Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Family Tree to replace New FamilySearch by year's end?

At RootsTech 2012, presenter Ron Tanner, Product Manager for New FamilySearch introduced an almost completely fully functional Family Tree program. Ron indicated that the program would go out to a "live" data Beta test sometime before its actual release. The program, as outlined, fulfills all of the requirements for a useful program, unlike the presently online Another highly significant piece of information was the fact that the program will be open to the whole world with no limitations just to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church). The comments from the audience showed the vast range of opinions about the current program and the need for the introduction of a more functional version of a family tree program.

There are several online programs that could and may have been used as basic models for the Family Tree program, such as, and a few others. But the main interface for the Family Tree program appears to be pedigree chart based after the Family Tree view in New FamilySearch. It is apparent to me that the Family Tree program is more than a simple update or revision of the existing program, but is an almost completely new program. One of the many significant things said by Ron Tanner in the introduction, which may have passed by most or the attendees, was his statement that the input for Family Tree will initially be the information that is now found in the Summary View of the New FamilySearch. There is therefore a degree of incentive to clean up the Summaries in New FamilySearch.

This need to clean up the data came home, once again, to me as I saw that Ron Tanner used much of the information I had contributed to as a basis for his examples in using the new Family Tree program. (I think we will have to stop using the term "new" or we will become hopelessly confused).

At the same time, I attended a large conference of members of the Church today and there was a request made that the members direct their attention at "doing their genealogy work." It was apparent that the message concerning the coming introduction of an entirely new program is not at all well known to Church members. I see the introduction of Family Tree to be a wake-up call to genealogists in and out of the Church to clean up their own databases and get ready to add sources and qualifications to the Family Tree program when they are able to do so.

There was some initial criticism of the form of the fields used for sources in the Family Tree program. I think that dwelling on the formalities of citation forms may severely discourage new genealogists from contributing their own valuable information. If anyone thinks they have a better citation form, it appears that the Family Tree program will allow the "authority" to modify the entries to conform with some outside citation standard.

Ron Tanner spent some considerable time in his presentation talking about the issue of "ownership" of genealogical information. The comments from the audience showed that there was a significant sense of ownership by the attendees. Ron called this phenomena "My-Tree-itis." From my own personal experience, I believe this may be one of the most serious obstacles to ever achieving a universally acceptable method of recording genealogical data.

If the Family Tree program works as demonstrated, it will eliminate a very large number of the problems with the existing program. In my opinion, what I saw is very close to getting it right.


  1. Regarding citations, I thought, perhaps erroneously, that programs like RootsMagic would upload citations to databases like nFS or the newer Family Tree. Am I wrong?

    1. New FamilySearch has no provisions for attaching sources to individual events, so genealogy programs cannot upload their source citations.

    2. I have sources in my PAF file for individual events, and in the early days of nFS, I uploaded my files via GEDCOM, and found that the sources went with them; however, the separate fields for the address of the repository had to be re-entered, since the original field in PAF includes the entire address. I have continued to add typed-in sources
      for new events as I located the information. The Family Tree has not carried over any of this information. I find it distressing to realize that my efforts will go away with the change to Family Tree in Thus far, the source fields in Family Tree apply to the person in general, not to specific events in the person's life.

      It is no wonder people don't add sources to their information. I have progressed through the early versions of PAF with sources in the notes, to later versions with actual source fields connected to events, to nFS...and here we go again. How many times is the method of sourcing our genealogy going to change???? This is getting ridiculous!

  2. Interesting and a good thing, I agree.

    However, I would disagree with Ron's dismissal as 'my-tree-itis'. There is so much garbage out there that until quality is a focus rather than quantity (which familysearch is guilty of in being more interested in throwing data up and not indexing, etc.) I will shy away from universal forums for tree information. Just my 2 cents plain.

  3. The easiest way to understand the current DIFFERENCE between and is this:

    FamilySearch = SEARCH records.

    New.FamilySearch = Build TREEs (FGRs-family group records, PCs-Pedigree Charts) --Wayne

  4. I have been doing genealogy research since before the internet was available. All these new sources on line are wonderful and I use them happily. However, it is very easy for people with great enthusiasm and little or no training to roar off in the wrong direction.

    My darling young niece has done this many times. The real answer is not only a better computer program, but for people to take things one step at a time and REALLY think about the information they have found. Really good genealogy research is like a forensic investigation. One must cross check one's information with as many sources as are available. It is not enough to include a suspected ancestor. One must also do the work to EXCLUDE a suspected ancestor.

    Some answers can be found in 20 minutes, other take 20 years. That is simply the nature of genealogy research if you sincerely want to know the truth.

    1. I agree....I learned genealogy at my mother's knee and spent years readying information for the roll out of the family search program in our temple years ago. I go in to find so much additions and non-merging that it is very frustrated. People don't accept info with the names that are already there...have to "ADD IT AGAIN". Very frustrating. At this for almost 50 years and still least trying to...


  6. What are the limitations with the New Family Search that are being addressed? That is, what are the 'missing requirements' being added? I've been using New Family Search for 2 years and am rather pleased with it. I know that some data is not always 'correct', but am willing to accept it... Thanks for clarifying the drivers here.