Webmaster’s Guide to TNG


I’ve had several inquiries from fellow geneabloggers about a product called TNG – The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding over the past few weeks and I have to admit my own interest has been piqued as well.

Why A Website For Your Genealogy Research?

One of the best ways to get family members involved with your own genealogy research is to have a website where they can visit and view information.  Many sites like Ancestry allow you to build a family tree online and others such as Geni let you upload a GED file exported from your own genealogy database and then let others contribute and connect.

In the past, I’ve simply used a program such as GED2Web which converts your exported GED format file to a series of HTML pages.  You can see the result at my personal genealogy site.  While it is rich in information, there are no graphics, no source citations, etc.  It also lacks that “oomph” needed to engage and encourage family members.

What is TNG?

If you’ve ever wanted to create a website based on your genealogy research, TNG is one option besides using online collaborative family tree websites.  A recent press release from TNG states:   

“Unlike conventional desktop genealogy programs that build Web sites by converting GEDCOM files to HTML Web pages and then uploading all of the pages to a Web server, TNG allows users to upload a single GEDCOM file to a database hosted on a server. Web pages are then rendered dynamically based on requests by site visitors. Using cutting-edge technologies, the data is easily packaged for fast and efficient display including individual pages, family pages, family trees, media galleries, specialty reports, and more. More importantly, when the data changes – such as when you locate additional family members or extend the knowledge about your families – you do not need to regenerate all of the Web pages from the GEDCOM file and then re-upload them. You or your designated site users can modify the data directly in the database.”

TNG Features

Of interest to me are two features:

Security:  I may want a general welcome page and then only allow family members or fellow researchers access to the actual data via login credentials.

Collaboration:  I want to encourage others in my family to contribute photos and information to any website containing my research.  One drawback of online collaborative sites is the data residing on their servers and not on my own.  Another drawback is capturing contributions from family members and making sure I have the data available to me as I need it.

An entire list of TNG 7.0 features can be viewed here.


TNG By The Book

If you are unfamiliar with TNG or if you currently have TNG and you want to master its possibilities, there is a new book by John Pfost entitled Webmaster’s Guide to TNG 7.0: From Novices to Experts.

The book is meant as a companion to using TNG to create a “custom, feature-rich, expandable, secure, and collaborative family history Web site.”   So whether you own TNG and need to get a leg up on its vast capabilities, or you are thinking about TNG, Webmaster’s Guide to TNG 7.0: From Novices to Experts is a useful resource.

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If you’ve considered using TNG or building your own family website, take a moment to visit the links above.  You can also visit various user sites which have been created using TNG.   And I’d be interested in any feedback from our Geneablogger readers.

Thomas MacEntee

Cite Right – A Source Citation Initiative

I am trying to avoid the label “controversy” which has cropped up with the discussion of whether or not genealogy blogs merit consideration by genealogists – amateur and professional.  But I do think that as a group we can capitalize on this issue and turn it into a positive especially for those that are new to searching for their family history.

First, I’ve created a feed in the sidebar called Cite Right which will list recent posts by Geneablogger blogs dealing with source citation.

Second, I for one would like to see the discussion continue on the topic of why blogs are important to the genealogy community as well as whether or not to display source citations in your blog posts.  I am not sure if setting up a forum/bulletin board would be best for this or just to allow comments in this and other posts.

Third, what would be a nice outcome when all is said and done? As I’ve stated before, it would be most valuable to newbies to have several “guides” which harness the expertise and experience of our members.  There is no reason why we can’t have a Geneabloggers Guide To . . . series which helps introduce the amteur genealogist to various aspects of genealogy.  Keep in mind that come April 20, 2009 with the premiere of the series Who Do You Think You Are on NBC, we may very well see an uptick in traffic to many genealogy blogs from people seeking ways to trace their roots using the Internet.  Having one or more of these guides available would make a nice welcome.

Genealogy Blogs – A Bad Source?

Over at Genealogy and Family History there is a post entitled 5 Bad Genealogy Sources which, in my opinion, expresses some generalities about blogs which are, simply put, irresponsible.

In mentioning various sources of genealogy information, including wikis, personal websites, historical novels and movies, the author makes this statement about blogs:

“Just like personal websites, blogs are a good source of unreliable information simply because anyone who can type and use the internet can make a blog site. And since the credentials of most bloggers are questionable especially when it comes to history, blogs will provide no help in your genealogy research. So when looking for a historical account, stay away from blog sites.”

I’d like to invite the author – whose own blog post conveniently has comments disabled – to take a look at many of our over 367 blogs and then perhaps recouch his or her statement.  

Among our genealogy bloggers we have some who actually cite their original sources for blog posts about their families or research that they’ve performed. We also have many bloggers that specialize in very specific areas of genealogy and offer information that, while perhaps not appropriate as a cited source, can help break down a researcher’s brick wall or give them a jump start on their research.

I think Genealogy and Family History does not serve the genealogy community well by ignoring the growth of Web 2.0 technology usage in the genealogy community.  Irresponsible statements, such as the one posted on March 29th, only serve to misinform amateur genealogists and others new to the family history field and lead them to believe that only “traditional” methods of genealogy research are acceptable.  As many of us have stated previously, Internet-based research is not a substitute but a supplement to the more traditional (archive  and library-based) methods of research.