Posted January 18, 2007 by Geni | 55 Comments

Thanks for bearing with us while we add more capacity and improvements. As requested, here’s an update on how we’re doing.

Last night we set up several more webservers, so Geni should be performing much better for you today. (There have been a few hiccups this morning, and we’re ironing those out now.) We’re also working to address your most pressing issues, based on the feedback we’ve received. For example, this morning we added support for accents and other non-Latin characters, which was one of the top early requests. Among the items we’re either evaluating or working on right now:

  • Importing family data
  • Adding unmarried partners
  • A better way to add same sex partners
  • Better support for adopted children
  • Merging duplicate family trees created independently by relatives in the same family
  • Better deletion features for the tree and list view
  • Support for people who show up in the tree more than once (multiple marriages between two families)
  • Printing family trees
  • International keyboard support

Finally, we also wanted to let you know that we appreciate all the email and comments you’ve been sending us. Please keep them coming!


  • Amber Balch

    Hooray! Thank you! I added my dog while just goofing around, but for some reason I can’t delete him now! I don’t really want to be known as “Bonzo’s Mom” – looking forward to advanced deletion options! :)

  • http://mindlessjabber.com Bill_T

    Thanks for the updates, I appreciate; I still cannot get in, but I can expect hiccups with this large of a project.
    Thanks again.

  • Sunny

    I was one of the people who made a few suggestions, including frequent progress updates via your blog. Although I requested it, I didn’t really expect to be taken seriously. I sincerely appreciate you proving me wrong. This webware may turn out to be the single most important tool to help me tie my family heritage together in a coherent, understandable way. If you can implement all the features that you just mentioned, and those that are being suggested in a meaningful way, you will have a loyal patron in me.
    I really do love this site.
    Thanks again

  • Bill

    Thanks for the update. Looking forward to the new features. One request if I may:
    - Generation Hiding
    Currently, my tree has 13 generations shown, and with only about half the people entered. This is making navigation a bit of a chore. Adding the ability to hide generations would help. For instance, a slider that would control the number of ancestral generations shown for the current tree.

  • Omar Shahine

    How about a way to invite people but only give them read only access (no ability to edit). We don’t want everyone in the family with the ability to add/delete/edit entries. Maybe only their own entry.

  • http://www.mafiarose.com Yannick

    Nice update! Sorry for my english.
    I have a smal suggesion. I can’t put my family tree on my website. With a external link (like embeded) and a public acces, I will present my family to everyone.

  • http://juniorbonner.net/blog/ Phil

    Thanks for the update. Just started using the site and been pestering my family to get involved in contributing. Potentially very useful and valuable service. Currently a few bugs and a bit slow. The phone number I entered has been reproduced about 50 times on my profile page!?!
    Some suggestions for what they’re worth:
    - ability to share tree with people but not allowing any editing
    - ability to chose different columns of data in the list view and ability to sort by each column. ie list of birthdates, addresses, etc
    - exporting of data

  • Robert
  • Parvath

    wow great work !!! Keep it up. Is there any way to publish the tree online. Many be like a link or facility to embed or something like that.

  • Susheela

    this is great — love how quickly you guys are addressing issues :)
    one more suggestion: being able to delete your own account — i created two other accounts in my impatience with receiving my password — my fault, but now i don’t want to have three accounts =/

  • Nemo

    Great and very nice site. Realy thanx for that. I hope that the Slovak family tree will be built up as well soon :-)
    What about add more choices to Contact -> Services? ICQ, Jabber. Also with the icons :-) It will be very usefull and nice …
    By the way, I am looking forward to improvement of deletion (I’m not able to delete some peoples), exporting and/or printing, public acces …
    … the best and the most beautiful site …

  • http://www.veronicabelmont.com veronica

    Still can’t even edit my profile. Can’t wait to try it though! Every time I get “We are experiencing technical difficulties”
    Good luck with the bugs :)

  • http://www.djp72.net darren john paine

    two suggestions:
    1} you need a dedicated suggestion forum.
    2} a simple public url that we can share with friends to see our family tree.

  • Peter

    Every time I try logging in, I get dumped back to the login page. I checked out the source of the login page & noticed that each time the server name changed, eg

  • Randy

    I love the site so far. My one problem: none of the relatives whose email addresses I’ve entered seem to have received an invite. Also, the ‘confirm your email address’ function is not sending me an email. Are you guys having email server problems?

  • http://www.racesco.com Scott Sanders

    Love this service! Thank you!
    A relative has added some members twice by accident, and I find I can’t remove them. Some family members have an “X” in their name block, but of course, not the ones I want to delete.
    With regard to hiding generations as noted above — I see that some branches are automatically hiding on what I can see. I’d like to have the option for them to show up, even if it means that tree stretches left-right a bit.

  • http://www.bascio.com Frank Bascio

    Would be nice to have Meebo.com integration on the page and use the site as a gathering spot for virtual family reunions :-)
    I am envisioning a group chat box on the main page and individual “online now” indicators visible from the tree and list view for each family member so that you can chat them up privately (of course to gossip about that dead beat good for nothing cousin ;-p)

  • http://familiaroddities.wordpress.com Paul Hillsdon

    That’s ace! You guys really are listening! I find it rather slow still though, and uploading pictures doesn’t seem to be working for me. Just hoping that you’re fixing these types of glitches before beginning to add features. But as I said before, great product, and great customer service; keep it up! :D

  • Bryan

    Just found this site and it’s awesome! Just wanted to let you know. I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time!

  • http://www.djp72.net djp72

    back with some more suggestions to add to my above two {forums & public url}
    3} a place on the main person profile to add when they were married and where.
    4} display both maiden name and married name in the “tree view” {or have the option}
    5} display whole name in the tree view
    6} when you go up and add a wife’s parents, the machine should automatically add the wifes maiden name as her father’s last name.

  • http://joelion.com joe

    to echo most everyone else – great job. That’s a very good list you have going there, and i’ll be happily awaiting the updated features. I have been putting off installing phpgedview.net on my own webserver because it looks like a beast to set up, and even though it has a very powerful backend, the front-end family tree view is severely lacking. I’m really, really glad to see a nice Ajax/Flash implementation, which is ideal for this kind of job.
    If I had to give some areas I’d like to see enhanced, it would mostly be with layout and navigation.
    - The layouts tend to get unnecessarily wide, especially if you have a generation with a large set of siblings and spouses – that ends up spreading other sets of siblings way apart, and even puts spouses way apart from each other. I think the tree should attempt to be as horizontally compact as possible.
    - I don’t really “get” the pseudo-tab bar that starts up when you click on the tree icon to expand a portion of the family. When it opens a new tab, you really lose the context of where you are in relation to the whole tree. I think you should always stay with a single tree view, but add better expand/collapse collapse support for any major node in the tree. if you expand a node, it should zoom out in your current view until it fits, or hide some of the other nodes in the view, but not open up a whole new view.
    - Drag-and-drop support for the nodes would be good. First, so you can manually re-order siblings and spouses in the same generation. Second, so you can modify relationships a little easier. If you accidentally add someone with the wrong parental relationships, it’s too difficult to go into the profile and find the proper parents.
    - Some customization of what is shown in the person boxes in the tree view. Allow us to pick the preferred name to show in the box (like one of the nicknames or a middle name) instead of selecting the first name automatically. Plus, it would be nice to be able to add a field or two to the boxes, like birth year and death year, or current residence city. Finally, if we could toggle the thumbnail pictures off and on (or at least turn it off for people who do not have pictures added to their profiles) to save a little horizontal space.
    Those 4 suggestions are almost “must haves”, but just a couple “really out there” suggestions or ideas.
    - any future plans of integrating a mapping feature via Google/Yahoo Maps API? I would love to be able to associate profiles (including birth places, schools, work, burial places, etc) on a dynamic map.
    - Do you think the profiles/trees could eventually be merged into a timeline view via a service like http://simile.mit.edu/timeline/ ? That would be awesome if in addition to list and family tree view, there could be a timeline view that showed people and events on a dynamic timeline.
    Can you give any indication as to where this site is going to go? i.e. when you exit beta, are you going to start charging for accounts, or adding ads? If we spend a lot of time right now adding all our family history, are we going to have to start paying for it later?

  • Kenny

    I understand people’s request for restricted edits, but I think it destroys the spirit of the site, which is almost a genealogy wiki. Yes, some people may enter wrong information, and it will need to be corrected, but I prefer the ability for all people I invite to be able to participate. Maybe a better suggestion would be (eventually) to allow editors of certain lines so they that any changes made to that line will email/inform you.
    My suggestion:
    Ability to export!

  • Baer

    You’ve launched a great tool, the collaborative approach to building a family tree is just perfect!
    Enhancement Request: Can add a switch in the profile to allow the nickname to be the first name in the tree node.
    Thanks and good luck!

  • http://mindlessjabber.com Bill T

    I know I am not the first person to feel this way but, I have been looking for something like this for a very long time. There are dozens off applications that are available for purchase but do not offer web support; the others that do offer web support are no where near as advanced as this. Great Job!
    I also appreciate the updating of the blog so persons know where we stand on your plans and situations.
    I now have over 250 persons on the tree in less then 15 hours, (people I did not know even existed) and expect to have 5x’s more by the end of the week.
    Thank you.

  • Erick

    I love the site! Great work! I’ve got a couple of ideas. How about letting us see when a family member is logged into the system? Also, how about a birthday reminder when we log in or sent via email?
    Keep up the great work!

  • http://sanjaygoel.blogspot.com Sanjay Goel

    It still doesn’t work. I am logging in using my email id, it shows “We are experiencing technical difficulties” on My profile page.

  • http://www.pocketgear.ca Tim

    Site is great! Silly request, but some of us consider pets family too :) Maybe a “Enable Pets” checkbox in settings, so most people won’t see it, but if you want to keep track of everyone you can click it?


    “Chapeau bas” in French ;)
    And Other language ?

  • Timothy Moinat

    Just another suggestion, I have 5 e-mail addresses, it would be nice to be able to add all of them, right now I can only put 2.
    Also the possibility to change the default e-mail address would be nice.
    Thank you for your reactivity and your quick response to requests.
    Great service!

  • cverrier

    The main issue I’ve had is tracking family members with similar names – the tree display is quite sparse.
    How about support for a name prefix (Dr, Professor, etc).
    Maybe a ‘display name’ that would allow a bit more flexibilty on the text shown on the tree display. Default it to Firstname+Surname but allow overrides.
    A facility to ‘merge’ duplicates (or create links to people who are already on the chart)

  • cverrier

    What about a system that identified matching person records in other trees (requiring a minimum number of matching fields to prevent false matches) and then notified the owners of both trees – asking if they would like to be put in touch with each other.
    If both people agreed, then the system would exchange email addresses.
    You could then be connected with a long-lost relative had been building a tree that overlapped yours.
    Now THAT’s Web 2.0 in action!

  • Joseph Wallis

    Another word about GEDCOM. Please make it import and COMPARE what is already in the database. Perhaps the best way to do this would be to write a GEDCOM exporter for your data, then compare the incoming file to the temporary exported one. I just don’t want all of my painstaking work erased.

  • Eric T.

    I would like to see an option to place a date and location of the marriage. Other than that I really like what you guys have got here.

  • http://www.space4future.com Paolo Tonon

    If you will build on demand printing service ( like qoop for flickr) sure I’ll buy my family tree print.
    Nice project, keep up the good work.

  • Susheela

    “2} a simple public url that we can share with friends to see our family tree.”
    perhaps a few options for urls — i for one really don’t like the idea of a simple url because the privacy issue is huge for my family if they were going to use this tool. maybe an option to turn a simple url on and off.

  • Susheela

    also, i forgot to mention, it would be nice to be able to see birth dates and dates of death right on the tree.

  • http://www.inter-weavers.com Robin Wills

    Great site and surprisingly addictive!!
    Someone mentioned meebo integration. That would be cool for both of you.
    A support forum would be an easy way for you to offload some of the support onto your users (once we know what we’re doing)
    A Help wiki would be good. We’d even document stuff ourselves. I keep getting family members asking me how to upload photos and things. That’s fine but a wiki would make it easy to send them a quick link!
    Finally, on privacy there are two immediate issues: (1) as trees get bigger I believe that e-mail addresses should be hidden. It would encourage people to leave messages in your profile (notified via e-mail) which means people stay on the site longer. These e-mails could get harvested by people you don’t know (who just happen to be distantly related to you). Make the default that e-mails are hidden. (2) we really do have to trust that you keep real good care of our data, don’t we?
    Keep up the good work.

  • http://lukather77.blogspot.com Lorenzo

    Love this site!!
    I hope printing service to be up as soon as possible, I’d like to gift it to my grandfather ;)

  • Ken

    Thanks, this is a wondering site!
    I’m having a bit of a problem, it seems that I can’t remove a person that inadvertently got added twice. the ‘x’ in the top right corner is gone. Any advice, would be appreciated.

  • Joseph Wallis

    another idea:
    for people’s birth and death years, link to the Wikipedia page or the same year. Its quite amazing to read what happened in the year a person was born or died.

  • tom

    Please allow exporting of data. Lock-in is the calling card of evil companies.

  • http://jphilwilson.blogspot.com Phil Wilson

    I would suggest a display name or nickname field, and I would also suggest some kind of print feature.
    Possibly also the ability to show birth and death dates in the main page boxes and give the ability to size them.

  • Dan Stevens

    What happens if there is a disgruntled family member who access the tree and destroys the data? Is there versioning or a backup system in place?

  • http://seilerwerks.blogspot.com Don Seiler

    Would it be possible to just allow someone to delete their account? They haven’t created a tree (other than themselves) and I just want to invite them to mine, but their email is currently already registered at geni.com.

  • http://beyondthebleedingedge.blogspot.com Andrew

    I have the same problem as a few others, mainly no one rec’d an invitation, and I have no ability to resend an invite.
    Also, small glitch – some emails addresses aren’t being accepted as they are saying they are already in use, however I was the one that added them and I can’t delete/edit.
    An update on non rec’d email invitations would be appreciated !!
    Awesome site.

  • Scott

    In Profile, the contact area doesn’t have a field for zip codes for home/work address.
    The area where you can put links to Flickr, MySpace etc. doesn’t produce a hyperlink when viewing the profile.
    I’d like an easy way to know when someone has been editing profiles or adding people (three people added and 5 profiles edited since last visit) or put some type of mark on the tree to show updates by others.
    I second the suggestion to have birth/death dates on the tree. Maybe you could implement a info box on mouse over?

  • http://profile.typekey.com/geniblog/ Geni Team

    Yannick and Parvath: We are looking into a publicly-viewable version of your family tree, but we want to be careful about the privacy and safety of our users. We will be asking our beta users to give us some guidance pretty soon on this and other privacy issues.

  • http://blog.offbeatmammal.com OffBeatMammal

    “We are experiencing technical difficulties”
    ever since I got sent a link to the site :(
    Sometimes I can log in, but often it just loops around and around.

  • Richard Shulman

    I’m enjoying trying out the service. However, some of the input is a little tedious and repetitious. Examples are:
    1) If someone lives or died in the same city they were born in, could you not show the same state/province and country they were born in as a default?
    2) Children of a certain age could be assumed to live with their parents (at least in providing defaults for address fields).
    Thank you.

  • Dan Stevens

    I’m experiencing an issue that several other are: why is it possible to delete some nodes where others it’s not possible? Some of my relatives incorrectly added their children as descendants of their children and there is no way to fix this. Help!

  • Leslie Wilder

    I would appreciate Baha’i Faith being added to the list of religions.

  • Brooks

    I’m casting my vote for support of people who appear multiple times in a tree. I’ve got at least one of these in my tree, and right now, it’s a mess. She’s on there twice, along with both her husbands. Also, you mention in a later post that you have support for half-siblings, step-siblings, etc, but what about adopted siblings/children? I have a cousing who adopted his wife’s first two children…how would I reference them? From a geneaological perspective, they’re not related to me, but they are fully my family…Just curious.

  • Evan

    The “living” checkbox needs to be smarter.
    Let’s say I have a great great great grandmother who was born in 1820 and died in 1880. When I add that person’s *mother* it should not default to the person being alive. Please update that popup box so that it is smarter and based on other information of that person’s generation.
    Also, many people have middle names. Why not have the middle name as part of that first popup box?

  • Peter

    Love Geni!!
    Started a tree yesterday and it is growing fast.
    GEDCOM upload, or something like that, would be nice, because I already have a database with thousands of relatives. Typing them again is not an option.
    Also printing all the profiles from a branch would be an usefull option (we are preparing a come together of all living descendants of my grandparents, thats why I started this tree in the first place).
    I am very curious to see other trees.
    Keep up the good work!

  • WH

    It would be nice to have a place to enter the marriage date.