Online Genealogy Collaboration

My brother and I have been talking about expanding our family’s website to encompass our genealogy research, as well as to make it easier to share with other family members. This has been going on since last year, and we are just now getting around to it. What I have found is surprising, to say the least. There is a lot of good online genealogy software out there. I’m not talking about simply exporting your genealogy information to a web page format. I’m talking about true, real-time collaboration, that doesn’t require you to upload a new batch of files everytime you make changes or additions. They are database driven, don’t require a lot of know-how (most have clear instructions and a helpful community), some are even free, and, well, they are just plain cool. All you need is an evening, your own domain/hosting (domain names can run you around $9 a year, hosting $5 a month), and the ability to follow instructions.

The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding v5

    This is a commercial application, and perhaps the only commercial application of its kind. I mentioned a really neat site, not too long ago, and it runs off of this (the Kloosterman’s are going to love me, I might have caused a spike in their bandwidth usage twice in just a few weeks).

    The saying ‘You get what you pay for’ doesn’t apply here, because you get a lot more than what you pay for the software ($27). You get a very pro-active developer, who is constantly updating the software (not a month goes by that it’s not updated), listens to customer feedback, and will gladly provide support through personal email, their mailing list (which is very active), or their forums.

    You can view a demo here or view a list of sites running TNG here. TNG requires a php/MySQL setup (as mentioned, hosting providers can sell you this for as little as $4-$5 a mont)

The most popular free online genealogy interactive software would probably be PhpGedView. It might even be the most popular, period.

    Updated at the end of July, requires php/MySQL as well. Actively developed and a large and friendly community as well.

    Listing of 500+ sites running PhpGedView.


    Free, updated March of 2005.
    Example Websites
    Basically the same requirements as The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding and PhpGedView.

    Appears to be fairly popular as well, and actively developed.

There are two others applications (there are more, but not all of them appear to be active), Retrospect-GDS and Poplar Gedcom Viewer, that I haven’t really had a chance to look at. Retrospect-GDS is being actively developed, Poplar Gedcom Viewer may not be. Poplar Gedcom Viewer is just what it says – it doesn’t allow you to edit the information in realtime like the others, it just allows you to dynamically view it.

Most of them are secure (i.e. you can lock out people who are not authorized by you to view your genealogy information, or you can make it so that living people in your family tree have their details removed when seen by unauthorized viewers). The first three I mentioned have these features for sure.

Most of them allow for some kind of GEDCOM upload, so don’t worry, you won’t spend hours in agony over the keyboard typing everything in.

They also allow for GEDCOM generation, so that you can download GEDCOMs of the information to your own genealogy software.

Some of these sites, if you browse through them, you’ll find some hosting providers that specialize in these applications, if your worried about setting them up yourselves, but either way there is something very satisfying about having your own domain name and having an interactive family tree online.

2 thoughts on “Online Genealogy Collaboration”

  1. I recently purchased Darrin’s The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding© (“TNG”) program and installed it on my website: I changed the CSS to match my existing website theme and added web pages I wanted. It was very easy, which was great since I have no PHP or SQL language skills. Darrin was very prompt in answering any question I had. I would recommend this to anyone setting up a genealogy website that includes searchable records. It was easy to setup and looks great. Well worth the money. I chose web host It was the cheapest and I received 10 SQL databases. Their customer service is top notch.

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