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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Record Search Pilot Release 1.5

In an announcement dated February 21, 2009, FamilySearch Labs described the changes made to Record Search Pilot in their release of Version 1.5. The changes include an updated home page, listing all of the collections in a single column, a new upgrade to the image viewer and improved help and feedback screens.

On the updated home page a map shows the number of collections available when your mouse hovers over a region and the drop down list of regions and collections has been changed.

The collections' list shows collections that are waypoints only, that is referrals to other Websites, and also collections that have no images.

The image viewer has been rearranged and adds image rotation, full screen view and the ability to print selected areas of an image.

The help and feedback screen have improved options to find answers to questions.

Although not dramatic changes, the functionality of the Website has been increased. The real issue with Record Search Pilot however, is the number of useful collections being added on a regular basis. As I have noted before, the number is not overwhelmingly large, as yet, but the steady increase in the availability of records makes this a more valuable site every month, especially because the records are free.

There were a number of comments to the Blog announcement of the upgrade indicating that people using older computer systems are experiencing a problem viewing the Website. As systems change and programs, such as Flash Player, get upgraded it is inevitable that older systems will lose the ability to view newer content. When upgrading software it is more important to incorporate new technology than it is to continue to support much older technology. The cost of upgrading you computer is now in the $300 range and costs much less than a new HDTV or many other appliances. Perhaps those people still using Windows 98 need to seriously evaluate their needs. I certainly sympathize with those on fixed incomes in this time of economic hardship, but computers have always changed and will continue to change and evolve in the future. As a consolation, many libraries, including Family History Centers, have free access to computers.

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