Posted by Kenny Freestone on August 26, 2009 in Site Features

Today we launched in “preview mode” a series of updates to the pedigree view of your family tree. The changes we have made are based largely on feedback we’ve received from members on their challenges using the current pedigree view. We’re excited to release these improvements and encourage you to give the preview a test drive and tell us what you think.


The current pedigree view shows up to five generations of ancestors at a time.  In “preview mode” you can now expand a family line to view dozens of generations at one time on your screen.  New zoom in/out tools allow you to customize the size of the names on screen to see more names at a time, or to make the text larger for easier readability.

Speaking of readability, we’ve sharpened the contrast and increased the text’s size and boldness to make names easier to read at any zoom level.

In addition, a “full screen” toggle button allows you to expand the tree viewer to take full advantage of any extra space your computer monitor is able to display.

In preview mode, you can grab and drag your family tree across the screen to adjust it to just how you want to see it, which can be especially helpful when looking at 16 generations of your paternal line at full screen.

We’ve also made it easier to navigate to your ancestors’ profile pages.  Instead of hovering and clicking “view profile”, now a profile icon appears next to each person in your tree–just click it and done.

Also, we’re introducing to the pedigree view a mini “more info” card for each person in your tree.  Clicking a name now brings up more information for that person, plus links to go to the profile page, view hints, edit, search, move to focus, and add family members.  This “more info” card also has an option to view the spouse and children of the person in your pedigree view, without having to leave the page.

To try out the preview mode, visit your family tree and click the link “Check out a preview of the new pedigree view”.

We expect the preview to last several weeks before we make the new pedigree view the default experience.  We invite you to use it, and send us your opinions via the feedback tool on the page.  We will work to incorporate as much of your feedback as we can before we launch.


  1. Jim

    I like the new design. I have my father as the home person, if I select the Family tab it shows the family of my father. If I go to my g grandfather and make him the Focus person then select the family tab it still shows the family of my father. I have tried several different families and it seems to revert to the last Family viewed. Unless I go back the their profile page and come back to the Pedigree Tree. Is there a way in Pedigree View to select another person and have that persons family viewed?

  2. Len

    On old page it was showing first name and middle inital for some of my family. Now for some that have longer names it is only showing a first name inital. Please show at least the first word in the first name followed by first character of next word and if it will fit the whole first name field. Please don’t abbreviate long first name to one initial when the first word is only 7 characters. I hope they can fix this.

  3. I tried this out, and have received the “Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to shut down” message twice. It happens while moving from the pedigree view to a person profile and back. I’m using Windows XP and IE 7.

    I hesitate to try this again! Screen shots to follow on Genea-Musings?

  4. Geri Johnson

    Over all it is a big pain!
    Perhaps because I went from Ver 10 to 2010 could be te problem. I too am having trouble with EInternet Explorer saying ther is a problem with Ancestry and it needs to close. Done this twice yesterday and onece today. I will keep trying as I have always used Family Tree. Thanks

  5. Jesse

    As with the last redesign, my profile pictures are ruined once again. Please be mindful of that. I don’t feel like recropping all the photographs in my tree all over again. They previews are showing single eyes, parts of heads, etc even though the pictures are all squares and should be easily downsized to fit the new dimensions. it’s also very slow.

    Also, I dont like the names being abbreviated. The old method was fine.

  6. Cindy

    2 things, 1. I noticed that even that I’m private people get my e-mail address and can e-mail me. 2. I still want a relationship calculator which I keep asking for and can never get. It would be great help and an added bonus for your site. Are you too lazy to add it? It’s on my software, but I have such a hard time using the software I bought from you,I don’t even use it anymore.

  7. T B

    Windows XP – IE 7 – latest Jave update from August 24th

    Overall it is an improvement. However the home person button does not function? I assume it is suppose to take you to the person you have designated as the home person in your tree. If not it should be renamed as it just causes confusion. I do not know what the purpose is?

    The full screen button also does not function. I assume the button is suppose to work the same as the hotkey F11. If not why even have it. More confusion.

    Off topic – do you plan to resolve the issue regarding comments on the family tree. Between notes, comments and stories it is a bit confusing. If you do not plan to show that an individual has comments than I will simply cut and paste the comments into stories.

    I would appreciate some feedback on this issue.

    Thank you …

  8. Nancy

    Both the home person “button” and the full screen button function for me. I am using Firefox and Vista Home Premium.

  9. Kenny Freestone

    Jim (#1)–we’ll look into this. Thanks for the feedback.

    Sharon (#2)–have you tried the full-screen option (in the upper left corner of the preview window)?

    Len (#3)–We hope to fix this soon.

    Randy (#4)–I’ll continue looking into this with you via email. If anyone else is seeing this please let me know.

    Andy (#5)–Glad you like it. We have the bug you reference on our list to fix.

    Geri (#6)–Sounds like you’re talking about FTM 2010, which is another topic. (

    Jesse (#7)–Yes, we agree we need to fix the issues with pictures displaying like that, and also the current name abbreviation method needs some improvement.

    Cindy (#8)–On the email issue please contact our member services team (1 800 ANCESTRY) for assistance. The relationship calculator is a great suggestion.

    Karen (#9)–To try out the preview mode, visit your family tree and click the link “Check out a preview of the new pedigree view”. It is in a light blue box at the top of your family tree pedigree view.

    T B (#10)–Sounds like the preview is not completely working for you. We may have to investigate further. Please feel free to email me additional details (kfreestone at For your question about comments, we agree that comments need to be shown more up front. We think that making comments more visible (especially the number of comments) is an important next step.

  10. Brian

    Was it only added to I don’t see anything in using either Explorer or Firefox.

  11. Karen

    #9 #12
    Kenny I don’t have a blue box or a link above the pedigree view.
    I have view profile for,tree settings and invite family members. Is this feature currently only on USA ancestry website or has it been added to all the overseas ancestry sites too. I am not on the USA site.

  12. Andrea

    I am so fruistrated with the new layout I will not be renewing my subscription with Ancestry. If it aint broke dont fix it.

  13. Charlene Smith

    There are a few glitches for me but overall I enjoy the new design. I am able to switch to all views easily and can expand segments of my tree to the oldest ancestor. Having the view of the selected person’s immediate family is also very nice to see. I was very unhappy with the old pedigree view due to having difficulties navigating to other views that I use the most. A BIG thank you from me!!

    The glitches: As others have reported the home person button on the upper left side of the screen does not function and the pictures are cropped in strange ways.

  14. roger

    As with Karen (#9 and #14), I’m using and I don’t have this. Once again is this a case of ignoring everyone outside of the US.

    Please don’t test on a limited audience and then releasing to the rest of the world as ‘tested and accepted by users’

  15. Jo

    With WinXP & FF the names & arrows don’t line up in the primary person’s spouse & children list and I can’t click on the person’s arrow that I want to move to the primary position. When I hover over a name a blank box pops up and covers the name. The only one that works is the first spouse.

    I can’t move the whole pedigree view back a generation like I can in the current view. In fact, I can’t navigate around in the new view very well at all. It’s much quicker & more efficient the way it is now. The new view is very slow to load, as are all the new dynamic pages.

    Siblings show all the time for the person in the primary position. The siblings should be collapsed by default, like they are in the current view, and we should be able to collapse them again after viewing them, in either view.

    I can’t move ancestors into the primary position, only descendants. If I click on an ancestor, it shows me their profile card and gives me the option to see their immediate family but I want to move them into the primary position. Clicking on the person’s name in the current view moves them to the primary position. There must be a way to do this in the new view. Right now I have to go to their profile then back to the pedigree to move anyone in an earlier generation into the primary position. Is this on purpose, a bug, or something just not functional yet in the preview?

    I not only have to scroll the scroll bar but also grab the contents of the window and move it just to see all the children in a large family since scrolling alone doesn’t show everyone like it does in the current view. It seems perhaps the default is to center the whole tree instead of showing all of the primary person’s family. Also, in the current view expanding the siblings automatically changes the view to show all the siblings but not in the preview. This should be kept the way it is now.

    Some of the oldest generations back are overlapping onto the generation right before them for no apparent reason. This is occurring in both FF & IE8.

    I can understand adding new functionality but I think too much that was useful and efficient was taken away. When you add new things you should find ways to add them without taking away the things that are already there and working well.

  16. trkiehl

    Overall I like it. The navigation buttons seem superfluous if you can now grab and drag it. Please be aware that the way names are displayed is still highly US-centric ! European names often do not have this standardized structure in which a middle name is simply abbreviated by a letter. If I could fix just one thing on, that would be it. German names for example don’t work that way. Your European customers will not like this, it forces their names into a US-style format. If you want to grow in Europe, please change this.

    Many edit functions have been incorporated into this pedigree view, but do users really want it there ? Or do they just want to view the pedigree and do the editing when they pull up the actual profile of the person ?

    I hope that the team does not stop here and will also be bringing this technology to the descendant chart. If so, the number of viewable generations should be increased.

  17. trkiehl

    I am only now seeing comment 18 and I very much second what was said in this paragraph:
    ” I can’t move ancestors into the primary position…”

    In my opinion, the pedigree view should be more for navigation, less for editing. I like the way has done this. It’s very smooth navigating.

  18. Andy Hatchett

    Re: #19 & #20

    To move any person in the pedigree view to the primary position in the pedigree view just click on the picture icon of that person on on the name- and then down the right hand side of the box that comes up click on the little circle icon(second from the bottom)that is just above the plus sign.

  19. roger

    Are these Blogs aimed only at the US user? You announce a trial of the new ‘Pedigree View’ on 24th Aug and its still not on the site on 26th Aug.

    You announce in a blog to the world that servers are to be down for maintenance. You announce a list of documents that appear in the ‘enhanced image viewer’ that includes lots of UK data.

    Both of these apply to the world outside the US as well as to the US and the blog is the only place to find this information. So why it that if you are announcing a trial that is US specific why don’t you tell us so?

    I, and I’m sure many others outside the US, get fed-up with always being treated worse than US users. Look at the recent case of the new version of FTM being offered cheaply to US users but not the rest of the world as another example.

    I would love to be able to try this product but when will I be able to?

  20. Kenny Freestone

    Cindy (#8)–We looked at your public profile and notice your email is listed there. Most likely people are seeing that your tree is private and clicking on your profile link in order to contact you.

    Charlene (#16)–we have both of the glitches you mention on our list to address. Thanks for your comment.

    Jo (#18)–Thanks for the comment–We value your feedback.

    Many comments have been about the preview not appearing on our international sites. We apologize for the delay in launching the preview internationally. We expect to do this fairly soon.

  21. John Hirschmann

    In the family view, you can navigate from one person to another very efficiently to another and I really like that. You don’t seem to be able to do this with application or it isn’t apparent how to do so. Since the graphics seem similar to family view — I would expect you can bring your programming skills from family view to here.

    As an aside, why is always a two step process to get to the Family View — in contrast to many of the other view options.

  22. Sarah Tennant

    I am using Windows Vista and IE 7. I have been experiencing problems with the site for some time now. While I like the changes made very much. I must use FTM in order to do searches. Since July, nothing will load when I do a search or Pedigree view. When I tried the updated design of the pedigee view, I can see my tree in the background, but I have the “loading” notation displayed and it never fully loads. Since your support staff is not available during hours that I can access them, it is extremely frustrating to use your product. Can anyone there explain to me why since July I have not been able to fully use

  23. Karen C


    It looks great! I printed out both old and new view, for inspection. I love the fact you can fit more generations on one page. Let’s hope it remains bug-free and works as well as it looks.

    I do, however, agree with another poster that at least a first name initial would be appreciated. I understand you are trying to save space so as to expand the tree, but this is needed. Case in point:

    3 Generations of ‘Lichtenberger’. This is all that shows when I hit the little ‘minus’ symbol up top. An initial would help distinguish which Lichtenbergers they are referring to on the tree.

    The other thing is that in order to print the tree, I had to print 2 pages- the first one had the Ancestry header, and a big blank space. Am using Windows Vista, in case that has bearing on the issue.

  24. Hello,
    I am a bit of a basic user of the computer & would like to say, firstly, thank you all for the site. I am so exited with what I have researched so far. The following points you might find useful?

    I am not sure if this has been sorted but I was having a problem with saving & printing documents. Esp. Printing with the new site.
    For example if I printed an 1891 Census entry it would print everything that was on the page tabs, Ancestry Header, etc, when all I wanted to print was the just the actual Census entry.

    To get around this I discovered if you save it to the computer first & print from the desktop then it prints only the document. However the size was a little small ( see Below)


    The Census entry I had printed from the old site was slightly bigger filling up the whole A4. This was much easier to read.

    I haven’t found it yet,perhaps it’s still there?I liked the simple black & white 5 Gen. Pedigree chart which you used to be able to pull up for each person listed.
    For me the coloured version takes too much ink & so I don’t print out these new gen. charts.

    Thanks for listening & again, Thanks for all the work, over all a fantastic site. :0)
    P.S. I’m a Mac user using Firefox.

  25. Helepera

    I am a program developer, and find some good and bad otpions in the new form.
    If you take a look at Steve Morse’s form which is very basic, it offers so many search options all on one page – and it’s free!!!!
    Why can’t Ancestry use a simple form that allows users to use a wildcard for the first letter of a name? More often than not, transcribers fail to recognize the first letter. Consequently, we can’t perform a search.

  26. Helepera

    I’ve called Tech support several times asking why I an no longer EDIT a name.
    I was able to do so in the past, so what happened? So many of the names are incorrectly transcribed and without this feature, researchers will not find the corrected name.
    Your lack of response is poor, especially when a user has asked the same question numerous times.
    What’s the purpose of the pencil mark edit??? It doesn’t work!

    Do you use beta testers? I’m sure they must have caught this HUGE change?

  27. Helepera

    Adding a brother or sister.

    Tech support says a brother can’t be added to a tree, a parent name is not known. DUH! — That’s the point of research…to find a parent!

    As of now, we have to “dummy up” a parent, to add a sibling to the chart.
    Silly, because other programs offer this simple option.

    Come on guys…read the message boards, listen to what callers are reporting.

    Can I be the only person who noticed this? If I’m wrong, pls, pls, pls, correct me.

    And, how do we rally know anyone out there is paying attention to these blogs.

  28. Andy Hatchett

    Helepera – Re:#32

    You have to remember that Ancestry’s Online Member Trees is *not* a genealogy program- it is merely a display application and as such will *never* have the functions that a standalone genealogy program has.

  29. Kristina

    I liked the new view, but it was slow to load. Also there are a LOT of large families that do not all fit on the screen when you want to use the feature that allows you to see immediate family (which is a feature I like), causing me to have to scroll back up to the top of page of my computer to see the toggle you placed on the screen which allows me to scroll down your screen. Its very time consuming and annoying.
    Also, I have a biological father and an adoptive father, and on the old way and new ways, I do not see a way to have an “Alternate” father button next to my name.. so if I want to look at one tree or the other I have to go edit myself and change my father preference.
    On a seperate note entirely, it would be really nice to be able to edit the search capabilities to omit something. The newspaper search is one I hate scanning through to look at other information that has popped up, but do not want to look through all other sections seperately just to omit the newspaper search. It would be handy to omit other things as well, like names, sometimes there is a need to omit a specific name without wanting to do an exact match for someone else.

  30. Preston Cooper

    I am upgrading? from FTM 2005 to 2010.In the ancestry and descendant charts of the 2005 version I could add captions (notes) right on the chart by clicking on “picture/object” and then clicking on “insert caption by itself”. Such notes are very helpful in explaining relationships etc. In the 2010 this feature has been downgraded out (or at least buried so deeply that I cannot find it. Must I now resort to editing the charts after they have been made into pdf files or is there some other answer.

  31. Debi

    I am wondering how to delete the printing of the date and time on certain reports under the publish tab. Also, when I print an INDIVIDUAL report it gives the persons information and the spouses information, except it lists their mother’s name and the mothers name in the fathers name also, WHY???

  32. Kenny Freestone

    Sarah (#25)–If you’re unable to reach support during their regular hours you could try asking for help via email, or check out our help online (Click “help” in the top-right corner of any page on Email info:

    Martin (#29)–The original black & white 5 generation pedigree chart is still available. At the top right of the pedigree view (in a green bar) you’ll see an icon that looks like a printer. Click it, and select the “printer-friendly” link.

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