31 March 2010

March 2010 - new.FamilySearch.org Update

Note: This article will be of interest and use only to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Yesterday I went to new.FamilySearch.org (hereafter nFS) to help a member of my local Branch sign up and learn how to enter data. At my surprise, I found that I could no longer log in with my original sign-in name. With excitement I read these words on my screen:
  • We are changing the sign-in system so that one user name and password works for participating FamilySearch Web sites. From now on, please use your LDS Account for new.familySearch.org. If you don't have an LDS Account, enter your new.familysearch.org user name and password, and we'll help you upgrade.

At first I expected to be asked to merge my accounts like I did with FamilySearch Indexing, but was pleased to find that this is not necessary. Anyone who already had a LDS Account (as I did) could simply log in using that account. All their previous work under the old sign in was right there! If you never made an LDS Account then you would be prompted to do so after using your nFS sign-in name.

Having one sign in for all church websites will significantly decrease the frustration an LDS member will feel when asked to get on one of the church websites. Anyone that has been on their ward website, FamilySearch Indexing, FamilySearch Wiki or nFS (to name just a few) will be able to access the other websites with the same user name and password. Thus only having to go through the registration process once.

As a Family History Consultant I find that many members do not have the information they need to register easily on hand. A person's record number and confirmation date are necessary. Using one user name will decrease the time I spend as a Family History Consultant walking people through the registration process. I am so happy that I can now focus more energy on helping people with the important part: family history and temple work!

There are some other updates to the website that make it much more user friendly. The ordinance list now completely self loads instead of stopping at the most recent 20 ordinances reserved. The link that was at the bottom of the screen to extend this list was difficult for many to notice. People wondered what happened to their lists when they had reserved over 20 individuals. Now I can see my 155 rows of ordinances waiting to be completed which not only is easier to work with, but does more to encourage me to get the work done.

The Family Tree view is more user friendly. I found that it was much easier for me to discover how to edit information from this view after the March update. Before this update I could not figure out how to edit information here. Now I found that double-clicking a name brings up an individual's detail box where I can change whatever I want.

I also found that when navigating away from the tree and going back it is much easier to pick up where one left off. I feel that there is much more work to be done though this update is a HUGE user friendliness improvement. When I clicked on my 3rd-great grandfather Samuel McCormick in Family Tree view and then moved back to Family Pedigree with Details, I expected to see my ancestor Samuel McCormick. It disappointed me that it does not work that way.

Which ever person is in the primary view on the Family Tree will be in the primary view when switching to Family Pedigree with Details and vice versa. In order to change the primary person in Family Tree view you must right click a name and select the appropriate option. I am an experienced family history website addict and it took me some playing around to realize that right clicking a name in the Family Tree view allowed me to "Show Ancestors" or "Show Descendants." For the average user, I think they will wonder why they keep losing their place when that was "fixed" with this update.

I did notice that even this did not always work. Sometimes within my nFS session I would click a different tab and click back to test this upgrade and the tree would be back on my name, even after I had put it on someone else a couple of times.

Overall, this update is AMAZING! I simply can't wait until the next updates come because I know if I am confused at some things still most of the members I help will be tempted to throw their hands in the air and wait for the next update.

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