Yesterday (15th Feb.) I received an update to how my DNA results were displayed. Somehow, I’ve been on of the lucky testers who get some of the Beta features before they are made available system-wide. Last year it was an update on ethnicity estimates and now I have new layouts and new options to manage my DNA matches. I thought it might be worth reviewing those features.
Before I go into the detail, three points worth noting. Firstly these options appear to be enabled on an account-wide basis, so I also see the options in the Ancestry android app. Secondly I’m showing screenshots accessing the ancestry website via the Chrome browser. I’m not sure how browser-independent the website is, or if ancestry code their webpages for a specific browser. Since I, like many other people, use Chrome as their primary browser I’ll stick with it for screenshots etc. Finally, my Ancestry account is via ancestry.co.uk, but I suspect the web pages are independent of the location of your account.
OK, now on to the changes. Below is the main cousin-matching page I see when I click on “View All DNA Matches”.
The general layout is more compact than before and there are three new options, two ways to filter your matches and a new grouping feature. Before I dive into these features it’s worth pointing out that this layout seems to provide much cleaner view of the existing information, what type of tree, if any your DNA matches have and the famed Ancestry shaky-leaf is clearly labeled as “Common Ancestor”. One other point to note, as you may have spotted, I have very few close relatives who have DNA-tested – so I’m probably not such a “power-user” of Ancestry. Now on to the first, and probably most important, feature Groups:
You now have the ability to create up to 24 User-defined groups. You get to call the shots on what the groups mean. You also get to decide, from a palate of 24 colours, how each group is colour-coded.
Using these groups brings you to the two new filter drop-down menus at the top of the page. The do similar things.
The first drop-down filter box you have is shown below. You can now, rather naturally, filter your matches based on Groups. In addition (and I think this is new) you can view only matches that match either parent (IF they have tested). Sadly my parents died long before DNA testing, so I can’t use this option directly. It would be nice if Ancestry provided the same functionality as FamilyTreeDNA provide, and identify/mark matches as from maternal or paternal sides.
The second filter option, which I find slightly confusing, allows you to again filter your matches. This filter, IIRC, provides the functionality that was alredy in the Ancestry website. You can filter based on Common Matches, New matches etc. I’ll be honest I can’t remember if the option to see only matches that have a Public tree was there before, but it’s certainly a useful feature.
Looking through these changes my first thoughts are very much to do with the fact that I’m not a “power-user”. I have 25 matches on Ancestry with Common Ancestor(s). These numbers don’t really require me to organise matches into custom groups. At that level it’s not a big change.
What does impress me, and will I hope help other “peripheral” testers is the overall cleanliness of the new layout. For the many people who test just for fun (and those cursed “Ethnicity Estimates”) it is important to provide a simple bridge into the who cousin-matching power of DNA testing. As such this is a step forward.