Modern Software Experience

2010-10-18

limited search capabilities

StamboomNederland Search box

every page

Every page of StamboomNederland contains a search box. This search box is always near the upper right corner, but not in a consistent place. It is generally in the upper right corner of the large grey area, but when you are not logged in yet, it is above that grey area.

Users can keep each projects private, choose to share it with others users or make it public.
To a logged-in user, the search box offers search through all public projects as well as your own projects. Projects that others have shared with you seem to be considered your projects.  To visitors, the home page offers search through all public projects.

Until the search on the home page actually leads to the public projects, the ostensibly public projects are not really public.

public search

The public search on the home page is of no use at all. In response to a search, the site will display a list of results, but when you click on any of these results, the site does not displays the public project, but only displays a log-in box. Until the search on the home page actually leads to the public projects, the ostensibly public projects are not really public.

StamboomNederland login prompt

To actually search through the ostensible public projects, a visitor must log in. Logged-in users can search through all public projects and their own projects.

search scope

A logged in user can search through all public records, but cannot search through all their own projects. There are only two options: in current project and in public projects. To search through all your own projects, you have to make them current one by one and then perform an in current project search. Having to follow such a convoluted procedure is not user-friendly.

The current scope choices are too limited. StamboomNederland should offer the option to search through the current project, all own projects, all projects shared by others and all public projects. These options should not be radio buttons that automatically exclude each other, as the current site has, but checkboxes that allow the user to combine these search scopes.

search options

Other than the ability to choose between two mutually exclusive scopes, there are no search options. None at all. There is no advanced search page. The simple search is all there is and it is not good enough to be very useful.

last name versus place name

There is just one search field, but it applies to all database fields. When you search for a last name such as Hilversum, most results will be individuals with other names born in the place Hilversum. At least, that is presumably the intention. In my experience, a search for another name showed an individual with that last name, but a search for Hilversum showed only persons related to the place Hilversum, and did not show that individual.

This experience suggests that StamboomNederland has a place name list that it uses to determine that a search is for place names instead of person names. That would be a serious blunder, but searches for other last names derived from place names confirm the impression that the developers did so. For example, after coming across an individual with the last name Woudenberg, a search for Woudenberg results in individuals with the name van Woudenberg or van Woudenbergh, and lots of individuals born in Woudenberg, yet none with the name Woudenberg. A previous search showed that at least one individual with that name in there, yet a direct search for that name fails to find that record.

given versus family name

When you search for Hendrik, the results present individuals with the given name Hendrik, but also individuals with the given name Hendrikus (the rather common Latin form), Hendrika or Hendrikje (the female form). It additionally finds individuals with the patronym Hendriks, Hendriksz or Hendriksen and individuals with the family name Hendrik, Hendriks, Hendriksen, etcetera.

There is no way to search on Hendrik without search for the variations. Use of quotes around the name seems to have no effect at all. There is no way to restrict the results to given names, patronyms or family names.

prefixes

Many Dutch names consist of more than one part. Two examples are de Boer, van der Bilt. Both names sort under the letter B, the name parts de and van der are known as prefixes. StamboomNederland has separate fields for prefixes, and can import prefixes from GEDCOM files, but otherwise does not seem to support these at all. The GEDCOM export does not indicate which part of the name is prefix, and the search functionality does not support prefixes at all.
There is no way to search for names with our without prefixes. If you decide to search for de Boer, StamboomNederland will present any record that contains either de or Boer in any of its fields.

raw XML

A rather user-unfriendly misfeature of StamboomNederland is the inclusion of its raw XML in notes for individual records. The search feature searches through all fields, and that includes those notes, so it can happen that the entire result page consists of nothing but raw XML.

StamboomNederland Search Results: raw XML

 The image shows the third result page of a search for Amersfoort in the genealogy Rietveld. The page was scrolled down a bit to avoid showing the researcher's email address, which is shown along the top of each result page.

The simplistic search functionality the developers slapped onto StamboomNederland is utterly inadequate.

overall

Many systems leave you wishing for advanced search functionality. Some systems offer basic search for free and make you pay for the advanced search capabilities.
StamboomNederland makes you wish it had basic search functionality. Even the most basic search options are absent. The simplistic search functionality the developers slapped onto StamboomNederland is utterly inadequate.