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How to Use GED-GEN

Here's how to create your own genealogy website using GED-GEN:

  1. Establish your website.

    You probably use an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to access the Internet and your account likely provides a location for your website. Contact your ISP for assistance in establishing your own website.

  2. Determine a folder structure.

    It is recommended that you have a staging area on your own computer to hold your website files. The folder structure of this area should mirror the structure at your ISP. For example, many ISP's use public_html as the folder (or directory name) for web pages. On your computer, create a folder named public_html and place your web pages there.

    The following illustration shows a sample folder structure for a genealogy website under public_html. The subfolders are optional and you must create them yourself. Subfolders are a good way to segregate your own web page files from the web pages GED-GEN creates.

    Sample folder structure

  3. Create your personal web pages and image files.

    You will probably want a "home" page for your website. This is the initial page visitors see when they type in your website address. You must create this page yourself using a web page editing program. Many ISPs offer a starter home page that you can modify. Your home page might introduce your genealogy, or you might show a link to another page that is devoted to your genealogy.

    If your genealogy is extensive, consider using the customization features available in GED-GEN (see the Custom tab). For example you can have separate web pages with biographies of selected ancestors. You create and maintain these pages separately, but GED-GEN can include links to them on your family pages.

    Another custom feature is the ability to display images. You can create image files yourself using an image editing program. Then use the options within GED-GEN to associate a particular image file with a given ancestor or family group. If your genealogy program includes multimedia items when you export a GEDCOM file, you can use primary scrapbook images as the portraits on your family pages.

    You will want to create your biography and narrative web pages, along with any individual and family group images, prior to generating your family pages with GED-GEN. It is recommended that you place such files in separate subfolders to make them easier to manage. For example you could keep your biography web pages in a subfolder named bio. This keeps them together and separate from your other files, which may help you find and change them more easily.

  4. Export a GEDCOM file.

    When you are ready to create your family group sheet web pages, you must first create a GEDCOM file with your favorite genealogy program. An example of such a program is Family Tree Maker. Many genealogy programs have a menu option to export your data to a GEDCOM file. The export feature may be under the File menu in your program. Follow the instructions provided by your genealogy program to create a GEDCOM file.

    Many programs allow you to specify additional export options. For best results, set these options as follows:


    Choose standard GEDCOM format.

    This may appear as "GEDCOM 5.5," "TempleReady," or "AncestralFile." If one of these choices is not available, and as a last resort, choose the name of the program you are using. For example if you are using Family Tree Maker 9.0, choose FTW.

    GEDCOM Version Choose GEDCOM version 5.5.1 or 5.5.
    Character Set Choose UTF-8, or ANSI.
    Abbreviated Tags Choose the option to enable abbreviated tags.

  5. Create your family group sheet web pages.

    Run GED-GEN and click the Options button. Specify the name of the GEDCOM file you created in step 4 above. Then specify the destination folder where GED-GEN will place the web pages it creates. Change any of the other options available in GED-GEN and then click OK.

    Now click the Generate button and GED-GEN will read your GEDCOM file and create family group sheet web pages in the destination folder. In the example from step 2 above, that folder is C:\public_html\gen\grp.

    As you add individuals to your genealogy file, or modify dates and events, be sure to repeat step 4 above to export a new GEDCOM file. Then run GED-GEN again to update your family group sheet web pages. You can re-generate your family pages any number of times. GED-GEN simply overwrites the files in the destination folder each time.

  6. Add a link to your family pages.

    The family pages generated by GED-GEN are designed to be only a part of your overall website. Among the files generated is the first Surname page. This page is the "main" page, from which visitors will navigate to other family pages.


    You will want to include a link to the first Surname page on one of your own web pages. By default the first Surname page is named main.html. However depending upon the file prefix and file extension you choose, the name of your file could be different. The following HTML syntax illustrates how you can add this link:

    View my <a href="grp/grpmain.html">Family Group Sheets</a>.

    This example assumes you will add the link in your main genealogy page in the public_html\gen subfolder. It also assumes your family pages are prefixed with grp and that they reside in the public_html\gen\grp subfolder. The GED-GEN log will show a customized link you can cut and paste if you specify a home page within GED-GEN.

  7. View and test your results.

    Back in GED-GEN, click the View button. This starts your Internet browser to display the GED-GEN log. This log summarizes the files that were generated. You will also find links to the Surname page and the Index page. You should explore the generated pages and links to be sure they are what you expect.

    You should also consider the National Genealogical Society's guidelines for publishing genealogy web pages. There are many GED-GEN options to help you fulfill these guidelines.

  8. Transfer web pages to your website.

    When you are ready to transfer your web pages to your website at the ISP, you will generally use a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program. FTP is a way of transferring files over the Internet. There are many FTP programs available for download on the Internet. Check the "Resources" page at the GED-GEN website On the WWW for recommendations.

    Following the example folder structure in Step 2, the newly created family pages will reside in the C:\public_html\gen\grp folder. You would now use an FTP program to transfer the files in the grp, gen, bio, grp\images and nar subfolders under C:\public_html to your website at your ISP.

    Hint: Remember to transfer any associated Cascading Style Sheet files (.css) and image files (.jpg and .gif) along with your web page files (.html).

    Hint: If you have a large number of files to transfer, consider compressing them with a data compression program. You can then transfer one large file, and uncompress it once it's at your ISP.