RootsTech 2015

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Amazing, really cool developments from Ancestry.com

I was teaching a class on Ancestry.com today and low and behold, there were these amazing visual effects. It was so cool! Here is a screen shot showing the new features:


First, the family you are working on is highlighted in a color with the head of household in a contrasting color. Second, as you scroll across, there is a pop-up list of everyone on the U.S. Census page. The list follows across like a split screen in a spreadsheet. There is also another pop-up list at the top with tags showing the definitions of the columns. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten lost trying to move across a blown up Census page. This seems so simple and so obvious an addition, that I assumed that I had somehow missed seeing this new feature and it had been there a long time. But I know that it hasn't been more than one or two days since I was last on Ancestry.com and I haven't changed any settings.

Since I noticed this first on the Library Edition at the Mesa FamilySearch Library and then found the same changes when I got home today, I suppose it works on both programs. I decided to look back through the Ancestry.com blog posts to see if I had just missed the boat. Nope, I couldn't find anything. Of course, if I read the 100+ blog posts waiting for me in Feedly.com, I will likely find that everyone else already knew about the change. It is amazing how I am excited by very simple things.

Thanks, Ancestry.com.

9 comments:

  1. These wonderful tools that Ancestry develops and provides to help us are the reason I get aggravated when I read all the criticisms of Ancestry just because it's a subscription site. It's a wonderful resource and I'm grateful for it.

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  2. Hi James,

    I don't know what the official name for it is, but internally we call it "Gridlines". My team has been developing it for the last few years and we roll it out one collection at a time. It involves several teams and processes, starting with the early part of the Imaging pipeline, in which we first dewarp the image to get it back as rectangular as possible and then we register a form template against it, trying to match up corners and line intersections as closely as possible. When you know on a pixel level where everything is, you can do things in the viewer, like record highlighting, that make it seem like you _understand_ the document's content. I've been trying to get the guy on my team who is considered the principal investigator for this technology to write a blog post for our TechRoots series. BTW, I used one of your images (with your permission) in one of my blog posts about our Image Processing Pipeline. Does that sound familiar? I enjoy your blog and rely on Feedly on my Android to let me read everything you write! Thanks!

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    1. Thanks so much for your response, you certainly have my permission to use my screenshots or whatever from my posts.

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  3. I've seen it on some Census documents on Ancestry.com in the last couple weeks and not on others. I'm hoping the feature will roll out to all of the Census documents. It is very helpful!

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    1. See the previous comment. It will probably take some time but will roll out on more collections.

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  4. This change was announced at the Ancestry.com keynote, RootsTech 2012. I have been using it on some census years for many months. It seems strange to me that someone who uses the site as often as you just sees this now... Hmmm

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    1. I wonder what more I missed at RootsTech 2013? I was a little bit preoccupied during the Keynotes. Thanks for your comments as always.

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    1. Well, that would probably explain why I didn't remember hearing about it. Thanks for the clarification. I always welcome corrections.

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