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Technical Update - 21st November 2011

Published on 24 Nov 2011 14:25 : technical : 26 comments : 4416 views

Over the last month we have been working on four fronts in the development team. We continue to work on code changes to improve the performance. The final results of this will only be seen when they are fully complete. However, we have also worked on other areas, improving the features that currently exist on the website (this month saw the initial phase of the Message Centre revamp for which Daniele has been responsible), improving features that support the website (including an overhaul of the Hot Matches process that is being championed by Chris, although new features have not been released yet) and we continue to work on adding more datasets and new features (which is where Emma has been working). We did deploy an update a couple of weeks ago, but for performance reasons they were withdrawn, but after further testing we are happy to let members try the new functionality. Read on to see what is included in this release:

  • Message Centre revamp - We have made some major changes to the message centre functionality. This is a key part of the website, allowing members to securely communicate with other members. However, it has always lacked some of the additional features expected of a conventional email system. We've tried to address some of these, giving you the ability to include attachments, create mail folders to sort and archive emails, improving the search, and displaying emails as a conversation, i.e. all messages that have been replied back and forth are shown as one.

The revised top navigation displays a quick link to compose a new message and new link for opening any custom folders that you have created.

The advanced search options allow selecting emails by text in subject, body or senders name, by the folder group, by status and by time. We have some tweaks to this that are being tested at the moment and will hopefully be released later in the week.

Create your own folders to easily sort your mail items.

Email shown as conversation. This is a great way to see all the messages to and from a contact. It allows you to see the context of the whole email chain in one place. And you can print the conversation out as a single item.

Compose new email includes adding attachments!

  • Military records - We have added 5 new datasets into our Military feature, "Army Roll of Honour 1939-1945", "De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour", "Distinguished Conduct Medals", "National Roll of the Great War" and "Royal Marine Medal Roll". These records are free for those who have subscribed to the Military Additional Feature.

New Military records now available

  • Enhancement - Four new Family History Articles have been published, "Voices from the Past", "That's Entertainment", "A War like none before" and "For King or Queen and Country".
  • Enhancement - Most images and transcriptions should now display the relevant copyright information. This indicates where the source of the data comes from.
  • Enhancement - A new Records Guide has been added to the Help menu. At present this details the census records but in time will cover all records that are available on Genes Reunited.
  • Bug Fix - We noticed that the new paging mechanism did not display well when page numbers were greater than 99, so this has been tidied up so that the background circle will elongate to accommodate the number, and the background colour is darker to make it stand out more.

Paging style fixed and enhanced

  • Bug Fix - While mentioning the new sorting and paging mechanism, it should be pointed out that the problem with it not displaying correctly in IE9 should now be sorted.
  • Bug Fix - Not all images being displayed on distributed emails. These should be fixed, but please let us know if you receive an email that does not display all images correctly.
  • Bug Fix - Adverts causing impact on pages. We have identified a few adverts recently that were either exceedingly large, contained invalid script that impacted on the pages or caused McAfee AV to show. As mentioned before we use an agency to deliver ads and they are not individually monitored by GR. We endeavour to have the relevant adverts removed or fixed as soon as we are notified.
  • Bug Fix - (Tree) The year of birth can only be entered in numerical characters, and only up to 4 can be typed. Also, when Add father selected, gender now shown as Male, and likewise when Add mother selected, gender is shown as Female.
  • Bug Fix - A number of records have had their link resolved to display the correct Parish record.

There are also a couple of warnings to give.

  • Bug - You may experience some issues with the graphical display of the website after we perform a release. This is almost certainly due to your browser caching the style definition that is sent to your browser when it requests a page. To save this information being sent every time you request a page it is cached locally on your machine. This can usually be sorted with a couple of CTRL+F5 requests, but sometimes requires the user to clear any browser cache. depending on which browser you use, this is usually held under Options menu.
  • Bug - We are aware that the new Newsfeed was affecting performance and so it was withdrawn. We have revised the design and are retesting it at the moment for release very soon. It will be relaunched with the name Activity Alert.

As always please keep feeding us with your suggestions and gripes on the Suggestions board.



UPDATE 24th November 2011

We (and some members) identified a few bugs after the Message Centre was first released on Monday. We made some changes on Tuesday, and applied a few more today that should resolve most issues that have been experienced. The issues fixed include:

  • Messages that had been sent from or to members that were now deleted from your contact list should not be shown. 
  • The search options were not being retained after displaying the results.
  • If a user opted to hide the search options, this choice was not being maintained when next visiting the message centre.
  • If you opted to move items to a folder after searching it was incorrectly sending you back to the unfiiltered Inbox. It now keeps you on the original results page from which you just made your selection.
  • The reply button should not be seen when the only messages in a conversation are from yourself.
  • We have extended the search options, so that you can search either the inbox, archive or myfolders on their own or all at once. You can still search the sent and draft folders.
  • There were a couple of other bugs with regard to deleting and moving that have also been fixed.

Please let us know if you find anything else wrong with the message centre. When there are 80 million messages on the system, it can be quite hard to identify every possible eventuality, but we're trying.




Best regards, Phil Moir

Genes Reunited, Lead Developer


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by +++DetEcTive+++ on 21 Nov 2011 21:49 :
Over all, the message centre is a great improvement.

The only detrimental move so far that I've noticed, is that there doesn't seem to be a way of altering the title on an on-going exchange of message. For instant, what may have started as 'Aunty Flo' is changed to 're Aunty Flo' when the person replies. If the exchange continues, you could end up with a string of re. re. re. re. re. (recurring) before reaching 'Aunty Flo' !

Under the old system, it was possible to edit the title - this does not seem to be the case now.

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by philmoir on 22 Nov 2011 11:15 :
You should find that the multiple REs are not displayed in most views. If it is the original post, it shows without RE, but after that it should only display one.
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by philmoir on 22 Nov 2011 11:17 :
Regarding editing the actual title, the aim is to treat emails as conversation about a subject. To start a new conversation with an existing contact, click on Compose. You can then have several ongoing conversations with the same person.
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by Linda on 22 Nov 2011 17:00 :
I am new to Genes Reunited so just got used to the old system and now it has changed. I don't seem able to tell whether a sent e-mail has been read. Am I missing something?
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by Jenny and Bill Deverell on 22 Nov 2011 17:55 :
We've had some problems deleting msgs from the Inbox.
It asks for confirmation of the delete aqnd the nothing happens.

It seems to work if you click the group box and then delete rather than individual box - not good if you want to keep individual messges.

Bill and Jenny
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by StephenGodfrey on 22 Nov 2011 20:36 :
It would seem they have not tested it before rolling it out, when selecting the roll down menu on commuity and help tabs the menu in part is hidden by the adverts.

Well what can i say two sizes of font one far to big the other just about right the date , they want you to adjust your settings for this sit which will mess it up
for other sits. so as they say we are passing the buck!

The viewing tables are to far to the right.
If you feel that the text that is displayed on the website is too large or too small you can change the size by using the menu toolbar at the top of your screen.

If you are using Internet Explorer 6 or lower then go to View > Text size and select a suitable text size setting (from 'largest', 'larger', 'smaller' or 'smallest').

For Internet Explorer 7 or 8 click on Page ( in the top right hand corner of the screen) and then select 'text size' or 'Zoom'.

If you are using Mozilla Firefox as your browser then go to View > Text size and select 'increase' or 'decrease' to change the size of the text.
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by Lynski on 23 Nov 2011 01:12 :
I used the new "attachment to message facility" this morning for the first time. I think it is a brilliant idea because before I would set all my finding out in a word document and then have to copy and paste it to a GR message box.

The lady I sent the word document attachment to says she can't open it?????

Is she doing something wrong or is there a glitch????

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by philmoir on 24 Nov 2011 14:14 :
Linda - Welcome to Genes. If you go into your Sent Messages folder. If you see an envelope beside your message then it has not been read. If there is no envelope it means they have opened the message. They may or may not have actually read it, but you can hope they have. If it has a curled arrow, then this indicates that they have replied to you.

Jenny and Bill Deverell - Today's bug fix release should have resolved the deletion issue. Please re-comment if you think it hasn't.

Stephen SG - Hi, the ads are fed from a third party agency and they are aware not to "positioning" the ads so they they appear above the menu. Please email me with the details of the Ad whenever you see this, and we will get the agency to remove it. Also, re Fonts - the fonts can sometimes be affected by cache styling (try CTRL+F5 to refresh a couple of times) You should not have to adjust your settings. If the display continues to look wrong in your browser, then let us know and we will double check - and correct.

Lynski - we're taking a look at this issue and will post an update.

Please also note that we have done a bug-fix release today, and I will update the blog post in the next 20 minutes.

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by Joy on 24 Nov 2011 17:09 :
Page Not Found
Sorry, we couldn't find the page you were looking for.
The page you requested, is not a valid address on Genes Reunited.

If you have typed this address manually, please check it and try again. If you have clicked on a link to get here there might be problem with the link. We always record information automatically regarding errors like this and actively try to fix them.

The link on the referring page seems to be wrong or outdated. Please inform Genes Reuinited about the error using the Contact Us link under the Help menu.

"2 Messages" - but no new messages

Server Error in '/' Application.

The resource cannot be found.

Description: HTTP 404. The resource you are looking for (or one of its dependencies) could have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please review the following URL and make sure that it is spelled correctly.

Requested URL: /
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by AnninGlos on 24 Nov 2011 21:22 :
Trying to get to the in box in the message centre, whether from an e mail alert or from the message grouping at the top of the board. This is invariably so slow to open that it times out resulting in the error message. This has happened to me numerous times today. And not just to me from reading posts on various threads.

Annin Glos
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by philmoir on 25 Nov 2011 10:09 :
The new message count on the menu has now been fixed. Thanks to everyone who pointed out this issue.
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by Helena on 28 Nov 2011 16:40 :
Hi I am a newbie who has upgraded an old account to platinum. I have raised two help desk issues as I am really struggling with your email system. My emails keep vanishing, from my inbox and sent email. I am quite IT literate ! Thougth I had been hacked, changed password etc. Its made no difference , emails sent since then have again vanished. I have searched everywhere, all the folders, checked date order etc etc They have just is very bizzare. I am wondering is it because I upgraded an old account ? I am very nervous that names will start dissapearing from my tree. Please help. I have only just upgraded and based on current performance can't see how I can stay on genes reunited. :-(
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by pelo on 29 Nov 2011 10:26 :

Generally happy with the new message centre but I do have one major problem with My Contacts. All the listings from one contact only are missing from my listings. The other people's lists are all showing as normal. Unfortunately the ones missing are the most important to me.
I'm very concerned that more will disappear. I just can't find them anywhere!

:-( :-(
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by Susan on 30 Nov 2011 12:20 :
This may have been raised before but I have only just found the blog. Is there anyway to find out if the people we are trying to make contact with are still members?
It is good to have all their family members listed for searches because it gives you an idea of who are around in a particular area, but I am getting increasingly frustrated with getting no reply's to my emails and not knowing if it is because the person you are trying to contact no longer has a subscription. Is it possible to have in some format the last time the person logged on for instance, then at least you know if there is a possibilty of getting a reply.

Sue :-( :-(
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by Joy on 1 Dec 2011 12:59 :
The message centre is still not functioning properly: the error messages, as previously advised, are still appearing, and I cannot open them without an error message. Also, although I was pleased that the unwanted messages from deleted contacts were removed, I was disappointed that the messages from 2004 to 2006 have completed disappeared.
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by Elizabeth2469049 on 1 Dec 2011 20:54 :
Pelo - is it possible that the listings of a contact you are missing have been deleted by the contact themselves? don't know if this is a possible cause and effect - phil please advise!
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by Stanley on 3 Dec 2011 23:04 :
I agree with an earlier postee re lack of ability to change the name of the SUBJECT MATTER-one often needs to change the name of the Subject at the time of the first reply and now it seems impossible to do so-otherwise i think it a great improvement-have at last been able to fnd my previously unread messages-with over 10,000 stored it quickly became a problem under the old system
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by Helena on 4 Dec 2011 16:06 :
my emails are still vanishing, not heard from help desk, unless of course they have emailed me, in which case it has probably vanished.....

How to I go about a refund ?
Can't see how I can use it ?
Lost some really important information.....

Soooooo :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-(
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by philmoir on 6 Dec 2011 13:54 :
PLEASE BE AWARE: Use the delete option from the Inbox view rather than the conversation view if you want to delete just a single mail message. If you delete from conversation it will delete ALL messages back and forward in that conversation. We are adding a warning and confirmation button to this page.

Helena - Your emails were restored. And I think you emailed me after you posted here. So assume it is all still good.

Pelo - I have restored all you deleted emails.

Susan - We are constantly reviewing the "are they still members situation". Some people only dip in one or twice a year, some are on site often, some rarely. We haven't introduced a "lapsed" policy as you can be a free member. We may make changes to highlight how long someone has been inactive. Search the Suggestions board for threads on this subject.

Joy - Sent you a confirmation message message regarding restoring your old emails.

Stanley - Because the conversation view only shows the subject heading once, this was the reason we locked it down. The intention is that like threads on the boards, if you want to discuss something new, you start a new conversation.

I have sent PMs to everyone that I have responded to.

We have another patch for some minor bug fixes and performance changes for Message Centre, to be rolled out very soon.

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by philmoir on 6 Dec 2011 14:04 :
So that messages are not reposted, suggest any comments re Message Centre are put on this thread:
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by Joy on 6 Dec 2011 19:00 :
Thank you :-)

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by jocksgirl on 10 Dec 2011 14:49 :
Biggest problems are still the instability of the site. When clicking on a name - instead of that person's details coming up - everybody of same name comes up - unrequested.

Still cant print the tree or even part of - only 1,000 names -

Very often when making additions or alterations - cant save them ?
Hope this helps.

Even minor improvements are appreciated!
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by Lucy on 17 Dec 2011 14:26 :
Did you know that the family trees starts disintegrating after looking at
it for a short time, or is it my P.C.
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by Lucy on 17 Dec 2011 14:26 :
Did you know that the family trees starts disintegrating after looking at
it for a short time, or is it my P.C.
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by Maureen on 2 Feb 2012 01:18 :
Why am I getting the new version when I log in now. I do not find it easy after getting so used to the old one. First I couldn't add on a second marriage to a relation. Then I went to put on a new relation and I've got lost. Please help us older people to cope. Let me have the older version back PLEASE?
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by jack on 8 Feb 2012 12:34 :
I am also very unhapy in having the 'new' layout foisted upon us. I find it difficult to use and unreliable, having spent ages writing up a number of notes, only to have them disappear........Maybe we should be given a choice.