This week is RootsTech. It is the season for major announcements from genealogy companies. Ancestry just announced three new features:
- ThruLines, a list of ancestors and potential ancestors, and how people who share DNA with you connect to them
- MyTreeTags, tags that can be added to individuals in your Ancestry Tree
- updated DNA Matches, a new layout for the DNA match page, where matched may now be given group labels
Ancestry’s announcement at RootsTech can be seen on YouTube here: RootsTech 2019 Address from Ancestry CEO Maho Georgiadis.
Are these features game changers? Not quite. But they can help organize research and may lead to new discoveries. My introduction to ThruLines is here. This post will introduce the new AncestryDNA Match Page.
How to See the New Page Format
A user has to select the option to see the new page format. The choice is in on the new DNA lab page, reached through menu option Extras > DNA Lab. In the “New & Improved DNA Matches” box, select “Enable.”
New Matches Page
This is a view of the new DNA Matches page.
The match information is now organized into four rows: identity, relationship, tree information, and groups/notes. One of the best new features of the new page format is the ability to define groups.
Ancestry now allows the user to define up to 24 groups, each with a different color code. This is similar to the very helpful DNA Match Labeling Chrome extension that Blaine Bettinger created. Differences are that it has 24 colors vs. 8 and allows multiple groups to be assigned for each individual. Note that the new page format is not compatible with the DNA Match Labeling extension. Right now you can still go back and forth between the old and new page formats if you want to go back to see some of your labels from that tool, but that may not be for long.
To see your groups, select “Add/edit groups” next to any match. If no groups are yet defined, you will go straight to the “Create custom group” screen.
Choose a group name and color. Once a group has been defined, you will see the list of possible groups to assign to the individual.
Here I have defined a group for each of my great-grandparents. I used the numbering trick suggested by the memories in time blog post 5 Tips for Using Ancestry DNA Custom Groups to keep my ancestors in tree order. The colors I used are somewhat arbitrarily the middle row of colors from left to right.
I assign groups to my matches according to their family line connection to me. If a match is related to me through Kenneth E Beckman, so either descends from him or from any of his ancestors, he goes into that group. For any closer matches who descend from multiple ancestors here, I assigned multiple groups to them, as shown in the screenshot of my match page. Then when I need to find out how an unknown match is related to me, I can look at the groups of their shared matches.
Ancestry has new algorithms to suggest common ancestors. Information from other trees in addition to your tree and the match’s tree may be used to suggest a common ancestor. This technology is also being used by the ThruLines tool. As always, be sure to independently verify this information, but you could find helpful new clues.
Select a match to see the new format of the match page. The tool is in beta, so I hope this is going to change. It feels somewhat scattered and out of scale. The page now includes:
- Any pictures of you and the match
- Basic match information
- Information about any tree the match has, linked or unlinked
- Any predicted common ancestors
- Top six common matches, with a link to the full list
- Comparison of ethnicity estimates
- Any shared migrations
I have to say I preferred the earlier match page format. I now need to make additional clicks to see the information, like shared surnames and match list, that used to be displayed on this page. The large photo space and ethnicity maps especially take up too much space.
Try the new DNA match format. You can currently change back if don’t like it. The new groups feature is great. Try it out. Assign groups to your known matches to help figure out how you are related to unknown ones. Check out the new Common ancestors for clues.
This section compiles some of the critiques I have for the new page. The new Common ancestor tool has an odd result when a match is an ancestor. I see they are suggested as an ancestor, which is correct, along with their parent of the opposite gender. This looks like a programming bug.
A match cannot be starred until a group is defined, a bug.
The match page should be redone. I would like to see at least the shared surnames and ability to expand the full shared match list on this page, in addition to the ability to edit notes. The large photos and ethnicity information can be smaller or removed.
Ideally I would see the shared surnames and names of suggested Common ancestors at the match list level.