Creating Web Sites

This tutorial explains how to turn your genealogy data into a web site suitable for distribution and/or publication on the web.

Create a web site

You can create a web site for your entire genealogy file with the following simple steps:

  1. Open your file in GEDitCOM II
  2. Choose "Create Web Site" from the Scripts menu
  3. You will be asked where to save the web site files. Choose any folder on your disk and click "Choose"
  4. Next you will be asked if you want to "Use" the default export settings or to "Customize" them. If you choose "Customize," the following options appear:
    • "Honor" or "Ignore" privacy settings: you can set restriction of individuals to "privacy". If you "Honor" those settings most personal details of those individuals will be omitted from the web site. If you "Ignore" them, all details will be in the web site.
    • Choose notes to include: You can set distribution for any notes record to "Anyone", "Family," or "Owner." Using this option you can "Include All," "Omit 'Owner'," (i.e., include only "Anyone" and "Family," notes), "Omit 'Owner' and 'Family'," (i.e., include only "Anyone" notes), or "Omit All."
    • Choose multimedia images to include: this option is the same and previous option for notes but follows distribution settings for multimedia object records.
  5. Here is a sample of the type of web site created by this process (click "Name Index" to see main entry page of the sample site).

The web site will be created in the folder you selected in step #3 in a new folder named "GC Site #" (where the number will be used only if needed to give the folder a unique name). For large files, it might take a while to create the entire site. The scripting progress window in GEDitCOM II will display the percentage completed as the script proceeds (unfortunately, due to the way MacOS runs scripts, you cannot stop it once started, other than to force quit GEDitCOM II). When the web site is done it will open in the application Safari and you can browse the results.

The above process is done by the script "Create Web Site" that is installed when GEDitCOM II is installed. If for some reason it is not in your scripts menu, you can download the latest version of the script here.

Create a web site for only selected records

The "Create Web Site" script described above always creates a web site for all the records in the file. You may prefer, however, to have a smaller or more focused web site displaying only selected records. For example, you might want a web site for all descendants of a particular individual. To get such a web site:

  1. Export selected records to a GEDCOM file (see the tutorial on this export procedure. Hint: you can skip the extra steps for including multimedia in the export because, unlike other genealogy applications, GEDitCOM II will find all multimedia for any exported file).
  2. Open the exported GEDCOM file in GEDitCOM II.
  3. Follow the above process to create the web site.

Alternative web sites

The "Create Web Site" script described above only creates one style of web site. If you are satisfied with the result, you can continue to use it. If you prefer something different, you have numerous options:

  1. Web site creation is controlled by the AppleScript called "Create Web Site". This script can be opened and edited by any GEDitCOM II user — meaning you can customize exactly what is in the web site. See the tutorial on customizing this script for details on what can be customized easily and what can be done with more effort.
  2. If you are a proficient AppleScript programmer, you can start from scratch and write a new script to create any style web site you want.
  3. Since GEDitCOM II can repackage all records (or selected records) as a GEDCOM file (including multimedia objects), you can always export your data and then use some third party tool to create the web site. Some options are:
    • GEDitCOM 3.82 - the predecessor to GEDitCOM II, called GEDitCOM 3.82, also created web sites using its own scripting language, called "Export Styles." You can thus open the exported GEDCOM file in GEDitCOM 3.82 and then export using one of its two web site styles. Here are samples of its Standard Website and its Pedigree Website. Note: even if you do not have a registered copy of GEDitCOM 3.82, its download demo lets you export web sites without registering.
    • PhpGedView - This tool is an interesting web project for posting and editing GEDCOM files on the web. Now setting up this system yourself is a challenging task and requires server access that most people will not have. There are webs sites, however, that will host your files in a PhpGedView web site (for a fee). You will have to provide such a web site host with your GEDCOM file and multimedia files. You can prepare those files as explained in the tutorial on exporting GEDCOM files. Note: GEDitCOM II has a special export option for working with PhpGedView web sites. When exporting, be sure to select the "PhpGedView Style Records" option in the "Multimedia" menu.
    • Ged2Html - Various free tools are available on the Internet for turning GEDCOM files into web sites. We have no experience in these tools, but they are an option. The one cited here, Ged2Html, has been around for many years, but has not been updated recently and does not come with much support. You are own your own, but such tools are available.
    • Other Genealogy Software - If you have other genealogy software that can create web sites, you can import the GEDCOM file and create a web site with those tools.
    A constant challenge when working with GEDCOM files is smoothly including multimedia files. Web sites created in GEDitCOM II or in GEDitCOM 3.82 will include all multimedia. By using the custom "PhpGedView Style Records" option when working with PhpGedView, you should be able to get multimedia working there too. You may have more trouble if you use Ged2Html (or similar) or use other genealogy software.

Publishing web sites/Privacy issues

GEDitCOM II creates html files for a web site, but does not (yet) have an option to publish them to the web. You have several options for publishing:

If you do publish your results on the web, you should provide contact information and you should pay attention to privacy issues. The contact information is so that people visiting your web site can contact you if needed. They may be long-lost relatives and just want to get in touch. They may be other genealogists that can provide you with new information. Or they may be people listed on your web site who object to their name being on the Internet. For all of these possibilities, your web site should have contact information.

The web site created by the "Create Web Site" script automatically places contact information on the main entry page for the web site. The contact information is read from the main submitter record in your file. Thus, before creating the web site you should open the main submitter record and enter you name and email address. If you optionally enter a phone number, it will be placed on the web site too. If you have more than one submitter record, you can find the main submitter by opening the Header record and clicking the link to open the main submitter record.

For privacy reasons, you should never include important personal identity information for living individuals (e.g., social security numbers, which are omitted by default by the "Create Web Site" script) and you might want to omit sensitive information on living individuals as well (e.g., birth and marriage dates). The "Create Web Site" script helps in the task by looking for "Privacy" settings on individual records. For any record marked as "Privacy" the web site will include the person's name, parents, spouses, and children, but it will omit all dates, places, events, notes, and multimedia files. Thus, before creating a web site, go through your individual records and use the Tree→Attach→Restriction... menu command to restrict all individuals you want treated as described above as "Privacy" records. Note: the addition of privacy options to the "Create Web Site" script is recent; if your version does not recognize privacy records, simply download and use the lastest version of the script.

Web sites created by other tools may not automatically include your contact information and likely will not respect privacy settings. You should add contact information to such web sites before publishing on the web. For privacy issues, you may need to edit the files and remove sensitive information before creating web sites using non-GEDitCOM II tools.