Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Family Tree Enhancements

Kenny Freestone unveiled the new Family Tree Enhancements on today with his post New Family Tree Enhancements in “Preview Mode” on the blog. Users can click on a link to observe the enhancements in his post.

Kenny's blog post explains the enhancements extremely well, so I don't want to duplicate them with my own examples. However, I was curious as to "what was added" to the family tree presentation and "what was taken away."

The short answer, as far as I can tell, is that nothing was taken away, and s list of sources was added. In addition, the pages look different. Kenny's blog post claimed that the new page format is faster for the user and less server intensive for

But there are differences in navigation, and there is one navigation problem that I've found so far.

Here is the current Family Tree Person Page for my great-grandfather, Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922):

The Navigation links in the above screen include the menu with Overview, People, Family Tree, Photos, Stories, and Audio. Below the person's name are links for Edit Profile, Search Historical Records and View Note. Below that are links for Ancestry Hints (which lead to records on that might apply to the person).

The screen shot below is the same Person Page with the new enhancements:

The light blue area at the top explains the enhancements made to the Family Tree pages.

There is a new link right below the person's name for "Show immediate family" which lists parents, spouses and children when clicked.

There are now two menu sets. The one just below the person's name has links for "View Family Tree," "Search historical records," "Print or publish," "View note," and "Options." There are no "Options" at this time.

The second menu set are tabs located just above the Person Page information labeled "Overview," "Facts and Sources," "Gallery," "Comments," "Hints" and "Community." The "Edit this Person" tab is on the right of the menu line.

The major new addition is, I think, the "Sources" page, which looks like this:

I could not find a similar page on the "old" Family Tree" page.

The old "People" screen is the new "Overview" screen. The old "Overview" screen (which summarized the database) is now missing, as far as I can tell.

The new "Facts and Sources" has a similar list of Facts to those in the old "Edit Profile" menu that included "Facts and Events" and had links to the Fact Source information. In the new pages, the Sources are much easier to find and are listed together rather than separately as in the old pages.

The new "Gallery" page is similar to the old "Photos" page. The "Comments," "Hints," and "Community" pages are new tabs.

Clicking on the "Family Tree" tab produces essentially the same pedigree chart, family chart and family group sheet content, although the new page looks a bit different.

The only problem I found was that I could not get back to the new Person Page "Overview" (the equivalent of the old "People" page) from the new "Family Tree" page. I had to go back to the old view, click on "People" and then click on the new Enhancement link to get back to it.

There are ways to get back to the "Overview" page by running the mouse over any person's name in the "Family Tree" view - a popup box has links in small print to "View Profile," "Edit" and "Search Records." That's fine, I guess, but it took me awhile to find it.

In my opinion, should add a noticeable link to go to the "Profile" or "Overview" page for the selected person while on the "Family Tree" page.

Note that these enhancements apply only to the Ancestry Member Trees (Public or Private), and not to the One World tree or Ancestry World Tree databases.

The web page says for the "Pedigree Chart" view that:

"Updates coming soon to Pedigree View
Next up in our preview of tree updates will be a new version of the pedigree view that will let you see more generations at one time, see your tree full screen, drag and grab your tree, and zoom in and out. Improved navigation will make it faster and easier to return to an ancestor profile page."

Oh. They covered my one complaint in the last sentence. Just saw it. Okay. Forget what I said...

Overall, I'm pleased with the enhancements for the Person Pages in the Family Trees. The navigation is very easy to use once you figure out what all of the buttons and tabs mean.

Have you noticed that always seems to be changing (enhancing? improving?) their web site - whether it is the "look and feel," the search algorithms, etc. I appreciate that - not many genealogy database providers are working as hard to improve their "user interface" and "look and feel" as does.
UPDATED 6/5: Thanks to reader Geolover for the additional comments. I missed several things in my initial post.


Geolover said...

Randy, thanks for your notes on this.

The "Sources" page is not new. In the old view, it is accessible from the box below list of children headed "Records", the link entitled "Source citations." Your screenshsot just misses showing the link (at lower right). In my first run through I could not find this page in the new view.

Besides the missing Tree Overview page, one helpful item deleted from new view is the box to the right of the main person's vitals (on the individual "People" page), listing

* Events 6
* Photos 1
* Stories 1
* Audio 0
* Videos 0
* Records 1
* Comments 0

with links to those and a handy drop-down menu to add items. This is the easiest navigation tool. It was replaced by the redundant tabs, which do not give the number-of-entries information.

The new view removes the Tree setup one more degree from documentation. It hides and combines transcripts of documents (which must be revoltingly entered as "stories"), uploaded document images, photos, and any multimedia items in a single "Media" box. In the old view, the different types could be quickly viewed on the general "People" page for the individual: thumbnails of photos, the brief description for comments, stories, etc. Now you must click on "Media" to see the same thing, roughly, and separately on the "Comments" tab to see those. Nothing on the new individual overview page indicates whether there *are* any comments, as did the handy box described above. For people who use "comments" for a collaborative effort in current research, the old setup is much handier.

There are other changes, but I have detected only one actual change in data available.

There are no improvements in navigation. There is still no way to upload a PDF file as a document.

A substitute for the Tree Overview page is the little gray arrow next to the name of the tree at upper left of the Person Page Preview; if you put your mouse cursor on it, you get a drop-down menu for some of the items available as links from the old Tree Overview page - but *not* the link to "People with hints".

The text/html page for "Relationships," accessible in old view as a tab from the "Edit Profile" page is gone. This was the only place to set type of relationship (adoption, etc.). It was a handy concise way to, say, compare lists of children from more than one marriage, and easy to edit these relationships or add children from there.

The old "Facts and Events" page, also accessible by tab from "Edit Profile" page, is also gone. This page in the new view is the "Events and Sources" page, in which you have to click on each one to edit. In the old view, you could go right into the field boxes (date, location, description) to edit a transposed date number or misspelling without the extra click (and load-time wait), and they were all viewable while doing the edit.

The Family Group Sheet still only shows one spouse and children by that spouse; how it picks which group to choose, I don't know; it does not appear to be related to time chronology.

I don't find the new view to have any improvements; the one change in content may be handy for some.le

Geolover said...

Oops, I completely missed seeing the "Edit this person" tab way over to the right in the New View, that takes you to the old "Edit Profile" easy-edit pages. So much redundancy, with 3 different ways to edit events, each with its own options:

1) EZ edit of event date, location and description as in old "Profile" pages all Vitals on one page, all other events on another. The Source options (add, delete, edit) and option to delete event are from links at far right that indicate whether there is a Source with the item, but not its nature;

2) EZ edit of event date, place and description, one by one on page accessed from "Timeline". The details on the Source are only visible here. Options to add, edit or delete Source, or to delete this Event.

3) From Overview page, Tab to "Facts and Sources" lists the Events and very truncated description of sources. Additional click required to edit or delete each event, from the same page as #2 above. This seems like a silly addition, since its intent appears to allow you to see where there are sources and what they are. But the descriptions of Sources are so abbreviated as to be meaningless if there are several deeds or estate-type items for a given Event.