At RootsTech 2012, presenter Ron Tanner, Product Manager for New
FamilySearch introduced an almost completely fully functional Family
Tree program. Ron indicated that the program would go out to a “live”
data Beta test sometime before its actual release. The program, as
outlined, fulfills all of the requirements for a useful program, unlike
the presently online New.FamilySearch.org.
Another highly significant piece of information was the fact that the
program will be open to the whole world with no limitations just to
members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church).
The comments from the audience showed the vast range of opinions about
the current program and the need for the introduction of a more
functional version of a family tree program.
There are several online programs that could and may have been used as basic models for the Family Tree program, such as WeRelate.org, WikiTree.com and a few others. But the main interface for the Family Tree program appears to be pedigree chart based after the Family Tree view in New FamilySearch. It is apparent to me that the Family Tree program is more than a simple update or revision of the existing New.FamilySearch.org program, but is an almost completely new program. One of the many significant things said by Ron Tanner in the introduction, which may have passed by most or the attendees, was his statement that the input for Family Tree will initially be the information that is now found in the Summary View of the New FamilySearch. There is therefore a degree of incentive to clean up the Summaries in New FamilySearch.
This need to clean up the data came home, once again, to me as I saw that Ron Tanner used much of the information I had contributed to New.FamilySearch.org as a basis for his examples in using the new Family Tree program. (I think we will have to stop using the term “new” or we will become hopelessly confused).
At the same time, I attended a large conference of members of the Church today and there was a request made that the members direct their attention at “doing their genealogy work.” It was apparent that the message concerning the coming introduction of an entirely new program is not at all well known to Church members. I see the introduction of Family Tree to be a wake-up call to genealogists in and out of the Church to clean up their own databases and get ready to add sources and qualifications to the Family Tree program when they are able to do so.
There was some initial criticism of the form of the fields used for sources in the Family Tree program. I think that dwelling on the formalities of citation forms may severely discourage new genealogists from contributing their own valuable information. If anyone thinks they have a better citation form, it appears that the Family Tree program will allow the “authority” to modify the entries to conform with some outside citation standard.
Ron Tanner spent some considerable time in his presentation talking about the issue of “ownership” of genealogical information. The comments from the audience showed that there was a significant sense of ownership by the attendees. Ron called this phenomena “My-Tree-itis.” From my own personal experience, I believe this may be one of the most serious obstacles to ever achieving a universally acceptable method of recording genealogical data.
If the Family Tree program works as demonstrated, it will eliminate a very large number of the problems with the existing New.FamilySearch.org program. In my opinion, what I saw is very close to getting it right.