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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Watching FamilySearch Family Tree Grow

New.FamilySearch.org (NFS) never officially got out of Beta testing. If you review the cumulative list of all of the changes made to NFS cited in "A User's Guide to the New FamilySearch Website (14 March 2012)" available in the NFS Help Center, you will find the following list at Appendix I:
The website has had these releases:
• June 2007
• November 2007
• February 2008
• May 2008
• August 2008
• November 2008
• February 2009
• May 2009
• August 2009
• December 2009
• March 2010
• June 2010
• August 2010
• December 2010
Note, the last release of the program took place in December 2010. The last update took place in October 2011, over six months ago. the NFS replacement, FamilySearch Family Tree,  was announced at RootsTech 2012 in February, 2012. At the time of the announcement, it was made clear that Family Tree was not in Beta testing. It was a live program, although subject to additional modification.

Family Tree did not just spring forth instantly from FamilySearch in February of 2012. It had to have been in development for a considerable time. It is comforting to realize this fact, because it shows that FamilySearch really was trying to solve the problems encountered with the release of NFS.

So what can we learn from the Help Center user's guide, "Using the FamilySearch Family Tree (2 May 2012)?" It turns out we can learn some very interesting things.

Here is the official statement concerning the content of Family Tree from page 103 of the user's guide;
Where the Information in the FamilySearch Family Tree Came From
Several different databases of information were combined to create new.familysearch.org.
That information was then added to the FamilySearch Family Tree.
The information originally came from the following systems:
• Other systems to which people contributed family history information, including
information in Ancestral File, the Pedigree Resource File, and the International
Genealogical Index.
• Information that was obtained through the Family Record Extraction and Stake Record
Extraction programs that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operated in
the past.
You cannot correct records that were obtained through extraction projects.
Note: Information obtained through the FamilySearch indexing program is not added
to the new FamilySearch website or the FamilySearch Family Tree. This information is
made available through the FamilySearch.org website instead. To search these records,
go to http://www.familysearch.org.
Many changes have been made in both versions of the database.
 What this means is that some of the duplications and issues present in NFS are going to show up in Family Tree. As a matter of fact they do. For example, an individual in NFS who was listed with a number of alternative names due to difference in spelling, initials or other issues, shows up in Family Tree as Alternative Names in the Other Information category. Here is a list of names from one of my ancestors:
Alternate Name 
As a matter of note, all of these variations happen to be incorrect. The good news is that you can now go into Family Tree and delete the inaccurate information. The bad news is that it all comes over to Family Tree in the first place. Why don't I just ignore the inaccurate information? If you have read this blog for any time, you can probably answer that question yourself.

So, what we have is a new program (that seems to work very well so far) called Family Tree and an old program called NFS, no longer being updated, that is a mess for some of the users. If you would like to see where the two program stand, look at Appendix C to the Family Tree users guide where they have a "Feature Comparison between the FamilySearch Family Tree and new.familysearch.org."
FamilySearch makes the statement, "Check back frequently to see what new features have been
added." You can be sure I will and you can also be sure I will comment on the changes here in this blog.

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