Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sneak Peek of AncestryDNA's New Search Filter

The long-awaited search filter at AncestryDNA has been teasing customers for the last couple of days, with fleeting appearances reported Sunday through Tuesday. It appears that the lucky ones who were granted this exciting sneak preview were primarily those who were using Internet Explorer. A few people also reported brief sightings in Chrome. These customers were fervently testing out the new feature's capabilities, never sure when it might disappear and then reappear again unexpectedly. This left a lot of people scratching their heads and trying to figure out what was going on.

AncestryDNA's new search filter, click to enlarge

The new search boxes appear just below the "filter by" drop down menu and the relationship range bar (as seen above). The filter enables searching for a specific surname or birth location. Further, a surname search can be narrowed down by additionally entering a location. There is also an option to "include similar surnames" which is helpful for those of us who have ancestral surnames with variant spellings.

The DNA matches that contain your search term(s) in their family trees are returned. However, the feature does not go so far as to identify specifically where these targeted terms appear, so is still necessary to open each match to review the family trees and locate the desired information. Reportedly, searches include collateral lines, private trees(!) and family trees in accounts that do not have a tree linked to their DNA results. I hope this continues to be the case in the final version, but I would be a bit surprised if these capabilities are preserved in entirety. By the way, apparently it does not currently search matches that were moved to the trash, so you better pull those back out!

I asked Stephen Baloglu,'s Director of Product Marketing, for clarification in regard to exactly what has been going on with this feature the last couple of days, as well as the time frame for a full roll-out. He explained, "We had been doing some isolated early release testing of the new ability to search matches by surname and birth location. It's very exciting, but the development is not complete. We put it in the wild for a small, random portion of AncestryDNA customers to get a sense of how it is working. We expect to roll out the feature in late June/early July to all DNA customers along with a few modifications to what has already been seen."

So, there you have it. The mystery is solved. The rest of us will just have to try to be patient!


  1. Good to see they've been making progress. Having a search ability is getting to be a very much needed thing. Although with Gedmatch now accepting Ancestry data files there is also a desperate need to be able to search by UserID so I really wonder if the "surname" part of that search will include that capability.

    Now if we can just get them to add some chromosome browser/comparison (and dare I even add triangulation) capabilities...

  2. thank you CecCe for your post. Your contact with the Ancestry team is so helpful to clear up mysteries. The Ancestry DNA message string has been very active in the last week with all the "yes I have it, opps now it's gone" posts.
    We will just have to be patient and hope the final version will work in all browsers. I have been able to see the boxes if I switch from Firefox and reopen in IE, but that is a lot of trouble.

  3. I was one of those fortunate users who saw the feature pop up in my account. It's awesome! Unfortunately, before I finished my frantic searching, it went "poof." My friend was not able to see it in Firefox but I could log into her account in IE9 and see it. With so many "matches" this is going to be necessary in order to get any value from Ancestry's test.

  4. Hi CeCe, Have you heard about the browser plug-in (AncestryDNA Chrome Extension Beta 5.4) developed by an user that is allowing folks to search surnames of DNA matches now? The Legal Genealogist posted about it today, and I wondered if you'd given it a spin yet. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Michaelangelo,
      Yes, I have been testing it out since Jeff first offered it several weeks ago. I wasn't sure he was ready to widely announce it yet and was waiting until most of the bugs were gone before I recommended it to my readers. The newest version that he sent me yesterday seems to be working very well. We certainly owe him a big debt of gratitude (we takes donations too!).
      Thanks for commenting,

    2. It was mentioned by Judy yesterday so the cat's out of the bag, but you still have to contact him to get the link:

    3. My earlier comment should have read "HE (not we) takes donations too!"

      Yes, I saw that Paul. He must be overwhelmed right now! Not surprisingly, today there were no new updates from him in my inbox (which is unusual).