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Family Page References

(This section further clarifies the Family Page References option under GEDCOM on the Program tab.)

GED-GEN uses information from a GEDCOM file to generate a series of files that are your family group sheet web pages. It names these files using the cross-reference identifier of the family records in the GEDCOM file. This ensures that each family web page has a unique file name.

Genealogy software programs usually associate the same cross-reference identifier with a particular family, even when you re-export a GEDCOM file. However not all programs guarantee they will refer to a family by the same cross-reference identifier. For example the John and Jane Doe family may have a cross-reference number of F024. The next time you export a GEDCOM file that same family could be numbered F005. Although the number is unique within each GEDCOM file, that family is known by different numbers between the two GEDCOM files.

This presents a problem if you maintain a link to a particular family web page from another of your web pages. It also affects GED-GEN family-level custom features, like group images, if you use the "Stored Configuration" method. For example if the cross-reference identifier changes when you re-export a GEDCOM file, GED-GEN will not correctly associate the picture of John and Jane Doe with the John and Jane Doe family page. When you define a group image for John and Jane Doe (e.g., family F024) using one GEDCOM file and then use an updated GEDCOM file to generate your web pages, the cross-reference identifiers may be different (e.g., that family could now be family F005).

Although cross-reference identifiers usually remain constant, there are times when they might change. This depends on your genealogy program.

GED-GEN offers three alternatives to avoid this limitation. Each depends on what information your genealogy program includes when you export a GEDCOM file. To determine this using GED-GEN:

  1. Click the Options button.
  2. On the Files tab, select your GEDCOM file in the field under "GEDCOM Input File."
  3. Click Info next to this field.

GED-GEN will analyze your GEDCOM file and display information about it. You will see whether "User Reference Numbers," "Record ID Numbers," and "Custom Fact tags" are detected, and also whether they are unique among all family records.

REFN Tag: If the family records in your GEDCOM file include a "User Reference Number" (REFN) tag, GED-GEN can use it in place of the cross-reference identifier to name files. This assumes numbers are unique among all family records. Your genealogy program may automatically number families, and it may allow you to number them manually. However if more than one family record has the same User Reference Number, GED-GEN will assign the same file name to two different families, and one family will seem to "disappear" because its web page will be overwritten by another family's web page.

RIN Tag: Another option is to use the Automated Record Identification Number (RIN) tag. If family records in your GEDCOM file include it, GED-GEN can use it to name files. This is similar to a REFN tag, but is usually automatically assigned by your genealogy program.

Both the REFN tag and the RIN tag are optional in a GEDCOM file. This means your genealogy program is not required to include them in the GEDCOM file it produces. Even if it does, some programs may not always keep a particular family's REFN or RIN tag constant. So if you select one of these options, it may require a bit of experimentation to determine a suitable solution.

Custom Fact Tag: Yet another option is to define a custom fact tag within your genealogy program. Suppose you name this fact "Family." You could then add a "Family" fact type to a given family and provide your own unique number as the value in the fact's place or description field.

This scheme gives you the greatest flexibility and control in assigning numbers to your families. It also requires the most effort because you have to manually add a fact to each family. However, you need not assign such a fact to every family, just to those you want to permanently identify. You can then link to that family page from another of your personal web pages, and also assign family-level custom features, without fear that your family reference numbers will change.

See Family Numbering Scheme, which describes one way to manually number your ancestral families using REFN or Custom Fact tags.

Example 1

This example explains alternate family reference numbers when you use Family Tree Maker, Version 9.0. For information about the genealogy software program you use, please consult the documentation available with it.

When might cross-reference identifiers change?

Family cross-reference identifiers will change if you change which individuals are exported to a GEDCOM file. For example if you export all individuals to create a GEDCOM file, the families will have consecutive cross-reference identifiers. At another time, if you export a subset of all individuals, the families in the new GEDCOM file will have a different set of consecutive identifiers.

Identifiers may also change if you compact your family data file and then re-export a GEDCOM file.

How do I enable User Reference Numbers?

You can enable user reference numbers by selecting the "File | Preferences | Reference Numbers..." command in Family Tree Maker. Then select the option to use automatic reference numbers for marriages. This will assign a reference number to each family and cause User Reference Number (REFN) tags to be exported in a GEDCOM file. Unless you enable automatic reference numbers, the REFN tags are not exported.

However in the author's experience, the numbers that Family Tree Maker automatically generates may still change for any particular family. That is, some families seem to get reassigned a different automatically generated reference number. A solution seems to be to override the automatically generated numbers with your own reference numbers. Family Tree Maker will not change a number that you override. Unfortunately you must devise your own numbering scheme and apply a unique number to each desired family.

Can I create a Custom Fact tag instead?

Yes. Please refer to the discussion in Example 2 below. Although the steps will be different in Family Tree Maker, the basic idea is the same. To add a family-level fact, edit a family's marriage information and add a fact from there. Be careful to use the same custom fact name for every family you modify.

Can I use Record ID Numbers?

There is no apparent way to cause Family Tree Maker to use Record ID Number (RIN) tags.

Example 2

This example explains alternate family reference numbers when you use RootsMagic, Version 4.0. For information about the genealogy software program you use, please consult the documentation available with it.

How do I enable User Reference Numbers?

RootsMagic does not allow you to assign User Reference Numbers (REFN) tags to your families.

Can I create a Custom Fact tag instead?

Yes, you can create your own family fact and use it to number your families. To do so within RootsMagic 4:

  1. Click the Lists menu.

  2. Click the Fact Type List... menu item.

  3. Click the Design new fact type button.

  4. Choose Family Fact Type and click OK.

  5. In the Edit Fact Type dialog, enter the name Family Number and abbreviation Family.

  6. Check the box for Use description field and ensure that include when Exporting GEDCOM files is checked.

  7. Under Role, click Principal and then click Edit Role.

  8. Under Sentence template for this role, type Family Number:< [desc]>.

  9. Click OK, OK, and then Close.

Now you can navigate to the specific families for which you want to assign a unique family number. Click the Add a fact button and choose the Family Number fact. Enter a number for the family in the fact's description field. Remember that all family numbers should be unique because GED-GEN uses that number to generate the web page file name. When you are done, you can export a GEDCOM file for use with GED-GEN.

To enable your Custom Fact tag in GED-GEN:

  1. Click the Options button.

  2. Click the Program tab.

  3. Click the GEDCOM tab.

  4. Under Family Page References, click the Change button.

  5. On the Select Tags dialog, select Custom Fact Tag and enter Family in the field next to it. That is the abbreviation you defined in RootsMagic and also the fact tag RootsMagic exports in the GEDCOM file.

  6. Click OK, and OK.

You are now ready to generate your family pages. The families that have a Family Number fact defined will be named using that value. Families that do not have that fact will be named using the default cross-reference identifier.

Can I use Record ID Numbers?

There is no apparent way to cause RootsMagic to use Record ID Number (RIN) tags.

If you will make extensive use of family-level custom features like narrative links, imported text and group images, you should select the best file numbering option before you define those "Stored Configuration" custom features for the families in your GEDCOM file. Otherwise you will have to redefine custom features for all those families each time the family record numbers change.

If you change to a different family page reference scheme, GED-GEN will automatically convert your current family-level custom feature settings to use the alternate reference numbers. For example if you are now using cross-reference identifiers (the default) and then change to user reference numbers (REFN tags), GED-GEN will map cross-reference identifiers to the corresponding user reference numbers. It does this for the families for which you already have custom features defined.