RootsTech 2014

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

FamilySearch -- Looking Forward, Looking Back

With some significant additions, and some significant deletions FamilySearch.org has made the past year interesting. Visually and functionally the program is essentially the same as it was at the beginning of 2012. The main addition to the program involves the addition of one pulldown menu item for Family Tree. However, even this change to the homepage is only visible if you register and sign into the program. Of course, the major project during the year was the indexing of the 1940 US Federal Census. Additions to the Historical Record Collections continued unabated and in fact, accelerated during the year. On January 1, 2013 there were 1413 collections comprising millions upon millions of records. New collections were being added regularly. The value of these collections increases daily as additions are made from the digitized microfilm records.

Focusing solely on the Historical Record Collections, the website is a fantastic success. Supporting this success was the phenomenal effort of the worldwide volunteers working on indexing the records.

Significant increases were also made to the FamilySearch.org Research Wiki. The Research Wiki ended the year with 70,170 articles not including articles concerning the structure of the wiki or help pages. During the calendar year 2012, there were a number of ongoing wiki projects which helped to add significant content to the wiki. The Research Wiki still suffers from a lack of visibility and recognition.

Almost 2 years ago at the RootsTech conference in 2011, FamilySearch.org announced the TechTips website. 2012 saw the consolidation of the TechTips website into the FamilySearch.org Blog. This process is ongoing. Combining the TechTips website with the  FamilySearch.org Blog essentially solves the visibility problem of the older website.

2013 saw the end of the FamilySearch.org Forums. There is some indication that the program will be replaced with another but there is presently no indication of what that program might entail.

During calendar year 2012 there was a major announcement of editions to the digitized books available on the website. Since its original announcement there's been very little additional mention of new material being added. Since there is nothing that shows how many books of been digitized for which books of been recently added there's no way of knowing how many books are currently available and whether or not they are continuing to be added to the collection. Any new books that are available in digitized format should show up in the Family History Library Catalog.

The addition of Family Tree was easily one of the outstanding developments of 2012. However, at the end of the year the transition from New.FamilySearch.org is far from complete. The data in Family Tree still suffers from the extensive duplication inherited from New.FamilySearch.org. Further, unfortunately, changes made in the New.FamilySearch.org program continue to show up in Family Tree. Therefore the usefulness of the program is severely limited. One interesting development, was the addition of FamilySearch.org Photos, allowing users to add their own photos to FamilySearch.org. Ultimately, the Photos program will be linked to the Family Tree program.

We are still waiting for usable version of Family Tree, hopefully, during this coming year the data issues will be worked out in the program will become even more valuable.

During the past year, I heard numerous mentions of new designs for the homepage for FamilySearch.org. However, no substantial changes were made during the year. Perhaps, 2013 will be different.

Obviously, the Historical Record Collections will become even more valuable as additional collections are added during the year. Additionally, there is no question that the Research Wiki will also continue to increase in value.


1 comment:

  1. Love your blog and hope you are feeling better! Have a wonderful 2013.

    ReplyDelete