Publishing your family tree online can mean simply uploading your GEDCOM file to an online database or creating a beautiful family history Web site complete with photos, digital documents, and sources. Plus, a dozen more options between those two extremes. What you choose will be based on your needs, knowledge and resources.
Define Your PurposeWhat do you hope to achieve with your genealogy Web site? Is it to present data on a particular individual, an entire family, or a particular region? Do you want to use your Web site as a vehicle for family members to participate - enabling them to contribute information and upload photos? Do you want to use it to attract potential cousins searching for the names in your database?
Find Space for Your Web SiteThe first step is to decide what information you want to put online and then find a place to put it. Do you want to publish a linked family tree including everyone in your database? Or do you want to present a written family history, with pages of text, photos and source documents? How about both? Before you choose where to host your family tree online, you need to think about the types of things you'd like to include. Then, explore the following options:
- Publish a Pedigree
If all you want to do is create a searchable database, then considering submitting a GEDCOM file to one of these online pedigree databases - RootsWeb World Connect, Ancestry World Tree, FamilySearch Pedigree Resource File and GenCircles are among the best. This allows your family tree to be found by people searching the Internet, yet requires very little work or technical knowledge.
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- Design a Web Site
If you want to create an actual Web site, then you'll need to find a Web hosting service which provides space and support for your genealogy Web site. You can use the space often provided by your ISP, or you can search for another hosting service. Several companies specialize in offering Web site space for genealogists. Some are even free. The ones that do charge usually offer a number of extra features including such things as private chat rooms, easy photo upload, calendars, and automatically generated reports or charts.
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- Blog Your Family History
A third alternative - one that is quickly increasing in popularity - is to use a genealogy blog to document your family history search. A blog, short for "web log," is basically an online journal, although a blog can be easily used to create a more robust genealogy Web site. Blogs provide room for text, photos, and other goodies, and you usually don't need to know any HTML. You can either sign up for an account through a Weblog host, or run a blog publishing system on your own Web server.
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Getting Your Information OnlineThe method of publishing your family tree online will be based, in part, on your choice of hosting service. Some hosting services, particularly the ones which you pay for, offer a variety of easy templates and tools for publishing your information online. Most genealogy software programs also offer limited Web publishing capabilities, allowing you to convert the information in your database into HTML pages for uploading to the Internet.
If you want more control over the look and feel of your genealogy Web site, then you may want to take the time to learn some Web design basics and create your own site from scratch. You can either purchase a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage, which allows you to design a Web site without having to learn about HTML. If you're more adventurous, then try Jennifer Kyrnin's free HTML 101 email course. She will take you through the basics that you need to know to create a simple Web site from scratch.
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