the author initially realised the value of putting a family tree on
the web to share with remote family but more importantly to attract
unknown distant relatives and their knowledge, the way to go about
it was to create a website. In 1994 this was done. I am not sorry
that this was the only avenue available as I retain full control over
all management aspects.
Today it is possible to present all of the above without the need
to enter into the complications of having a site of your own and a
variety of organisations have set up sites just for this purpose.The
main problem is that the third party website retains ultimate control
of your data and in some cases will claim ownership of your records.On
the positive side the issues of owning a website are someone else's
problem and you can get on with family history.
If you are looking to go down this pathway, then some considered thinking
about the issues should be engaged before taking the final step.
Before considering such an option look at all the sites offering this
feature and evaluate their offerings so that you select the one most
appropriate to your needs.
• some of these websites are free, some offer a restricted
free service while others require a subscription.
• some offer free trials.
• they all have useful publishing tools.
• a few include all the individual research tools, options
and reports you would expect if you purchased a program for your
• some allow you to cull sensitive data before you upload.
• most allow data to be entered either record by record
or else as a bulk data upload using a gedcom file exported from
your own program.
If you decide to publish information, ensure there are no references
to living people.
If you are looking to exchange information, then you need to consider
the level of sharing you want to engage in as it is possible with
some applications to share just some of your findings with some
of your branches. You can sometimes elect whether the new information
is posted automatically or whether the other person needs to contact
you with the additional details.
One of the major positive advantages of using such facilities is
that they act as an off-site backup to your records. It is inevitable
that our hard disk will fail at some time and such a facility provides
you with added security. Some of the online programs will maintain
file synchronicity, a very useful feature in these circumstances.
While there are significant advantages in parking your family history
data on a remote website and even more advantages publishing it
to attract new material, please remember that Australians are minnows
in the Internet world and all the sites reviewed are dominated mainly
by Americans and therefore if your primary goal is to find out more
about your family per se, you may be better served trawling
though archives and libraries!
Different goals and purposes will determine whether an online
option will suit an individual researcher and the following are
the most popular such sites:.
Add data via forms site
located within Rootsweb and therefore now controlled by
Ancestry was the first free online database but it has
not kept pace with developments and users can access a limited number
of reports and can expect minimal control over the appearance of
their material. Regardless, it has a huge number of names available
for researchers and is well worth a visit, even if you decide not
to become involved. The ownership of data on Rootsweb is
no longer clear since acquired by Ancestry.
Add data individually or via gedcom
allows users to store genealogical information in public trees which
are available to all subscribers. Of all the sites that offer this
service, namely the ability to enter information person by person
or uploaded as gedcom files, this is one of the more user friendly
interfaces. There is an option for private trees that are only available
only to those nominated by the data owner. The downside is that
all data is owned by Ancestry.
In spite of a number of shortcomings, there is little doubt that
this is the #1 site in this collection although its aggressive marketing
probably has a lot to do with this as it is neither cheap nor strong
on reliable data!.
Reunited the largest UK site, allow users to enter
information into their trees that can be uploaded as gedcom files
and can be viewed by other subscribers. New subscribers can test
the site for free by entering up to ten names. Non-subscribers can
check if there is information of interest but they cannot see all
the details or contact the owners of the data without paying a fee.
is a European-based website similar to Genes Reunited.
One can also publish an online family tree, by sending a gedcom
file to the site, or by managing the family tree directly on the
LostCousins offers a
similar service to Genes Reunited. LostCousins
identifies members who share the same ancestors by comparing the
information each member has entered on their My Ancestors page.
It is the only genealogy websites that focuses on linking people
who share the same ancestors using a highly accurate automated matching
system that allows data to remain hidden.
developed in 2005 by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy handles
information in a Wiki format customised for genealogists, that is,
allowing anyone registered to edit the entries already in place.
It is the largest freely licensed genealogy wiki and has almost
5 million wiki pages.The edits have to be positive and quality controls
ensure poor or wrong information is managed. All interested parties
are notified of changes. WeRelate allows users to upload
Php scripted sites
The script language known as php is a general-purpose language
originally designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages.
It is the scripting language that allows you to automatically post
your surname interests without any intervention by the host. It has
great potential in a number of family history activities. For example
you could post your family tree online using php and that would
allow visitors to the site to make corrections, changes and updates
without the need to go through you. Of course in this raw form things
could become quite chaotic and so some refinements such as only
allowing changes by approved people or subject to your consideration
would improve matters. These add-on features require complex programming
and therefore looking to other parties that offer such websites
and features is an advantage.
is a free widely-used genealogy program that embraces php
and so allows you to view and edit your genealogy on your website.
PhpGedView has full editing capabilities, full privacy
functions, can import from GEDCOM files, and supports multimedia
like photos and document images. PhpGedView also simplifies
the process of collaborating with others working on your family
tree. Your latest genealogy information is always on your website
and available for others to see. The currentPhpGedView
version is now quite dated.
is also a free open-source program that stores your data online.
As with The Next Generation, it is possible to make some
or all of the information visible to anyone on the internet or only
to nominated individuals. Unlike PhpGedView Webtrees program
is being kept up-to-date with the latest version being made available
in August 2011.
The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG) allows
dynamic generation of internet pages (created as required) from
records stored on a personal computer. Photographs and scanned documents
can be included as well as narratives about ancestors. Information
can be shared publicly, stored privately or even have specified
restrictions placed on only some parts of the data.
Social networking sites
founded in 2003 is one of the largest sites in the social networking
and genealogy field.
MyHeritage is able to automatically tag the faces of people
in photos that members upload onto their family pages. If the person
in the photo is in the family tree, then the software can also identify
them automatically. Another feature of the site is that it uses
a meta search engine, which searches its own database and queries
some 1500 other databases. Family Tree Builder (FTB) is
genealogy software provided by MyHeritage to create family
trees. The free download version is distributed as freeware, with
no restrictions and no registration is required to download the
software. Users may pay a fee to unlock the additional features
in the Premium version.
On the world scene this site ranks very highly in spite of being
very weak when it comes to support. Its strength has to be in its
social networking between users and supportive databases.
is what you would call a cooperative effort and this might not be
ideal for everyone. It is part of Facebook. This genealogy
search site allows everyone to combine their knowledge and data
into one gigantic database. The site’s one of a kind automatic
updating function makes it so you are not duplicating any work previously
done. It works by continually updating data as new matches are found.
As a member you would input your family information and the site
will do the rest An email notification is sent whenever a new match
is found. The site offers a 7 day free trail.
For similar reasons applying to MyHeritage this site ranks
highly too, although OneGreatFamily is limited to the information
that clients have submitted.