January 2012 marks the tenth anniversary of the first release of GED-GEN. I am glad that so many people from all over the world continue to use the program. Thank you to everyone who has tried it, and a special thank you to those who have registered their copy.
I plan to add more features. But perhaps I should also remove some options left over from the early days of the Internet. For one thing, I want to rely more on Cascading Style Sheets than explicit style attributes.
Multimedia On Deck
I feel that multimedia is the next big thing in genealogy. With more online records available, and the prevalence of scanners and digital cameras, it’s now easier than ever to include images of actual records with your web pages. Better Internet bandwidth makes images, sound and video recordings feasible to download. I will therefore concentrate on new features for including multimedia.
Still Relevant after All These Years
After ten years, is GED-GEN still relevant, given the popularity of sites like Ancestry.com? GED-GEN has always been intended for those who maintain their own web sites. Being a programmer myself, there was nothing on the market that provided the customization I wanted.
I believe that level of customization is still in demand. GED-GEN may not be as relevant to the casual genealogy enthusiast, who wants only to create and maintain an online tree. But nothing beats an independent family tree website that is easy to read, easy to navigate, and easy to find via Google.
I think family trees on Ancestry.com are incredibly difficult to navigate. I much prefer the family group sheet style produced by GED-GEN. Besides, online trees can be just a marketing tool to sell memberships to their online collections. They are difficult to locate and difficult to use for family members who are not so much into genealogy. I don’t want to miss being contacted by a distant cousin who happens across my website. If you’re on Ancestry.com, they can’t find you.
Online trees like at Ancestry.com do provide something GED-GEN does not, and that’s the ability to collaborate with other researchers. GED-GEN pages are static, in the sense you must re-generate and re-copy the web pages to your website. But even so, I want to keep control of my family tree data. I don’t want to give other researchers the ability to modify my data.
Collaboration means to work jointly with others, but not necessarily letting others modify your research without consultation or approval. Static web pages still provide a means to share information, without relinquishing control of it. Therefore I think there is a place for a utility like GED-GEN even with the growing popularity of interactive online trees.
Same Old GEDCOM
Nothing has changed in ten years with respect to GEDCOM files. Their format and the information they convey is still the same. Even so, genealogy software vendors have never fully complied with the GEDCOM standard. Each chooses the parts of the standard to support and then doesn’t follow the standard anyway.
A dangerous trend in fact is the newfangled features like source templates that vendors are adding. They’re not giving any thought to sharing such information via a GEDCOM file, even though there are vendor-specific facilities within the standard to do it.
What Does the Future Hold
GED-GEN is ten years old, but it’s here to stay. What do you think? Are GEDCOM-to-HTML utilities like GED-GEN becoming extinct? If you are a GED-GEN user, what features should I add or improve upon? Please leave a comment below.