Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You can't avoid change and changes on FamilySearch Family Tree

Here is the simplest way I can think of to explain change and changes in the Family Tree. I will start by referring to some recent FamilySearch blog posts. Here is one statement made in a post clear back on November 10, 2014. Here is a quote from the blog post entitled, "FamilySearch Announces Milestone for Retirement of"
The next milestone is scheduled for February 1, 2015, when all access to the program will be discontinued (data from will be accessible at All public-facing Application Programming Interfaces (API) will be disabled, as well as access via login by all users of the program. In effect it will not be visible or accessible. However, there are still many tasks that our engineers will continue to work on, such as migrating and synchronizing datasets to Family Tree, as well as verifying and validating all data. Because of the enormity of the task and the desire to not lose any data, we can only give an estimate as to how long it will take to complete these final tasks. We believe it will take a year, possibly more, before we can reach the final milestone. 
The final milestone, where we completely retire will, therefore, occur in early 2016. At that point, once we are certain that all data has correctly migrated, we will begin work on very important data enhancements for Family Tree including:
  • Merging of gateway ancestors and other famous people (also known as IOUSs)
  • Highlighting and fixing other data issues, such as: individuals who are married before they are born, child older than a parent, child who is a spouse of a parent or grandparent, and such.
  • Ability for users to edit the gender of an ancestor.
  • Ability to see current spouse’s line by default.
If you try to access today, you will likely get a statement about the fact that will be turned off on February 1, 2015. The rest of the statement contains language very similar to that quoted above. Here is the statement from the notice:
On February 1, all public APIs (application programming interfaces) will be turned off, as will be the ability to access the program. This step is necessary as we enter the final phase, which is to transfer and synchronize all of the remaining data from to FamilySearch Family Tree. It is anticipated that this final phase of data testing, transfer, and retesting will require a year to complete. Once this phase is completed in early 2016, will be completely shut down. 
It is important to note that many highly desired features of FamilySearch Family Tree cannot begin to be developed until has reached the final milestone and is completely shut-off. Once that has happened, work can begin on features such as: 
  1. Merging of gateway ancestors and other people with large records.
  2. Highlighting and fixing other data eccentricities, such as when a person appears to have been married before birth, a child older than a parent, a child who is the spouse of parent or grandparent, and so on.
  3. The ability for users to change the gender of an ancestor.
  4. The ability to see a spouse’s ancestral line by default.
 Read these statements very carefully. You will find that FamilySearch is saying the following:

  1. Data is still being transferred from to FamilySearch Family Tree.
  2. Data will continue to be transferred even after is "turned off."
  3. That data transfer process will likely take at least another year until sometime in 2016. 
  4. Nothing will be much done to resolve the IOUS (Individuals of Unusual Size) aka legacy ancestors aka gateway ancestors aka people with large records until this transfer is complete.

Now, what this means is that as long as data is being transferred by FamilySearch from the program, changes will continue to show up in the Family Tree program.

This will continue to affect the ability to merge or effectively work with the people with large records. So, if you are working on trying to "correct" information about an ancestor, you may well experience some considerable frustration as FamilySearch continues to add data if by chance that data affects your ancestor.

In addition, suppose you have some ancestors that joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between 1830 and 1900. It is very possible that these ancestors have dozens or hundreds or even thousands of descendants who are now members of the Church. When you are trying to "fix" the information for these ancestors, you are in a sense competing with all the other descendants of that same person. So you may see a huge number of changes as various of your cousins start working on the program.

The combined changes of both FamilySearch and your cousins can become overwhelming. What do we do about this? Note the time frame set forth by FamilySearch above. Why not do something else until at least FamilySearch is done and has started to resolve the issues with your ancestors?

Meanwhile, FamilySearch is locking selected individuals in the Family Tree program. This will likely be done to many of the so-called gateway or IOUS ancestors. Here is an example of a Read Only detail page for President Abraham Lincoln:

This is likely to happen to many of those individuals in our ancestry that have thousands of descendants. This will help to stabilize the Family Tree.

Mean while, what can be done? You can work on cleaning up the Family Tree and working on descendants of those ancestors who are not IOUSs.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder why this is so hard for some folks to understand. They get quite frantic about it. Strange to me.