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Monday, July 5, 2010

A Tour of the FamilySearch Beta


The layout of the FamilySearch Beta site is scheduled to replace the older FamilySearch.org layout sometime later this year (perhaps sooner rather than later). Here is a mini-tour of the new site:

The main part of the page contains a number of links. The Home link is self explanatory, it takes you back to the startup page. The Learn link is connected to a page with further links to the records now in RecordSearch Pilot (or FamilySearch Record Search), a link to share what you know, a link to forums and to learning online which includes the video classes from the FamilyHistory Library.

As you can see by navigating the site, most of the existing FamilySearch websites are more or less integrated into this new layout. Signing into the Beta site takes you to the LDS/FamilySearch sign-in page, but signing into the Beta site doesn't automatically sign you into Forums, for example.  It isn't clear what signing in does for you at this stage.

The search part of the Home page (see above) gives you a rather extensive search of all of the older FamilySearch resources, such as the Ancestral File and International Genealogical Index (IGI), and links to additional resources not previously connected. The Library Catalog search does give you the option of searching for place names, surnames and a lot of other options.

Clicking on search All Collections, takes you to a modified list of the collections presently in Record Search, with the additional options of a whole lot of filters:

You can limit your search by category, date, place and availability i.e. showing only collections with images.

There are links to FamilySearch Indexing and to a Blog. Indexing is the engine that is driving the whole machine right now. It is only through indexing that additional records with indexes are being added to Record Search.

 The Blog link is apparently also in the experimental stage, the number of posts is extremely limited. It is not clear if the Blog will become a venue for news or simply a way to explain features of the website.

There are obviously a whole lot more features to the Beta site. I suggest exploring the site and then sending in some feedback. There are certainly features that need to be better thought out and right now a few very circular links that lead nowhere, such as the What's New link that takes you to a page with no information and then back to the startup page. But overall it is an interesting concept site but does not obviously provide all of the features of the older FamilySearch.org site, yet.

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