Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Comments about the New Ancestry

Screen shot from the Facts page of a person in New AncestryThank you to everyone for your comments. I have gotten stricter on comments about other commenters. I’m no longer accepting comments that characterize groups of other people in a bad light. I have appreciated commenters helping other commenters. For example, having several of you share your experiences with Family Tree Maker gives other readers a wider sampling than my personal experience.

I realize some of you are dissuaded from commenting because I require that you have an account with one of several systems. I apologize but that is one of several methodologies I have had to employ to avoid a growing number of spam posters.

Some of you make comments by replying to my newsletter emails. I encourage you to leave a comment instead so that others can benefit from your wisdom. Click the title in the newsletter and scroll down to the comments. Or click the comments link near the bottom of the email.

I see in’s 19th September New Ancestry update that they have noticed several of the issues you’ve raised here. They have acted on one of them (contrast), plan to act on a couple more (member connect and linking multiple people to an image), and have acknowledged one other (oval profile pictures).

While I encourage you to continue to share your thoughts through this forum, I see that Ancestry now solicits feedback through their established suggestion box. For New Ancestry feedback, they are suggesting the “General Feedback” category:

Regarding the feedback that there is far too much whitespace: I yearn for the good old days of 24 lines by 80 characters. Screen real estate was so valuable, programmers packed features into every square inch. I feel like you got far more functionality in that itty bitty space than you do in one screen today. I’m afraid utilitarian programmers have been replaced by graphic designers. It is true that interfaces are prettier, and more importantly, intuitive and easier for beginners. But my hands used to fly across the keyboard much faster than moving back and forth to the mouse. And I remember printing 12 generation pedigrees from PAF on 9 sheets of paper. No way it can be done now, despite better printer technology. , Much has been gained, but much has been lost for the experienced person, those willing to get over that initial learning curve.

The motel replaced the heat lamp bulb with a cool florescent bulb.Not to change the subject, but I had an interesting experience over the weekend. I was staying in a motel and awoke to a crisp, cool, September morning. As I left my warm bed, I looked forward to the bathroom heat lamp. The first switch turned on the regular light. When I flipped the second switch I was disappointed, but amused. The motel had replaced the heat lamp bulb with an energy efficient, long lasting, cool-to-the touch florescent bulb.

In our rush to improve upon the past, do we sometimes overlook why things were the way they were?


  1. Good to see Ancestry is really listening to me and I'm sure many others about the Contrast, oval photos and member connecting. I might try New Ancestry again soon, before being forced to use it.

  2. I'm not a software or web developer, but my understanding is that if ancestry released an API, it would be possible for hobbyists to modify the homepage for users who want more productivity (as opposed to better ease of use or aesthetic quality). Actually, come to think of it, an API could lead to a lot of different innovations. Perhaps it would increase the load on their servers, though (I'm not 100% sure how it works)? I wonder if creating an API is on their radar?

  3. Try to add a record to someone in your tree with just a first name. ex Sarah, born 1840ish in Ohio and nothing else. The pop up will only allow you type a name, no 'List all People' option! Can't scroll endlessly through all the Sarahs because the list in the 'type a name' drop down is limited. The tree has over 17,500 entries, so there are numerous Sarahs without a maiden name.

    Same problem on the search for a person drop down on an individual's page. The search drop down wants you to type a name. How about when you want to see all the people in the tree with a certain surname? You have to go to the graphic tree view and use the search drop down there to get a 'see list of all people' option. Once you get there BTW, be sure to bookmark the page!

    Tom Vought

    1. I've run into the same issue. I loved the old tree's ability to more easily get to the "see list of all people option" page, as you call it. I think it is a serious deficiency of the New Ancestry.


    2. I long ago realized that lists of Sarahs were not going to work, so if I don't know a maiden name--and I am a fiend for trying to find one--I use the married name thus, in the first name box: Sarah is married to Bruce McMillan. I make her FIRST name Sarah mcm, or mcmi if I think I may have a boatload of Sarah mcm's. The lower case tells me it is only an abbreviation of her husband's surname and I don't seem to get any worse hits on the still-clunky search engine, though of course it does change the way the name is read slightly, so I might get some Sarah Marys.

      However, I have steered well clear of New Ancestry, so I don't have any idea of how the issue you mention works in practice, but it is possible that this system would help. It sure helps me!

  4. My complaint about Ancestry in general is the lack of customer support other than through blogs or bulletin boards or social media which I am not too keen. I'm a seasoned genealogist and want to learn how to print out my documents. I have yet to find information about printing charts, fact sheets, etc in either the old or new Ancestry. When I have printed something, the font, layout, what's included is not under my control. I'm old fashioned and prefer written documentation that I can stick in my travel-reading bag and mark up with yellow highlighter or tab pages.


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