life sketch, or see a change log. If you and the living person are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can’t even change vital information about them. These limitations will all go away after FamilySearch adds living persons into Family Tree.

The living persons you add will remain private to you. You don’t have to worry that they will be shown to other people. In the future, probably not this year, you will be able to share your living persons with others so you can work together as a living family.

FamilySearch is also adding record hinting. (It sounds like’s shakey leaves.) On the person page FamilySearch will list possible matching records, both from their own records and from as many of their partners as they can.

Hints to matching records are coming to FamilySearch Family Tree

Clicking “Show All” will take you to a page that lists all the matching records.

Another thing FamilySearch is doing is a descendancy view.

A descendancy view is planned for FamilySearch Family Tree

FamilySearch Family Tree Numbers

310,000 people visit or use Family Tree each week.

500,000 conclusions (birth, death, burial, and other facts) are added each week.

320,000 new persons are added every week.

In New FamilySearch 1 out of every 4 combines was undone. In Family Tree, 1 out of every 100 merges is undone.

12 million sources have been added to Family Tree.

320,000 new sources are added each week.

When Tanner made this presentation to members of the Church on Saturday, he mentioned another feature. Members have asked for the ability to show all an ancestor’s temple ordinances. That will be possible on the new Ordinances tab.

FamilySearch will be trying again (perhaps before you read this) to move the old New FamilySearch sources over to Family Tree. In their last attempt they experienced a glitch and missed several million.

Tanner is going to try to add a feature allowing users to send private messages to other users without knowing their email addresses.

“I know that when we all work together, we can do amazing things,” said Tanner. “I know that we can do that in Family Tree and document the genealogy of the world.”

You can watch Ron Tanner’s presentation in full on the website.

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