Are there any plans for a WikiTree PWA App?

+2 votes
Are there any plans to turn WikiTree into a PWA app?

A Progressive Web App is a web site that looks and behaves like a mobile app.  Rather than dedicate a team to develop the web site, and or hope someone else develops a Android or iOS (Apple) app, WikiTree developers could make the site as a PWA app.

I doing this, it allows a coherent and uniform presentation across every device that the site reaches.  It also allows WikiTree to take advantage of the features available to mobile devices, or even newer features of modern desktop/laptop/tablet OSes, such as Windows 10.

More importantly, it would help facilitate a much needed overhaul of the UI.  If no one has mentioned, WikiTree is really laid-out unintuitively to the point of being confusing.  You constantly have to search, and more importantly the sight doesn't function well in the touch world.

It still boggles my mind that you can't unclick a radio button, let alone the fact that they are being used, and you have to go into a spouse page to indicate that the person isn't married instead of a check box.  However, those are some of the minor ones.

This would also eliminate the need for a full, open API.  It could remain a read-only API, with feature suggestions or new features, created by third-party developers, added in much like they are today or in some cases, even more tightly integrated.
in WikiTree Tech by Larry Budd G2G4 (4.8k points)

I think you are mixing 2 thinks together:

  1. PWA = web application that allows caching of resources (images, pages, scripts), for faster page loading and offline regime. Has access to some device sensors (camera, gyroscope, GPS,...), communication technologies (Bluetooth,...)  and services that originally only native apps could access (contact list, SMS, notifications, ...).
  2. Responsive UI = user interface that will look good on all screen sizes.
Now, you can have 
  • combination of both = ideal world
  • PWA with non-responsive UI
  • Normal web with responsive UI
  • Or current state of WikiTree (worst case)
So I agree with you that UI need major cleanup and to be reworked into responsive form. 
In case of PWA, some caching of resources could help to make it faster and possibility to go offline and use camera&GPS on smartphone could be also useful in some cases (is taking images of graves / headstones).

1 Answer

+10 votes
Any changes to this site need to take into account the many people who work on a computer. We already had a fight to keep a sortable table format for lists when the site was trying to be more phone friendly. If Wikitree lost the functionality it currently has just to be more usable on something tiny, I'd probably just download a gedcom and move my profiles over to my Ancestry account.

I will never do my genealogy on a phone or tablet, I do far too many edits a month for that to be practical. Programs I used to use that have changed significantly to appear good on a phone look terrible on a pc and I won't now use them.

I need to work at a table, on a keyboard with a screen in front of me for a number of reasons, one being speed and volume of work, another being that  I need to avoid having my neck in a bent forward position for hours on end to avoid the bones of my spine permanently fusing in that position. Wikitree may not look as trendy as other programs but it suits me as it is.

The radio buttons being un-unclickable is of negligible importance and something that could be changed without turning the site into a phone app.
by Gillian Causier G2G6 Pilot (300k points)


I don't think you quite understand the nature of PWA, nor of my post.

I'm not suggesting the "dumbing-down" of WikiTree.  I suggesting a redesign, built as a Progressive Web App (PWA).

Good UI design doesn't eliminate features or functions, it puts them in a more intuitive form, and it builds the interface around intuitive functions.

Twitter is one of the best examples or a PWA right now.  The form and function with Windows 10 in the app, is the same as on the Web site.  If not already, soon it'll be true of Android and iOS.  Though I believe the latter will require some updating on Apple's part to make their hardware more PWA friendly.

I don't disagree with you that genealogy is generally best done with a keyboard, mouse, on a larger screen.  I do 99.9% of mine on a laptop, but WikiTree as a PWA would allow not only for the use of the site on a desktop, but on a mobile device as well.  It would also allow for the site to provide a mobile experience that matches the desktop experience, while maintaining control over it.  Right now, WikiTree on mobile isn't even good for read-only viewing of profiles.  It leaves much to be desired.  Using the UI, is pretty much impossible.

More and more people are moving to mobile devices as their primary device.  The current slate of devices definite might not be an ideal situation to do genealogy from, but in the not too distant future more and more people will doing more computing from a mobile device than from a PC.  There may one day be a device that unfolds, that with the addition of a mouse and keyboard, acts like that desktop you're used to.

Good UI doesn't mean the loss of functionality.  It simply means that the UI adjusts to the screen of the device.  In fact, developing WikiTree into a PWA could actually facilitate the addition of new features in an intuitive and meaningful way.

The problem with the UI today is that it's specifically designed for mouse/keyboard interactions.  This makes using it with touch very, very difficult.  It's also designed with HTML in mind, while a PWA doesn't eliminate all aspects of HTML, it provides greater capability than a simple/traditional Web site does.

My intention is not to take away from WikiTree, it isn't even to make WikiTree work against it's long-time users.  I want WikiTree to be better, more capable, yet be able to transition into the future of mobile computing while seamlessly retaining all the same functionality you currently have.  While hopefully adding some new functionality in the process.


Fair enough, but my experience so far has been that anything that gets changed to work better on a phone looks like it's using 1990's technology when blown up to a 22 inch screen size and interfaces get simplified, losing functionality. I'm not against improvement as long as it isn't at the cost of more "traditional" methods. There is already a device that unfolds that has a keyboard and you can plug a mouse into - the laptop :D

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