Monday, July 6, 2009

New Look for Family Trees - Post 2

I started my review of the Ancestry Member Tree "improvements" last week in New Look for Family Trees - Post 1. In this post, I want to look at the Person Pages and discuss them a bit.

In the previous post about the "Family Tree" page, I struggled to find a link to "View Profile" of a person. I finally found it as an icon on the "Family Group Sheet" and as a link in the "Pedigree View" and "Family View." When I click on "View Profile," I see (two screens):

The "Person Page" above shows the "Overview" tab information - the person's name, birth and death information, media gallery items (I have none at this time), Timeline of Facts (with number of sources noted), Parents, Spouse(s) and Children, Historical Records (I have none right now) and Web Links (I have none right now). The "Historical Records" area is where the downloaded records from databases would be listed. The "Web Links" is where a user might link to a static web page or blog post.

There are seven tabs on the menu bar - from "Overview" on the left to "Edit Person" on the right. Let's go left to right on these tabs:

When I click on the "Facts and Sources" tab, the "Facts and Events" page shows:

The link for "Sources" shows:

The Source information reflects the information included in the source citations I input for each fact in my database. I can add another source on this page, and delete a source, or edit an existing source by clicking on the source citation itself.

The "Media Gallery" tab permits addition of photo images, text stories, and uploading of video and/or audio files. Uploading files is easy and fast. If I want other researchers to see my research Notes, I need to copy and paste them from the "View Notes" page.

The "Comments" tab permits other researchers to make comments on the information for this person in my family tree.

If I clicked on the "Hints" tab, I could see what records and other Ancestry Member Tree entries were found for my Person:

The next tab to the right is the "Member Connect," where the user can find others with this person in their family tree. However, this feature is still in work.

The last tab on the far right is the "Edit this person" tab, where the user can edit the birth and death information for the Person.

Clicking on the place name link on any of these pages takes the user to the Ancestry Maps Beta page with a map courtesy of Microsoft Maps Live Search. There are stick pins in the locations associated with the person and the places in the Facts and Timeline.

Back on the general Person Page (the first two screens above), there are other links in the box for the Person, including "Ancestry Hints," "Show immediate family," "View family tree," "Search historical records," "Print or publish," "View note" and "More options."

I clicked on the "Show immediate family" and saw this screen:

The "View note" link provides a popup box with the Notes that were in my genealogy database:

The user can edit or remove these Notes, but there are no editing tools (font type, font size, bold, italics, underline, justification, etc.). There is a message at the top of the Notes field that says: "Notes can only be viewed by the owner and by those invited to the tree as an 'Editor'."

In the "Print or Publish" link, the user can "Print" the page out, or choose to "Create book from your family tree" or "Create a poster from your family tree," using the MyCanvas publishing tool. The "Print" option provides a page with very small text (it must be a 6-size font - I need a magnifier to read it).

The "More options" link enables the user to "Create a military page," "Find famous relatives" and "Save person to another tree."

From the Person Page, the user can navigate to another person in the tree by:

* Clicking on the underlined (linked) name of another person on the Person Page

* Clicking on the "View family tree" link in the Person's box (just above the "Overview" tab)

* Use the "Home person" or "List of all people" links, or put the name of a person in the "search for a person in the tree" field.

This "Person Page" is pretty complicated, with Navigation and Information links and tabs mixed together. It might "look" better if all of the Navigation items were in one row (perhaps at the top?) and all of the Information items for the Person were in one row (perhaps at the bottom of the Person frame?).

The one "content" item I really don't like is the "View Notes" link which is hidden from other users unless they are an "editor." Why is this? It's supposed to be a "Public Member Tree." I can understand the need to keep anybody but an "editor" to change the notes, but they should be visible to the reader. If other researchers could read the Person Notes, they might be able to judge the veracity of the information provided, or know that they could add to it using a "Comment." All of my "Stories" are in my "Notes" field, and it would be a time waster for me to copy and paste each of them into a "Stories" Media item. I also think that the Notes should be able to be printed out as part of a genealogy report.

Genealogy reports? Well, there aren't any options here other than to "Create book from your family Tree" using the MyCanvas option. I've tried to do this several times and have been frustrated by the results and the limitations of the MyCanvas publishing tool. My suggestion is that additional text reports be formatted to provide an ancestry report (in Ahnentafel format) for up to 5 or 6 generations, a descendant's report for 5 or 6 generations, and a descendant's chart indented by generation; all with options to print Notes and Source citations (as end notes). These are the three most useful reports on the Rootsweb WorldConnect and Ancestry One World Tree databases.

This latest Ancestry Member Tree presentation is, in my judgment, a significant improvement. It seems pretty logical to me - with tabs and links to the different pages for each Person. However, I find that it is very difficult to navigate from one generation to another in these Ancestry Member Trees (too many clicks, takes too long to load pages, etc.), and it is very difficult to print out a useful and readable pedigree chart, family group sheet or genealogy report.


Geolover said...

Randy, your last paragraph well sums up some of the limitations of this new presentation format: navigation problems, no improvement in load-time, and lack of ability to even print out an Ahnentafel or descendancy list as one can in WorldConnect.

It is not, after all, a genealogy program. Its purpose is to link with the databases on and to enable persons to take material from other trees.

The redundancies must have something to do with the 'Member connect' (enhanced "Hints") enterprise that will be rolled out in a couple of weeks. Different code strings are necessary to link with the different coding of items such as the things called "records" by (notes and extracts from books and images) and with individuals who have saved them in their trees or just to their shoeboxes, as well as with persons who have made comments or additions (called 'corrections') to the notes/extracts embodied in indexes.

The overall purpose of the Tree 'new view' is to integrate with's marketing program. One cannot view a 'hint' from a database if one is not a subscriber. Every time someone adds part of a different tree to their own tree, it multiplies the number of names that can be a marketing point.

This promotion of repetition is where the approach differs from the NewFamilySearch tree setup, although they are based on very similarly faulty genealogical databases.

It will be interesting to see what the final version of's "Member Tree" display looks like. How are they going to squeeze in the ads?

Roy Rowlett said...

There seems to be no way to upload a video, even though your earlier comment suggested that it could be done. What appears to be possible is to "create" a video with your webcam. A live shot, then saved to the site. If one has a video of a deceased person, this is fairly diffucult to achieve. There needs to be a way to upload rather than create a video.