FamilySearch Has Lost Its Flash

It’s official. FamilySearch has lost its Flash. No, not the sparkly, “gee, this is the most awesome site since the dawn of time” kind of flash. I’m talking about Adobe Flash, which FamilySearch was using as its method to display images. Why does this mean anything to us as researchers? Because it changes how we can work with the image.

The positive side:
  • Drag the image around to pan. No more clicking on different areas of the thumbnail to move to the top or bottom. (In fact, there aren’t any thumbnails anymore.)
  • No more dependence upon updated versions of Flash. This wasn’t so much of an issue, as their implementation was pretty straightforward; however, it could have been had FamilySearch done much more.
  • Images can now be seen on more devices in more browsers. Yes! I can finally use FamilySearch on my iPad without having to use the Puffin browser (which was the only reason I used Puffin).
The negative side:
  • Printing is now all or nothing. Now when you print directly from the page, you get the whole thing — there is no option to print just part of it. FamilySearch, you’re killing me here! That wasn’t just a cool feature — that was a necessity! There are some images, like many death certificates, that have a large black border as part of the image. Ink is expensive! By allowing me to print just a portion of the image, I could crop out the black “background” and print just the certificate. But the really big deal about this is that census pages really don’t like to be printed on 8 1/2 X 11. (Especially when you’re talking about something like the 1900 US census which is wider than it is tall. Makes for itty, bitty, teeny, tiny print… )

I completely understand (and tend to agree with) FamilySearch’s decision to move away from Flash. Putting aside the browser and version compatibility issues, Flash has been plagued by a host of security flaws over the years. In fact, Adobe announced another new version of Flash today, in part to deal with another exploited security vulnerability.

However, I sincerely hope (oh please, oh please, oh please!) that FamilySearch will find a way to allow printing portions of images. That was too valuable of a feature to be thrown out with the proverbial bathwater.

Posted: September 21, 2011.

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  • Losing the partial print really was bad news. Although a workaround of saving the image and cropping/zooming with my own software essentially gets what I need, it’s a lot more steps to get about the same result. Hopefully they can.

    • That was my thought exactly, Kevin. There are all kinds of workarounds, but why should we have to use them when FamilySearch had a way to do it directly. Plus, in a library setting, it might not be possible to download images to print them later.

    • Not an option on a Mac, as it already prints it as a PDF and there isn’t an option to crop before printing. You can save it and then edit before printing, but not crop within the print process.

      As I mentioned, there are workarounds. You can use any number of screen capture programs (either standalone or browser plug-ins, such as Aviary). You can save the image and edit it in your favorite graphic editing program.

      But why should we have to do this?

      Also, the workarounds may or may not be viable on those using a public computer, such as at a library or a Family History Center.

      I sincerely hope that the powers-that-be at FamilySearch are aware that we *need* to be able to print sections of images directly from the image viewer.