A couple of weeks back, I started to investigate my family tree. Spurred on my a combination of recent personal events I switched the half-hearted attempt that I’d made at genesreunited.co.uk over to ancestry.co.uk and the 14 day trial was enough to convince me that it was a good tool for researching my family history.
Transferring my tree was easy enough – there is a de facto file format used by genealogists called GEDCOM and both sites supported it, but as I got stuck into researching the tree I found that I was having difficulty installing the Enhanced Image Viewer ActiveX control that Ancestry uses to display certain documents. To be fair to Ancestry, I run Windows 7 (not yet generally available) – but they only officially support IE7 (IE8 has been around for a while yet) and push people towards Firefox if they are having problems. Firefox is OK, but installing a new browser just to access one feature on a website is also a little extreme. I was sure there was a way… and eventually (with Ancestry’s help), I got there.
My problem was that (using 32-bit Internet Explorer) I could access a page that wanted to load the Enhanced Image Viewer and I could download and run the installer; however setup failed stating that:
Setup failed – contact customer support
Windows then detected a problem with the installation but, following advice on the Ancestry website I told it that the installation was successful and it allows me to continue. After returning to Ancestry, I was presented with a message stating that:
The Enhanced Image Viewer is not installed on this machine. For the best experience, please click here to download the Enhanced Image Viewer or click here to view this image using the Basic Image Viewer.
The Basic Image Viewer seems to work OK but the very existence of an “enhanced” viewer suggests that there is something there that I’m missing (and this is a subscription website after all)!
So, here’s what I tried that didn’t work:
- Enabling the ActiveX control using Internet Explorer to manage add-ins (it wasn’t there to enable).
- Manually downloading and installing the Enhanced Image viewer (failed to register).
- Manually uninstalling the Enhanced Viewer (it was not there as it never successfully installed).
In the end, I broke all good security practices by logging on as administrator (instead of running the installer as an administrator), and turning off UAC, after which the viewer installed as it should. Clearly this application was very badly developed (it seems not to follow any modern application development standards) but at least I got it installed!
One final word of warning – and this one is non-technical – researching your family tree can quickly become addictive (my wife refers to it as my latest “time Hoover”).