Monday, July 1, 2019

ThruLines No Longer in Beta

It's official, ThruLines is here to stay and DNA Circles have been permanently retired. If you're upset by this, check out my article on why ThruLines really is an improvement.

More than that, they've rolled out a few improvements to ThruLines and the match review page. Nothing major, but small things can have a huge impact on your workflow and several of these new items will do just that.

In ThruLines/Common Ancestors:

When viewing pathways with a DNA match to a common or potential common ancestor, clicking on individuals now first brings up a side bar on the right that lists "Relationship Records", which DNA matches have that individual in their trees, and which other trees (not DNA matches) have them in their trees. You can then click on any of those trees and basic data will appear in the same side bar so you don't even have to leave the DNA pages (though of course if you want to bring up someone's full tree you still can by clicking from the side bar). This really helps to streamline your workflow by not having to open as many new pages.

And let's go back to this new "Relationship Records" feature. In the side bar, it will list what records can be found which identify someone as the parent/child of someone else, helping to prove ThruLines pathways may be accurate and not 100% based on tree data. Of course in the example above the only Relationship Record found was for Find A Grave, which is not necessarily reliable - Find A Grave doesn't exact include source citations and often people get linked to the wrong families, etc. So be careful even with these Relationship Records, but they should be useful in general.

Another improvement you might have noticed is the "evaluate" tag shown on anyone who isn't in your tree already. This helps point out (particularly to newcomers) that ThruLines is only a suggestion and you still need to verify (or disprove) it before accepting it as fact.

On the match review page:

We can now view a 10 generation pedigree preview from the match review page like we used to be able to do before all these changes. Granted, you now have to click on "expand tree" which opens a popup box, and I believe this is only available to subscribers, but it's better than having to open a match's full tree in a whole new tab. And while non-subscribers can only view the 5 generation pedigree preview (so I've heard), that is better than the nothing they had before. So this should be an improvement for subscribers, and a big improvement for non-subscribers.

The preview of basic data on an individual in a match's pedigree is also back. When you click on someone in the pedigree preview, instead of opening their full details in the full tree in a new tab, we see the return of the popup box with vital data: birth, death, parents, spouse, and children. These are the basic things we need to more quickly identify a DNA match without getting cluttered with everything else that might appear on an ancestor's profile in their full tree.

But it's more than just the return of what we had before. If you notice in the expanded pedigree preview above, shared surnames are now highlight in green, something we've never had before! Of course, shared surname doesn't necessarily mean that's the branch which your relationship is from but the incorporation of shared surnames into the pedigree preview could be really beneficial for quicker reference.

There are still a few items I have complaints about, but they are mostly regarding the match review page, not ThruLines. It may be worth noting that the match review page, the match list, and the user profile are all still in beta, it's only ThruLines which has been fully rolled out now.

My main issues are:

1. We are we no longer able to select a tree when someone has an unlinked tree. We can click on it, but it opens the full tree view on another page - in the past, we could select an unlinked tree and instead of opening a new page, it would show the surname list, pedigree preview, and map/locations for that tree as though it was a linked tree, and then we could even toggle among other trees if the user had more than one. This was much more useful and without it, it's harder to compare surnames and locations and find a connection with an unlinked tree.

2. The loss of the Shared Locations list. The map is there but it would be much easier to see a list than have to click around the map. I never really used the map in the past, and found the locations list much easier to use.

3. There should be a distinction between "Common Ancestors" that appear in both my tree and my match's tree, versus ThruLines/Common Ancestors being found through combining multiple other trees together, which is much more speculative. If I have the same ancestor in my tree that a DNA match does, that should take priority and be a notable distinction from other ThruLines.

I guess with ThruLines coming out of Beta, this is unlikely to be implemented, but a girl can dream and hopefully with enough feedback, my other two complaints regarding the match review page might change.