Here is my own experience. For one of my ancestral lines, I had gone back four generations (i.e. to my gg-grandfather), and had reached the infamous "brick wall". I had absolutely no leads. I turned to the internet. I consulted some surname message boards, genealogy sites like Ancestry, etc. Somewhere along the way, I found a link to someone's personal genealogy website which had information on the surname I was looking for. This person had my family line listed, and took the line 3 generations farther back than I did!
It was fortunate that the person had the information on a web site, because for several months I was unsuccessful in contacting the person via their email address listed. If they had just posted a query on a message board, there probably wouldn't have been enough information to help me, and as I said, I got no response when I sent them a couple of emails. But seeing the information as they laid it out on the website was enough to give me a lead. It turned out that for the father of my gg-grandfather (i.e. where I was stuck), I had seen his name previously in some other information, but I hadn't made the connection. Seeing it on the website made things fit. I might add that I eventually decided that the two earliest generations listed on this website were wrong; my gg-grandfather's father was correct, but the grandfather was wrong. This just goes to show, don't believe everything you see on the web. But just seeing the line as it was presented on this website gave me something to try to prove or disprove, instead of just searching blindly. It got me past my brick wall, and since then I have made significant progress on this family line. I can now pretty much take this line back to about the year 1700 whereas I was stuck at the year 1810 previously.
After I made more progress on this line, I decided that since I had been helped by someone else's website, I should "return the favor" and publish my own website on this line; perhaps I could help others, just as someone else had helped me via their website. Once I created my own website, over a period of months I heard from quite a few people, many of them asking questions but a few providing me with more information. At one point, I had about 600 people on this line in my family database, and someone sent me a GEDCOM file on this line with over a thousand people. This more than doubled the size of my database on this line. Just recently, a lady sent me a court record which needs a little more investigation but looks like it takes this family line back even farther.
In my experience, when I am willing to share my information with others, they are more likely to be willing to share their information with me. I now have websites for three of my family lines, and have had similar experiences in all three cases.
In summary, publishing on the web is a great way to help others and probably get help yourself on your research. And it is a great way to meet and get acquainted with quite a few cousins!!
The rest of the information presented here gives specific steps to take
to publish your data. Included are links to specific web sites that
allow you to publish data there, in one form or another. Of course,
you can also visit these sites to see if others have already published
info on the lines you are working on.
I have seen two extremes here. At one extreme are cases where someone has given their genealogy database (via a GEDCOM file) to a cousin, only to later see the data appear as part of a Family Tree Maker "Super Bundle" CD for $50. It turns out the cousin has sent the whole database to FTM without asking the originator. I am hesitant about giving my entire database out to someone without discussing with them how they are going to use the data, and trusting them enough to believe that they will keep their word. I personally have a distaste for FTM's "Super Bundles", where people send in their data and get little or nothing back for it, whereas FTM turns around and profits off people's personal research work by selling thousands of these CD sets for $50 (or so) each. In constrast to FTM is Ancestry - even though they charge for some services, their "World Family Tree" data is free to search and access at will. Personally I am much more willing to give my data to Ancestry than to FTM. And FTM is only one example. The point is, if you indiscriminantly give away your whole database, you may have no idea what the person you gave it to is going to do with it. Before you give your data out - whether to a person or by posting to a web site - make sure you have a good idea of how they are going to use your data!
At the other extreme are people who seem reluctant to give out any data at all. The attitude seems to be, I have spent all this time researching this - if you want to know about it, go research it yourself. Fortunately I have not run across people with this attitude very often, but when I have encountered it, I have been saddened by it. Isn't genealogy about families? If we are unwilling to help others in our family (however distant the kinship), as for example by sharing data with them, then why are we doing genealogy at all? To say I want to know about my ancestors but I don't want to help others descended from these same ancestors to find out about them seems pretty selfish and uncaring. Hopefully people who are reading this are doing so because they do not have this attitude but rather are wanting to be helpful.
Hopefully people can find a happy medium in publishing their data. I greatly encourage you to publish your data on the web. Just be careful which information you include and which sites you use to publish.
My personal philosophy is to publish a good amount of data on a web site - enough to let people know how far back I have gone and key areas where I either have data or need data, so that it is pretty easy to navigate around and see what data I have on a specific line of descent or to see how far back in ancestry I have on a line. But I don't indiscriminately publish my whole database to as to let someone just use my entire set of research without asking me. If someone wants a GEDCOM file of my database, I want them to email me and ask for it, and then I can decide if I want to give it to them or not. I want tol know where my database is going.
There are a couple of other things to think about. The National
Genealogical Society has published web pages concerning standards/guidelines
for publishing data on the web, and standards/guidelines for sharing information
with others, respectively, on the following pages:
Standards/guidelines for publishing data on the web
Standards/guidelines for sharing info with others
Several of the guidelines they have are quite detailed, and personally,
I do not worry about following every single point they make to the letter.
"display a footer at the bottom of each web page which contains the web site title, page title, author's name, author's contact information, date of last revision and a copyright statement." -
If you use software which automatically outputs a multi-page website, you may not have control over some of these things (and you certainly won't want to hand edit every page of output !). But the NGS on the whole does give excellent points to consider in designing a genealogy website.
There are several ways to "privatize" your data; these are detailed in the next section. As a word of warning, many programs (both genealogy and 3rd party) "privatize" by deleting details (such as birthdates) about living people. While this is better than nothing, it doesn't do anything about the issue of a person's mother's maiden name. The only way to truly avoid giving out private info about living people is to completely delete the living people from your database (i.e. from the copy of your database which is being put on the internet). Not many genealogy or privatizing programs will do this. See later sections below for more details on this.
On the other hand, don't be paranoid:
- Even though I don't publish living people as a matter of caution and consideration, realistically, I doubt that people are getting taken advantage of base on information published on genealogy sites. Thieves would want more specific information like social security and credit card numbers. From what I have heard about internet predators, they meet people in internet chat rooms rather than searching people out based on information from genealogy sites. I personally have never read or heard about any crime that was instigated due to information published on a genealogy site!
- If someone "steals" your data, he/she is not going to get rich over it. While genealogy data is prized to those of us who have collected it, it is certainly not equivalent to an archaeological find where whoever publishes it is going to be world-famous.
1. Plan ahead - Decide how you want your data to look, and on which web site(s) you want to publish. Various web sites are suggested in a subsequent section of this page. I suggest you follow the links to several of these sites and look at them. Some sites require you to have your data in a particular format. (For example, some sites require you to run GED2HTML or a similar program to produce your data.) Other sites, especially sites that allow information beyond genealogy, will allow practically any format for your data that you could possibly imagine. In this case, YOU must decide how you want your data to look on the site. Make sure you understand how you will generate the format desired for this web site, and how you will physically transfer your data to the web site. Most web sites give a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page to explain these things.
Especially if you have a general website where you can publish data in any format you want, you need to decide how you want your data to be organized. Two main ways to organize data are the same two ways available in many genealogy reports - by listing all ancestors of a person (e.g. you) and by listing all descendants of a person (e.g. picking a particular surname from your ancestry, going back to the farthest ancestor in your database, and then listing all that person's descendants).
I personally prefer to list information according to surname, i.e. by descendants of a given ancestor. I currently have three different websites, each covering a different surname from my ancestry. (It is okay to physically have them all on the same webhost, but one should create separate subdirectories so that each surname looks like its own site.) There may be cases where one wants to list two surnames on the same site if both families lived in the same area and there were multiple marriages between them; but this is the exception rather than the rule. I believe that emphasizing a surname on a site makes it much easier for anyone who sees your site to figure out the scope of your research.
2. Generate your data from your genealogy program, and Privatize
In some cases you will produce a GEDCOM file from your genealogy program, but in other cases you may use your genealogy program to generate a report for your Word Processor, and some genealogy programs even produce HTML files directly.
Regarding Privatizing your data, you may be able to do this directly from your genealogy program as you are generating your data, but in some cases you may want or need to use a separate 3rd-party program instead. Both ways will be discussed here.
3. Go to the web site you chose in step #1, and physically transfer your data. How to do this may range from sending an email, to using an FTP program (see "FTP Client Software" in a later section of this page), to some other means. Hopefully you figured out how to do this for the site you were interested in as part of step #1.
4. For your web page to be useful, you'll want to create links to your site, in order to allow people to find your data. Some sites, especially those that specialize in genealogy data, will do this for you automatically when you put your data on their site. But for other sites, especially the more general web sites, you will have to do this manually on your own. See below (especially the section "Sites that Assume you already have your data on the Web") for some ideas on this. And make sure you leave your email address on your web site, so people can contact you.
5. Sit back, relax, and check your email to meet all the cousins
who drop in on your web site!!!
How to create your own genealogy web site in 10 minutes or less!
"I'm relatively new to the web. I am very interested in publishing my data, but I'm kind of intimidated at the idea of having to figure out which web site is best for me, then having to download a special program to privatize my data, having to download another program in order to transfer my data via FTP (what does that stand for, anyway?), etc., etc. Isn't there a simple way of doing all this?"
Here's my suggestion of the simplest way to publish your data.
In order to be specific, I'm going to assume 2 things:
- You are running Family Tree Maker, but not necessarily a very recent version of it. (You can do the same thing with almost any genealogy program; it is just that I explicitly list the steps for use with FTM.)
- You want to publish data specific to one of your ancestral Surnames. (If you want to publish for more than one Surname, you will publish each one separately.)
1. Follow the steps in the "Generating/Privatizing a GEDCOM File" section below, for "Generic Way to Privatize Data". You will both privatize and generate your data in a GEDCOM file during this process. It should take you less than 10 minutes to do this, for a reasonably-sized database.
2. Go to the my-ged.com
publishing page. (This site is described more fully in
a subsequent section on this page, under "Web servers/sites that will host
your data".) Click on the "emailing the author" link there.
He will ask for 4 things: your GEDCOM file (created in step #1), your name,
your site title (usually "Smith [or whatever your surname is] Family Genealogy
Site"), and your site text (can be as simple as "This site lists descendants
of John Smith of Virginia").
It should take you about a minute to fill in this information.
3. Wait for the email confirmation from the my-ged.com site. This will give you a password which you will use later as you want to make further updates to your site. Until then, you're done!
For those of you who want to get more sophisticated than this, keep
reading, and I'll go over all the other possibilities you have for publishing
While the "10 minute" method shown above actually generates a pretty good genealogy web page, some of you may be interested in more advanced choices for creating a web page. From the "Steps to Publishing your info on the Web" section above, Step 1 was to plan ahead. Assuming you have done that, now you are ready for the next steps, generating your data and privatizing it.
Assuming you are using a Genealogy program to store your data, you will use the program to generate the data in a format suitable for web pages. The generated data should also be privatized (have living people deleted). Following are the general choices for generating and privatizing data:
1. Generate your data as a GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunications) file. GEDCOM is a standard format recognized in the genealogy community, and many genealogy web sites expect a GEDCOM file as the data file to be used for the web site. In this case, you would use a genealogy program to produce a GEDCOM file, and then optionally run a separate privatizing program. (All the privatizing programs expect GEDCOM files as input to the program.) The GEDCOM file would then be given directly (via your web browser or via email) to the web site.
As a side note, a GEDCOM file is just a text file with a predefined, standard format. Although few people will ever need to do so, you can actually view/edit a GEDCOM file in a text editor/word processor. For the more ambitious who want to know more about the GEDCOM standard, visit this link.
2. While many genealogy-specific web sites expect a GEDCOM file for the site, more general web sites expect HTML (HyperText Markup Language) files. HTML is the filetype used for web pages. This page that you are reading is an HTML file. Some genealogy programs can directly produce HTML output instead of GEDCOM output.
3. Another way to produce HTML file(s) is to first generate a GEDCOM file with your genealogy program (as in step 1 above). Then you would run one of several 3rd party programs which will accept GEDCOM files and convert them to produce HTML files as output.
4. Just about all genealogy programs can produce at least text if not Word Processor (Word or Word Perfect) output in the form of various types of reports. Having done generated Word Processor output, both Word and Word Perfect have a "Save As" option under the File menu. Choose this and then select HTML as the file type.
5. You can generate your own HTML with an HTML Editor. There are both free and more sophisticated commercial HTML editors around, that require no knowledge of the underlying HTML language in order to produce web pages.
Which of these options should you choose? Well, hopefully you figured that out as part of the "Plan Ahead" step! In the case of HTML files you are directly producing (via choices 2, 3, and 4 above), you can also experiment to decide what you like best. Try using each of the choices above, if they are available to you, then look at the output yourself and decide which you like best. You don't have to actually put your file(s) on a web site to do this. Having generated the HTML file(s) on your computer, use your web browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, or whatever) to view the file(s) - this will generally be under the File menu, choose Open, then Browse to get to your HTML file.
Following are more details on doing each of these steps.
This section discusses how to generate a GEDCOM file. Several genealogy web sites expect a GEDCOM file as the data for the web site. There are also programs (to be discussed in a later section) which will accept a GEDCOM file and produce HTML files. To run these programs, you must first produce the GEDCOM file, which is the subject of this section.
This section also discusses how to privatize the data in a GEDCOM file. Some Genealogy programs have the ability to privatize data before or during the production of the GEDCOM file. There are also separate programs which can be run on a GEDCOM file to privatize it. Both methods are discussed in this section.
Following is a "generic" way to privatize data, followed by some specific
genealogy programs and their ways of generating and privatizing GEDCOM
The idea is, find the oldest ancestor in your family file. Then generate a GEDCOM that includes only him/her and a certain # generations of his descendants. As a general guideline, allow about 35-40 years per generation. E.g., I have a family file where the oldest ancestor was born about 1700. I find that if I include up to 7 generations, it cuts off all the living people. But if I allow an 8th generation, it includes a few living people.
Here is how to do this, using Family Tree Maker as an example. (We'll still look at FTM's specific privatizing features below, in the next section.)
In FTM, navigate back to the oldest ancestor in your file. Then click on the Outline Descendant Tree report. On the right of the screen, find the icon for "number of generations to show", and change it as outlined above. You probably want to spent a couple minutes quickly scanning the output on the screen. If, e.g., you set 7 generations, look at the 7th generation of the report for the various family lines, and note birth/death dates. Are the living people cut off? If you find a line where you don't have any dates at all in the 7th generation, look back at the 6th generation. If the parents in the 6th generation were born before about 1860, then the children were almost certainly born before 1900 and are not living. Based on a perusal of this output, decide if you need to adjust your number of generations.
When you are done, generate the GEDCOM. In FTM, go to the File menu, and select "Copy/Export Individuals in Outline Descendant Tree". Select a GEDCOM type of file, select your file name, click "ok" a couple times, and you are done!
All genealogy programs that I have seen offer a descendant tree which you can use to figure out how many generations to include. There may not be a specific GEDCOM selection for "Copy/Export Individuals in Outline Descendant Tree", but generally you can do this another way. E.g., in Legacy, click on File / Export to GEDCOM. In the window that pops up, click on Record Selection, then in the next window, click on "Selected records in the Focus Group", then click on "View / Set Focus Group". Click on "Add an Individual and Descendants", and on the next window, you can set the number of generations for the Export.
FTM (6.0 & later versions) has a Privatize function to protect living people. To use it, select File / Preferences / Privatize, and in the window that comes up check the box for "Privatize information". This is used just before producing a GEDCOM. Unfortunately, it is very limited in functionality. For people with a birth but no death date, FTM assumes that people under age 120 are still living. Personally, I don't believe that anyone in my files over age 100 is still living. But there is no way to change the "privatize" age from 120 to anything else.
It is unclear to me exactly how FTM treats people with no birth or death date listed. In several cases in my database, I know that a set of parents were born in the 1800s, but I don't have birthdates for any of their children. In such cases, FTM appears to take into account birth/marriage dates of the parents to decide whether the children may be living or not. But FTM does not publicize what the exact criteria is for this. Thus, if there are people that you are confident are dead (and thus want them listed), but do not have any specific dates for, you have to go in and enter SOMETHING into birth/death fields (i.e. either enter died "before 2003" or enter a birthdate that would put them at least 121 years old). This will get very tedious to do if you have very many such people in your file.
A more serious concern I have is that FTM replaces living people's detailed info such as Birthdates with the word "Private", but it does not delete them entirely from the database. Thus, you can still find someone's mother's maiden name. There is apparently no way to delete such people from reports (or from a GEDCOM export) entirely.
Because of these limitations (especially the last one just above), if
you are using FTM, I strongly suggest using a 3rd-party Privatizing program
in conjunction with any web publishing you do.
FO produces a GEDCOM via File / GEDCOM / Export GEDCOM.
However, there is no explicit way to "Privatize" data during the export.
(FO can Privatize data in conjunction with generating HTML directly - see
the later section "Generating/Privatizing HTML Output With a Genealogy
Program" - but it cannot Privatize data in conjunction with producing a
GEDCOM). So I suggest using a 3rd-party Privatizing program in conjunction
In addition to having birth and death date fields, Legacy maintains a "Living" field/tag (visible by bringing up the Edit screen for a person). This field is automatically set to "No" if a death date is listed. Otherwise, Legacy relies on the birthdate to give a default value for "Living". You can edit the "Living" field, thus providing the ability to include or exclude someone from being published without having to explicitly enter a fake birth/death date, as you had to do in FTM.
Legacy provides even more flexibility in dealing with Living tags. Legacy by default will assume that someone with a birth but no death date is dead if they would be > 120 years old. But under Options / Customize / Other tab, there is a "Presumed Dead" section where you can change the 120 value to whatever you want. Change the value and click on Apply, and Legacy will update all the Living tags in your whole database.
There is also a "Set Living" utility in Legacy. The following comes from Legacy's help information:
To summarize, Legacy provides a Living field/tag for each person, editable in several ways and with a changeable value for how old a "Living" person is. This field can used in GEDCOM exports to delete all information about Living people and even change their name to "Living". Legacy thus provides privatizing features vastly superior to FTM and FO. However, even with all Legacy's features, there are a few quirks like having the name "Living" appear all over your data that may make a 3rd party Privatizing program worth considering.
TMG produces a GEDCOM via File / Data set / Export / GEDCOM. You can suppress information about living people during the export; in the sample GEDCOM "report", under Report Definition, on the Options menu, click on "Suppress details for living people".
TMG is similar to Legacy in providing a Living field/tag which appears on the right side of the screen in the Person view of each person in the database; this tag is used when the "Suppress details..." option is chosen.
However, TMG does not appear to be as sophisticated as Legacy for actually filling in the value of the Living tags. Unlike Legacy, TMG DOES NOT ASSIGN ANY DEFAULT VALUE TO THE LIVING TAG. Rather, the Living tags are all set to a '?' value until you explicitly fill them in. Suppose that you started with a program like Family Tree Maker, built up a database, and then eventually decided to move to TMG, so you imported all your data from FTM to TMG. Even with TMG's Genbridge import feature (touted as being vastly superior to a GEDCOM import), TMG will not fill in the Living flag during or after an import (i.e. based on birth and death, or lack of death, info). The Living tag for all people will be marked "?", and it can take many, many hours, depending on the size of your data, to go through every record and mark this tag appropriately. Wherease Legacy offered several tools to make it easy to set the Living tag for your whole database, TMG does not appear to offer any such features.
Another area where TMG appears to be limiting is that the "Suppress details" option does exactly what it says - it suppresses details (such as birthdate), but it does not delete the person entirely from the export. I believe that such deletion can be done in the Focus menu of the GEDCOM Report Definition. One should be able to use this to Filter out (i.e. delete from the export) people whose Living tag = "Y". (I have not tried this to verify that it works. Even it it works, it is certainly not as easy to use as having a box to check to suppress living people.) Keep in mind that this would require all the Living tags to be filled in correctly, which can be a problem, as just discussed.
In summary, TMG provides a Living tag which can theoretically privatize
data, but the lack of any easy way to set this tag for one's whole database
makes the tag almost unusable in my opinion.
If you are not satisfied with how your Genealogy Program suppresses living people, another option is to create your GEDCOM file and then find a 3rd-party program to scan it and delete living people.
PRICE: GEDClean is free, but they offer another version of it for $10 that they say has more features.
I found a significant problem with the option it provides for completely deleting people. Apparently the program does not process people whose birthdate is blank, even if they are the children of other living people (and thus should be deleted). For example, suppose that someone was born in 1950 (with no death date) - the program will correctly assume he is living and delete him. But if he has children without any birth/death info, the program will retain the children! Thus, the program will leave these living people in the database. Until this is fixed, in my opinion this is not really usable as a program for deleting living people.
PRICE: When you exit GEDLiving, it displays the message "Register by sending $10 to ..." It isn't clear whether registration is supposed to be required or optional, but apparently it is the latter since I didn't see any 30-day demo countdown or any similar message.
This program goes beyond looking at each individual's information. It also takes into account relationships of other people in an effort to get a more complete idea of whether a person may still be living (which is important for people with blank birth information).
When I first tried an early version of this program a couple of years ago, it made mistakes in deciding which people to delete from my database. I emailed the author of the program; he found a bug in his date processing, and within a few days he came up with a fix and updated his web page with a new version of his program. (I had tried version 1.5, and he came out with 1.6 to fix my problem. Currently 2.2, reflecting other improvements, is available on his web page.) I found the author extremely responsive to respond to my email and fix the problem. I now have many more people in my GEDCOM file than when I first used this program (~2300 vs ~400 people), and no other bugs have surfaced.
Because of the way this program analyzes relationships in the tree in order to determine whether people without any date information are living or not (whereas other programs typically do nothing if a person has no date information), I would say this program is a level above all the other similar programs I have tried.
The only minor disadvantageof GED2GO is that due to the complex analysis of relationships the program does, it takes longer to run. When I first tried GED2GO, it took about 45 seconds to run for a 2300-person GEDCOM file on a 350Mhz Pentium-II, whereas all the other programs ran essentially instantaneously. The author gives some tips in a README file for getting the program to run faster, if this is a concern. Recently, I ran the program on the same database on a 2.4GHz Pentium-4, and the same database took around 5 seconds. So with today's fast machines, this is no longer a real issue.
I consider GED2GO to be the best of all the privatizing programs. The superior functionality in analyzing relationships and in actually deleting people (instead of just deleting dates) make this my program of choice.
PRICE: Can try for free for 60 days. After this, must pay $8 to
get a registration key (which will also get rid of a couple of "Nag" screens).
Unfortunately this program does not offer the option to delete people entirely, so mother's maiden names are still available in the output database.
PRICE: According to the author's web page, Res Privata is free for all except commercial/corporate use.
I didn't have the patience to wade through GEDClean's prompting for all of my people that didn't have birth info, and I didn't want to pay $10 just to try out the more advanced version. So I didn't evaluate this program any farther.
GEDLiving claims to entirely delete people from a database, but for my data it did a poor job of deciding which people to delete.
Res Privata did a good job for my database of deciding which people's info to mark as private, but they will not delete an entire individual - only the date information.
If anyone knows of any other similar program which you think deserves
mentioning here, please email
me and let me know.
My recommended way for Privatizing data is to export a GEDCOM file via
your genealogy program. Then use GED2GO to Privatize the GEDCOM file.
You then have several options (including importing back into your regular)
genealogy program to operate on the GEDCOM file and produce final output
destined for a website.
If you have a general web site, you may need to produce HTML output instead of GEDCOM output.
The main way to create web pages is to go to Internet / Create Web Pages.
This brings up a window where you can customize many things about your
- You can produce different web pages styles including Descendant, Ancestor, and Pedigree;
- You can give a title, summary, your name, email address, and other specific information to be put on the pages;
- You can customize the style of the surname list on the pages;
- From the "Other" tab, you can check boxes to Suppress details for living people and to change their actual names to the word "Living" (just as you could to when exporting from Legacy to a GEDCOM).
The result is a set of pages that looks similar to a descendant or ancestor report, but with extra pages for various indexes, all which have clickable links for each person shown. On the whole, a nice looking set of web pages!
Legacy does have another way to create web pages. Legacy can output most of their regular reports to an HTML file, as an alternative to output to a text or rich-text file or printer. Since Legacy does not generate most of the fancy graphical-style reports such as fan charts (but rather requires purchase of an add-on program for $20 to $30 to get those kinds of reports), the main reports coming from Legacy itself that you will probably want to output are the Books (Ancestor, Descendant, or Descendant narrative). I was disappointed to see that while suppressing Living people's information is an option when producing a GEDCOM file or a Web Page (in the above method), it is not an option when producing output in the Book style reports. The only way I can figure out to suppress living people in HTML-produced Legacy Book style reports is to first use Legacy to produce a GEDCOM, then import the GEDCOM back into Legacy, then produce the real report you want. (If you decide to do all this, you may as well use GED2GO to privatize the GEDCOM before you read it back into Legacy.) The HTML output looks very similar to the report output on normal paper - except that when a person's parents, siblings, or children are shown, they appear as links that you can click on to go to that person's main entry in the file. The reports in HTML are nice, but you have to jump through too many hoops to get there. And there are no indexes as are generated using the Create Web Pages feature.
In summary, the best way to use Legacy for HTML is to use its Create
Web Pages feature. This produces a pretty nice website.
The output of FO's "Web site" is a set of HTML pages including a coverpage,
a surname list, an index, and a separate HTML file for each person in your
database which is essentially a compact family group sheet for this person
and his immediate family. The output has a nice appearance.
However, there were some things I did not like about FO's "Web site" output:
1. When you choose to suppress living people's data, it only suppresses dates, not the person entirely. So, the mother's maiden name still appears.
2. You can only see two generations at a time (i.e. a person with spouse, and their children) on a specific page within the site. This can make it hard to navigate around on a site where you are not familiar with the data that is presented there. I would prefer to see more generations per page.
3. Since a separate HTML file is generated for each person in your database, this can take up a lot of space, and you need an FTP client (or analogous software) capable of transferring an entire directory in order to upload all this to your website. Also, due to the large number of files it would be almost impossible to edit the HTML files produced by FO to customize them (unless you only wanted to edit the table of contents and/or index files).
I understand that for the new TMG 5.0, there is available an add-on
program called Second
Site (which costs $30 in addition to the cost of TMG itself).
I have seen a brief demo of it, and it looked pretty sophisticated.
I don't know specifically how it handles privatizing of data, but my educated
guess is that it is still base on TMG's Living tags.
Home Page Tutorial - Putting Surnames On-line - Gives a tutorial
about creating web pages. Its tutorial is a lot shorter than this
one, but sometimes conciseness is good. Includes sample web pages
created by various genealogy programs. Also includes links to GEDCOM-to-HTML
programs (compare with the list I show farther below) with sample pages
created by each of these.
Although most genealogy programs (except FTM) can generate some type of general HTML files for web pages, here is another approach. You can also generate web pages indirectly by going through a Word processor.
First, using the genealogy program, save your report to a Word Processor. TMG can output either Word or Word Perfect files via the Report option screen. Legacy can output a Rich Text File (.rtf) which can similarly be read by either Word or WP. FTM cannot directly output to a Word processor, but for most of its reports, having generated the report to the screen, you can use the Windows Copy/Paste (CTRL-C, CTRL-V) functionality to copy the report to the Windows Clipboard and then paste inside your Word Processor.
Once you have the report in your Word Processor, you can do any editing customizations you want. When finished, both Word and WordPerfect have options to Save As HTML. Now you will have a real HTML file that can be copied to your web site.
In some cases formatting can be lost when Saving As HTML from the Word
Processor, especially for reports that involve pictures or graphics.
But I was pleasantly surprised when I saved a FTM Hourglass/Fan chart;
Word took awhile when Saving As HTML, but when I brought the page up in
my Web Browser, it looked fine.
Why would one want to create a web page manually? Often the intent is to share general information with other researchers, outside the scope of what would be normally associated with family tree data in a genealogy program.
This link to my Kinchen site is a good example of a page that does this.
One can often produce/edit web pages using a regular word processor (e.g., MS Word or Corel WordPerfect). Under the File / Save option, one can save as Html, which is the format web pages are stored. You can also open Html pages, and in some cases the word processor will recognize web page features as you are editing. However, I personally don't find the Html features of word processors very intuitive to use. Also, depending on what version of a word processor you have and how it was installed, Html features may or may not be available. If your word processor doesn't have Html features, or if you find them clunky to use, consider an alternative:
I produced my above Kinchen page, and also the page you are reading now about publishing web pages, using Netscape Composer. This tool comes free as part of Netscape Communicator (i.e. it is part of the same set of programs that you get if you use Netscape Navigator for web browsing). I find this tool very easy to use. I type in what is wanted on the page, and the page will appear on the web (once it is transferred to a web page) just as it looks as within the tool.
For example: to create the above heading, go to the "Insert" tab at the top of the screen and insert a Table. For table properties: change to 1 row and 1 column, then for Table Background, click the box to the right of where it says "Use Color", and choose pink. Then type the text "6. Creating a web page manually" into the table. To make the text font, etc., look like the above heading, highlight all the text, and click on the arrow to the right of the font toolbar just above the page (where it probably says "Normal" currently). Change to "Heading 2". Then, with the text still highlighted, choose Format / Align / Center.
This is just an example of what you can do in Netscape Composer. You can create tables, links, and insert pictures.
Composer does have some limitations - it does not handle advanced features
this, see section #3 below, "Free web page editors", for other options.
Also, many of the free webhost providers have their own tools to create
web pages. Or you can buy a commercial program. Microsoft Front
Page is a popular commercial program for creating web pages.
Different web sites allow you to publish data in varying amounts and forms. Some of the varieties are:
1. Some sites simply let you register surnames you are working on, with
an email address to contact you. This can work well for uncommon
surnames, but if you register a surname like "Smith", be prepared to get
flooded with emails. Of course, it also depends on the scope of the
web site. E.g., if (hypothetically) Long County, GA, has a web site
that allows surname registry, and you know that all the "Smith's" in Long
County, GA are related to you, then you still might want to register this
surname on their site.
2. Some sites allow you to directly submit a GEDCOM file. Doing this is usually pretty straightforward.
3. Sites that provide aids to getting your data on a web site
4. Some sites assume that you have already published your data on some other web site, and allow you to in some manner add a link from their web site to yours. Look at sites from the previous category to get your data onto "some other web site" in order to link to it.
U.S. Gen Web Project - This includes a registry for surnames. You can register surnames (with your email address) on a state and in some cases on a county basis. There are also search engines on this site for searching other surname registry sites.
GA Gen Web Surname links - Gives links to several surname search engines. In most cases you can also add your own surnames, respond to bulletin board postings, etc.
GeneaNet - Genealogical Database Network - As the name suggests, this site maintains a set of databases which you can search or add you own submission to. They have an international flavor, with entries from France, Germany, etc (in addition to US of course). You can submit a GEDCOM or link to your own web site and submit a file with a list of surnames for indexing.
GenServ - Another collection of GEDCOM databases. They say they have over 15 million names in all their databases. It is an impressive-looking site, but you have to pay a $12 annual subscription fee for full searches. You can do some trial searches for free, but you don't get full access to the data without a subscription.
GED2HTML: A GEDCOM to HTML Translator - If you do want to create your own web site for your family tree data, this is a very useful program. It translates a GEDCOM file into a series of HTML pages, with an index. Follow this link to learn more about the program and download a FREE copy of it.
Comparison of GED2HTML programs - There are actually several different Gedcom-to-HTML translators. This site provides links to several of them, and it compares the size of the output generated. I haven't personally examined the output of all these different programs, but one thing to keep in mind: Size is not necessarily the only consideration in selecting a Gedcom-to-HTML program. For one thing, some of these programs (like the one I mention above) are customizeable. Obviously there will be default settings, but with (hopefully) most of these programs, you can change the defaults to vary things like the amount of output/generations/whatever shown on a single page, etc. Some programs may also display source info in different formats (or not at all). So I would *not* assume that a program is "better" just because it shows up as taking output less (or more) space according to this web page. Still, if nothing else, this page is nice just because of providing links to multiple translation programs. If you try one program and don't like how it styles the output, try another!
Genealogy Home Page Construction Kit - A subpage of "Cyndi's
List". This gives a detailed (but still easy to read) explanation
of what needs to be done to create your own genealogy web site. As
one would expect from any "Cyndi's" page, there is a long list of links
to other sites which provide tools, info, etc.
There is some commonality between my page here and Cyndi's page; e.g., she even gives some of the same links on her page that I have listed here. But one difference is that Cyndi simply lists each link, whereas I try to give an explanation of it. With some links, it takes some digging around on the site to figure out what its focus is, and how the site works. I'd like to save people time in understanding the site, and in some cases save people the trouble of visiting the site at all if it is not something they are interested in.
Cnet's Builder site for web building - This is a very comprehensive site for building a web site. They have some instruction for beginners, but the site is really geared more for intermediate to advanced web page builders. They have extensive tutorials on HTML, java, etc.
Free web page editors - Off the Builder site (see above), this suggests HTML editors for beginners. This is the last page of an article that compares more advanced (and not! free) editors. If you want to read the rest of the article, you should be able to go back to the beginning from this page.
Client Software - FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.
While a few web servers may have some sort of specialized interface, in
most cases you'll use FTP software in order to put your web page(s) onto
the web server. This link is to the GA location of the Tucows site,
directly to the FTP page. It gives quite a selection of commercial,
shareware, and freeware FTP clients.
WS-FTP Limited Edition(LE) - Of the many FTP clients available from the above page, this is the best one. It is free for non-commercial use, and has the most FTP features of any of the free programs.
Some web sites assume you have already created a web page with your data, and allow you to link from their site to yours. Use this site to easily create "your" web page so you can link to it from these other sites. The author of this site promises that you always own your data, he won't ever try to sell it, and you can even delete it altogether if you choose.
One other nice thing about this site is that when you publish (or update) your data here, it will automatically be sent to the Gendex (see #5 below) database. This saves you the trouble of doing this yourself. (Remember, once you have your data out there, you want others to be able to find it! If you have your own manually updated web site, don't forget to register your web page with one or more of the sites listed in #5 below.)
Even if you don't use the My-ged.com site to publish your data, you
should look to see the list
of pages already here - you might find a line you are working
One important consideration is, where are you going to get space on the web? Some Internet Providers give out free web space. That can be very convenient, but you have to be ready to move your site if you change Internet services. As an alternative, a lot of sites provide free web space, generally in exchange for having banner ad(s) on the site so they can make their money through advertisers.
Here are a couple of sites that give information on web hosts:
Free Webmaster Resources - Webhosting, scripts, tutorials, etc.
Free webspace Hosting and Website Providers
Search Google for free web hosts
Check out the above links. They give good discussions on issues involved in choosing a web host; they rate various web hosts and give a "top ten list"; etc.
Rootsweb - Through their "freepages" you can sign up for a free general website on which you can put both genealogy and non-genealogy information. I have a personal site on rootsweb's freepages, and am very happy with rootsweb as a host. (The gencomputer.org site is also hosted on rootsweb; although as a non-profit genealogy organization, we get preferred treatment, such as more available space, compared to a personal site.)
Once you have chosen a web host, you will then have to generate your data and put it there. This page has given a wealth of information on how to do that.
For putting your data onto the site, see the "FTP Client Software" above. Also, many of the free webhost providers have their own tools to put data to the site.
The best advice on using a free web host is that almost all of them provide pages for Help, FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), Q&A User Forums, etc. They will typically give straightforward instructions on how to create a username/password to get your own site, what the exact URL (i.e. path on the web) will be, how to create/edit a web page, including free tools if they have them, and how to put/change your data onto your site.
For an example of the general process, when I was initially creating
the GCSGA website, I picked xoom (which no longer exists as a web host)
from the webhost comparison. I went to the xoom host and registered
for free to get a username/password. I used Netscape Composer to
create pages, and I used some pages from existing sites as a general guide
of what I wanted them to look like. I downloaded a free FTP client
program from the FTP list farther above, and I used instructions from xoom's
FAQ page to enter the hostname, username, & password into the FTP program.
I used the FTP program to transfer my pages to the xoom site, and voila,
our group had a website! It took me a few days to actually create
the pages I wanted, but it only took a few minutes to log in and transfer
my pages to the website.
Since the original creation of my site, I have changed webhosts a couple of times, and in each case it only took me a few minutes to get up and running on a new host. Finding a site that allows FTP transfers is important for consistency - if you change to a new site that allows FTP transfers, you can always use the same FTP program.
Gentree - online genealogical
database index - This site indexes many GenWeb type databases,
including Gendex. The relationship of this site to USGenWeb and Gendex
is a little confusing to me. I think if you submit to Gendex, ultimately
the Gentree author will add your database to his index (but I don't know
how long it takes).
The good things about this site are that it is free and seems to index a lot of databases. The bad thing is that there seems to be no search engine. You can do a "Find in Page" with your web browser to see if your surname is contained in the actual titles of the databases themselves. But if your surname is simply contained somewhere within a database, you apparently have to visit each database to determine this.
To submit a database, it is supposed to be already on the web and have its own index. The author has a list of several approved formats, including GED2HTML and creating your page by hand.
Design Software - Genealogy sites with Indexed databases - Includes a collection of family web pages and a search engine. You must already have a web page to submit info here.
Springboard - Although the search engine on this site is by
surname only, the basis for submission includes a link to your own web
page (along with a list of surnames). When you search for a surname
on this site, it returns a list of links submitted for the surname.
The author says that as of 1/1/99, this site had 1766 links and 9388 surnames.
Links - a list of links to genealogy databases
This is too involved a topic to fully discuss here. I will simply introduce this topic.
To use an example, our group's domain name is gencomputer.org. You can always get to our web site by typing this address into your web browser. The main advantages to having a domain name are:
1. You choose the name. You don't have to endure a name that may be long and complex and is partially chosen for you. For example, before getting the domain name, our group's original address on the web was http://members.xoom.com/gcsga - which is easier to remember, the long address, or simply gencomputer.org ?
2. You can change web hosts, and still keep the same domain name (which is what others use to get to your site). For example, our group's web host has changed several times, from xoom to nbci to netjunkto (at present) rootsweb. Once we got our domain name, we could change web hosts at will without having to circulate a new web address to the world if we moved. We can always be found via gencomputer.org , regardless of what our web host is.
To make the distinction, a web host is where one's web site is physically, i.e. where the actual files/content is stored. A domain name presents a convenient / shorthand name to direct people to a web site without knowing the web host. You can have a web site, on its web host, without having a domain name; a domain name just gives an easy-to-remember address to direct people to the site.
To learn more about this topic, and to get your own domain name, I will
suggest the site godaddy.com
- they offer domain names for $9 / year.
Once you have created your web page, and possibly an associated domain name, you will want to publicize it so other people can find it.
There is some good news about this. Some of this will be done for you. Most of the major web search engines, such as Google, have ways of automatically finding new web sites within a month or so of when they are built. If you browse to Google.com and type in "genealogy Smith" (or whatever your surname is), you will hit probably thousands of pages. Most of these pages have not done anything to get linked inside Google, but Google is smart enough to do it automatically.
Having said that, here are a few other ideas:
Submit your link to Cyndi's list - Her site is one of the most visited genealogy sites of all.
Go to genforum, find your
surname in the "Surnames" section, and then post a message that tells people
about your wonderful website.
Likewise, go to the Ancestry surnames section, find your surname, and post a message there.
Add your site to the RootsLink registry. This registry is maintained by Rootsweb. You can register your site even if it is not hosted on Rootsweb.
Finally, see above for "Sites that Assume you already have your data on the Web". These are genealogy sites where generally you give a link from their site to yours.