FamilySearch.org has published a list of six things to look or in FamilySearch in 2017. Some of them, such as the Personalized Dashboard, have been around for a while in Beta tests or to selected users of the website, but others promise some interesting new options.
First on my list are the touted, New Indexing Tools. Excuse me if I am skeptical, but they have been announcing and Beta testing an online Indexing program for several years. I certainly hope that this is an accurate prediction and that they have worked out all the previous problems that prevented the program for being generally released. Here is the announcement.
“We are really excited to launch the web-based version of our successful indexing software in 2017," said Craig Miller, FamilySearch's Senior Vice President of Product Development and Engineering. "It will be easy to use and will work on any digital device with a web browser (excluding cell phones), eliminating the need to download the indexing software. That means more volunteers worldwide will be able to contribute in making more of the world’s historical records searchable by name online, and more quickly.”
Indexing is the nifty, web-based tool FamilySearch volunteers use to make hundreds of millions of historic records worldwide searchable by name for free online each year. These indexes are the secret ingredient to your ability to discover ancestral connections online quickly and easily. Additional innovations to the tool in 2017 will include more rapid completion of tasks, improved help, and even automated indexing for some record sets (obituaries) which means more records searchable at your fingertips, faster.I tend to think that if Craig Miller is making a formal statement, it will very likely happen. However, there is yet no specific date mentioned for the release.
The FamilySearch post also mentions the ongoing addition of new historical records. Here is what they say:
Over 330 FamilySearch digital camera teams worldwide will digitally preserve 125–150 million historical records in 2017 for free online access. Another 200 million images will be added from FamilySearch's microfilm conversion project that uses 25 specialized machines to convert its vast microfilm collection at its Granite Mountain Records Vault for online access. Over 30 percent of the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm have already been digitized and published online. The digital collections can be located in the FamilySearch catalog online and by perusing collection lists by location.
FamilySearch's online community of volunteers will be focused on creating searchable name indexes to two major collections in the United States (marriage records and immigration records that will include passenger lists, border crossings, and naturalization petitions), and core record collections from select high priority countries.I have heard different estimates of both the percentage of microfilmed records that have been digitized from the Granite Vault and the number being put online than those stated in the article. It is important to note that the place to go to find these new collections is the FamilySearch.org catalog not necessarily the Historical Record Collections. It appears that some collections are showing up in the FamilySearch.org Catalog before they are added to the Historical Record Collections.
In addition to the items I have already mentioned, FamilySearch.org will be upgrading their apps; FamilySearch Family Tree and FamilySearch Memories, improving their searches and adding functions to their dashboard (the opening screens you see when you sign into the program). They will also continue to add more historical records.
The last prediction is the expansion of the "Discovery Experience" at selected locations worldwide. I have an invitation to attend a preview of the Discovery Center being constructed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and I will be writing about that experience at the time.