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Not ready for prime time

There are changes underway at Family Tree DNA to the way that matches are presented, particularly Family Finder autosomal matches.

As long as you have certain close relatives who have tested — first cousins or closer — and as long as you link those close relatives in your family tree, then as long as other matches match both you and those close relatives at a level that allows a confident conclusion that the match is coming from that side of your family, your Family Finder matches will be designated as maternal or paternal.

That can be a useful tool, once it works as fully as it might.

But we’re not there yet, and the change to make this reporting system work has caused other issues that need to be addressed.

So the operative phrase here has to be: work in progress.

FT.updateFirst of all, the system is slow. Slow slow slow. Choose someone you want to see the in-common-with matches for, and it takes 10-30 seconds or longer to load when it used to be pretty much instantaneous.

Throughout the system, the grey loading message bar appears all too often and stays around far too long.

Second, the system of linking people who’ve tested to your family tree so their DNA is used for the matching system is cumbersome, and it’s almost impossible to enter second and later spouses and half-siblings to the mix.

Third, even once you get everyone entered correctly, not everything is working the way it should.

Here’s a key example: one thing most of us like to do is see what matches we have in common with a person and then compare those matches in the chromosome browser. So it used to be that you’d select the person for whom you wanted to check the in-common-with matches, then use the advanced features field to select the five you wanted to see in the chromosome browser from the list that appeared.

The problem now: once you select someone to be in-common-with, you can’t select anybody to go into the chromosome browser. You have to write down the names of the people from the in-common-with match list, exit out of the in-common-with list, and then and only then can you add them to the chromosome browser list by searching them out on the bigger overall match list.

Perhaps even worse, you can’t select people for the chromosome browser from different pages of the match list. Select two from page one, then go on to page two to select two more, and the two from page one have disappeared from the selections.

And even the new matching system — helping show maternal versus paternal relatives — doesn’t work as well as it could, because half-siblings aren’t triggering the paternal versus maternal matching. That’s a real shame, since they’re the most direct evidence we have, if our parents are gone, as to which side a match may be from. With luck, that’ll be on the “feature-to-add” list real soon.

Now Family Tree DNA has made it clear that there’s work being done on this system this weekend, so we can hope that some of these will be addressed sooner rather than later.

For the moment… work-in-progress is the best that can be said. It’s sure not ready for prime time as it is.

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