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Digitised microfilm - Plea for faster reader, including for digitised books.

I have been looking at catalogue entries for digitised microfilm, some of which I can see on my home computer, and some of which I would need to view at a FHC.

Those that I can see are so relatively slow that they would probably take me weeks to go through.

I assume those that are restricted and out be viewed at the FHC would similarly be the same speed. This could mean researchers having to visit a FHC multiple times because the data is so slow to access.

The slow access also extends to digitised microfilm of books, which you would have to be desperate to read in the current slow format, and as far as I can tell, you can download single pages but not the entire book.

As an example https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...
Indian and colonial mercantile directory for 1869

This is also available in Google Books, so much easier to read.
https://books.google.com/books?id=yPE...

However, the Book reader I prefer most of all is the type used by the Internet Archive. An example here
https://archive.org/stream/bengaldire....

Would it be possible for FamilySearch to adopt this format, so much more user friendly and quicker

Then if a researcher visited a FHC to read a one of the many interesting books which were microfilms, or look at records, perhaps they would only need one visit, not several.

Maureen
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  • Depending on the speed of my connection it can take several seconds for each image to be fully in focus. But, using your example, I could not really see any great problem in reading this book in its digitized form.

    If you are read a book from the Books section (rather than one from digitized film) you will be viewing a Streamgate document which, again, I found quite easy to read, even with my relatively slow download speed.

    I'm sure there is room for improvement and I hope someone with greater expertise than me will advise you on the feasibility of your request. However, surely you cannot compare your reading experience with Google Books - where presumably book pages rather than frames from a microfilm have been scanned?
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  • Unfortunately, it's a fact: using real (reel!) microfilm was so much faster than using the digitized images on FamilySearch! There are tradeoffs, to be sure. The images on FamilySearch, once you find them, will usually be clearer and more consistent than the physical microfilm copy that we used at the FHC, because of the difficulties of the microfilm readers, scratches on the circulating film copies, etc. But there was nothing quite like being able to scroll through the microfilm to find the section you wanted to see, in just a few seconds.

    There are ways to provide better "way points" so that the user can more quickly access the part of the digitized film he or she needs. However, I can't envision any scenario where FamilySearch would ever have enough resources to make this happen, or where crowd-sourcing would ever be able to accomplish this result. Even if data transfer speeds increase dramatically, using the images one at a time is likely to be much slower than the old days of reel microfilms!
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  • 1
    On digitized books. Most are in pdf format. When you go to open one of these through a browser, performance just does not exist.

    I download the digitized books to my local computer. That way, I can use Adobe Acrobat or similar program to open and read the file. At that point, performance is fully dependent upon your computer, and has nothing to do with any site or the internet.

    And I am not dependent upon having an internet connection, so I can work off-line.
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  • My topic heading Is Digitised microfilm, and when I talk about digitised books I meant this to refer to those microfilms which were microfilms of books.

    I did not mean the term to refer to those digitised books which are available through FamilySearch/Search/ Books which are a different format to the books which were originally microfilms.

    So when, Tom Huber, you say most digitised books are in pdf format, are you saying that digitised microfilms can be downloaded a a pdf? I can see when a digitised microfilm says "Download this record", but I took this to mean only the page could be downloaded. Nowhere do I see "Download this file" which is the terminology I see generally used
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  • Hm. I may have misinterpreted what you meant when you wrote book.

    To me, a book is a published work that may be a locality history, or a family history. If these are out of copyright, most have been digitized by one or more entities, such as Google books, FamilySearch (found in the catalog under books, and so on. Some are in different file formats, but every one that I have wanted has been in PDF format and downloadable. Trying to view those on line is a major hassle from Firefox, so I download them.

    Another type of book are those maintained as public records, including registers, census records, and so on. I do not identify those as books, simply because they are not published or for sale. They are not identified as a book in the catalog.

    Keep in mind that published books, as I defined them, may have been available on microfilm, but that does not change how they are digitized and made available.

    If you have a book (again, my definition) that you have seen only on microfilm, do an internet search on the title. In a fair number of instances, you may find the title as a digitized work in PDF format that can be downloaded.

    Hopefully this helps.
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  • An example of a series of books which are digitised microfilms
    https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...
    An East-India register and directory

    There is a great collection of 53 microfilms, with editions from 1803 to 1947, some of which are currently digitised, all of which contain very valuable information if you are researching family who were part of the British in India.

    Some years are available online by other providers such as Google Books, but the microfilms contain some years that are not elsewhere available online. Unfortunately all the microfilms for this series of publications which have been digitised, even the ones out of copyright, can only be viewed at a Family History Centre. If I wanted to view one of these books, typically over 500 pages, I image I might need to make several visits. That is why I made a plea for a faster viewer.

    Years ago I went every week for months to look at microfilms at a FamilyHistory Centre. All those particular microfilms which have been digitised can only be viewed at a Family History Centre, not on a home computer. I'm not a church member, so don't know what the situation is for church members.

    Surely if so many digitised microfilms can only be viewed at FamilyHistory Centre, there needs to a faster reader, or else a probable queue to be able to obtain a place at a FamilyHistory computer.
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  • Digitized film 2029334 (the top entry from your catalog link.
    " Images Available

    To view these images you must do one of the following:

    Access the site at a family history center.
    Access the site at a FamilySearch affiliate library."

    Please provide an example of where the viewer is extremely slow for you.

    Thanks
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  • I have only been able to access digitized microfilms which considered “public”. As Tom Huber points out the digitized microfilm 2029334 needs to be viewed at a Family History Centre. However I have assumed that the underlying reader is the same whether the I can access the digitized microfilm on my home computer, or whether I need to go to the Family History Centre. As yet, I have not been to a Family History Centre for this purpose.

    As examples, two of the digitized microfilms which I have viewed and found extremely slow are film 952090 Indian and colonial mercantile directory for 1869, mentioned in post 1, also available in a Google Books edition which I consider much faster.

    The other one is Burial registers 1826-1904 St. Andrew's Church (Bombay, microfilm 1989667 Items 11 – 12
    https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...
    This digitized microfilm is titled Film # 008099541

    I there are any online hints or instructions for viewing digitized microfilm, could someone please provided a URL.
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  • I wish somebody with some technical expertise would be kind enough to answer your query.

    To me, reading of digitized microfilm material on the FamilySearch site seems related to how fast an internet connection I am experiencing at the time. When you say "slow" I assume you experience the problem I have: of sometimes having to wait a while before the whole image is in focus. Otherwise, do you mean moving from one image to the next takes time (the "spinning wheel" just keeps going round and round)? I believe both of these problems are more related to your internet connection rather than the FamilySearch viewer. Even though my broadband connection speeds are pretty average, I usually find it painfully slow to view ANY material at my local FHC or affiliate library (whether on Ancestry, FMP or FamilySearch).

    I would ask anyone reading this who has the relevant knowledge of such matters to please post your comments on why Maureen is likely to be experiencing such problems - and give any advice on what might improve the situation.
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  • Interesting - I would really, as Paul suggests, like someone to look at https://archive.org/details/bengaldir... - this happens to be a set of digital images of a Directory.

    Clearly what is being used here is way more than just an improved reader but a whole technology. One can go from image to image at the click of a (virtual) button. The speed is as fast as turning physical pages.

    Compare and contrast that responsiveness to any site such as FS where the time to collect and download a JPG (or whatever) image takes seconds for each image. C'mon guys, this is how fast any set of JPG type images for a digitised collection works. But that archive.org technology is way superior.

    Scrolling through a physical microfilm, even by hand, is fast. Very fast if you're on a motorised reader.

    "Scrolling" through any set of images in FS Records is just so slow in comparison.

    The archive.org technology isn't as fast as winding through a physical microfilm by hand - but it's not far off.

    I really don't know what that archive.org technology is - one could make a wild guess that the reader bit is similar to an e-book (I'm guessing because I prefer carbon-based books) but the reader is only one bit - somehow it delivers the data down to the PC umpteen times faster than HTML / whatever images and texts.

    As Paul says, I'd really like someone to look at that link and explain what it is and think about if it could be adopted for FS records. There may be reasons why it isn't simple. The archive.org books are searchable but not indexed, for instance.

    I'd also like to apologise to Maureen for skipping over her suggestion with the thought that just had to be how images delivered over the web worked. I should have known better.
    • An aside (for which apologies): Anyone who knows me will realise that I find it difficult to look up words in a dictionary because I get diverted into such interesting other words. Such was nearly the case with this Bengal Directory. From the Bengal Civil List, I offer you this Senior Merchant chap: "Wigram Money, temporary judge of the sudder dewanny and nizamut adawluts." That's a proper transcript not an OCR issue! I don't doubt that the English spelling of the Indian terms bears little relationship to what would be used today - but "Wigram Money" sounds pretty Dickensian itself!
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  • This reply was removed on 2017-09-14.
    see the change log
  • This reply was removed on 2017-09-14.
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  • (Sorry about the removed replies. I don't do much in YouTube and was having trouble turning off the related videos option.)

    I can't really answer the technical questions as to why the FamilySearch film reader works the way it does, but looking at the examples of books given, it does look as if download speed and caching techniques used are a big part of the differences seen. It appears that Family Search loads only the page you are looking at while Google and Archives.org download and cache pages around the one you start at, probably based on the assumption that you will be going page by page. Since they stay a couple of pages ahead of you, it looks faster. I have no idea if file compression types used might be playing a role.

    I did think it might be useful in this discussion to see if it was possible to post how the viewing compares in the three book examples Maureen gave in her original post.

    These examples are on my desktop iMac, with 3.1 Ghz processor, OS X 10.12.6, hardwired ethernet, on a Thursday morning with speedtest.net reporting download speed of 66.13 Mbps which is typical for my cable modem service, and Safari 10.1.2.

    Here is the FamilySearch viewer going page by page:



    Take note that once you have looked at pages, they remained cached on your system and switching between pages is faster.

    Here is the FamilySearch viewer going back to the page I started on and going over the same pages:



    One advantage that digital viewers have over reels of microfilm is that you can jump to any page you want. Jumping directly is faster than even motorized reels.

    Here is the FamilySearch viewer jumping a couple of hundred pages at a time:



    Now to compare. Here is Google Books going one page at a time:



    Here is Google Books making large jumps. Here you can see that the program is caching the pages it thinks you will go to next because when you take a big jump, it takes longer to change the page:



    Archive.org one page at a time:



    Archive.org making big jumps, again showing that if the program doesn't know what page you are going to look at next, it takes longer:

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  • Thanks Gordon - interesting to see the differences (or not) on the same platform.

    The FS Viewer on your system is much smoother than I see it - I have "fibre to the cabinet" (up the road and round the corner) and then copper telephone wires to my house. What that means in line speed, I don't know. What happens in my set up is that an FS image will get painted in a slightly fuzzy state, then get blocked in crisply in several stages.

    Conversely, the Archive.Org viewer paints everything apparently crisply at once.

    Gut feeling is that initial display of both is roughly, vaguely, possibly similar - but the Archive.Org needs only that initial display whereas the FS viewer then crisps things up in steps after that first shot at it.

    I'm sure that caching is part of the story, but there's a bit more to it - e.g. Archive.Org's viewer makes far better use of the glass on my laptop - I see a full just-about-legible page on A.Org because their viewer has a minimal tool-bar.
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  • Thank you for your comments, and thank you Gordon for your very interesting YouTube videos.

    As my remembered experience of looking at the digital microfilm images on FamuilySearch was somewhat different to that shown in Gordon's video, here is my recent experience with the microfilm for film 952090 Indian and colonial mercantile directory for 1869, microfilm catalogue entry in first post. I did this at approximately GMT 3am (1 pm my time)

    I was quickly able to get through to the "first" page of the film which displays thumbnail images. This is where my problems started.

    I clicked on a sample page, and it took ten clicks before that page displayed so I could read it. However, as my eyesight needed a bigger image for reading comfort, I then clicked on the display full screen image, which gave me bigger sized font.

    I then went out of full screen image, because my toolbar and my open Word document (used for making notes) had disappeared, and back to the original page, but the font size seemed to remain big, and the image was too big for the display, so I had to drag the page around to read it all.

    I wanted to check definitely about the font size, so tried to access the same microfilm again to compare the two.

    This time I could not get past the "first" page of the microfilm. I again tried from the catalogue entry.

    It took me a total of six tries from the catalogue until I could the microfilm to open a second time. In between I tried other websites, including the Internet Archive, (archive.org) which displayed perfectly well.

    Once I had my first "sample page", there did not seem to be the same problem scrolling to other pages, although I found the print was generally "fuzzy" and took some time to settle.

    A further comment about the Internet Archive (archive.org) reader
    There is a one page option
    https://archive.org/stream/bengaldire...
    There are options where the page can be turned by clicking on the page turned button (which is fast), or there is also the option to scroll down in one continuous motion, which is sometimes not so fast, but has advantages if you have increased the font size

    When I first posted I hoped that someone from the technical side of FamilySearch would at least acknowledge that some people were having problems, but perhaps there is a lack of interest?
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  • I don't think it is a lack of interest, I think it is more a lack of sufficient information to know where the problems are combined with an inability to test their software against every possible combination of internet conditions and computer set ups.

    Your post this evening is exactly what the engineers need, that is, complete information about what is going wrong. It also helps them if you report the computer system and browsers you are using including version numbers. For something like the microfilm viewer, I'm sure your download speed is critical. So testing that when you see this kind of problem and posting the speed you are getting will help them see what kind of conditions breaks their viewer.

    (By the way, I completely agree that the Internet Archive viewer is great. However, one thing it lacks that is valuable in the FamilySearch viewer is the ability to see the thumbnail views. When going through parish records, I often go to the thumbnail view and zoom out so the pages are quite small. I can usually tell from just the general appearance of the pages where one year ends and another begins. That lets me quickly jump to the year I want by knowing the year the record starts with and just counting forward the right number of years.)

    Also, be assured that we have been told many times that the engineers do see all these posts and take them into consideration. If you continue to post here as much information as you can about problems with the film viewer, you may find that six months to a year from now, the problems just vanish or a completely new viewer appears. An update can easily take that long or longer to program, test, and debug before releasing it.
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  • 1
    Really we are not comparing "like with like" when examining the different systems used to transmit these images. The advantage of the relatively slow system used by FamilySearch to enable us to view digitized images is that it gives us a unique URL against every image. With FamilySearch Books, and readers on other sites, it is the pages of a book that have been scanned - not individual microfilm frames - so there is only one URL for the whole document for us to attach to our Sources box / section.

    In case I am not making myself clear, download any book from the FS Books section. There is no way of directly attaching either the whole book or an individual page to a person page in Family Tree as you can with a scanned microfilm image found in Historical Records.

    So naturally it is easier to READ a directory, etc. in StreamGate - or similar- format (then save as a PDF file) but this is not the best way of getting a record of a specific event linked to an individual in Family Tree.
    • I don't doubt that we're not comparing like with like. Nor do I imagine that conversion would be easy. But I don't see that the problems are impossible. For a persistent URL of a JPG image of a page in a source, we could have the persistent URL of the source in whatever format plus the page number within that source which, by its very nature, is persistent - though not necessarily equal to the physical page in the carbon based book.

      But I wonder if this isn't missing the point. I don't imagine that the Archive.Org streaming technology is faster if you are trying to go straight to an indexed page. Might be, but that's not the issue for me. The issue is that paging through unindexed sources JPG by JPG is seriously slow over real world internet connections compared to paging through a physical microfilm or through a document streamed through an Archive.Org type reader.

      Both technologies will have started with the same - images of each page or pair of pages. So maybe the answer is to process each source book / document stack twice. Browse access via the sort of streaming technology that we're discussing. Indexed, direct access via the current JPG HTML technology.
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  • Thanks for your comments Gordon Collett. I am using an iMac with MacOS Sierra version 10.12.1 and Safari browser. Regarding my speed, I will enquire about this, but as far as I am aware it would be considered reasonably fast, in a large urban area.

    Paul Wrightson, your comment that readers on other sites do not have a unique URL for each image is incorrect, so I can't agree with your statement "Really we are not comparing "like with like" ". In respect of the Internet Archive and Google Books, a unique URL exists for each page. In fact, the URLs I provided in post 1, are the URLs for the respective title pages. In addition for the Internet Archive,and probably for Google Books it is possible to download files as pdfs, and in other formats.

    Example
    URL for different downloads https://archive.org/details/bengaldir...

    URL for title page:
    https://archive.org/stream/bengaldire... single page version.
    https://archive.org/stream/bengaldire... two page version.
    URL page 8: https://archive.org/stream/bengaldire...
    URL pages 8-9:
    https://archive.org/stream/bengaldire...
    A unique URL can be derived for any page.

    Regarding Gordon Collett's comment about thumbnails, there are book readers around which include thumbnails, such as that used by the British Library for its Digital Collection. As an example
    http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/....

    The British Library reader includes a rotatable page facility which unfortunately neither the Internet Archive or Google Books do.

    Adrian Bruce, I totally agree with your statement that "The issue is that paging through unindexed sources JPG by JPG is seriously slow over real world internet connections compared to paging through a physical microfilm or through a document streamed through an Archive.Org type reader".
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  • A microfilm reader that I think works really well is the one at the Norwegian National Archives website. No thumbnails, but each film has a complete table of contents. I find the paging speed very acceptable. I'd be curious what you, Maureen, think of the page loading.

    Here is a random table of contents:
    https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/kb...=

    (Clicking on the three horizontal dots on the far right of the tool bar open a panel that gives permanent URL's and full citation information for the record.)

    The archive has on its own digitized all of its copies of the FamilySearch Norwegian microfilms and created the tables of content. They also have volunteers working on transcribing them all so a growing percentage are completely searchable. This archive views these as part of the national heritage of all Norwegians rather than something owned by the archives, so their service is completely free. I like that philosophy!
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  • Maureen

    Thank you for correcting me regarding my comments on unique URLs. I should have realized this was the case on other sites as I regularly read / download census images in both Ancestry and FMP.

    It is disappointing that a FamilySearch employee has not engaged in this thread - to advise whether this feature could be improved and if there is any realistic chance of a future enhancement.
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  • 1
    Gordon, I looked at the Norwegian National Archives website link you provided. For comparison I also looked again at the Archive.org file https://archive.org/stream/bengaldire... and the FamilySearch microfilm previously mentioned.
    Burial registers 1826-1904 St. Andrew's Church (Bombay, microfilm 1989667 Items 11 – 12 https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...
    (digitised microfilm titled Film # 008099541). Whatever my internet speed is, they were all looked at in a short time span, so the results are comparable.

    Regarding time taken to load pages, FamilySearch was the slowest, then Norwegian National Archives (a few seconds per page), with the Internet Archive (Archive.org) the fastest.

    Regarding the Family Search digitized microfilm, similar to my experience yesterday, see my post of roughly 24 hours ago, I found it difficult to get an image. After clicking several times on a thumbnail image with no result whatever (SURELY THIS IS A DESIGN FAULT) I got an image by clicking on the full screen icon, however probably this is not an obvious action if you are not getting an image.

    Most other readers I have used, when in the full screen mode, have an arrow for next page about half way down the page image, but the Family Search reader does not. (DESIGN FAULT). The only way to turn the pages was the icon in the top left hand corner. As the full screen image was being used, and as I have a large screen and am right handed, I had to physically stretch across my body to turn the pages. As the records I am interested in are only part of this microfilm of more than 1600 images and I don’t know where they are located, I image I would end up with some sort of repetive strain injury if I clicked my way through all these images.

    One feature of the Norwegian National Archives reader where I thought the Archive.org reader superior, was in relation to the font size. If you increased the font size with the NNA reader, then turned the page , the font size defaults back to standard, whereas with the Internet Archive, if you increase the font size, then turn the page, the font size stays increased.

    To summarise, this is what I would like to see in the FamilySearch reader:

    Speeds as fast as the Internet Archive reader for getting to the next image , such as found in
    https://archive.org/stream/bengaldire... two page version

    Ability to swich to a continuous scroll of images as in the Internet Archive one page version (for those who don't want to click their way through thousands of images}
    https://archive.org/stream/bengaldire... with side scroll bar to scroll down the image file (pages), Similarly with Google Books one page version https://books.google.com.au/books?id=... with side scroll bar to scroll down the image file.

    For people who use the thumbnail images, and whose sight is not 100%, slightly bigger images, more the size of those used in the British Library reader, for example http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/...

    Design fauts fixed up such as inability to access images, and page turning options places in extra positions additional to the top left hand corner. Take into account matters such as font size for those whose eyesight is not perfect, see positive comment about the Internet Archive previously.

    Here’s a challenge for the FamilySearch engineers. Upload a few (or many) public access FamilySearch digitised microfilms to the Internet Archive and see what differences results. Although the following doesn’t actually specify, I believe uploading is generally in the form of pdf files.
    https://archive.org/about/faqs.php#Up...

    Given the recent availability of all the digitised microfilms, are there any online instructions about using them?
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  • Excellent post. Now we'll just have to see what the designers and programmers can do. Any improvements are going to take awhile, especially if they have to completely reprogram how the images are delivered.

    In the meantime, let me offer a few thoughts that might make the wait more bearable.

    Regarding the Family Search digitized microfilm, similar to my experience yesterday ... I found it difficult to get an image. After clicking several times on a thumbnail image with no result whatever (SURELY THIS IS A DESIGN FAULT) I got an image by clicking on the full screen icon...


    Something is wrong here, so I would guess the programmers would focus on this first. Looking at the burial films this morning, if I am in the thumbnail view and double click on any image, it immediately jumps to single page view. The image is fuzzy at first, as if the thumbnail was just enlarged to generate the image, but it clears to the actual image in less than 2 seconds.

    Could your double click speed be set too fast? (You are double clicking, right? Single clicking just loads a higher resolution image of the thumbnail.) Try slowing the speed setting and see if double clicking on the images works better.



    Most other readers I have used, when in the full screen mode, have an arrow for next page about half way down the page image, but the Family Search reader does not. (DESIGN FAULT). The only way to turn the pages was the icon in the top left hand corner. As the full screen image was being used, and as I have a large screen and am right handed, I had to physically stretch across my body to turn the pages.


    Are you using some type of touch screen? Does your mouse's tracking speed need to be adjusted? I have a 21.5 in monitor. To go from the lower right hand corner to the upper left hand corner I have to move my mouse six inches on my mouse pad. If I set tracking speed to fast, I can cover the same distance in four inches.



    Knowing why you have to reach so far, and if this is a common problem, might give the programmers a reason to put the arrows in all four corners.

    As the records I am interested in are only part of this microfilm of more than 1600 images and I don’t know where they are located, I image I would end up with some sort of repetive strain injury if I clicked my way through all these images.


    This is where I use a bubble search strategy. To get acquainted with the film that had 1623 images, I would jump by 200 hundred pages at a time. Then when I got to the section that looked to be right, jump by 10 pages forward or back as needed, then go to single pages a a time.

    I know webpages often go for elegance over clarity so I'll mention this in the unlikely chance you haven't noticed. The white box between the page turning arrows is a text entry box where you enter the page number you want to go to.



    The other option, of course, is to scroll through the thumbnail views and periodically jump to the single image view. Also, in the thumbnail view, the starting and ending points of different items on a microfilm are usually pretty obvious and it's easy to check each of them to get quickly to the section you are looking for.



    For people who use the thumbnail images, and whose sight is not 100%, slightly bigger images...


    You can get the thumbnails quite large by zooming in but you then have to click on each image to load a higher resolution image to actually be able to read them. My last screen shot was the smallest you can go with the thumbnails. Here is the largest:



    Single clicking loads the high resolution image. Double clicking loads the high resolution image and jumps to single image view.



    This brings up another question for the programmers. Would it be possible to have an option to load all the high resolution images at once? Or would that overload ones computer badly? There are some films in which I do have to look at almost every page and I would not mind requesting all the high resolution images then coming back in an hour after they have all loaded. Viewer speed would be blazing fast then.

    Given the recent availability of all the digitized microfilms, are there any online instructions about using them?


    I have to say I haven't looked for any. There certainly isn't anything on the viewer page itself. Lack of such is certainly not unique to FamilySearch. For example, you comment that "One feature of the Norwegian National Archives reader where I thought the Archive.org reader superior, was in relation to the font size. If you increased the font size with the NNA reader, then turned the page , the font size defaults back to standard, whereas with the Internet Archive, if you increase the font size, then turn the page, the font size stays increased," was triggered by such lack of instructions. Here is the archive site when you first enter it:



    Nothing but unguided exploration reveals that if you click the far right hand menu (the three horizontal dots. Tom Huber, this is a variation of the "hamburger" menu you hate.) on the tool bar, an option pane opens:



    which has a settings tab:



    where you can lock the zoom and/or page position as you move through the images.

    I think you have given the FamilySearch designers a lot to consider. I would be optimistic that improvements in the viewer will come some day. We can hope that we don't have to wait as long as I need to wait to be able to order that birth certificate from Canada that I need which, due to privacy laws, won't be released for another four years.
    • Re double clicking on a thumbnail bringing up the full size image - that's the issue! I lose count of the number of times that I have single clicked, expecting the full page to appear. The normal model of thumbnails is that you single click on one thumbnail to bring up the full size image. Like Ancestry's filmstrip view for instance. (Sorry for using the A-word!) So that's how I interpret the multiple small images on FS. But, of course, that's NOT what it is - it's a series of miniatures that are enlarged by double clicking (did I even know that?) or by selecting and pressing the enlarge button.

      I suggest that the issue here is that many of us interpret what we see as a thumbnail / filmstrip operation where single click ought to produce the full size image. But it isn't. It's an odd concoction that I don't remember seeing elsewhere.
    • Re bubble search / binary chop (are these synonyms?)
      This is useful where there is an underlying sequence (eg a dated series of entries) and it's unfortunate how few people know how to do it. Unfortunately not every film works with this process. Directories can be weirdly sequenced with multiple chunks that are, of themselves, sequenced, but it's not obvious which chunk you're in at any point.

      A seriously important technique but not always quite as useful as might be hoped.
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  • A couple of thoughts on this topic.

    Internet speed tends to be a function of several things:
    1. Operating System and memory, as well as memory loading from browser add-ons.

    2. ISP performance speed. Computer memory can have an adverse impact on ISP speed.

    3, Site ISP performance. We've seen some adverse problems this past year with the ISP performance for FamilySearch, resulting is very poor performance. Even pings (which do not measure download/upload speeds) were adversely impacted.

    On this last point, at one time, we were told (a number of years ago), that FamilySearch was attempting to increase bandwidth. I do not believe that has been fully realized and lay a lot of that on the backbone serving FamilySearch's ISP as well as any backup systems that may be involved.

    4. Site loading. With the popularity of genealogy as an online hobby, free sites like FamilySearch, which offer a vast array of features, including the massive tree and more and more online digital images, are heavily used. This is especially true of Sunday (US time zones) when LDS members use the opportunity to "do their family history".

    I think that FamilySearch would be well served by serving as its own ISP with a solid unthrottled connection to the internet backbone. I'm not sure that is possible, since smaller providers are often throttled by the major players, and I believe that is one of the factors impacting the performance for FamilySearch material.

    I have noticed the same or similar problems with Ancestry.com which, while not totally free, seems to be as slow, if not slower and less reliable in bringing up digitized images.

    These are just some thoughts, but also the reason why if a publication is available as a pdf, I'll download it and use it off-line. My download speed is via a DSL line with up to 6 Mps, but more typically in the 4 range. I pity those whose speed is down in the 1.5 or less range.
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  • The mention of search strategies when confronted with a vast digitized microfilm rings a bell for me.

    In the Historical Records Collection of church records for the Swiss canton of Bern, the "way points" are WAY uninformative and sometimes wrong. In particular, the way points, if any, failed to reveal the existence of multiple items on the microfilm, and, last time I looked, there were no thumbnails. (Note that, when the thumbnail view is available, it is possible to spot the header frames and thus identify where each microfilm item begins.) Some of the way points were, in fact, wrong or at least misleading, and were done in such a way that some church book indexes became separated from the books in which they were originally found.

    What to do? I eventually figured out a search strategy that helped me find the individual items and to navigate a microfilm with somewhat less wasted time.

    I started at the END of the film, the last images, looking for page or folio numbers. If they were found, I computed on the back of an envelope (I always carry that hypothetical envelope with me) the image number where page or folio 1 should be, went to that location, and eventually found the beginning of that item. Then I continued backward into the previous microfilm item and repeated the process of estimated the image number where that item began, and so forth, until I had created a list of each item on the microfilm, with its start and end image numbers.

    Wasted time, to be sure, since it should have been obvious to any "engineer" that there should be a way point for every "item" on the microfilm, but at least it got the job done with a minimum of effort.

    Bottom line here, anything that allows us to spot the individual "items" on a microfilm is a vital time-saver. Multiple items should NEVER be combined without some sort of tools such as way points or thumbnails that allow the user to navigate effectively.
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  • Gordon, I will look into your suggestions, but I am busy over the coming days, so it will be after the end of the week,

    I have just remembered a series of microfilms which was digitised a few years ago, and now appears in the Historical records section, but can be reached through the catalogue entry
    https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...
    Parish registers (baptisms, marriages, funerals, burials, correspondence, etc.), Church of South India, Diocese of Madras, 1743-1990

    I had a quick look again. The films are divided up, and what thumbnails there were flashed past so quickly, there did not seem to be an option to click on the thumbnails. These seems to me to confirm that there is some sort of design problem with clicking on the thumbnails for other digitised microfilms.

    What surprised me however, was how quickly the images opened. Admittedly I am looking at these my time Sunday morning 9.30am (GMT Sat 23.30), but is it all due to the time, or is there some programming difference that enables theses images to display quicker?
    • I don't see any speed difference. That would suggest that a big part of the trouble you are having is the internet itself and items 3 & 4 in Tom's list above.
    • I don't doubt that the "Internet" - including the performance of the FF servers - is pretty much the answer. But we should bear in mind that the Archive.Org reader seems to deliver its payload images a lot faster than the FS platform over some people's connections - like mine. That would suggest a material difference in what is being delivered or how (caching???) Or indeed in the source server performance.

      I would really appreciate a technical authority explaining how the Archive.Org platform (a) works and (b) apparently out-performs the FS platform on my connection at least.

      And, no, I don't expect that any conversion would be simple and there's very likely swings and roundabouts with other aspects. But I am curious....
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  • If FamilySearch developers / engineers and other personnel really do read all these threads, why has nobody from FS had the courtesy to address the technical issues that might be involved here?
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  • I really don't know much about what the following means, just that it is suppose to give some idea about connection issues. So someone else will have to interpret this beyond my vague "this doesn't look good but might explain Archive.org's better performance." This was at 1:46 pm MDT Sunday:





    Each line is a computer server connecting my computer to my desired final destination. The three asterisks in a row means the attempted connection to the next server timed out and a different connection had to be attempted. Clearly there was trouble at the end of the line where the next to last server had to connect to FamilySearch and had no alternate routes to try.
    • Trace routing, which is what the two screens represent, tell us a lot about site ISP performance. The more triple asterisks, the more the connection is temporarily interrupted. That related to item three in my comments above.

      Even though the route to archive.org is longer, it does not show the interruptions that destroy FamilySearch's performance. Your computer sits and waits for a response from the site far longer with FS than Archive.

      Also adversely impacting FS performance is Sunday loading. That can also impact the link between FS servers and the internet.

      I used tracert when we were experiencing bad performance earlier in the year or late last year. They showed a lot of the same problems.

      My analysis remains the same: with the number of people constantly working with FS servers, FS needs to do some serious exploring of increasing the bandwidth between it and its connection to the internet.

      By the way, back in the days of dial up connections and modems, it was not unusual for one link to a BBS to fail while others were fine. Regular testing of each link into the internet needs to be done on a regular basis, to make sure that all links are running at optimum speed.

      I'm not sure that is being done at this point, because it looks like FS is connecting directly to the backbone (level3), so something else is having a problem. Only network engineering can examine the problems to determine what is choking the performance.
    • I'm not sure why the second line of both trace routes show what they do. I don't see them at this end.
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  • I have written a comment (my date 28 September 2017, probably 27 Sept in USA) in another topic called
    Sudden problems viewing a digitized collection
    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...
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  • I might as well throw my two cents in, as I often do. As a patron I love that the FS is putting films & books on line. Now ok there are draw backs. But lets look at some good points several I might add, which to me far outweigh the bad points..the suggestions are awesome and the engineers view this threads all the time. So they keep what you say in mind.but I want to look at the good points here.

    one you can now print a document from your own printer. you can blow it up, you can print part or all of it. you can add where you got it URL on the document so all you have to do is put that back in and bang you can go back to the image.

    two: you do not have to pay for it. now film was getting pretty pricey and to be my blunt self here. I honestly could not tell you how many film I ordered just to find out it was the wrong one or did not have the needed information in it. but viewing it on line is free and all it takes is my time.

    three: when a film or fiche is on a viewer, you still have to hand roll it. the viewer slips if the equipment is not well maintained. not all film are indexed either so you have to view each one. at I might add the time period the FHC or library is open. not from the comfort of the living room.

    four: you have to have a viewer copier to copy the document these cost 20,000 and up. not every FHC has one or can qualify for one. picture images with your phone do not look or not even comparable with the copies you can now print on you printer from home.

    five: I love sitting on my coach with the tv going, my eight year old running around and I am printing images or viewing records.

    six: if the film or book was not digitized "it would if it was still possible which at this point it is not" 2 plus weeks to view.

    seven: FamilySearch is free...other company's you have to pay to view, their records or order the pension files you name it. We are a non profit organization and sometimes this means we have to do what we can afford to do, not what we would like to do.

    eight: more and more records are being indexed everyday.

    nine: we can discuss and make suggestions to do things which help the FS site function better and that is what hearing from out patrons is all about. thank you all so much
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  • Sadly, still no FamilySearch employee has had the courtesy to add any comments here, or at https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea....
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  • I have noticed other topics which indicate problems with the reader for digitised microfilms such as "Sudden problems viewing a digitized collection"
    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea... and "Flickering Display" https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...

    I just hope that FamilySearch can devote employee resources to introducing a much better, faster reader.

    A FamilySearch Employee comment would be good to see.
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  • In earlier comments I have indicated how I find the readers used by the Internet Archive (Archive.org) much faster than that available using the FamilySearch digitised microfilm reader.

    I have now come across a collection on Archive.org which consists of digitised microform

    As an example the following shows it is from a microfiche collection
    https://archive.org/stream/cihm_07684...
    The contents starts here
    https://archive.org/stream/cihm_07684...
    Ontarian families. Genealogies of United-Empire-Loyalist and other pioneer families of Upper Canada

    I hope the FamilySearch Engineers will check out these links and see how much faster it is possible to scroll from page to page, than with the equivalent FamilySearch reader.

    I ask that the FamilySearch Engineers upload some of the FamilySearch microfilm files to Archive.org, to see for themselves the quicker results.
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  • Gordon Collett, in his post of September 15, 2017 above
    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...

    said

    "(By the way, I completely agree that the Internet Archive viewer is great. However, one thing it lacks that is valuable in the FamilySearch viewer is the ability to see the thumbnail views....)"

    I have now discovered that this feature is there in the Archive.org reader, I just didn’t know about it previously.

    Using the book example in the post above
    https://archive.org/stream/cihm_07684...

    If you look at the bottom right hand corner of the book reader displayed, there is an icon showing four small squares. If you click on that, you get the thumbnail images displayed.

    The discussion in this topic previously indicated that some of my problems were due to internet speed. I have now heard, that Australia, where I live, has relatively slow internet speeds in comparison to what is available in some countries, due to political decisions to save the Australian Government money. Probably Family History Centres in Australia also suffer slow Internet speeds, (unless they have paid extra for equipment which costs about $ 10, 000 which is apparently available)

    Hence my plea for FamilySearch to improve its digitized microfilm reader, because not everyone in the world has access to fast internet speeds.
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  • I've added this to the list of topic that need a response from FamilySearch in https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...

    My notes include the fact that Maureen ("the patron") lives in an area that has slow internet speeds.
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  • Google and archive do have nice readers. They are probably tuned to just display images. The viewers on FS serve display as well, but also much more complex integrations like attach, metadata (indexed) data alongside, and FamilyTree info. Bring both viewers up side-by-side and imagine doing your FS work on the non-FS site without those experiences. The FS viewer could use improvement. Regarding bandwidth you're at the mercy of resolution and if caching and preloading now asking servers to do work that may never be utilized by the user. Server costs add up based on data and cpu and FS has no profit making to apply resources that other companies can. The viewer technologies are always being considered to improve performance and useablity.
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  • Thanks Tom for adding this topic to your List of Topics needing a response from Family Search, and thanks Joe for your response as Official Rep.

    I do hope Family Search can improve the reader for digitised microfilm. It is certainly taking time to digitise all the microfilms, I assume it is also costing money. However, it seems to be of benefit only to those who live where there is a fast internet connection, as for the rest of us, the reader is so slow or distorted that for practical purposes the digitised microfilms are unaccessible. It appears all the microfilms are being digitised - surely it is part of the process to have a reader which enables the digitised microfilms to be read by all, wherever in the world they live.

    There must be many who only want to be able to be able to look through a digitised microfilm and locate, and read records, and not do any of the other functions Joe mentions "much more complex integrations like attach, metadata (indexed) data alongside, and FamilyTree info".

    Perhaps a system could be implemented where a patron could request that a digitised microfilm could be uploaded by Family Search to the Internet Archive (Archive.org) That way, those who only have access to a slow internet connection could use the faster reader on the Internet Archive, while those who have a fast internet connection could use FamilySearch, and the more complex integrations available.
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  • Worthy as the idea is, I'm sure there's no way your suggestion in the last paragraph is going to happen. The contractual issues - that determine whether we can view digitized material from (a) home, (b) only at a FHC, or perhaps (c) only if we are an LDS Church member - complicate things enough, so I can't see FamilySearch wanting to negotiate with copyright holders, etc., to gain agreement to place this material on a third party site.

    In any case, there could well be a flood of requests for the action - getting specific films onto Archive.org - you are suggesting. Unfortunately, the problem largely arises from the developers catering for the needs of what they feel to be the majority of users - i.e. people with relatively fast internet connection speeds and who are fairly savvy when it comes to use of computer software - although the latter is probably not a factor in the instance you are highlighting here. Indeed, lots of FamilySearch actions (like halting the microfilm loan program rather prematurely) are probably based on the perception / misconception of the "average user" being a US citizen, who has an FHC within easy reach, as well as other advantages not available to FS patrons in more remote corners of the world.
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  • Thanks for your comments Paul.

    I should have added to my previous post that my suggestion about uploading digitised microfilms to Archive,org was meant only in respect of those digitised microfilms which are viewable on home computers by members of the public, where there are no copyright restrictions or church membership required. However, it is interesting that you feel there could well be a flood of requests for such an action.

    Should FamilySearch upload volumes to Archive.org, I saw a recent comment that if large numbers are being uploaded, to send an email to info@archive.org for advice about the fastest way to do this.

    I do ask FamilySearch to consider those Family History Centres and Church members, in addition to members of the public, who don't have access to the very fast internet connection which appears to be necessary to view digitised FamilySearch microfilms successfully. I get the impression that this includes the whole of Australia (population 24 million) where I live, due to Government decisions.
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  • 1
    Three diverse comments:

    1) I never noticed that icon on Archive.org that changes to thumbnail view. Thanks for pointing it out. It could be very handy.

    2) The recognition that some areas of the world don't have very good bandwidth was the whole point of developing FamilyTree Lite ( https://www.familysearch.org/tree/lite ) so FamilySearch is aware that not everyone is working under ideal conditions.

    3) It sounds like a simplified viewer that does nothing but present the image of a microfilm, if that would speed up viewing, but then links back to the full viewer when needed, could be a worthwhile development project
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  • I have referred to the topic above in another topic "Great site and fantastic resource.My only issue is that pages are slow to load" dated August 10, 2018.
    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...
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  • I have referred to this topic in another topic "Snooze Control", in a post dated October 03, 2018.
    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...
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  • I have just looked at the book file for a digitised microfilm, which happens to be a book, in my original post
    https://www.familysearch.org/search/c...

    Easier today I was looking at some of the book files in the newly introduced FamilySearch Digital Library. This seems to use a much better reader including faster, than the reader currently used for digitised microfilms,

    Will the reader for all the microfilms digitised to date be replaced by the reader used in the FamilySearch Digital Library? If not, why not?
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