Family Tree DNA has released their new, updated chromosome browser with a completely new look and feel. It’s quite different from the previous version, so let’s take a test drive.
The first thing you notice is a new link on your personal page in the Family Finder section.
You can access the chromosome browser in one of two ways.
- Matches button
- Clicking on the Chromosome Browser button
Either way, you eventually get to the same place.
By viewing your matches, you can now select a total of 7 people, increased from 5 previously, to compare to you in the chromosome browser.
After selecting the people you want to view in the chromosome browser, click on the Chromosome Brower button above your matches, just like before.
Note that on your Matches page, the other tools, such as In Common With (ICW), Not In Common With (NICW), Search by name, Search by ancestral surname, the list of ancestral surnames for each match and other information is exactly where it has always been located. Nothing else changed on the Match page except your ability to select 7 people instead of just 5.
The Chromosome Browser
The new chromosome browser tool looks different. A lot different. It’s also much more intuitive.
If you make match selections on your match page and click the chromosome browser button, you see the following page reflecting your choices. The link no longer immediately compares the individuals in the chromosome browser.
Your match list is shown to the right of the selected individuals, shown at left.
This is also the page where you land if you click the Chromosome Browser button on your dashboard.
From Your Dashboard
If you don’t click on your Matches button first, and click directly on the Chromosome Browser button, this is what you’ll see.
Your matches are shown at right, and when you select them, they will appear on the list at left.
Select as many as 7. You’ll see them appear to the left as you make your selections.
To aid in your selection, you can utilize the filter above the matches to view only specific levels of matches.
The “name search,” at upper right, searches for an individual match with that first or last name.
This page does NOT search the ancestral surnames. If you want to do that, you need to work from the matches page which does search for people with that ancestral surname in their Ancestral Surname List.
I’m very glad to see this new search feature for matches at the browser level. It makes searching for a particular match a LOT easier.
Notice that not all of the match information is available on this page. X matching, match date, linked relationships and ancestral surnames are only available on the Matches page.
The icons for contacting matches, notes and the tree are also only available on the Matches page.
However, a new field is available here, the number of shared segments. This number includes segments to the 1cM level so long as they are 500 SNPs or larger. For most (nonresearch) purposes, I generally use segments of 7cM or larger, although I do sometimes want to see smaller segments.
At right, the In Common With and Not In Common With functions are available by clicking on the three dots:
In Common With and Not In Common With
The In Common With (ICW) and Not In Common With (NICW) features have been greatly improved.
By selecting an individual, such as William Sterling Estes in this example, then clicking the In Common With (ICW) link, I see all of the people I match in common with William Sterling Estes. Furthermore, the system now automatically puts William Sterling Estes into my match list. By making additional selections from that ICW list and adding them to the list, I can then easily compare my DNA, that of William Sterling Estes and the people that we both match to determine if we have common matching chromosome segments.
The Not In Common With feature works exactly the same way.
To view the new chromosome browser, click on the orange compare button at the bottom of the list. It’s so large you can’t miss it!
Chromosome Browser Format
The new chromosome browser itself looks a LOT different. To begin with, the color and design of the chromosomes themselves has changed. There is now space for 7 people in the comparison on each chromosome, plus you as the “background” person that those 7 are being compared to.
Chromosomes 1-5 with 7 matches being compared to me are shown below. At the top of the page, the colors of the segments are coded by the colors at the top of the profile placards of the matches I selected.
You can view information about any individual by clicking on their profile button.
By clicking on the Update Selected Matches button, at right above the chromosomes, you can change the individuals being compared.
Now, let’s take a look at how to interpret these matches.
Reading the Results
As before, the centromere is notated by the little white “waists” in each chromosome, and the light grey represents regions not tested, so you won’t see matches there.
Notice Charlene, the navy blue person match on my chromosome 1.
Reading left to right, we have:
- At the beginning of the chromosome, dark grey tested region with no match
- Beginning with the red box, navy blue match region
- Light grey untested region, crossing centromere and continuing until small navy blue region
- The entire small tested region is navy blue, indicating a match
- Small light grey untested region
- Dark grey tested region that does not match
- Navy blue region that does match to the end of the red box
- Dark grey tested region that does not match to the end of the chromosome
We would read this as 2 matching segments, not 3, with the first large navy segment and the tiny middle navy segment forming one contiguous segment across the centromere and untested regions. The third navy part of that chromosome is a separate matching segment, because it’s separated from the first two by a darker grey area that is tested but does not match.
By positioning your cursor over the colored portions of the chromosome, and waiting for a second or so, the information about that specific segment will appear.
Downloading Just These Matching Segments
Clicking on Download Segments, the blue link at right just above chromosome 1 downloads just the information in a csv file for the people currently being compared in the browser. It does not download all of your matches. That feature is elsewhere.
The default minimum centiMorgans display view is still 5, and you can select 1, 5, 7 or 10. All matches displayed are 500 SNPs or larger.
Detailed Segment Data
Another new feature is the Detailed Segment Data tab. Click to view.
In essence, this is the same information as the csv download file, except you don’t have to download the file and you don’t have to know anything about Excel. However, you can’t sort this data by chromosome like you can in a spreadsheet.
You can select which DNA match you wish to view, one by one.
I hope that Family Tree DNA will add the feature of being able to sort each column.
Downloading All Matches
For those interested in downloading all matches, not just the matches displayed, you can perform that function at the bottom of your matches page:
Or at the bottom of the initial Chromosome Browser selection page, but BEFORE you click on compare.
Quick Reference Feature Navigation Chart
I’m always grateful for new features and updates, but sometimes new features feel a bit like someone rearranged the furniture in the room while you were sleeping. I’ve created a quick reference chart to show you what’s available where and to help you navigate.
I like the updated chromosome browser as well as the new In Common With feature. The new browser facilitates 7 comparisons at once and is a LOT more user friend with new ease-of-use features. The new ICW page eliminates several steps and confusion that exists when trying to use the function from the Matches page.
I’m hoping that this update is a new skin in preparation for more nifty new features, such as triangulation. Hint, hint, Family Tree DNA. Christmas is coming😊
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