Ancestry.com

New in AncestryPress: Better page management, more desktop printing options

Posted by Ancestry.com on May 30, 2008 in Ancestry.com Site

Thanks to all of you who offered comments and suggestions in response to my last post. I’d like to answer the two most common questions and then tell you about some recent improvements.

“I’ve created a book in the 8.5×11 inch format, but now I want the larger size. Can I upgrade to the 11×14 inch format?”

Our two current book formats have the same aspect ratio, so it seems like it should be easy to convert from one size to another. Unfortunately, scaling up presents some technical problems that we haven’t solved yet. The area of the 11×14 inch page is about 50% bigger. Depending on the resolution of your images, some images that look fine on the 8.5×11 inch page might look grainy if you enlarged them by 50%.

The other issue is the text. If you automatically changed all the text from, say, a 10-point font to a 14-point font, some of the lines would wrap differently, and you’d have to go through each page and make a lot of adjustments — especially to the family trees and family group sheets.

At a minimum, we’d like to allow you to convert the final, print-ready file of an 11×14 inch book into an 8.5×11 inch print-ready file. This means you’ll be able to order a printed copy in the smaller size but you won’t be able to edit the smaller version. I’ll let you know as soon as we have the downsize feature available.

I suspect many of you will want to order an 11×14 inch book for yourself — you’re the one who’s done the work, after all — and several 8.5×11 copies as gifts for various family members. If you think you might want to order the same book in two sizes, or if you aren’t sure which size you want to order, you’re safer creating your book in the larger size.

“Now that you’ve raised the page limit, I want to combine two books into one longer book. Is there an easy way to do this?”

Yes! You can’t actually merge two books (yet), but you can copy pages from one book into another book. And you don’t have to do it one page at a time, either. Read on…

Better page management

Earlier this week, we launched a new page management feature. You can now copy multiple pages within the same book or from one book to another. Reordering pages, which used to be a tedious process, is much easier, and so is deleting pages.

To access this feature, just click the “Manage Pages” icon at the top of AncestryPress. You’ll see a screen that looks like this:

manage_pages1
Click to enlarge image

To select multiple pages, just hold down the “Control” key. You can print, copy or delete the selected pages by clicking the appropriate button on the right side of the screen. Reorder the pages by dragging them to a new spot. To keep facing pages together, click “Arrange & Manage Double Page Spreads.”

manage_pages2
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To copy pages to another project, select the pages and then click “Copy to a Project.” A little box will pop up with a list of all your projects. Select the project you want and then click “Continue.”

manage_pages3
Click to enlarge image

More desktop printing options

Many customers have told use they’d like to print more than one page at a time on their home printer. Several people have asked for a “Print All” button that lets you print the whole book. The problem with this idea is that most people have lots of images in their book, and sending all those files to print at once would cause a system meltdown for most computers and/or printers.

Our product engineers have settled on a compromise: to let you print up to five pages at a time. When you click “Print,” you’ll see a Print Manager box that lets you choose which page(s) you want to print.

desktop_printing1
Click to enlarge

If you click the “All” button or enter a range of more than five pages, the pages you select will print in five-page batches. Based on customer feedback, we may adjust that limit up or down. The optimal batch size really depends on how much power and memory you have, so if printing five pages is making your computer crash, try printing only two or three pages.

Now take a look at the “Print Quality” section of the Print Manager box. When you print pages at home, you can now choose between two print methods: raster and vector. I’m not an engineer, so please don’t ask me what those words mean, but I can tell you how they affect you.

When you print using the raster method (“Normal quality”), your images are converted into a series of pixels. This is important because pixels do a good job of capturing subtle effects like drop shadows, variations in opacity, etc.

When you print using the vector method (“Higher quality”), your images are converted into a series of mathematically generated outlines. For some mysterious (to me) reason, this method produces sharper text and images. But for some equally mysterious reason having to do with Flash technology, subtle design effects like drop shadows don’t come out very well. Because of this limitation, embellishments, drop shadows and semi-transparent images will not show up if you print using the vector method.

In the screen shot above, I selected “Normal quality.” All of the design elements on the page appear in the print preview box. When I change my selection to “Higher quality,” the drop shadow around the photo and the embellishment around the caption disappear from the preview box.

desktop_printing2
Click to enlarge

The best print method for you depends on the type of content you have in your book and what you are trying to accomplish.

If you are printing proof pages:

  • Choose “Normal quality” if you just want to check the overall design before ordering a professionally printed book.
  • Choose “Higher quality” if you want to carefully check the text and images before ordering a professionally printed book.

If you are printing pages that you want to keep in a binder or scrapbook:

  • Choose “Normal quality” if you have a lot of embellishments and other design elements.
  • Choose “Higher quality” if you have a lot of text and few design elements.

Please note that when you order a professionally printed copy of your book, the design elements, text and images will all come out sharp and clear (unless your images were scanned at a low resolution to begin with). Our printer uses a different, offline printing process, so there’s no tradeoff between the design elements and the text and images.

Our goal is to provide you with output options that work for you. Most AncestryPress users are also Ancestry.com subscribers, and you’ve made a significant investment in your family history research. Of course we’d love to have you order a professionally printed book from us, but if you prefer to print at home, we want you to be happy with the results.

By the way, several customers have told us that having us print their book is actually cheaper than buying high-quality paper and ink cartridges, so be sure to factor in all of those costs when deciding how to print your book. If you choose to print your book at home, you might want to forgo embellishments and drop shadows when you’re making your book so that you can pick the high-quality print option.

Tip: If you’re printing proof pages and you mostly want to review the text and images, check the “Print without background” box. It’ll save save ink and speed up the printing process.

desktop_printing3
Click to enlarge

Finally, on a separate topic, this weekend would be the perfect time to put together a quick gift for Dad using our Father’s Day photo book template. I may be biased because I work here, but I think the guy who designed the template did a terrific job. The order deadlines for delivery before Father’s Day are June 2 for standard shipping and June 4 for expedited shipping.

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NOTE: AncestryPress is now MyCanvas

In October 2008, AncestryPress was relaunched under the name MyCanvas. It is still a free, online software program provided by Ancestry.com. For current information about products and features, please see my more recent blog posts.

20 comments

Comments
1 JeanMay 31, 2008 at 9:06 am

I loved the new ancestry press feature. Howver, seems like since the last update to FTM I can’t access my projects! I am so frustrated. All the work and time I have put into it and now IF I can get it to open, I can’t navigate….it freezes up. I haven’t been able to open it since 5/23. Anybody else having problems with ancestry press? Getting help from ancestry.com has been very slow.

2 MurielJune 1, 2008 at 5:39 pm

I had similar problems. I tried numerous times to create a family history book, but couldn’t get it to open on either my PC or my MacBook. Some kind soul with Ancestry.com support suggested that the problem may be with my Netgear router. Since then whenever I want to work on my Ancestry Press project I bypass the router and my book opens up immediately.
I called Netgear about the problem, but they wanted to pass the blame on to our McAfee Security settings. Don’t know if this helps with your problem or not.

3 Maryjane BarkerJune 1, 2008 at 7:12 pm

how to find indian background

4 Julie GrextonJune 4, 2008 at 8:51 am

I have been trying for the past 3 days to order a book but keep getting a message that the site is down for maintenance or there may be another problem and to try again later.
This message comes up when I go to the second page after I have listed the name of the book and how many I want.
I would like to use the Father’s day promotion coupon, however with the promotion running out today and the site still not working, will the promotion be extended a few more days for those who have not been able to order because of the maintenance problem?

5 kathleen kisselJune 5, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Just beginning this process-the information is informative concerning quality of printing choices.

6 PaulaJune 6, 2008 at 1:54 pm

I want to say thanks for listening to all of the suggestions that are being submitted to you. I’ve had five of the ancestry books published and I’m now working on three more. What I would like is to see more embelishments added to the website. It was really nice to see flowers that looked real, new buttons and things like the barrel & lid.

7 Brenda MullinsJune 6, 2008 at 2:46 pm

I love your management of pages! You are always updating – fantastic. I would like to see some Indian and pastel color backgrounds. Other customers should know you can import a item and enlarge for a background, but you have to use one of you pages as a border.

8 Laurie A. BarthlowJune 11, 2008 at 7:40 pm

The new features are super slick. Thank you and keep it coming!

9 PatriciaLee_AJune 15, 2008 at 1:17 pm

I have not started my book. But reading the letters from Jean and Muriel make me wonder if I will have similar problems. Jean’s frustration over not being able to open or navigate, the freezing up etc. sound sooooo familiar to me. I have gone through that stuff on other efforts. Oh well, lets hope that the system improves by the time I am ready to print anything.

10 RichardJune 19, 2008 at 1:05 pm

I really enjoy your site, but have been very disappointed that there is not a way for AncestryPress to auto-generate a tree for my many, many generations. At the very least, if you gave users the tools to draw boxes and lines between individuals, I could clearly show the relationships between individuals in my tree. That would allow the user to solve the problem. Using the tree templates is not really an option if you have blank spaces because there appears to be no way to delete the blank space – you just have an empty box or line.

11 Eloise GipsonJune 22, 2008 at 12:14 pm

My trees have been lost so many times! I have been ill for many weeks since Jan 1, and it seems like every time I have to go into the hospital more of my research simply disappears. I do have problems remembering my passwords, but when I do find them cannot always get them to work. Some kind soul in Ancestry helped me recover a lot of my records, but it seems like I got the skinnied down ones and other people were left with my research notes, family stories and things that only I, as the oldest daughter of an 1899 mother and father, knew of since these things were not recorded anywhere. I know part of this is my fault because the of some lapse of memory on my part, but I keep records of almost every entry and still have not been able to recover all my items. I have more than 1800 in my Williams and Shirley Family trees, etc., but can’t seem to get them all together again.

12 WALTER W WILLIAMSJune 25, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Type your comment here.

13 steveJuly 14, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Hi, could someone please help. I am trying to highlight the relevent details on a BDM record sheets within a book, like it shows in the short video. Can i do this through Ancestry.com or do I have to do it elsewhere? Hope I have explained myself correctly.

14 BonnieJuly 15, 2008 at 11:53 pm

I have been at this all day. I’m so frustrated. If I choose the 8.5 X 11, not all the family members are on the page. If I choose the larger page, then it is off center and smaller print. I can’t figure out how to enlarge the font and center on the page. Very frustrating!

15 AngelaJuly 20, 2008 at 2:29 am

Any information on when we can upgrade a smaller size book to the larger size. I’d love to have the same book in a larger format… even if I have to tweek the images and font to make it work… is there a way?

16 Hotel key card printingJuly 21, 2008 at 12:46 am

Hi,

This is a pretty beautiful post.

It is very informative.

17 Betty SJuly 21, 2008 at 11:04 am

Can’t find my project?? Where on where has it gone?

18 MikeSeptember 8, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Why can’t we get into a project? Seems that all of us are paying good money for poor service.

19 DianeNovember 20, 2008 at 9:38 am

I use to be able to print on my own printer. Is that not possible now. I just want a plain black and white print-out that I can use as a worksheet. Can I only get a copy if I am buying your book?

20 Charles WebbJanuary 8, 2009 at 3:43 pm

Not ready to publish yet however, I have over 8600 names primarily because one line goes back to at least 200AD. What can I anticipate my cost will be….ballpark??? I am thinking 11/1/2X14 paper. HELP!!!!!!!!!!

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