Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ron Tanner Discusses Family Tree Road Map at - #BYUFHGC

Ron Tanner at RootsTech 2015Ron Tanner, product manager for FamilySearch Family Tree spoke to the topic “FamilySearch Family Tree Road Map” at the 2015 BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. Perhaps because of his no nonsense presentation style, attendees also peppered him with a lot of tough questions. Today I’ll present his prepared material. Next week I’ll share the questions and answers.

FamilySearch Family Tree is different from any other tree on the Internet, Ron said. The Tree is open. Anyone can fix errors. Someone new reaps the benefits of all the work that has come before. Some studies say as much as 80% of research is duplicate work. We are running about 500 thousand new persons added to the Tree every week. There are now about 1.1 billion people in the tree. The duplication rate is monitored very closely.

In 2015 FamilySearch has added many new features.

Tip tray. Down in the bottom right hand corner is a light bulb icon. Click the icon and a tray slides in from the right with tips for using the page. Not every page has one.

Landscape tree view. FamilySearch put in pictures and marriage information. They get complaints that because of these additions users cannot see as many people on screen. Click Show in the upper right corner to turn these on and off. If you turn everything off, you can see more than before these changes.

Dismiss suggestions. Suggested record hints can be dismissed. Click “Not a Match.” This dismisses it for everyone.

Ron shared features planned for Family Tree.

User messaging. Collaboration in Family Tree is extremely important. One change can affect hundreds of people working on that line. But some people can’t be contacted because they are not comfortable sharing their email address. FamilySearch is very close to releasing a messaging system that allows users to exchange messages without revealing email addresses. The messaging system is currently available on Ron invited attendees to get a friend and send some messages back and forth. To send a message, go to a conclusion, click on the name of the contributor. At the bottom of the person’s information is a link to send a message. The system adds a link to the person in question. You add a message. When the recipient logs onto FamilySearch, at the top they will see the number of messages they have received, but not read. Click messages to go to your Inbox. Both sent and received messages are shown in the Inbox, but you can delete them.

Stop synchronizing with NFS. Family Tree synchronizes with New FamilySearch (NFS) because NFS contains some code not yet implemented in Family Tree. Once synchronization between the two has ceased, there will be no issues preventing merging of duplicate records, there will be no automated contributions attributed to FamilySearch, and performance will improve.

Impendence features. FamilySearch is working on ways to discourage or impede improper changes, without preventing proper ones. Here are several under consideration:

  • Allow you to delete a person only if you are the creator and only contributor. Otherwise, you must submit a support request.
  • Show a list of all those watching a person. List the contact names. The idea is that a user, seeing all the people watching a person, will think twice before making changes.
  • Provide faster change notifications, perhaps daily or immediately.

Sharing of living persons. Today, persons in the tree exist in either a public space or a private space. Each user has their own private space containing all the living persons they created or FamilySearch created for them. When you change a living person’s record, it changes only the copy in your private space. No one else sees the changes. FamilySearch is planning to create a third type of view: a shared view. You create another space and invite others to see it. Participants can be given moderator, read/write, or read-only access. Participants can put stories and photos on the living family members in the shared view. Everyone sees everything in the shared view.

Hinting on mobile app. Users of the Family Tree mobile app will be able to see and accept hints.


  1. I am about to give up on this after years. It seems like I am spending all of my time redoing stuff I have already done and not getting to new research. The other day I found that one of my lines which had previously been okay now had the wrong 3rd great grandparents totally. When I checked the changed record, there were more than 50 changes for the couple done by family search. I contacted the one change that had been done by a real person and it wasn't right for him either. All the merges by family search had created people who didn't exist. How is that helpful?

  2. that's why they are working very hard to disconnect Family Tree from new.familysearch. However, the process has been likened to changing the engine on a jet while in flight. Right now we get lots of experience in correcting, patience, and deep breathing :D


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