Sharing Family Tree Information

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Gathering information about present and previous members of your family has become quite popular. A whole industry has grown around family research and recording, aided by the internet and a number of commercial interests.

Storage methods vary. Many folk are quite happy to have a supply of index cards in a shoe box. Others prefer some computerised method, and there are relatively inexpensive software programs available to fill that role.

For many people, that is enough. They may not want to broadcast or even share what they know. But there are others who do want to share - as much to tell others what they have discovered as to seek help in correcting misinformation that might have crept in. The thought begins - could this be shared via the web? And how would you make web pages?

One way of achieving this is through commercial channels. You will be offered space to upload your data. At that point, most commercial channels then claim your data as their own, and in giving them the data you give them the right to charge for other people to view it. As well, you might find that you no longer have any editing rights, so any errors or omissions cannot be amended. Among serious researchers, these sites are known for their errors, not their facts.

Or you could do it yourself. This has many pluses and a few minuses.

The two main pluses are that you are in control - you can add or subtract facts as you discover them (and family trees are never static). And then you can control who has access to your data, if you wish, so you can protect privacy.

The main minus is that you have to learn a few new tricks!

This takes us into the world of hosting - where you contract with a supplier to sell you some web space and some software to help create useful things in that space.

If you would prefer to experiment at home first, you can set up your own server - see the wiki items at.

If you want you could also register a domain, so that your hosted site is personalised. But that's not essential.

The New Tricks

The online process is simplicity itself. You create a database to hold the data, and you have some scripts to take the data and deliver it to the world in a presentable format.

The data and the scripts live in the hosted web space, so there are a few things you will need to learn to help manage them.

The data comes from direct entry - you type it into the database - or you import it from the program you use at home on your computer.

You don't need to create any web pages - the scripts create them on the fly. And if there is a change in the data - someone dies or a baby is born - you amend the data and the web pages recreate themselves to reflect these changes. If there was one strong reason to use an online system, that is it.

To Whet Your Appetite

There are a number of application offerings - the main two being webtrees and The Next Generation (TNG).

webtrees is at, where there is a demo - or a showcase to see how others use it. webtrees is free.

TNG is at and again, there are examples. TNG is about AU$30.