Modern Software Experience

2010-09-07

Central Bureau for Genealogy

CBG Logo

Stamboom Nederland

The Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG) has introduced Stamboom Nederland (Family Tree Netherlands). Stamboom Nederland is an online genealogy site. Users can upload a GEDCOM and edit their tree online. The site is bilingual, two flags in the upper right corner allow switching between Dutch and English.

The introduction of this site is a major event. The CBG is the major Dutch genealogy organisation. They already have a digital reading room that can be accessed over the Internet, but they did not have an online genealogy site yet. There has been considerable buzz about StamboomNederland since its development was first announced about a year ago. Today, 2010 September 7, the new site went live.

I've had the privilege of two presentations about StamboomNederland before its introduction, a private one a few months ago, and one for a small group of invitees a few weeks ago. In the first one I was shown screenshots by the project manager, while the second one was a live demonstration by the developers. However, today was my first chance to try the system for myself.

home page

StamboomNederland Home Page

The StamboomNederland (SNL) home page does not have a very consistent graphical style and if it did not feature the CBG logo (twice), you wouldn't immediately guess that it is owned and operated by the Central Bureau for Genealogy.
The CBG logo in the lower right corner leads to the home page of the CBG site, the logo in the upper left corner does not lead back to the SNL home page.

The SNL home page does seem to offer all you need to learn about the site and get started. The top right of the page has the login button, a link to a short help page and icons to switch between English Dutch. Just below this brief menu is a search box, and along the bottom are links to pages with general information about the site.
Alas, that first impression is not correct. Most of those links lead to near-empty pages that display the text No content file found.

StamboomNederland: No content found

These pages will probably will filled soon, but I wonder how. The regulations and conditions link leads to such a page, and then downloads an Adobe PDF. It would make considerably more sense to simply show the text on the page itself.

Most pages have a login, register and forgot password option in the main menu, the home page has just the login option in the menu, but features a hard to miss Register button in the middle of the dialog. What true of the most of the links along the bottom is true for the most the links in that dialog: No content found. The Register link does work.

registration

To get started with StamboomNederland you need to register and create an account. Registration is free, and the site does not ask more than your name and email address.
Although the site is owned and operated by the CBG, you cannot use your CBG credentials for the CBG site, you need to create a new, separate account on the StamboomNederland site.

StamboomNederland: Register

Registration did not go as smooth as should. The site claimed to have sent a confirmation email, but I did not receive it. I then clicked forgot password, entered my email address and clicked send password, but once again, no mail.

Dutch

Only when I decided to switch back from English to Dutch and try again, did I receive a (Dutch) forgotten password email from (unknown sender). Google Mail did not add this email to the spam folder, but other systems may do so; emails without a return address are frowned upon. It seems that the English pages are based on the Dutch pages, but do not work as well. Logging in with the new password worked just fine. The emails for the registration and other forgotten password actions on the English pages arrived a quarter of an hour later - in Dutch.

stamboom.nl

The StamboomNederland emails mistakenly refer to the site stamboom.nl. That site does exist, but it is another site, that can reasonably be considered a competitor. Apparently, the testing that has been done did not pay much attention to the login procedure.

StamboomNederland: Agree to terms

tip: change password

random

The StamboomNederland site provides you with a random password. That password is pretty secure, but hard to remember.
To set a new password, choose profile in the top right menu, choose password on the preferences screen, and fill out password screen with your old and new password.

Upon logging in, the site demands that you agree to the terms and conditions. I immediately noticed a security blunder; every screen shows your full email address. Most sites do not even show your name, but just a handle. This site continuously displays your email address to anyone looking over your shoulder. A practical issue for me is that I do not like either my current nor an outdated email address in every screen shot.

dashboard page

I decided to disagree with the terms and conditions just to see what happened; the site threw me back to the login screen. When you do agree to the terms and conditions, the site displays your dashboard page.

StamboomNederland allows you to have multiple projects, and the dashboard page provides an overview of them all. The site creates a default project, and that name box with the start button just above the list of projects allows you to start entering data right away…

StamboomNederland: dashboard

initial impression

All I did so far is look around a bit and register an account, as any user would do. It is a limited and superficial examination, yet the site managed disappoint anyway.

Basic functionality is missing. The logo in the upper hand corner does not lead back to the home page. The help page is so minimal that it is does not get beyond stating the obvious and most other information pages are missing in action. A page that should provide text starts a PDF download instead.

The registration process does not impress. You cannot use the login credentials you may already have for the CBG site, you need to create a new account. The English registration pages have such a significant email delay that I initially thought that they did not work at all. When those mails finally arrived, they turned out to be in Dutch. On top of that, the site makes the security blunder of displaying your email address instead of your user name or handle on every page.

Even this limited superficial first look made it clear that this site has been rushed out of the door before completion. There are pages missing, and what is there seems to have gone through less than thorough testing.
The site introduced today does not make a great first impression, but that is simply because it is not finished yet. This site was rushed into production to meet a deadline…

links