If you blog they just might come.
Immediately after Stanczyk published his last blog Ancestry was very gracious or shall I say that Amy Johnson Crow was gracious to answer my question. THANKS ANCESTRY and Amy!
… A Muse — ing
Ancestry.com has updated their app to version 5.0 (iTunes App Store). I like their newest effort. It looks nice and the User Experience (UX) is improved for the most part. I miss having a button for showing just the lineal line (not siblings) to save space on the iPhone. Also the UX does not provide ways to go up or down your family tree other than what is displayed on screen (5 generations on iPhone). Why no arrows on top/bottom rows. You can of course click on someone higher up in the tree and see further back generations from that person, but you may not realize that there are prior generations unless you know your tree well. No visual key that more generations exist.
When you upgrade you will need to download your whole tree again (does that imply their local db changed and needs to be reloaded?) and that takes about 30–45 seconds for a tree of 1,142 people. Small price to pay. I do wonder if the new app is causing problems for the Ancestry.com web site. It has performed slowly and sometimes the app says Ancestry.com is not available. Perhaps mobile app users are putting a bigger strain then online users.
It integrates more closely with Facebook. That did not appeal to me, but for some people it may be just what you want. As a result I do not know what happens when you connect your Facebook profile to a person in the tree (does it post the timeline to your Facebook timeline?).
Besides, Facebook, the app now integrates with Ancestry.com more completely. The app now works a lot like the web site. It does not appear to be missing any features. I like the new Timeline view of a profile … very nice.
The Gallery button on the bottom of the profile view quickly loads your images (much faster). It also automatically searches for hints too. Finally this view has a new feature to find sources (from Ancestry.com?) for your facts. Very nice.
The tight integration to the web site does mean the app switches control to a Safari web-app but the integration is so tight you might not notice the switch to Safari and back to the App
Ancestry.com , you must forgive Stanczyk. With the cacophony of the Terroristic Bombing at the Boston Marathon, The Fertilizer Explosion in West, TX, Chinese Earthquake and so many big news stories that kept my attention, I had neglected to read your email.
This week Ancestry fixed at least two of my bugs. I cannot test the other bug. Let me back up a bit. Long time readers may remember my blog article, “Thinking About @Ancestrydotcom ‘s GEDCOM” from (1st-March-2013). In that article, I asked Ancestry.com to fix three things:
I am here to publicly THANK YOU, Ancestry.com for taking my tweets at (Twitter: @Ancestrydotcom ) and fixing these problems. I assume #3 was fixed too, but I have no way to test your fix (as I had deleted the offending comments in March). But I am here to tell the INTERNET that Ancestry.com took my tweets and opened a ticket and fixed the bugs!
Now my diacriticals which I entered into my Ancestry.com family tree were exported from Ancestry.com website, downloaded to my laptop, where I examined the GEDCOM file in gVIM (I am still a techy at heart) and saw the new CHAR tag in the GEDCOM file!
I then imported the GEDCOM into RootsMagic (which I knew supported diacriticals) and voila there was my data all proper in RootsMagic!
Ancestry used a value of UTF-8 for the CHAR tag. This allowed me to keep my diacriticals on the export. So now my Family Tree in Ancestry and my Family Tree in RootsMagic can have identical data. I no longer lose my valuable work from Ancestry (or have to re-enter the data on my laptop).
So I hope my readers follow my example and Tweet at Ancestry. You too can help improve their software, when you find bugs and request bug fixes. I hope my fixes help other genealogists (like the many Polish genealogists who read this blog). NOW we have diacriticals. See they are a kindly 800 lb. (362.87 kg) Gorilla of the genealogy world. That is why I am a subscriber — they value me as a customer.
THANKS AGAIN, Ancestry!
This jester has been a big proponent of Ubiquitous Genealogy – i.e. genealogy is portable and everywhere. I have used the Ancestry App for a long while and am well satisfied. They use a concept of synching the App with your tree and their website. Now that the kinks are worked out, I am well satisfied. There are also MyHeritage and Heredis Apps too. These do not synch over the “air”. You need to use your iTunes application on your desktop/laptop to move files into the App’s “sandbox” via synching your iPhone/iPad with the laptop/desktop over the iPhone/iPad cable. Tethered synching is ok but a hindrance.
Ok so the new App on the block is an offering called RootsMagic. Stanczyk likes the Roots Magic laptop application as a full blown offering for working on your genealogy and documenting the tree and finding data on the Internet and keeping track of to-do lists, publishing your tree on CD/Web and all sorts of work that you do when your research spans years (or decades) – does anyone ever finish their genealogy? Its modern and uses Universal Character sets (so us Slavic Researchers can use our slashed Ł’s or Cyrillic Я’s) and other features that the Internet Genealogists have grown up with. So I was hopeful when I received an email from Roots Magic touting their iOS offerings – Its free!
The App starts with the familiar Roots Magic splash screen that you may have grown accustomed to from the laptop application. You are then presented with a list of files from their sandbox (ugh, tethered synching). Once you select a file to work with, your family tree is presented in a Pedigree form (with three generations visible on iPhone/ four generations on iPad). At the top left is a green/white button with three lines (see image) that will allow you to pick a particular person with whom you wish to work upon. At the bottom of the screen are four buttons:
Files, Views, Lists, Tools
Files – Lets you select the family tree file you want to on from your Device or from DropBox (a cloud-based file storage service). It also has HELP (files??) which tell you how to use your Device or DropBox to get a file loaded into the App. Sadly, the RootsMagic app does not read standard gedcom (ged) files. It only reads files with rmgc extension (i.e. created by Roots Magic laptop application). However, it does load their database extremely fast from those rmgc files.
Views – Lets you choose to view the data in a PEDIGREE tree or a FAMILY tree or in a DESCENDENTS outline or in the detailed FACTS (events), NOTE, direct family members of the current INDIVIDUAL. I prefer working in FAMILY (as seen in image) view mode, then switching to INDIVIDUAL view mode for any details on that person. Clicking on NOTE really gives you access to NOTE(S), SOURCE(S), and MEDIA for that individual (and a BACK button at the top to return to INDIVIDUAL view mode).
Lists – This just gives a list of your: Sources, To-Dos, Research, Media, Addresses, Repositories, Correspondences, and PLACES. I liked places (which showed that this jester really needs to make his Places (Locations) conform to some kind of standard).
Tools – Date Calculator, Relationship Calculator, Soundex Calculator, and Calendar. Unimpressive to say the least. Lest you get your hope up, the Calendar tool only displays the Calendar for a Month/Year of your choice [I did not verify the Julian/Gregorian boundary to see if it calculates a proper month calendar for dates before 1582]. It was not worth the effort as I did not see why I would want to see what day June 3rd, 1700 would fall on (Thursday) if you are eyes are young or your glasses are a good prescription to read the day name. Otherwise, you not notice the day names on an iPhone [perhaps a black font, instead of gray, would give better contrast]. The Soundex is only American Soundex – why not Daitsch-Mokotoff or Bieder-Morse codes too? Really, we Slavic researchers get short shrift in the software world. Never fear, just create a desktop icon of Steve Morse’s Soundex page to see all three Soundex/Pattern Matching methods for your family names.
iPad vs iPhone
For some reason the iPad interface treats the buttons (Files, Views, Lists, Tools) differently on the iPad. That was a bit confusing until I got used to the difference. Rotating the iPad to landscape, also brings the Surnames/Search view along side whatever view you are in. The Calendar is a bit easier to see on the iPad, but I’d still like to see the day name text in black (or at least a MUCH darker gray).
The app is strictly for viewing your family tree (et. al.). There are no tools for modifying the tree for re-import into the desktop application. Shortcomings aside, it is still a very good first effort by Roots Magic. If you have the Roots Magic laptop application, then download the free app for your smartphone or tablet and go Ubiquitous. If you do not have the Roots Magic laptop application and do not have a way to get your ged converted to Roots Magic format (rmgc) then do NOT bother to download the app – you will not be able to use it.
P.S. Do you spell “DESCENDENT” – as D-E-S-C-E-N-D-E-N-T or D-E-S-C-E-N-D-A-N-T ? Both spellings are correct, but I guess I use “DESCENDANT” all of the time and so the Roots Magic use startled me.
I also would love to see the REUNION app (the Mac Software vendor) make their iOS App free or low-cost – then I’d review it here too. I am a BIG Apple eco-system fan and as such have used REUNION Mac software for a very LONG time. I would be remiss not to mention that REUNION App does exist, but its cost is a bit steep relative to the other iPhone genealogy APPs in this article.
Besides all the issues I have previously detailed in my last article (iOS5 First Impressions), I have a new issue. This is my sternest recommendation:
DO NOT UPDATE to iOS5 if you use Ancestry APP or CAMERA APP !
On the Mailing List: ANCESTRY-TREE-TO-GO-APP , people have been complaining that Ancestry APP does not work. Now Stanczyk knew it worked and it worked well … But that was BEFORE iOS5 came out.
I confirmed the problem exists on iOS5. It does not download the tree / GEDCOM properly (you get a synch error). If you had a previously downloaded a tree (before iOS5) then you can use that tree. Obviously any changes made on ANCESTRY.com will not be able to synched to your iPhone/iPad.
HOWEVER, if you update your family tree on the iOS5 device, then your changes can be synched in that direction and saved on the Internet and accessed at Ancestry.com. In fact, after you do that you can then get around the above problem. But you had to have a tree on your iOS device BEFORE you upgraded to do this work-around. After synching from iPhone to web. I am NOW able to synch in both directions again.
I suspect this is an Ancestry problem and not an Apple problem. However for portable genealogy this is a PROBLEM. This is a case where an early adopter is fine and the person who just got his/her first iOS device and it came with iOS5 is not able to participate in the portable genealogy revolution.