Welcome to the first post in a series I call “Tech Tuesday”. In this series I will combine my thirty-plus years of Information Technology experience with genealogy and family history. Subjects will range from software (and perhaps hardware) reviews to how-to tips to full-blown technical tutorials. The first installment in the series is a review of the GEDCOM to HTML conversion software, UncleGED.
As I said in an earlier post, these GEDCOM to web conversion programs seem to have fallen from favor. I was not able to find one that was currently under active development. UncleGED is not an exception, although it has been converted to an open source project on Codeplex and at least one minor bug fix was done this year.
Bottom Line Up Front
I chose to use PHPGedView on my website because I have the expertise to manage my own websites and databases, use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to format my web pages, and do a little PHP programming. If I wasn’t tech savvy enough to do all that, I would have chosen UncleGED. It works and it has lots of options for formatting and choosing your data that you manage with a simple checkbox.
UncleGED At A Glance
- Website: https://uncleged.codeplex.com/
- Code last updated: April 2014
- Site last updated: 23 Jan 2011
- Initial Developer: D. M. DeBacker (http://gatheringleaves.org/)
- UncleGED is currently an open source project and a bug fix was made in April 2014.
Using the Software
Download and Installation
UncleGED can be downloaded from the UncleGED website listed above. It is in a .zip file so you’ll have to extract the files. Most people know how to do that, but in Windows you just right-click on the file name and choose “Extract All”. Done.
Once the files have been extracted you can install on Windows using either the “Setup.exe” file or the “UncleGED.msi” file. Both run basically the same installation process. The installation process is pain-free and ran without incident. You’ll need to choose where to install the file, but going with the default should work for most people.
Running the Program
UncleGED opens in familiar Windows fashion. The interface is tabbed and you can go through each tab in turn, although the default options will give you satisfactory results in most cases.
Project Name: Enter a name for your project here.
Main Page Title: Enter a title for the main page of the web files created by UncleGED.
Main Page Text: You can enter a paragraph or two of descriptive text which will be on the main page of the UncleGED files.
Page Style: UncleGED can create your sites in two ways. The first uses one page per family group and the second creates a separate page for each individual in your GEDCOM. The second option will create a lot of files if you have a large GEDCOM.
In the bad old days that was bad for several reasons: too many files took too much room on your web server, too many files slowed your website down, and too many files made it difficult to maintain your site if you made any kind of modification to the files created by UncleGED. Only the last one is still a consideration as most web hosts allow gigabytes of data storage and the web has speeded up considerably for most of us.
Input: Separate boxes for path and filename, but both are filled in when using the browse button.
Output: The path for the output can be entered using the browse button.
You can choose to enter the author’s name, email address, and home page on this tab. There are also options to add the author’s copyright to all pages and also to set the Table of Contents as the home page for the family tree pages. You can add an RSS feed for the family tree pages. One thing not optional on this tab is entering a root URL for UncleGED pages on your webserver. I would recommend creating a folder under your web server root (on my server the root URL would be something like http://dumond.org/uged).
This tab has many options for formatting your pages. You can force all surnames to be in upper case, add a keyword to the Meta tags on the main page for each surname, and add a surname count to the surname index page.
You can choose to privatize or exclude information for living individuals and/or those born after whatever year you choose to set. I privatize my GEDCOM on creation and recommend you do likewise. The reason I do this is that if you leave your GEDCOM file on your webserver data-scrapers could still find personal information on living people even if you don’t display that information on your website. The same is true of GENDEX files.
You can choose to display links to individuals on other pages, to create a statistics page, and whether to create a GENDEX file. You can track when changes are made to your pages and choose whether and how to display the dates of those changes on your web pages.
Cascading Style Sheet Tab
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are a way of keeping your formatting separate from the HTML code on your web pages. You can choose to use no CSS file (hard code the formatting with the HTML) – a seriously outdated way of coding web pages), to use UncleGED’s default CSS file (uged.css), or to copy your custom CSS from another file.
You can also set your background image and banner image on this tab. If you use a custom CSS file this probably won’t be necessary.
This tab has many options relating to what information is displayed on your pages. You can set numbering for the first family file, set prefix for the names of family files, display a menu at top of each page, display the most recent update date on each family page, and choose whether to display RIN and MRIN numbers.
You can choose to create a “Listing Report”, basically an index of your family pages. Descendant outline pages are optional – you can create descendant outline pages for specific individuals, but neither the help file nor the online documentation tell you how to identify those individuals.
Persons Page: Options allow you to set data labels for all the fields on the person page and labels to be used in describing “inexact” dates such as “about” and “between”. You can set the maximum number of individuals to include on each page and choose whether to include a pedigree chart for each person on the page.
Chronology Page: You can set a cutoff year for the chronology of events page.
Locations Page: You can choose to list locations in reverse order (thus keeping all the locations in a particular country, state, etc… together in the index). You can choose to display event dates on the locations page — thus being able to see quickly when your family were in a particular location.
You can choose to omit estimated locations, treat estimated locations the same as actual locations, or to list estimated locations at the end of the locations index. You can choose whether to print occupations on the location page as events.
Other Optional Pages
- Index of Individuals
Building the Pages
When you’ve entered all the parameters you click the “Build Pages” button on the “Project” tab. Then you have to click the “Start Build” button on a modal pop-up window.
I really like the Location and Chronology pages. The Family pages are okay. There’s a “Marriage/Union Events for …” at the bottom of the family info that I find confusing as it lists the GEDCOM codes followed by “Natural” for every marriage I checked. The Occupations page was kind of funky, but you can choose to have occupations printed on the Locations page as events instead.
The included background image and banner are extremely tacky, but a little CSS knowledge would go a long way towards making the pages produced by UncleGED look extremely nice and integrate them into your overall website. Once again, if I were just a little technically inclined I would have chosen UncleGED as my GEDCOM to web conversion program.