New FamilySearch Family Trees

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The new FamilySearch Family Tree entry for those of us who do not belong to the LDS Church is now available. I couldn’t help myself – I had a look to see what I could make of it.

It’s not really intuitive.

For example, have a look at the tree above and tell me what you think I should do next. Where do I put my father? My mother? Where does it explain that if I put living people in (and I wasn’t initially willing to) they won’t show up anywhere? Where does it tell me that they won’t show up anywhere?

The add and search screen are the same, so if you enter someone’s name hoping to add them and then fill in the fields for parents and spouse, you are not adding the parents and spouse, you are just searching for the person with these people connected to him/her, and you have to add them separately. And because the chart shows two people in each box where you would expect to see one, it’s difficult to work out where to put anyone at all.

I’ve added five people so far, including myself, and I can only see three on the tree, so I’m not spending any more time on it.

I have every respect for the work that FamilySearch do, but they really need to find some decent web developers and analysts.

3 comments on “New FamilySearch Family Trees

  1. Angela McGhie 7 March 2013 5:25 am

    You have a good point that there should be some instructions when you initially sign up to use FamilySearch Family Tree. I think your issues with it could be lessened if you understood two points about Family Tree:
    1) It is meant to be a database of deceased individuals and and not living individuals. It protects information on living people so that others cannot see it. While you can create a tree starting with yourself, most people keep their family information in a program on their own computer. You can search FamilySearch Family Tree for individuals you are researching to see if there are clues to information and relationships.
    2) In order to avoid creating duplicate entries for an individual the program asks you to search for them first to see if they are already in the database. If they are there then you can link them to your tree. If they are living they will not show up in a search in order to protect their information. If they are not already in the database then you can add them.

    I hope this helps.

  2. Carole 7 March 2013 7:05 am

    Thanks Angela. I don’t deny that some instructions might have been helpful. I’ve been filling in online family trees for a while now, and I expected to be able to do it easily without instructions. I did expect to be entering dead people but the tree as it was first presented to me had my name in the first box, as shown in the screenshot, and I am most certainly alive. So I just went with it as it was, as most people will.

    I can also understand that I should be searching to see if people are already in the tree before adding them, but my issue is that the search and add screen are the same, so it is not clear that I am searching first and not adding. Even once I worked this out I was adding people who were not being saved, and searching for them showed they had not been added (or not being found), and that’s where I gave up.

    I used to develop software for a living, and in my experience the more instructions you have to give people about how to use the software the more they will get things wrong. It should be obvious to anyone what they have to do and why. Family trees are not new, it’s not like they’ve had to develop something new.

    I have every respect for FamilySearch and the work that they do, and I really wanted to try this as soon as I was able to as I think this is the best place for a universal family tree where everyone puts their data. As it stands I cannot possibly recommend it as the software just doesn’t make sense.

  3. Tanya 7 March 2013 12:01 pm

    I too, found out that adding too much information before searching would just loose all that input. And then you need to add it all again later if there is no match.
    It took awhile, but I did figure it out eventually.
    I was thrilled to find Family Search tree info online. I have a few LDS family members that the records they added where unavailable to me. Now, I have found them and was able to add a couple family members I didn’t have in my tree yet.
    The Add Husband and Add wife is so odd when it should be parents instead in my opinion.
    And when you go to add Husband or wife it asks for sex?
    Anyway, it will improve over time I’m sure and will use it as more information gathering.

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