Website Family Trees

I sent an email to four of the Lists that I belong to saying:

As part of the class that I am teaching called "Is YOUR family tree on the Internet?" I would like to be able to show my students different types of family trees on the Internet. So if you have one and would be willing to share the following details with me, I'd be delighted to hear from you:

1. URL
2. Programs used to produce
       (a) the tree
       (b) any other parts of the website
3. Things you like about these programs
4. Things that you do not like about them!
5. Method and program used to transfer your files to the website
6. Type of hosting used (eg Rootsweb Freepage)
7. Would you like feedback?

The 22 replies that I received demonstrate a wide range, both of computer "literacy" and of techniques used. I will start by giving my own answers to the questions and then the other replies follow. My thanks to all those who have helped.

2(a) The trees are drawn in Excel97 and converted to image files with PaintShopPro5, using Mapedit to add hotspots
2(b) The text pages are written in MS Word97 and saved as HTML files; Excel97 is used for tables; PaintShopPro5 for images. I then use Internet Explorer and NotePad/WordPad to edit the HTML
3. Able to draw trees as you wish and they cannot be searched by web spiders; ease of use (familiarity) and cheapness (already had on the computer).
4. Word97 doesn't always produce the neatest HTML (Word2000 is worse)
5. WS_FTP95LE (free and easy to use)
6. ISP hosting, own domain name (also use Rootsweb for the Herefordshire FHS website)
7. Yes please.
Polly Rubery

1. Pobjoy website at (navigate via Roots & Branches) to one of the linked names
    Frome website at (go to the Families pages and check the WHITCHURCH trees)
2(a) Pobjoy site: Claris Draw (but any other drawing programme such as Smart Draw would do the same) in combination with image-mapping programme such as Spider Writer and an HTML editor such as Note Tab. I actually used old Mac shareware ones - Image Mapper, I think, and PageSpinner downloaded (like most of the free/shareware I use) from Tucows.
Frome site: Trees created from Reunion/Generations using EasyChart and edited within the latter
2(b) Most of the Frome site is made from MS Word tables, but with lots of importing to/from FileMaker Pro and Excel which allow you to process records more readily and/or quickly than Word in certain cases.
3. and 4. The drawing programme let me arrange things exactly as I wanted in an economical way, but had to be created separately and updated separately. The other programmes are all cheap and easy to use.
5. Fetch! on the Mac, Magellan/Enriva Explorer on the PC
6. Virgin (Pobjoy) and Free-online (Frome) free space - latter massive
7. Yes, please!
David Smart

2-4 The site was constructed in MS WORD with some of the extraneous code removed by hand. The pics were sized in Irfan View (free from the internet). I didn't like using WORD over much but found that it was on the computer so why not... I did try a couple of programs specifically for web design and found then very hard to get round - Word is very type and go!
5-6 The site is hosted by Angelfire which was suggested to me by a cousin who has already got her site on the 'net and uploaded using their FTP. It uploads easily and I found it easy to correct most mistakes although the one where it says 'the Probert coat of arms' on the front page has resisted ALL attempts to centre it!
7. If anyone has anything constructive to add I would be very pleased to hear it (good and bad - although not too bad!)
Angie Jones

1. - Family history pages
I have three family trees on my web site, one being my own ancestry, as an ahnentafel, a second my wife's, also an ahnentafel, and the third a sort of unregistered one-name study of the surname Glazzard (and many variants) in which all those known to be linked are included. I don't know a name for the format of that one - it includes basic data for all the linked people with that surname, plus their spouses and children - a number of interested researchers have contributed the data, and are members of an associated Yahoo group that I have set up. Many of my wife's ancestors and most of the Glazzards lived in the Midmarch area.
2. All done with Windows Notepad.
3. It gives efficient, minimal HTML code that can be read by any browser, including those which read the text aloud to blind users.
4. Haven't noticed anything yet (after 8 years use). I do use a genealogy program (Family Origins, version 10) to keep my records, but the web pages it produces don't follow my standards or even anything remotely resembling them, so I don't use that part at all. Family trees are a tiny part of my site, so they have to fit in with the rest.
5. An old version (16 bit) of WS-FTP, supplied by my ISP when I first used a modem in 1996.
6. Web space provided by my ISP as part of the (paid for) package. 7. I would be interested to know how easy it is to understand the data presented, and whether I give the right level of detail.
Jim Fisher

2(a) Family Tree Maker - An easy programme to use. Family Tree drawn from data in the file. Map saved to .pdf from within the programme. No dislikes.
2(b) Distribution Map by GenMap. Good - no problems with using. No dislikes
Web site constructed using Microsoft Frontpage. It has excellent wizards to produce website. Easy to use once you have mastered the programme.
5. Site published via http: direct to my web site in the heavens or the ethernet......
6. Hosted by my Broadband supplier in my 30mb free space. The domain name supplied by a company who divert calls direct to my normal URL.
7. I would be interested in any feedback.
Geoff Camber

2-4 I experimented with some of the programs that automatically generate web pages from gedcom files but found the resulting pages too complicated and not very attractive. I couldn't find a program that gave results that I liked but I did manage to find a free family tree html template and a family group sheet html template to download from the Internet. I then found some html editing software and taught myself how to create web pages, adapting the free templates to suit what I needed. Over the years, I have tried several programs (I began with FrontPage Express and Paintshop Pro with Terrapin FTP to upload the files. After a short while I found FrontPage Express too limiting, as I wanted to experiment with using frames so I then moved on to FrontPage itself and to Fireworks 3 for image editing). I've now moved on to the set up below and have abandoned frames because of their unfriendliness to search engines and the fact that they don't allow users to bookmark individual pages.
Current software used for the site is:
Web design software: Dreamweaver (various versions over the years from 1.2 up to 8)
Image editing software: Photoshop CS
FTP software: WS_FTP Pro
Things I like about them:
Dreamweaver is just wonderful but can be a bit daunting at first. I was lucky enough to get version 1.2 free on a cover disk of a magazine, which then ran tutorials on how to use it. With each upgrade, the features just got better and better. I like the site management features, the fact that you can customise the screen layout and change between WYSIWYG and code view or half and half. I find the Javascript events easy to manage and it's easy to edit the html by hand if you need to. The ability to use layers and to show/hide them using Javascript commands makes it easy to create good effects without cluttering up the page (I like simple designs with lots of white space). The code inspector is also helpful if things don't quite turn out how you expected! FrontPage just felt really cumbersome to use compared to Dreamweaver.
Photoshop is simply the best image editing program, although it does take some effort to learn. It offers so much potential as regards restoring images (the clone tool is irreplaceable, as is the magic background eraser). The layer tools and blending modes enable you to build up a collage of images and text and experiment with different effects (e.g. the main image on my home page, which is of my grandparents and incorporates 2 photos taken 50 years apart and with a text layer between them). The text editing facilities enable to creation of buttons and logos with text effects such as bevel, emboss and drop shadow, which stop pages appearing too "flat". The "Actions" commands mean you can easily turn a black and white photo into sepia with one mouse click and, if you are carrying out the same commands on a series of images, you can create an new Action of your own to automate the task.
To learn both Dreamweaver and Photoshop I taught myself, mostly used the tutorials in "Computer Arts" and "Computer Arts Special" magazines (these are aimed at graphic designers but have really useful web design tutorials that are written in a non-technical way). The magazine publishers also publish separate books on Photoshop and Dreamweaver (sold through WH Smith exclusively, I think) which contain collections of their tutorials.
I can't think of anything I dislike about the programs except the time taken to learn them and the fact that there's so much else I could learn if I had the time. I'd really like to get to grips with the database capabilities of Dreamweaver to enable online searching of some of the Access databases I am working on but I don't have time to learn it at the moment.
6. In terms of hosting, the website is actually on my free webspace that I get from my IPS but I have recently purchased a domain name for the princely sum of about 2 per annum (via and I point this at my free webspace.
7. This is about the 5th version of my website which I have recently updated but I'd be happy for you to discuss it with your students and to send me any feedback.
Tracey Williams

2-4 The family tree pages were created using GEDPage. After I had created the pages I used Hutmil to make bulk changes to all of the pages, adding navigation and footers etc. (mainly because I never learnt how to use GEDPage properly). It was some time ago that I created the trees but I do remember that basic pages were easy. If I had taken the time to learn how to use it properly I probably wouldn't have had to use Hutmil. However Hutmil is a very useful piece of software, for example I changed the colour of all the family tree pages at one go just by selecting the pages and telling it to find every occurrence of a bit of HTML code and change it to another.
3-4 The site was created using both M/S Front Page (98 I think, not Express) and SoftQuad's HotMetal Pro 4 (because it was free on a cover disk, I knew SoftQuad SGML software and because I could do things with it that I couldn't do with Front Page). It is currently maintained using Namo Web Editor 3 (also free on a cover disk, similar to Front Page and it has less annoying habits than the other two had) although I now have Front Page 2002 which I believe is better but haven't got round to using seriously yet. I liked HotMetal Pro because it was like the SGML editor I used previously both in operation and visually. However it seemed to crash fairly regularly (probably only my freebie copy). I was never very happy with Front Page which it seemed to me forced you to do things its way rather than the way you wanted to do it. It also seemed to generate vast amounts on apparently unnecessary HTML code. I found it impossible to produce my home page headline the way I wanted it in Front Page but it took a couple of minutes in HotMetal. Front Page was also very slow. Hopefully later versions are better.
5. WS_FTP LE (the free version) to download my files to the server (it works just fine on XP)
6. Zetnet for which costs about 100 per year. For this I get 100MB of space an 0845 phone number and 600 units of 0800 phone number per month (1 unit = 1 min off peak or 1/2 min peak). They also pay for my domain name for me.
7. I would be interested in any feedback (he says, cringing in anticipation). Personally I think we have too many words on the home page and, time permitting, intend to do something about that in the not too far distant future.
Paul Copinger

I have also uploaded my family tree to, but have no idea how to direct others to find it
I have uploaded to
2. Family Tree Maker v11 and Generations<
3. Family Tree Maker has more or less everything that I would like, particularly good are the reports and the ability to export them to other formats (MS office programs + PDF)
Generations has a feature that allows marking of individuals and thereby reducing the risk of publishing information about those (living) people who have not given permission to use their data.
I have duplicated the data in the 2 databases.
4. Generations seems weak on reporting. I would like a friendlier interface for entering data for an individual - a single screen to edit all of their data. Both of the packages I use could use some further development in this area.
5. When I want to publish, I create a gedcom file from Generations using only marked individuals. I then open that in Family Tree Maker and create a new gedcom file from there - this is because the familytreemaker website will only support gedcom files from FTM. It works fine. I have over 3000 names in my database, and over 2200 of those are on the websites.
6. see above
7. yes please
Ken Phillips

1. (Living Butler 1956)
2. Have for a long time had FamilyTreeMaker, but never really got to grips with it. The thing that has got me putting the bones of my tree together was - more recently there has been a facility to download the genes tree to FTM which is what I have done with the intention of fleshing it out when I have time. I originally tried putting a page together through my FTM program, but never really did it because (at the time) it looked too complicated!! You will see that I never really got beyond the basics of listing the names I was looking for!!
What I like about genes is that you don't have to know how to upload a tree!! Method of transfer is easy - you type in the data that you need - if you do not already have a tree that's great - you can then bring it back to a program. (They do also have the facility to transfer trees, but never worked that out!!)
Have also found several living rellies through having my tree on genes. Cost is only 7.50 a year which I think is good value.

1. My family tree - and branches - is at:
One section is Irish and the other is Scottish. I have discovered so much using the mailing lists in the last couple of weeks that this site really needs updating - again!
2. Two different formats taken from Family TreeMaker. The site was created with Microsoft FrontPage Express (needs updating to CSS I know).
3. Familiarity now - initially both were easy to use.
4. There are more professional finishes around now.
5. Uploaded using FileManager in Yahoo! Geocities
6. Yahoo! Geocities.
7. Yes, I would love feedback - not too critical though - I bruise easily!
Jenny McFall

2. Programmes used to produce the tree? Quite a list in all. The photos are edited, repaired and cropped in Adobe Photoshop. The tree itself is generated from a flat card database by a pair of programs I wrote myself in the Python language (, which is good for quick and dirty scripts like I use. One script generates the page for each individual, another generates the ancestry charts. The site also contains a certain amount of hand crafted html. Data entry is by Notepad or similar into a text file.
I hated the formats generated by the commercial programs I looked at. At least this way I control what I get, even if it is not what everyone would choose. It's certainly not a route I'd recommend to everyone, though - you have to like a challenge! Another factor for me at the beginning was an unwillingness to use a proprietary data format which I might not be able to extend or transfer. Actually, the GEDCOM standard is pretty good that way - I might well have used it if I had understood it at the time.
3. Things I like? Complete control over what is output, and the format. Also the same source data generates - through amended scripts - a private version of the tree which includes living people, links to all the data sources and scans of the documents etc.<
4. Things I dislike? Data entry is a bit of a nightmare! I must get round to writing a program to do it properly sometime. And trapping errors is important and not too well handled right now.
5. WS_FTP95LE.
6. The whole site is hosted on the space I get through my subscription to Tiscali as ISP
Ian Sage

2. Programs used to produce (a) the tree - Paradox 7
3. Ability to design one's own output
4. Inability to use on Windows XP
5. Pages produced by my programs and transferred by FTP
6. Demon provide 20mb free, which I am finding inadequate
John Bending

Bruton family tree which is based in Hereford. I use the PAF 5.2 program. I have gone back to 1734 in the Bishops Frome. It is on our church website - that is the LDS church I know I sent it to Kindred Connections a few years ago but it needs updating on that and I believe has it on their site. Hope this is what you need I am not familiar with the Internet apart from what I do.
Viv Jackson

2(a) there are two - the PDF files are produced directly from "TMG (The Master Genealogist)" version 5 - the box charts are produced by "SecondSite" a special package that works only on TMG files and also produces lots of supporting filed and indices etc.
2(b) everything else is hand written in XHTML (probably still a few old HTML files there)
3. very flexible, seems quite well suited to my one-name needs, not terribly expensive
4. nothing significant
5. FTP using SmartFTP (freeware)
6. hosted by AccessGenealogy for free - with the extra bonus that there are no adverts at all for my site, although anyone signing up these days has ad-supported free options or a reasonably priced no-ads choice.
7. Yes I'll risk it ;<)
John Crabbe

2. All my main Family History information is kept on Family Tree Maker. To put the trees on the site I make a copy of the tree in FTM then form a new page using HTML. Any cropping for size is done in any of several photo software I have, but always save it in .gif format (same with the photos) and put it in place on the page with associated text.
I use Ace Expert to format my web pages. It is quite easy to use and got the first version free with a magazine. It takes awhile to put all the links into place from page to page, but not difficult.
3-4 I use all these programs because they are quite simple to use, you don't need a degree in computing to put it on the net.
5. I use CuteFTP to upload the pages to the web, again I got the first version of this program free in a magazine.
6. My website is actualy on Freeserve free pages but I have my own domain name hosted by UK2net.
7. This is obviously only a brief discription, however should you have a look at my website and want to know anymore please contact me, as can your students.
Trevor Lloyd

1. Court Website then enter debiann67 in the ID at the left hand top side of the page2. GEDCOM from PAF53. PAF has been great for a free download from the Family Search site. Have had no problems and it is so easy to use.The tribal pages website is easy to use, clear instructions, simple as uploading the GEDCOM and wallah you have your website!
4. Nothing really, upload can take a day but other than that all's good. OK maybe one thing, all free text I have in my GEDCOM does not have any formatting on the website (of course this could be fixed if I didn't have it there but I prefer to have as much info on the web as possible.
5. see above
6. Its free :o)
7. Not necessary but feel free :o)
Debi Chenoweth

2. I have used a variety of trees on my website. I am using a programme called Generations Family Tree and it comes with a facility for making family trees for the Internet which include all hyperlinks etc. However, I cannot use this for everybody as I have several thousand twigs in my tree so when I write about a person I include a personal tree from the start of their line, usually 1505, to the last person and if they are still alive I just put in 'living issue'.
I also include a list of all females and males marrying into the family which constitutes several hundred people. In this way I hope to cover all the enquiries I may encounter whilst giving the readers a chance to see if they are in the tree. If anyone is in the tree then I will supply, on request, a basic list back to 1505 or whenever their branch began.
Judy Elkington

2(a) I export a Gedcom from Family Tree Maker with the 'privatise' option activated to protect the privacy of the living ! I then run the Gedcom through a piece of software called 'Dynamic Family Tree' (DFT). DFT produces a set of files ready to upload to a web-site. DFT is free, further details on our web-site.
2(b) The rest of my site has been created using either HTML or MS Frontpage.<
5-6 I upload to my personal webspace at my ISP (ntl - currently 50mb) using SmartFTP (again, free).
David Goodwin

2(a) Excel pasted it into PaintShop Pro
2(b) I just used Notepad.
3. I think the Excel trees are about the clearest I've seen on the web. You can draw them exactly as you want, any size, format, font, colour etc - you can make them as fussy or as simple as you want. They are easy to update with new information. Definitely the best bit is they produce very clear understandable trees.
Notepad seems a bit laborious at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is fine. At first I was tempted to use one of the fancy programs like Dreamweaver, but they cost a fortune and, as I've been able to do pretty much everything I want with Notepad, it didn't seem worth it in the end. Notepad allows you complete control of everything you put into your site.
4. Notepad is of course very unforgiving if you miss out one little bracket, letter, comma etc, it won't do what you want it to, so you have to be very careful with what you type.
5. WS_FTP which has worked very well and is pretty easy to use.
6. I get free space from my ISP (BT) - well not actually free of course, but included in my monthly payment for the service.
A couple of additional thoughts. I can't recommend highly enough the benefit of having friends who already have a website. Speaking to them and asking questions has been one of hte most useful things I've done. In my experience most people are more than happy to share their experience with you. Also, checking out as many different kinds of websites (not just family history ones) for ideas has been very useful. Finally I found a book "Creating Web Pages in easy steps" very useful when I first started. It certainly helped me get going and was very useful when at first I knew nothing about the bits of HTML code necessary.
7. I would be very interested in any feedback from your students.
Nicky Rowberry

1. I have examples [of family trees] on my website. A few of the persons listed in my BDM tables have a hyperlink 'View tree' in the notes column.
2(a)-4 Excel to produce the trees. Pros: Permits hyperlinks between trees even if internet not used. Cons: Time consuming. Paint Shop Pro to capture the tree image from Excel, create hyperlink hotspots, manipulate image transparency, and generate outline HTML map co-ordinates. Also used to patch amendment layers onto the image. Pros: Excellent capabilities at reasonable price. The method of creating a .GIF for the tree prevents data being harvested automatically. Cons: Time consuming. Requires expertise. The .GIF technique has been undermined by the legal dispute concerning HTML Keywords. All persons in the tree were entered as searchable keywords. Search Engines are now tending to ignore this metatag. HTML then refined by hand. Pros: Reduces the size of HTML pages. HTML generators tend to produce long-winded code which is detrimental when webspace is limited. Cons: Tedious. Requires expertise.
2(b)-4 Hand coded HTML Pros: Reduces the size of HTML pages. HTML generators tend to produce long-winded code which is detrimental when webspace is limited. Cons: Tedious. Requires expertise. Miscellaneous CD collections of icons, webgraphics, animated .GIFs, etc. GENMAP UK for demographic maps. Paint Shop Pro then used in same fashion as for the trees. Pros: Cheap and good value. I haven't used all the features yet so can't comment thoroughly. Surname Atlas. I haven't actually got round to building the webpages yet, but looks as if it should be the same as GENMAP.
5. Terrapin FTP
6. Own website. 20mb maximum at present which will become restrictive as site grows. May need to think about using hosting companies. Limitations on what can be done e.g. no search facilities without significant additional cost.
Also hidden in the site is a Word document 'Creating Family Trees for Websites.doc' which contains full instructions on how to create the trees. You will find it in
John Stark

2(a) Reunion (Mac) 8.0.5
2(b) None
3. Similar to but much better than Generations which I used before.
4. The software converts graphics to a new name for uploading and as a result I have lost the link to my parents photo on my website. You will see the problem when you visit the site. I have not had time to fix it yet.
Reunion is very expensive compared to other software but there is not much available for the Mac.
5. Fetch FTP software for the Mac
6. 20 MB server space provided by my domain name supplier
7. I am sure it can be improved when I get the time. Any comments gratefully received.
Terry ap Hywel

2(a) A Unix text editor called ne
2(b) ne or, with some of my own software to produce indexes
3. With ne I can use command files to add links to family trees
5. Http transfer using IE
6. Rootsweb Freepage
7. Yes, would be interested in any comments.
Peter Alefounder

I am not going to suggest any software to your students, but rather to suggest caution.
Most family trees on the Internet are presented in formats that attempt to reproduce the appearance of printed books, or in formats that mimic the display screens of a genealogical database management program. In my opinion, neither approach is appropriate. The print-style "family trees" are graphically attractive, but waste a lot of screen space. The database-style displays are difficult to make sense of, because you have to "click" along a path of ancestry or descent without seeing any of the adjacent people.
Most of the effort that went in to developing these approaches could have been saved if people had understood from the beginning that Internet documents are constructed exactly like human families, out of "parent" elements and the "child" elements that grow out of them. For example, a list on an HTML page has a series of "child" elements called list items, and one speaks of the entire list being the "parent" element of those list items. It is possible to nest secondary lists within these list items, creating "grandchildren" elements of the main list, and you can go on developing further nodes as long as you like.
The similarity to human families is quite striking, and if you arrange human descendants in this HTML pattern, your Internet browser will present you with a beautiful "indented narrative" family tree that automatically adjusts to the width of the screen and offers a large amount of data in minimal space.
That is not all that HTML offers. An even better "parent-child" structure is the table. By definition, every HTML table has a series of "child" elements called rows. One speaks of the entire table being the "parent" element of those rows. If you design HTML pages, you'll know that a row is also a parent, because it has child elements called cells. The nifty thing about tables is that starting from the top left of the computer screen, they can extend far to the right and far below. The reader only has to use the scroll bar. That offers a fantastic way of presenting a descendancy chart. You'll find an example here at the above URL.
I cannot suggest any software to your class that creates family trees in this way. I construct them by hand. Perhaps "doing it by head" would be a better term, because I actually remember how the tables structure works and write out my family trees cell by cell in a text editor. I did discover one automatic converter: Tables10, which is freeware from:
You can draw the tree in Excel, combining cells so that a parent occupies all the cells to the left of the children, and use this utility to convert it to HTML.
However your students could get an idea of how to do it by visiting SitStay:
That site has an online generator of animal pedigrees, and the HTML pedigrees that are created are not all that different from my descendancy charts, except that the generation at the left should be the youngest (not the oldest) and the column to the right should contain the (first two) children (not the mother and father) of the originating individual.
I have written a couple of examples to demonstrate my ideas in a simpler way:
A page created as a table example is which features a Henry Numbering system. There is also a related page using another HTML structure, the list, at:
Jean-Baptiste Piggin

© 2004-2007 Polly Rubery and the individual authors.
All opinions expressed are those of the author alone. All trademarks acknowledged.

Last major revision 20th July 2004, some minor revisions to 27th November 2007 but note that not all links may work now.