Now What? Untangling the Family Tree

By Rick Crume Premium

Q. My family is extremely large and complicated, with a lot of cousins marrying second cousins and in-laws marrying other in-laws. I’d like to publish information for eight generations online in the form of a family tree (an actual tree-like diagram). What is the best way to do this? Is there software you can recommend? Also, how can I organize this tree in the least confusing manner?

A. Here’s the overall procedure: First, use genealogy software to create a tree. Save it as a JPG or PNG image file. Then, design your Web site and insert the tree image on one of the Web pages. To design and publish your Web site, you can use Netscape Composer (free with Netscape Navigator) or a program such as Microsoft FrontPage.

Family Tree Maker genealogy software <> creates outstanding charts, but you’ll need to use another program to save a chart as a JPG or PNG file. First, display a chart on the screen in Family Tree Maker and select Copy Tree from the Edit menu (or press Ctrl-C). Then, open Windows Paint or image-editing software such as Paint Shop Pro or Adobe Photoshop Elements. Paste the image in a new document in this program (press Ctrl-V) and save it as a JPG or PNG file, which you can then insert in your Web page just like any other image.

Other genealogy software such as Family Tree Legends <> and The Master Genealogist <> also create nice charts. Progeny Software’s Charting Companions <> are add-ons that work with various genealogy programs.

While you can’t beat a family tree chart for showing at a glance how everyone is related, it’s not ideally suited for the Web. A large chart might take a long time to download on a dial-up Internet connection. Also, Internet search engines can’t index the site names on a graphical chart.

Most genealogy software produces narrative reports designed specifically for the Web. They download fast, can be indexed by Internet search engines and accommodate a lot more detail than a graphical tree chart.

From the April 2003 issue of Family Tree Magazine.