What Is Going On With The FamilySearch Wiki?

If you’ve visited the FamilySearch Wiki in the past few weeks, you’ve seen the pages display very differently than you are used to seeing them.   No, the wiki design hasn’t changed, but there is a problem that the FamilySearch engineers are working feverishly to fix.

The header section on FamilySearch pages was upgraded for all FamilySearch sites recently.  The new coding was added to each of the multitude of FamilySearch sites one-at-a-time and although a few problems were encountered, the issues were resolved fairly quickly, UNTIL …   Until it was added to the FamilySearch Wiki. 


The CSS code in the header is overriding the CSS code in the wiki, causing the wiki pages to now be displayed with a larger font, no bullets, no indents and other problems 

What is CSS?  CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets.  It is the code that sits on top of a basic design and makes it look good or look consistent with the other pages on a corporate or personal website.  We see pages with CSS coding every time we visit the web.  We just don’t realize that our browser has received the code and in turn paints a pretty page on our screen that wasn’t so pretty in its native code.

The conflicting CSS issue sounds like a straight forward problem that should be fairly easy to resolve, but as usual, the problem is much greater than it appears on the surface.  There is a lot of coding and calls in the header that we, as users don’t see or understand.  In the case of the wiki, the conflicts are apparently fairly large because the CSS code on the wiki is fairly complex..  Fixing the header coding to accommodate the wiki engine code has ramifications across the FamilySearch Domain, so the resolution of the problem is taking some time.

We (wiki users) want the new header because of the functionality it adds for our use of products on FamilySearch.   Personally, the Source Box link is the most frequently used item in the header other than the logout link.   I’ve talked about the Source Box in an earlier post.

Let’s look at the wiki with and without the FamilySearch CSS code.

Here’s how the FamilySearch wiki looks using just the native MediaWiki engine.  There is no special CSS coding other than the default CSS code to make the page presentation look “presentable”.


Here’s the same section of the New Mexico wiki article with the FamilySearch CSS code turned on.


The image is actually on the native page but the display is very wide and I only captured a small section of the page.  With the FamilySearch CSS turned code on, the article width is constrained to a fixed width and the navigation bar on the right has been added.   Both of these pages are built using the same data.  Only the CSS coding is different.

The current FamilySearch CSS code problem is suppressing the bullets, indents, etc., that are in the original articles, as seen below:


Below is the same section of the article with the FamilySearch CSS coding turned off in just its native wiki format:


As you can see, the formatting and data is still intact.  Only the presentation has changed due to the current CSS code problem. 

Now you know a little more about CSS coding and how it is used on websites.  CSS is a vital component in site designs, but because it is always doing its work behind the scenes, most folks have never heard of it before.

As a wiki user, we just need to have a little patience.  The FamilySearch engineers are working to resolve the display issues caused by the CSS code in the new header.  They’ll get it resolved soon and its new features will benefit all users of both FamilySearch and the FamilySearch Wiki.

Copyright (c) Lee Drew 2012-09-30 08:00:00
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About lineagekeeper

Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.