Puzzilla - Frequently Asked Questions


My screen is blank or unresponsive. What is wrong?
There are five likely situations:
  1. The person you selected has no ancestors (or descendants) to view. This can be confirmed by checking their PID in FamilyTree. If they have no ancestors (descendants) in FamilyTree then the corresponding chart in Puzzilla will be blank.
  2. You signed in using a new FamilySearch account that you created instead of an LDS account. The first view in Puzzilla is a pedigree chart with you at the root. A new FamilySearch account initially has no links to any persons in FamilyTree, so there are no linked records to view.
    • If you are LDS you should sign in using your LDS account so that you can view existing ancestor or descendant records that are already linked to you, if any.
    • If you are not LDS you may add parents and grandparents via FamilyTree and link yourself to ancestors in FamilyTree who are dead. This will result in a tree that will be displayed when you sign in to Puzzilla.
    • Puzzilla can view any deceased person in FamilyTree by providing their ID. Find the FamilyTree ID number of a person shown in FamilyTree, click the 'New Person' button on the Puzzilla control panel, paste the ID in the 'New ID' field and click 'View Ancestors' or 'View Descendants'.
  3. Your Puzzilla/FamilySearch session is timed out. Your FamilySearch session automatically expires after 30 minutes of inactivity. Puzzilla will tell you this by showing a 'Sign-in' button in the menu bar at top-right. Click this button to go to the Puzzilla home page, then click the button to sign in.
  4. You are using an unsupported browser. An alert box explains this when you sign-in: "Puzzilla requires a modern browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer Version 10+ and a mouse. Chrome and Firefox work best. On mobile devices, Android, iPad, and iPhone touch events are not yet supported in native browsers; the Chrome browser works somewhat better. We are working on it"
  5. Your internet connection is down or FamilySearch may be down. To find out, try to sign in to FamilySearch.org directly or try to access other internet resources directly.
There are duplicate lines. The relationships are wrong. The information is incorrect.
There are two separate possibilities.
  1. FamilySearch duplicates or errors: Puzzilla shows the information it retrieves from FamilyTree. This information is the combined product of many contributors of varying skill levels and is a work in progress. One of the purposes of Puzzilla is to make errors visible. When you discover incorrect information and have a credible basis for changing it you are invited to correct the information using FamilyTree.
  2. Puzzilla duplicates: This is a softare error that we believe is caused by changing pages while records are still downloading. We are still trying to understand what causes it. You will know this has happened if the lines are exactly duplicated and the ID numbers are the same for the duplicates. To resolve this problem click the 'Refresh All Data' button on the bottom of the control panel, which will clear Puzzilla's local storage and download a fresh copy of the information.
Sign-in fails with this error message: Invalid Oauth2 Request Oauth2 error
Enable cookies in your browser. FamilyTree requires cookies for signing in. A cookie is a token given by the server to the browser to let it back in without having to sign-in for each request.
Changes in FamilyTree don't show up in Puzzilla. How can I see recent changes?
Click the 'Refresh All Data' in the lower left control panel. Puzzilla caches records to avoid having to retrieve them each time they are viewed. The 'Refresh All Data' button clears the stored records, causing Puzzilla to retrieve the latest versions.
Puzzilla shows the wrong ancestral line. I came through the other spouse.
When there are multiple spouses, Puzzilla shows your 'preferred' ancestors according to your preference settings in FamilyTree. You may change your preference settings. Read how to change it here.
My spouse's line does not show up when I enter enter his/her Id number.
FamilyTree's privacy policy prohibits viewing information about living persons except your own immediate children and your parents. FamilyTree limits the records you can view through Puzzilla. Your spouse will need to sign in to see his/her line. You can add your own records for living persons into FamilyTree and link these to dead persons to produce a complete pedigree.
Why is there sometimes no pink or blue symbol, just the curved line?
When the gender is unknown, Puzzilla shows the line but does not draw a symbol indicating male or female. The line is interactive nonetheless, you can still click on it.

General Questions

Can I zoom the image?
You can zoom using Ctrl-+ (hold down the control key and press the plus key). Ctrl-minus zooms out. Ctrl-0 returns to default size. On Mac, use the command key instead of the control key.
How can I print my Puzzilla charts?
We are working on ways to print beautiful Puzzilla charts. For now, you can use your browser print feature to print the page, or you can capture a screenshot and print it using facilities provided by your operating system.
I see a pedigree chart. Now what do I do?
Watch the video Finding Our Cousins: Introduction to Puzzilla.org. Read the How-to page. Move your mouse over the symbols to see names appear. Click on a symbol to move from ancestors to descendants, or from descendants to the details of a person in FamilyTree.
Can I sign in to Puzzilla using a FamilySearch helper number on behalf of a different user?
FamilySearch currently does not allow users of 3rd-party software such as Puzzilla to log in using a helper number. This may change in the future.
I would like to use Puzzilla to view records from other programs besides FamilyTree. Is this available?
Not yet, but we intend to. This is in the planning phase.
What is Puzzilla?
Puzzilla.org is a web service dedicated to providing tools to help family history and genealogical researchers.
What is the name Puzzilla about?
The Puzzilla name refers to assembling pieces of a puzzle to complete the whole, the essence of the genealogical research process.
Is it free? How is is paid for?
The Descendants Viewer is a free service and will remain so. The time and expense to create Puzzilla so far have been donated by a handful of people with a passion for helping others succeed in their family history and genealogical research. We plan to offer additional premium services for an annual fee so that we can hire full-time professionals and provide more free and for-fee services.
How does Puzzilla work?
FamilyTree provides information to Puzzilla one person at a time. The available information includes a person's name, gender, birth and death information, and the FamilyTree ID numbers of that person's children or parents. When a record is retrieved, puzzilla extracts the record ids of the children or parents and issues new requests to obtain their children or parents, etc. Puzzilla re-draws the entire tree each time a record is returned from FamilyTree, so the tree appears to expand dynamically.
Can I update FamilyTree data through Puzzilla?
No, Puzzilla is a companion to FamilyTree and FamilySearch, not a replacement. Use FamilyTree and FamilySearch to see many other views and update information.
Where is my Puzzilla data stored when I close the browser?
Retrieved descendant and pedigree data is stored in the 'localStorage' memory in your browser, which can permanently hold up to 5 megabytes. Browsers do not share memory; each browser has its own local storage. You can clear this storage and refresh the information by clicking the 'Refresh All Data' button on the bottom left control panel.
What is meant by "shift-click"?
Shift-click means to hold the shift key down while you click the mouse button.
What happens if I clear my browser history?
Your records are erased when you clear your browsing history. It will take time to download each view again.
How can I see more generations?
You can change the number of generations by entering a different number in the generations box. When you exit the field the chart will change to show the specified number of generations.
Why am I limited to 14 generations?
Increasing the generations can produce so many ancestors or descendants that it would take too long to retrieve them all, and there would not be room for them in your browser. You can click on 'New Person' and paste a different FamilyTree ID in the New ID field to view descendants or ancestors for any person, no matter how many generations they may be from you.

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