Wednesday, July 29, 2009 Changes Record Image Pages

The blog had two posts yesterday about changes to the Record Image Pages, Editing the Index and the Member Connect feature. You can read them at:

* Enhanced Editing and Image Page by Anne Mitchell. This post points out that there are only a few databases using this feature - the 1860 and 1870 US census, the 1861 and 1971 Canada census, and the 1861 and 1871 UK census.

* Member Connect: Discover More by Connecting with Other Members by David Graham. This post provides detail about Member Connect, including its presence on the Record Image page.

I wanted to try the Enhanced Image Page feature, so I signed into Ancestry and my home page came up:

Hmm, doesn't look like it did before. There's a big blob of "Recent Member Connect Activity" right at the top where the handy Search Box used to be. Do I really care that some other researcher added a record to an obscure ancestor in their database? But, I can change my home page - right? I can delete this feature or at least move it down on the page to where I cannot see it but could find it if I cared to.

I clicked on the "Customize this page" and, after a wait of several minutes, this page came up:

Umm, "There was a problem handling your request. Please try again in a moment." I waited at least three moments, and hit Refresh... and my system locked up big-time. After ten minutes of waiting and fuming, I went in to get cleaned up and came back after 15 minutes and everything seemed to work again. Lesson learned: Don't try to customize your home page right after a major change has been made. It looks like nobody else liked it either!

OK, on to the new Record Image Viewer! I looked for the 1870 census image for Seaver Torgerson (I mentioned him back in Tracking Torger in the Census Records), and when I clicked on "View Image" I saw (with my Windows menus showing):

There is the image in the middle, the index results are at the bottom, and on the right sidebar are tabs for the Member connect and Source. When I go to full screen, the image view expands:

Just above the image are two rows of links or buttons to:

* Maximize Image
* Print
* Order
* Share
* Options

* Zoom In
* Zoom Out
* Magnify
* Report Problems

The page number is off to the right with back or forward arrows for navigation within a township.

On the right sidebar, the Source tab provides information about the Citation, Information and Description. This is probably the best feature on the Enhanced page - now I don't have to click back to the Record page to see the page number, microfilm and roll number, etc.

I scrolled down to see the lines that were in the index at the bottom of the screen. Torger and his wife were the last two rows on the image:

For the 1870 US Census, the index information shown is Family Number, surname, given Name, Age, Estimated Birth Year, Gender, Race and Birthplace. The user can edit all of the Index information, not just the names.

There is one really neat feature added to this enhanced image page that I had not heard about - the Magnify tool. If you click the "Magnify" link in the second menu row, you can magnify a small portion of the image - as shown below:

I think that is really helpful and even cool. Of course, I would love to be able to magnify more of the image (for presentation reasons!).

If the use does not want the Index lines at the bottom or the Member connect/Source information at the right, they can click on the "Maximize Record" in the first menu row:

Again, this is a useful feature, especially if someone is transcribing the record information into a genealogy program or to paper.

I wondered what the "Options" button did, so I clicked on it:

The Options available are (with a check mark for those currently used):

* Use the Advanced viewer
* Use Enhanced Images
* Use Compressed Images
* Use Image Thumbnail

Are you confused by all of these changes? There is a handy "Help" link at the top right of the screen. I clicked on it and a new window showed me:

I really like all of the Record Image changes, and love the index, source and magnify features. They've made a really big deal about Member Connect, and, frankly, it doesn't really excite me much - just me, I guess.

I will deal with correcting items in the Index feature in another post since this one got pretty long.

What do you think? Do you like the enhanced record image page? What about Member Connect? Is it useful on the home page? Tell Ancestry on their blog or comment here - they usually read my posts.


Miz J said...

Randy, I agree with you on both points: the enhanced image viewing is a beneficial change, and the Member Connect feature leaves me cold. I checked out a couple of its suggested connections, and could tell that I would gain nothing from the connection. It is possible that those who are too lazy to do their own research could benefit from my hard work, on the other hand. I already have seen enough incidences of Ancestry members attaching my information, and then Ancestry feeding it back to me with a "leaf" icon. I know it's my research, because of the specificity of my location data that I hadn't seen anywhere else before. To add "insult to injury" (an exaggeration, but...), the other member had committed my pet peeve of changing the country to "USA" - for an event in the 1750's. [Insert roll-eyes emoticon]

Thanks for your insightful blog post, Randy. I always enjoy your take on getting the most out of resources.

Craig said...

I agree with most of what you have said, as a newer researcher, I have found the member connect a great way to jump start my research on some lines where I had been stuck for a while, Why should I reinvent the wheel when my third cousin in Alabama already found the parish record for my ancestor. I think everyone should exercise due diligence in accepting others research, but a pointer in the right direction can always be helpful. I can see how for Mr. Seaver it might not be as advantageous, I guess that is why you can hide/disable that feature.

Geolover said...

Randy, you have not even touched on the 'Member Connect' additions to your Tree. Well maybe you have not had a lot of people copy your stuff recently, or copy other versions of your family (with or without oddities and outright inventions from other trees, including OneWorldTree).

Like Miz J I hate having stuff lifted from material I've posted routed back to me via others' Trees, especially when it is mingled with wholly erroneous material that others have lifted from sundry trees. keeps saying this is going to help with research on "your ancestors," but in my Tree the mishigas is applied to second spouses of distant cousins' spouses as well as to people who never had children.

It is in my opinion an unattractive and redundant enterprise (one can already easily find people who have your people in their Trees) promoting make-believe genealogy.

And there is no way to opt out of the notifications or to easily get rid of them. You have to click on 'ignore' one by one, even if you already did that when the same Tree items were presented as Ancestry Hints. Many, many expletives deleted.