Posted by Ancestry Team on January 22, 2009 in Website

Many thanks to the 2,100 members who participated in last night’s webinar about the MyCanvas publishing service. In case you missed the presentation, you can watch it at your leisure by visiting the archive. The program includes a step-by-step demonstration of how to create and customize a family history book.

During the Q&A, we only had time to respond to a handful of the 600 or so questions submitted by the audience. I believe that many of the questions were answered in the demo, but I’ll try to address some of the remaining questions in this blog over the next couple of weeks.

I’d love to get your input on topics for future webinars. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Creative gift ideas for moms, dads & grads
  • Sharing your family history at a reunion
  • Design tips for family history books

Would you be interested in attending a webinar on any of the above topics? Is there another topic that you’d like us to address?

Next time around we’ll make the demo segment shorter to save more time for your questions. If you watched last night’s webinar and you have suggestions for improving the content or format (faster, slower, louder, less detailed, etc.), please let me know so that we can do a better job next time.

I neglected to thank Mark Weaver, our in-house webinar guru, who became the father of twin girls on Tuesday night. We appreciate his supportive wife for letting him sneak away for a couple of hours to help us with our webinar.


  1. Louise Larson

    I registered for last nights webinar and then got confused on the time. However, I was delighted to be able to access it tonight even though it was not live. Thank you for keeping these webinars in an active archive for future reference. I’m excited about the mycanvas program and can’t wait to use it. I’ve been an user for years! Can I get a coupon code even though I missed the live version?

  2. Louise Larson

    In reference to your request for feedback from the webinar… as good as the questions were, I wouldn’t have wanted a shorter demo. That was so helpful to be walked through the program and its features. I am interested in sharing family history at a reunion, but also in a family history book format with more potential for narrative, as our family has some longer stories to document. Thanks again.

  3. Stefanie Condie

    In the webinar I mentioned that when you create an online tree on, you can now choose to hide your tree so that the names won’t appear in the search index. This new option is intended for professional genealogists, who in many cases are contractually barred from posting a client’s tree online. We’ve gotten a couple of questions from people asking how to hide a tree, since this option doesn’t appear as part of the regular tree creation process. What you have to do is create/upload your tree and then select “Change tree privacy” from the tree overview page. On the Privacy Settings page, select “Private Tree” and also select “Do NOT include this tree in the search index.” Then click “Save” and you’re done. If you’re a professional genealogist and you want to learn more about the various privacy options, you might want to attend next Tuesday’s webinar on new site features. Kenny Freestone will explain some of the recent changes to online trees, including the new privacy options.

  4. I missed half of the presentation because I received emails telling me that the presentation was for 8:00 PM., but what I did see I liked very much and learned a lot of new and interesting and wonderful thing. I hope you continue to have these webinars as they are so helpful for people like me who are computer shy.
    Takes again and hopefully nest time the times will be correct. I do know I can go to the website again and watch from the beginning which is what I am going to do.

    Most sincerely, Fran

  5. Tony Masiello

    Hi Stefanie,

    The webinar was quite interesting, but putting together an entire book using all of the lights and buzzers that are available seems like quite the time consuming venture. Perhaps the coupon should be good until Feb 2019, then I might have a chance to use it.

    Is there a page that lists all of the archived webinars? I’d be interested to see what else has been covered.

    I’d be interested in a webinar on creating family tree posters. I’ve started a couple of projects, but I’ve been a bit discouraged with my progress. I’d love to learn how to make a poster like this. Thanks!

  6. Karen

    Is there a way to share pages from one project with another project? I am working on two different projects that share a few individuals. I have gone to a lot of work cropping images, typing text, adding embellishments, etc. to these pages and I would like to be able to copy those pages into another project. Is this possible?

    Also – if/when you offer softcover books, will we be able to convert our existing projects to this format? I am likely to publish a hard cover book for myself but I would also like to make softcover copies available at an upcoming family reunion for other family members. I’d hate to have to recreate my entire project from scratch in a new format.


  7. Tony Masiello

    Another question/comment I just thought of… Is there any place on the message boards specific to MyCanvas. I posted a question under “ – Ancestry Press” last year and never received a response. While the blog is great for announcements, the comment section often suffers from a high signal to noise ratio (off topic posts, ancestry bashing, etc..) and is a bit linear for good discussion. The threaded message board format seems much more ideal for Q&A with Ancestry staff, would be searchable, and much more organized. Just my two cents… Thanks again!

  8. Stefanie Condie

    Fran, we always announce the times in Eastern Standard Time, so if you’re in a different time zone you would need to adjust accordingly. (I actually find it a bit confusing myself, since we are in the Mountain time zone.) I’ll try to make the wording more clear next time.

    Tony, there’s a list of archived webinars in the Learning Center:

  9. Stefanie Condie

    Karen, click the Manage Pages icon in the top toolbar, select the pages you want to copy and then click the “Copy to a Project” button. You’ll get a pop-up box with a list of all your projects. Select the project you want to copy the pages to and then click “Continue.”

    I can’t give you any promises about soft-cover books, since they aren’t officially on our roadmap yet, but I suspect they will be in the 11×8.5 format. If that’s the case then yes, you would be able to go into an existing 11×8.5 book project and just change the cover type.

  10. Beverly Crofoot

    I too think the coupon expires too soon for my level. This was definitely an intro session for me.

  11. KC Ginn

    The My Canvas presentation was the best webair I’ve attended. The pre-recorded presentation was GREAT and very well done and not at all too long!!!
    Perhaps a Q&A separate segment would work best at a different time.
    Keep up the good job!

  12. I loved the presentation, or what I could see of it. Half way through, it stopped and a big sign said “Network interruption” or something like that. I am glad I can watch it in full on my own time.

  13. jerry

    I really enjoyed the Webinar about the MyCanvas. You two have answered a lot of my questions and I’m sure I will have others as time goes by (they should write music to that as a theme, humm) I have played with MyCanvas and plan to (eventually) publish three books (one for each of my children).

    One thing ….I thought I saw a “hilight” feature on there. This was not mentioned on the Webinar …am I mistaken? If there is, does it print? It would be nice for hilighting lines of text in a hard-to-read record.

    It’s unfortunate that I will be unable to take advantage of the discount code you sent, as I am not nearly far enough along in my research to publish anything before the code expires next month.

    I’m probably a least a year or more from having all the research completed.

    Anyway, thanks and keep up the good work.

  14. Betty Reed

    Thank you for having the foresight to have your Webinars available after the presentation. I checked in last night and received “network congestion” message. The voice would fade out and skip parts of the presentation and it was difficult to follow. I was stubborn and retried about three different times but kept getting the message so I checked out knowing I could view content later. I’m not complaining, just informing you of the situation. I appreciate the fine job Ancestry does on a regular basis.

  15. Stefanie Condie

    Jerry, to access the highlighters, click the “Other Content” tab, then “Embellishments” and then “Highlighters.” There are six or eight colors to choose from, and they do appear on the printed page.

    Apologies to everyone who had technical difficulties the night of the webinar. Thanks for hanging in there. You should have better luck with the archived version.

  16. Hi Stefanie,

    The reminder I received states the starting time was at 8:00 EST and the length of the webinar was for 60 minutes. This is why I did not open the webinar until a little before 8:00 P M., as I had tested everything to make sure everything was a go. Thanks for answering my email. It means a lot to me.

    Sincerely, Fran

  17. I had a problem seeing the demo portion as I had a message saying my ISP was to blame for not keeping up with you.Insufficient broadband with.
    I hope when your email arrived I would be able to view that demo alas it was not to be. I live in Western Australia and have sent my server a question on ths matter. But I did enjoy the live part of your presentation,and the help button really worked. Many Thanks

  18. Sarah Sheehan

    Thanks for a great webinar – that’s inspiring me to really get started on it this time

    I’m a Mac user so was interested in your answer about Firefox /Safari. I’ve found that where Safari does have some glitches in, it does work fine with MyCanvas. Curiously, Firefox 3.05 on MacOS 10.5 which works well with has a few repeatable crash issues in MyCanvas. I sent in a report to Support.

    The timelines are something I want to do a lot with. I have played a little with them today and see that the time markers can be edited so I will be able to make some military pages that track, for example, Revolutionary and Civil War events for ancestors along the dates of their letters home by replacing the default decade years with months over a year or two on a single page or across a facing double page spread. That’ll work but I do have a suggestion – It would be nice if we could have a choice when adding a timeline page to manually set start year / end year and increment. As it is, the initial tree import builds out timelines with 15 year increments and the add a page timeline has decades – the events are overlapping. If we also have personal events to add, it’s impossible to space it out nicely so I’ll end up re-writing all the auto-generated dates and repositioning all the events.
    Another type of timeline I’m planning is the timeline for a house that passed along through several generations – adding mini family group views along the lower side of the timeline and family events that happened at the house above (weddings, funny stories, renovations) so I’m happy to see that the years are editable, it’d just be a little quicker to be able to specify that increment and date range at the start.


  19. Joyce Walth

    Hope you see this question as it is a little late. I was wondering if others have used your service to do just a regular album of current family photos. This is what I could use the discount on right now. I am a ways away from a family history book.
    Thanks so much for these webinars! I love to be able to “tune” in later.

  20. Mary Ann Stoikes

    I love and all the info it has put at my fingertips. The only way I have found the info on webinars and archives is through the links in your emails or the current listing on the right side column when you log in and bookmarking that direct link. Can you add a search feature on the main page so we can search for webinars or areas of interest available on the site?

    I was very happy with what I saw of this webinar and came away with a lot of ideas. I too was astonished when it was mentioned to make the demo shorter?! You barely touched the surface and I did not even get to see the end because of “network congestion”. The demo is most important part and why we all signed up. I suggest lengthening the webinar or archiving a longer advanced version of the demo.

    I have not had time to rewatch the demo to catch the section on updating. From what experience I have using the update feature, there needs to be some tweaks made. The feature warns you that the appearance of text may change and things may shuffle around. When I have a page full of photos and text and hit the update, most of my photos and text disappear. So I have not found this feature to be helpful yet.

    For anyone just starting to build a book online, a month is not near enough time to gather photos and info. I’ve been researching for 2 years and am still gathering photos and info from family. At least 6 months would be a better time frame. And please do add at least CST time zone to help eliviate confusion.

    Thanks again for everything that you provide.

  21. Sarah Sheehan

    I’m struggling a little with the printing option. I’d like to “print to PDF” first and examine placement and font sizes on a print out and legibility against background graphics. I am setting my “print to PDF” page size to a custom size that matches the larger page size option I chose for my book, the PDF margins likely need to be set to something – I’ve currently got them at the default 0 and the page renders with most of the page off centered and off the page entirely and the background isn’t showing up at all. I didn’t find any tips for this in the Help area and the link to “why doesn’t everything print” is broken. A little tutorial on printing (and printing to PDF for those of us who don’t have attached printers and have to print later) would be super.

    Great work on this – the MyCanvas site is fun to work with.

  22. Stefanie Condie

    Sarah, I really appreciate your tip about Safari vs. Firefox on the Mac, as I’m a Firefox user. I will switch to Safari when I’m using MyCanvas on the Mac.

    I agree that the timelines have a lot of room for improvement. We have lots of ideas for making them more relevant and customizable, but it’s a big project and just hasn’t made it to the top of the priority list yet. I will pass your suggestions on to the product development team.

    I did a blog post a few months ago about the print-from-home options — you might want to take a lot at that.

    Joyce, you can absolutely use your 25% off coupon to make a photo book, or any other MyCanvas product, for that matter. If you’re looking for a quick project you might also want to try making a family tree poster.

    Moira, we’ve gotten a few comments from people who had network congestion problems. That isn’t something we can control, since as you mentioned it has to do with your local ISP, but next time we could break the demo into smaller chunks and see if that helps. In the meantime, I’ll see if we can get the demo segment burned onto a disk for people who aren’t able to watch the archived version online. If that’s your situation, please send me an email at with your mailing address.

  23. D. Barry Lipscomb

    As a former teacher, I had some problems with the overall visual effect of the webinar. I was forced to reduce the size of the computer page image three times, in order to see all of the buttons. At this size, it was very difficult to see the printed words. It would be helpful to reduce the size of the screen header and the profiles of the two presenters. The profiles could also be moved to the left.
    Also, the printed words need to be darker (they were light grey), and the vocals need to be louder.
    I did think the length was appropriate, and the presentation was highly informative.
    Several of the surveys disappeared before I had a chance to click on “submit.”

    Barry’s wife

  24. jerry

    RE: MacCrash

    FWIW – I too run Firefox 3 on an iMac w/OS10.5 ……

    I have had no crashes (or other difficulties) at all while working in MyCanvas, although, I have not spent a great deal of time with it. I have only imported from Ancestry – including photos – and printed out locally a small 11 page book for review purposes.

    Hope this helps……

  25. Margie Deutsch

    I’ve never participated in this type of session. It was strange how the transmission would stop and restart seconds later, or as was the case at the end at least 4 minutes before you came back on live. It might be better to just do these programs and make them available for view when users choose to watch, not when many are watching all at the same time.
    There was a comment screen at the end of the broadcast, but it only was up for a few seconds before sign-off. Please don’t put it up if we don’t have enough time to comment.

  26. Sara Angeletti

    I really enjoyed the information on the webinar and feel brave enough to try MyCanvas now. I had some kind of technical difficulty where the video would regress to a previous spot about 5 minutes before, and then would “catch up” with itself and go back to where it should have been. I have no idea what caused the glitch for me, and I am glad it seems to have just been me, not the entire presentation. Any ideas on preventing that next time? I am very glad to know I can watch again–just opened that email. Many thanks for all the wonderful information! Sara

  27. Teresa Hoddy

    Hi Stefanie, I was one of the viewers of your webinar and enjoyed it very much. At the end you said that we would receive a coupon for a discount on our project. I have never recieved mine but by reading other comments it would appear some of the members did. Would appreciate your assistance as I have a project I am wanting to give as a gift.

  28. William Robinett

    I watched the webinar and was very impressed with all of the capabilities in MyCanvas. I must have missed something however. Is MyCanvas a computer program that is available for people to purchase and use on their personal computers? If not, then how does a person use it. I have not found anything at that instructs people how to get it to use it. If MyCanvas is available for purchase, how much is it and how do I buy it???
    MyCanvas appears to be a VERY useful program if I can determine how to get it or use it.

    Thank you,

    Bill Robinett

  29. Donna Sinquefield

    I really enjoyed the presentation that you did. You both did a great job. It’s definitely a powerful tool.

    However, I was disappointed that you turned off the webnar when you did. I was right in the middle of providing comments on the webnar, when the service cut off. You may want to give us a few more minutes next time.

    Thanks again for all your hard work.

  30. Stefanie Condie

    Bill, MyCanvas is an online application, so there’s no need to download the software. It’s available for free on To access it, click the “Print & Share” tab from anywhere on, or go to

    Donna, the premature cutoff was my fault — I accidentally hit the button too soon. Sorry about that!

  31. My hubby is addicted to your site and has 311 family members and he has only been working on it a week! I have 168 and I’v been working on it over a year! It helps that he found a web site a past family member made. Plus, his entire family has been born, raised and died in the same city for generations. Lucky dog! 🙂

    Anyway, I had a suggestion. It would be wonderful if there was a mapping system available. For instance, my husband knows all the places his grandfather went while in the military. He has it mentioned on his timeline. We’d love it if he could click on a map and make little x’s to mark the country, state, and city, maybe even down to a street or base that his grandfather was at. Also, if he could number or date those locations and then the program would create a red line showing his travel (like the maps of Moses’s journey in the Bible). Then he could import it into a my canvas family book. That would be awesome!

    Thanks for everything!

  32. How can I find out about accessing a website on MyCanvas. I went to the webs you recommended to Stephanie Condie and there was not anything there but how to access ancester files.
    I got in late on your Webinhar last Wednesday and found it really interested in what you did about a Family Book. I would like to learn more about where to get supplies and instructions.
    Thanks for putting it on.

  33. Elly Krieg

    I am so disappointed. I was not able to view the presentation as it was happening and I also could not view the archived document either. I really was looking forward to viewing the software. Not sure what you can do about that for future presentations but it was a big let down.

  34. Carolann

    I agree with Tony, This seems labor intensive and I couldn’t possibly get all that I want into the book by the coupon deadline. But thanks for the offer.
    I enjoyed the presentation and look forward to more.

  35. Dotty Varitz

    I viewed the seminar and learned a lot. I started a Book on MY Canvas & worked on it a couple of times. Now I cannot find it anywhere. My FTM #9 program does not show it as a project. Can you tell me what happened & where to look for it. There was a lot of work done but not nearly ready to be complete. I’m really disappointed if I have to start from scratch again. Please help. dotty

  36. I missed the live presentation, but the taped session was great. You answered almost all of my questions. But what about adding aunts, cousins, etc. I guess I add a page, but then what?? Thanks again for the education.

  37. Margaret McIntyre

    I watched the seminar in full and found it very informative. Only thing is I didn’t get the discount code???

  38. Only once have I been able to find the MyCanvas albums. There was not enough information on how to proceed in making a family history. HOW CAN I GET TO THIS WEBSITE?

  39. Stefanie Condie

    Dotty, if you’ve created a MyCanvas project it will be saved online on the MyCanvas website–not in your FTM 2009 software. Go to MyCanvas (through the “Publish” tab in FTM 2009 or the “Print & Share” tab on and then go to the “My Projects” page. You must be logged in (with your user name and password) to view your projects.

  40. sharon kooi

    I missed the program on Create your family next heirloom on Jan 21, 2009. How can I access it & other ones Ancestry has had before? I have Family Tree Maker 2009 & i am trying to write my family’s story.

    Thanks, Sharon Kooi

  41. Marshall Ellis

    I have several siblings and each of them have children. How do I create a book showing these siblings and their children as well as my parents, grandsparents, etc.

  42. I’m trying to get ready to do a book but what I really need is still not offered. What I need is an Ancestor Report that goes back many generations. It could be just text and would be an easier way to include my entire tree in the book. Since I have at least 16 generations to document, I need a condensed listing report like an Ahnentafel Report. Are there any plans that could include this?

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