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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Comments on 12 Things You'll See from FamilySearch in 2016

Every once in a while, I get an email of a blog post from FamilySearch that never seems to make it into general publication on the website's blog list. A few days ago, I got a potential post entitled, "12 Things You'll See from FamilySearch in 2016." I kept watching for it to be published but I have yet to see it. I can guess a number of reasons why these potential posts never get published more extensively, but absent some official restriction, in some cases I feel I can comment on them.

Here is the list. I have included their numbered comments and where I thought necessary, made some of my own comments. I put my comments in italics so you would know what I had to say as opposed to the original list from FamilySearch.

1. The free Family Tree, used for building and collaborating on your family history, will be more robust and dramatically faster. Patrons will receive quick record hints from FamilySearch’s billions of online records when records containing an ancestor are added or modified. Hints will also begin to originate from more online collections and additional record types. In addition, increased collaboration options with improved views will be available.

The past few weeks we have had a number of bouts of poor performance from the Family Tree. Response has been slow and for a few days, the program did not function at all. I would certainly appreciate a more robust and faster response. I realize that this involves not only programming but also faster Internet connections and additional storage capacity. is moving into the realm of the "big" websites such as Google and Amazon and needs to increase its capacity to handle the traffic. Amazon has no trouble giving me hints of things to buy and I assume that it is possible for to increase the response time of Record Hints. I am not certain what is meant by increased collaboration options. I would hope that means that those who post will become more accessible and transparent to others. The ability of someone to make changes to the entries in the Family Tree and not have a way to be contacted is still an issue. Even with the messaging through the website, the person only has to ignore the messages to be unavailable. I can see several ways the views can be improved and I look forward to any improvements in this regard.

2. Improved guidance will help users achieve family history goals or provide direction when and where they need it.

This is a really vague goal. We all need to achieve our goals and may certainly need direction. I hope this doesn't mean dumbing down the program to make it unusable. 

3. A new relationship feature will enable you to easily identify how you are related to people in the Family Tree.

This would be a very welcome addition to the program. I sometimes would like to help people understand how they are related to those on the Family Tree and it can get complicated. It is also helpful with ordinance considerations to be able to point out to people that they are not related to some of those who appear in the Family Tree and should not be doing their ordinance submissions. 

4. More user-friendly search capabilities will provide less duplication, better search results, and more insight at a glance across the many record sources on

Improving search capabilities is always a worthy goal. This is another wait and see goal. It is also very vague and goes into the general category of improvement. "User-friendly" is an old advertising buzz word. It is entirely meaningless. There is nothing really "user-friendly" about computers. 

5. The process of adding family photos, stories, documents, and audio files will be easier.

This has already been accomplished with the new Gallery option. I assume that they are simply indicating that the new Memories changes will become generally implemented. We will have to wait and see if there are any more changes this coming year. 

6. A dynamic, personalized home page will help you find more family information. The offering of simple tasks while using the site will help you discover more ancestors and improve the quality of your personal family history and information in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

This is another change that has already been implemented to some users. To be frank, I mostly ignore the new page although I am sure that it could be helpful to some users. 

7. Partners will be offering more exciting third-party products and apps integrated into the content of FamilySearch that will offer fun and enriched experiences.

This is a pretty safe prediction. It is sort of like predicting that weather will continue to happen. It is also too vague for any real comments. 

8. More digital camera teams will be added to preserve historic records and make them accessible online. There are 319 digital camera teams producing 125 million images per year currently. Additional cameras in 2016 will focus on more international records.

This is really good news. The core value of the website is its collection of free records from around the world. This is one of the really good things that are ongoing and very welcome. 

9. More mobile apps on IOS and Android platforms will become available through FamilySearch.

Another vague report about things that are inevitable. 

10. A new, web-based tool will allow more volunteers to help index more historic records online from any web-enabled tablet or computer. This will also help engage more foreign language volunteers needed to index a growing tide of new international historic records.

Hmm. This has been the goal of the Indexing program for the last couple of years. Progress towards a web-based program has been slow in coming. I hope 2016 is the year when this happens and when it does, that the program actually works. 

11. RootsTech, a global event hosted by FamlySearch, will expand its streaming audience and provide recorded, useable content to reach more people worldwide.

This is another nice goal and also very predictable. This particular development has some unforeseen and complicated consequences. Some of these consequences are very positive and others not so positive. I get the impression that some Stakes of the Church feel like all they need to do for family history in their Stake is to hold a "once a year" Family Discovery Day and they are then supporting family history and off the hook for the rest of the year. 

12. New developments will encourage younger patrons to participate in family history. Building from the base created by family historians and older patrons, there will be an added emphasis on attracting youth.

Another vague goal with no real substance. The gap between the reality of doing complicated family research and merely "encouraging" the youth needs to be bridged. Real progress will be made with the youth and other members when the leaders of the wards and stakes begin to place a greater emphasis on training. Our Ward, for example, just called three new Family History Consultants and has no plans to either teach them how or what to do. My efforts to help have gone unheeded and apparently ignored. This is not a case where we need a new system, it is a case where we need to implement the existing system. 

Well no matter what happens during 2016, it will be interesting. The developments we had in 2015 were helpful and very welcome. Let's hope that 2016 will be the same. 


  1. James, that post was published, as I shared it on my Facebook Group for "Friends of Canon City Family History Center" on Dec. 23. Thanks for adding your comments.

    1. All the links I can find to a published article are broken. Perhaps someone finds an unbroken link?

    2. Note from FamilySearch - it was published prematurely. We will see it again the beginning of 2016.

  2. I was disappointed that there was no mention of cutting the ties to nFS or finally solving the IOUS issue. Hopefully, that's what "more robust and dramatically faster" in #1 means. I certainly hope 2016 is year that finally happens! I, too, would really like to have seen some much more specific goals from FS.

  3. My experience with training new consultants in our ward is the same as yours. My offers to help have been rebuffed. My leader said he wants the consultants to succeed or fail at family history on their own. It is clear he has no clear testimony of the significance of family history. Training of leaders is drastically needed.

  4. Here is the revised post: