Thursday, March 5, 2015

FamilySearch Family Tree 2014 and beyond (#RootsTech #RTATEAM)

Ron Tanner at RootsTech 2015At RootsTech last month Ron Tanner spoke about FamilySearch Family Tree and its future. Tanner is a product manager for FamilySearch.

Tanner first gave some history of Family Tree. In 2007 Tanner took part in a tiger team discussing what could be done different than New FamilySearch. They analyzed feedback and put together the “genealogy workflow.” He showed us a very detailed chart of the results of their research.

Ron Tanner's genealogy workflow chart

In March 2008 at the BYU Family History Technology Conference Tanner discussed the concept of an “Open Edit and Source Centric User Model for Family History.” You can see the paper and slides he presented here:

By April 2010 they had an internal prototype working. In February 2011 they launched an initial Family Tree pilot and invited selected sets of people to try it out. In October 2012 they released Family Tree to New FamilySearch users and in March 2013 they released it to the public.

Congratulations, Family Tree. You’re two years old, Tanner said. He then joked about user complaints that they change Family Tree too often. “We release Family Tree three times every day, so you better stay on your toes!”

Tanner said he doesn’t normally show the following numbers, but wanted us to know where things are at.

  • 2.5 million persons are added per month
  • 2.6 million conclusions are written per month
  • 4.5 million sources added each month
  • 1.1 billion persons in the tree
  • 89 million+ sources

FamilySearch 2014 Accomplishments

  • Two mobile applications
  • Descendancy view
  • Hinting [Tanner said 3.5% of images have been indexed.]
  • Quick attach
  • Research & data issues & hinting indicators
  • Private spaces for living [Family Tree was previously a window into living persons in New FamilySearch. If the user was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they, in turn, were linked to membership records. That is why you couldn’t make changes to the living persons within your purview.]
  • Memories attach/detach, change log
  • Add memory to existing source
  • Inline record data on search results
  • Record hint card
  • History list filtering
  • Preselect to move sources on merge
  • Source note size increased to 10,000 characters
  • New memories tab
  • Migrated user sources
  • Brightness/contrast in image viewer
  • Interactive world map
  • Catalog updates
  • Starting PID [sets the home person]
  • Descendancy expand/collapse
  • Re-root fan chart
  • Read-only banners [locked persons]
  • Portrait pedigree spousal carousel
  • Switch person during a merge
  • NFS PID forwarding
  • History list remove item
  • Delete legacy dispute discussion
  • Optional add to source box

Ron Tanner at RootsTech 20152015 Goals

  • Decommission new family search
    - You’ll be able to merge IOUSes
    - Also won’t get random changes attributed to FamilySearch
  • We’re going to go to every person in the tree and attach sources from IGI, AF, and PRF
  • We’re going to update the pedigree traditional view. That change is just a few weeks away.
    - Will no longer have to hover to get links to see parents, etc.
    - Scroll bars
    - Research suggestion, data problems, and hint icons
    - Dark, light versions
  • User to user messaging
    - Click to send message, even if there is no email address.
    - Little icon at top showing number of messages waiting
  • Data and research icons on person page
  • Links to easily unlink wrong child, parent, spouse

For more information, watch the presentation yourself on the RootsTech website. The URL is currently


  1. Hi,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Ron Tanner is paraphrased as saying, "We’re going to go to every person in the tree and attach sources from IGI, AF, and PRF."

    These are the major sources of the mess in new.FamilySearch, which mess has mostly been transferred to FS-FamilyTree.

    Surely you are not going to repeat this process. Please say you are not.


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