04 October 2013

Introducing the New FamilySearch Indexing Tool, RootsTech 2014 preview

I've decided to write a few previews of stuff we will all learn about at RootsTech 2014. Earlier, I wrote about FamilySearch Obituaries. Another product coming next year at FamilySearch is an overhaul of the indexing tool, listed in the class schedule as: "Introducing the New FamilySearch Indexing Tool."

This is another one of my top pics for RootsTech 2014 classes to attend.
The RootsTech 2014 class list states: "Scott Flinders, the product manager responsible for FamilySearch indexing, will provide an overview and demonstration of the new, browser-based indexing tool being developed by FamilySearch."

Today (October 4, 2013), FamilySearch gave a presentation to Stake Indexing Directors which was available for viewing online. I've captured some screens and facts to provide you with this preview. If you don't want to know about this until RootsTech, I suggest you stop reading this.

As advertised before, the new system will be entirely browser-based so that downloading software is no longer required. Most of the basic workings of the system are still there, but everything has been enhanced in accordance with user feedback.

One of the first changes you'll notice, you will be able to use powerful filters and waypoint data to find a specific project to work on. You will be able to choose a specific town, county, or parish to work on, Flinders said.
The view of the actual work process provides all the tools we have come to know and love: Highlights, Lookup, International Characters, Handwriting Examples etc. Flinders pointed out that the traditional data entry modes are still there (table and form), and that two more are available. He said one was for indexers who like to index by column although I do not know how it differs from table mode. The 2nd new mode is "in-line" which will have you type the data in a box right where you see it on the screen, and move from one area to the next as you go. I'd like to try that.

The next thing I noted was Flinder's statement that "In addition to..." the current A/B/Arbitrate workflow, there will be a new A + Review workflow. At first I thought they were just doing a terminology change from arbitrator to reviewer, but it turns out that the new process will be entirely different. The reviewer will not compare 2 indexers' work, but will simply review the work of one indexer. Flinders stated that they believe the index quality will remain the same, and the output will rise 40-50%. Regarding the "in addition to" statement, he later clarified that the old system will be maintained and in use until they are able to migrate all users and stats to the new system. If the A + Review is successful, I think they will stop A/B/Arb when they close the old system, though this was not clear to me. This was perhaps the most exciting news to me because it means 40-50% more records for all of us! I would like to know what selecting "don't know" will do. For that matter, I'd like to know what happens if a reviewer says a data piece is wrong. It seems logical that wrong data be corrected by the reviewer, and "don't know" data get sent up the line to a more experienced reviewer, though nothing was said about that detail.

FamilySearch Indexing Groups are a major step forward as well. These groups come with better statistics reporting for group managers, group goals to motivate all users, an increased sense of "social media," among several other interesting features.

The list of improvements is impressive, although I must admit there are a couple which are over my head.

Further down, I've posted the slides that show the timetable for release.

And another thing is the new way to add indexing projects. Instead of requiring FamilySearch employees to add every new indexing project, specific volunteers can be approved to do this within the same website. Flinders mentioned that this will allow archives and other record custodians more control over adding their projects to the system, although I imagine FamilySearch will still require the images to be digitized and ingested according to their guidelines.

Phew! A lot of interesting facts and screenshots today. Come to think of it, I bet they'll be a lot more to learn by the time we get to RootsTech in February.


  1. Thanks for all that information. Just heard about it because a new member in our forums posted your link here LOFSII

    1. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I'm glad you found this article useful. I'm looking forward to the new system with great anticipation.

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    1. I appreciate that, and you telling me. It is wonderful to get comments as you know.

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Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments.