Friday, October 06, 2006

FamilySearch (TM) Labs

A week or so ago I posted an image of my pedigree in a smart pedigree viewer we've been working on. Many people expressed an interest in playing with the viewer using their own data. We've just made a new website available (FamilySearch Labs) to showcase interesting new technology we're working on. The first project on the site is our smart pedigree viewer. It allows you to upload your own GEDCOM and view it or view one of our sample files. Go check it out at and be sure to use the feedback link on the site to tell us what you think.


Ila Johnson said...

They are using state initials, USA instead of United States. Will the new program allow different ways of entering locations? I just removed all of my USA's and replaced them with United States. My database is over half German from Russia. I need a way to show when they came to the United States, hence USA or now United States. It would be best if there was a way to have all place locations the same. That has been one of the problems with the current IGI. People resubmit names because they have different locations and think they are different people when they are really the same.

With the Germans from Russia I have Johann Jakob Fiechtner having Johann Jakob Fiechtner, who's brother Mattheis had a Johann Jakob Fiechtner. These two Johann Jakob’s came to the United States. They were born very close to the same time. It is very easy to get them confused. They did marry different named wives, but they were both born in the same German Village in Russia. That location can be written different ways.
Hoffnungstal, Hoffungstal District, Kherson, South Russia;
Hoffnungstal, Tyraspol District, Kherson, South Russia;
Hofffnungstal, Kherson Province, Russia;
Hoffnungstal, Tiraspol. Russia
And to make it even more confusing there is
Hoffnunstal, Bessarabia, Russia
Hoffnungstal, Akkermann District, Bessarabia, Russia.
See my point. The Hoffnungstal in Kherson is located over a hundred miles from the one in Bessarabia. But if I entered Hoffnungstal, Russia you would not know which area they were from. There are over seven Eigenfeld's in Russia. They are located in different districts and Provinces. My family is from Eigenfeld, Tyraspol District, Kherson Province, Russia. There has to be a way to standardize locations or to at least set ground rules for locations.

My grandfather has had his work done twice. Once under the name of Fiechtner and once Fichtner. There needs to be a way to show alternative spellings of a surname. That way both spellings could be shown so the other information could of been compared. Both times his place of birth is incorrect, location of death and date of death is incorrect. I have no problem that someone has done the work. Only I would have liked it to be done correctly.

The other problem is dates. There needs to be a set of rules. Do you use abt. ca, bef. After,year only, day month year? With out a set of guide lines, the same thing will start happening to the new system as with the old one. The wrong information will be attached or added.

One of the things I keep hearing is that there will be verification added for the information being submitted. But there again, you will have problems if you don't set up rules for location, date and surname spellings. Besides, in many cases there is no way to verify the information. It came from the “family”. Only different family members heard it differently. There are gaps in all records, mistakes made, the wrong information has been written in books, posted on line, passed thru generations of descendents. It will be interesting to see how well this new system works. Maybe we will, this time, get it right and get the mistakes corrected. I have 15 different spellings for my surname. Good Luck.

Ila Johnson
Fort Worth, Texas

Ben Crowder said...

I've blogged about my impressions of the new viewer.

Dan Lawyer said...

The pedigree viewer is just a simple tool to help us learn how to make the experience of interacting with a pedigree much more useful. As such, we aren't currently planning to worry about place standardization.

In the New FamilySearch project (not related to the pedigree viewer), we have gone to great lengths to standardize place information in addition to many other features designed to help users collaborate and reduce duplication.

Should the pedigree viewer ever become part of the New FamilySearch system it will inherit all of the great capabilities (like place standardization) of the New FamilySearch.