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, Ancestry.com'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!