One of the main purposes of the VOGT Family TreeHouse is to share genealogy information with family members and other researchers looking for connections. The old VOGT Family TreeHouse web site had a lot of genealogical information just as this one does, but it also used an interactive GEDCOM viewer called the GenViewer JAVA Applet, written by Chris Stillwell, to allow visitors to navigate the various family trees visually and see how the connections were made. It’s a great little tool, and works well, but it requires that people have JAVA installed on their machine, and that’s becoming less common since Microsoft and Sun had their little JAVA spat a few years ago, resulting in the removal of JAVA from the default Windows browser installation. So now people have to explicitly go seek out the JAVA runtime module from Sun Microsystems and install it before the GenViewer tool will work. For geeks like me, that’s no big deal and probably already done, but for 99.99% of the web-surfing population, it’s not.
If I had to guess, I’d have to say the GenViewer tool generated over half of all the email queries coming from the web site; people having trouble getting it to run, or not understanding what JAVA is and how to obtain/install it. Now, I’m a nice guy and I help a lot of family and friends keep their computers running up to snuff, but I’m not too excited about running an email TECH SUPPORT service for strangers who barely know how to cut and paste from one window to another, never mind downloading and installing a browser plug-in! 😉
Enter The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding(c) (or “TNG” for short).
Darrin Lythgoe (the author of TNG) has produced a unique genealogy tool that a web site owner uploads and installs on a web server (not just any web server, though, it has to support MySQL and PHP – more on that later).
The web site owner then uploads his genealogy information (in GEDCOM format) to the web server. Unlike most web pages built for genealogy purposes, the data is not stored as static web pages. Instead, it is stored in a relational database on the web server, and the web pages are generated “on the fly” when a visitor visits the web site by special database scripts embedded in the web page. The genealogy information is stored in MySQL database tables and dynamically displayed using PHP (a scripting language).
You can also enter data manually, if you prefer, and there are provisions for tracking and merging sources, photos, history narratives, cemeteries, and headstones into the database. Plus, it’s possible for visitors to submit corrections, changes, and additions to the web owner, which can be scanned for validity and be added (or not) to the database. In short, it’s a fairly full-featured genealogy program that runs on a web server (instead of your personal machine) and is accessible (at least for viewing) by everyone on the web.
Quoting from the web site:
“The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding(c) (“TNG”) is a powerful way to manage and display your genealogy data on the Internet, all without generating a single page of HTML. Instead, your information is stored in MySQL database tables and dynamically displayed in attractive fashion with PHP (a scripting language).”
Well, I’m experimenting with TNG, and so far I really like what I’m seeing. I’m not done tweaking and customizing the program (that’s the beauty of a web-based tool like this – if you know databases, scripting, and web design, you can make the tool look like and do pretty much anything you want), and I need to massage my primary database some more to protect personal information for living (or possibly living) individuals, but it’s looking good. Watch for announcement here in the near future!
Crazy weather we’re having at the VOGT Family TreeHouse. Buds are popping up in the front garden already! Since it’s only mid-January, those poor buds are going to get a rude surprise fairly quickly, I think!