Monday, September 8, 2008

Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Post 24: Web Search III

I installed FamilyTreeMaker 2008 in early July and uploaded a large database to see how it worked. I also started a new database to test other program features. Please see the list at Using FamilyTreeMaker 2008 - Summary of Posts for all of the posts in this series.

In the last post, I demonstrated how to merge ancestral information found in using Web Search. In this post, I want to show what happens when the user clicks on the item on the left hand panel list of web sites accessible using FTM 2008. For this part of the series, I'm using my great-great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver (1823-1901), in my database as a starting point for these posts about Web Search.

In Web Search, I clicked on the item in the left-hand panel and the screen below appeared:

The text box says:

Family Tree Maker’s Web Clipping feature helps you quickly gather data and images to merge to your tree.

Facts (select the Facts tab in the lower pane)

1. Highlight the text you want.
2. From the menu that appears, select the fact type, then the data field.

The selected text is copied to the Search result detail pane, ready to merge.

Media (select the Media tab in the lower pane)

1. As you move the mouse pointer over an image on the web page, a frame appears around the image.
2. Click the image.

The image is copied to the Search result detail pane, ready to merge.

Notes (select the Notes tab in the lower pane)

1. Highlight the text you want.
2. From the menu that appears, select Insert Note.

The text is copied to the Search result detail pane, ready to merge as a note.

OK, that's pretty cool - they help you with directions, depending on the Tab (Facts, Media or notes) that is open on the lower panel. I clicked the OK button on the Text Box and a Rootsweb search screen appeared:

I clicked the 'Exact matches only" item since I wanted to find information pertaining only to my specific Isaac Seaver. I clicked the "Search" button on the panel and a Google search of appeared - the top half is below:

And the bottom half is below:

So Google found 6 matches using the terms ["isaac seaver"] and ["seaver isaac"]. Unfortunately, only two of them were for my specific Isaac Seaver (1823-1901) - even though the Rootsweb search box clearly specified a birth year and a death year, the search didn't account for it.

The third match on the list is for a SEAVER mailing list on Rootsweb where somebody named Randy Seaver (note the outdated email address) posted his Seaver line in 1999. The top of the mailing list post is shown below:

And the bottom of the mailing list post is below:

We've learned several things in this process - that FTM 2008 can obtain web search results from web sites other than, and that it uses Google to search the site (note that it uses, not

But wait - the user-submitted WorldConnect family tree databases are on - why didn't FTM 2008 find information in that database, which is a major part of Rootsweb, and includes birth and death dates. This is a major flaw in the FTM 2008 search, I think - if you are going to search a web site, you should search all of it, not just the "text part" of it.

Of course, the Rootsweb WorldConnect family trees are also on the World Family Tree database - which is free for any user on Ancestry. But researchers using FTM 2008 might not even click on the link if they don't have an Ancestry subscription.

There are other databases available on - for instance, the California Death Index 1940-1997. I checked the FTM 2008 search for my father, Frederick Seaver (1911-1983), who is in the California Death Index, and the FTM 2008 Web Search does not return the match.

There are several matches for Isaac Seaver on the Rootsweb/Ancestry message boards also - and the FTM 2008 Web Search using does not find those posts either.

It appears that the only information returned by the FTM 2008 Web Search for is the mailing lists. For "truth in advertising," FamilyTreeMaker 2008 should indicate that the Web Search searches only the Mailing List archives.

In the next post, I will demonstrate how to merge results found in can be merged into the FTM 2008 database.

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