An Amateurs Guide to Genealogy Website Construction
By: Roger Kemps ©
This should not really be construed as a tutorial on creating websites. In reality, it is the tools and techniques that I have used in constructing my website. I am clearly an amateur at this. All of this is self taught and only to the extent necessary to accomplish my purpose which is to document the biographies of various people in my family tree and share the genealogy resources used to create them. About 6 months into this project, I purchased a dummies guide and an idiots guide to creating webpages. I read about ½ of each and really did not use any of it.
Originally, Comcast as my high speed internet service provider, offered free website hosting to subscribers. This included 1 Gigabyte of storage. I had used over 97%. (I chewed up about 1/4 with the many City Directory pages). Individual pages do not take up that much space. The JPG (picture) files take up space. Most of the census pages and other stuff that is downloaded from the internet is JPG. Some stuff is downloaded as PDF which takes up space according to the number of pages. So my choice was easy. Unfortunately, this service was discontinued, effective October 8, 2015.
ByetHost originally offered free website hosting of 5600 MB free space; 3.9 MB file size limit. See: http://www.byethost.com. I had used them for the Ancestor Tree portion of my site. In 2015, the free space was changed to 1000 MB with a 10 MB file size limit. However, they no longer allow search crawlers like FreeFind to index the site and this became a deal breaker for me.
My current recommendation and hosting site is https://x10hosting.com/. They allow more space, ftp page loading, search crawlers and more than adequate page quantities.
The homepage was originally done with the Comcast SiteBuilder Editor tool. I did not care for it. ByetHost offers various tools, but, so far I have not used them. Since moving to x10hosting, I really need to enhance the look of my homepage with the x10hosting tools. See the following for the current methodology.
I used Microsoft Word 2002 for all the pages. The page is created as a regular Word document and then saved. While it is still open, from the file menu, choose "Save as Web Page Filtered ..." (Do not edit after you are in the webpage format). To edit further, go back to the .doc file. Make sure that you save all your edits while in the .doc format. During the "Save as Web Page.." dialog box, I always add a lower case L to the file extension, making it .html. Although .htm is okay, it is more outdated.
There are many page creation tools available. I am happy with Word.
This is what appears on your browser tab. While the .doc file is closed, right click, choose properties, summary tab, and fill out the
title you want.
In Word, highlight where you want a link, then right mouse click and choose Hyperlink which brings up a dialog box. Sometimes, this just does not work (the right click menu does not show Hyperlink). When this happens, highlight and use Insert and choose Hyperlink. I prefer relative addressing to absolute addressing. A typical link would be Census/1900_John_Doe.jpg where Census is a subdirectory where I put all the census reference files. By using relative addressing, I can use the links on the files while they are still on the computer and besides, they are much shorter. Photos in a document can also be used as hyperlinks. Left mouse click to select the photo, then right mouse click and select Hyperlink in the menu. Most of my photos are hyperlinks to the image files.
Usually, putting the cursor on a link and right mouse clicking will bring up the Edit Hyperlink menu choice. Sometimes it just will not come up. In that case, highlight the whole link and then choose Insert which brings the Hyperlink choice which brings up the edit box.
Bookmarks are similar to links and are used to break up long documents. Frequently, a table of contents starts the document and each content item is linked to the bookmarked section. To create a bookmark, go to the place where the link is to take you. Highlight the target and use Insert Bookmark. In the dialog box, name the bookmark (no spaces are allowed in the name) and click the add button. To create the link to the bookmark, highlight and right mouse click, choose Hyperlink. In the dialog box, click the Bookmark button and highlight the bookmark name from the previous step. This document is an example of a bookmarked document.
In Word, I usually use Format -> Background -> Fill Effects -> Texture Tab -> many to choose from.
A scanner is important. I originally used an HP flatbed scanner that I bought in 2005 for $50 before a significant rebate. I like the HP interface that allows a choice of picture or document. I use JPG output for pictures and PDF for documents. The dpi can be chosen to control the image size for photos and the file size for large documents. I usually use the grayscale option. If you do not have a scanner, the least expensive alternative would be to buy an inexpensive All-in-One Printer/Scanner/Copier. If my documents are legal size or oversize, I take them to a nearby UPS Store and they make 8 1/2 x 11 (reduced) copies for me for 9 cents a page. Then I scan the copies. I currently use an All-in-One with an optional document feeder that will scan legal size originals. Various stitching tools are also available. I scan to PDF with an Optical Character Reading, OCR, post processing so that the final product is searchable.
For most photos, I use PhotoSuite. PhotoSuite was bought by Roxio. I crop, I adjust the exposure, I add text and arrows. Most photo programs will perform these functions. Another photo program with unique functions is IrfanView. It is freeware. I used it with the photos for Gedhtree so that all the photos had the same vertical pixel count. In this way, they were all the same height. It is also great for converting photo formats. See: http://www.irfanview.com/.
A nice freeware tool is PDFill PDF Tools 12.0. Two features that I have used are splitting of PDF documents and merging of PDF pages. There are several other useful functions including a PDF Printer. See: http://www.pdfill.com/pdf_tools_free.html.
This software no longer seems to be available. It cost $19.95. Some people used Gedhtree as their whole website. I only use it for my Ancestor Tree. My page is at: http://roger.xhost.com/Gedhtree/ghtindex.html.
The directory structure is very simple. Almost all of the pages are in the root directory. Most pages have their own subdirectory (pagename_files automatically created by Word). Census pages are in the Census subdirectory. City directory pages are in the CityDir subdirectory. Mixed documents and photos are in the Mixdocs subdirectory. A couple of the first biographies that I created have their own document subdirectories. Gedhtree has its own subdirectory. I have the same subdirectory structure on my computer in a homepage directory. This allows me to run and test the pages while they are still on my computer.
Shorter names are supposedly encouraged and without spaces (use _ instead of a space, where appropriate). Too short and they become too cryptic. Some of mine are quite long.
I use freefind. See: http://www.freefind.com/. There are other advantages to including the search function. I believe that their spider function makes your site more visible to search engines like Google and Yahoo.
To appreciate maximum file size, consider that Comcast constrained me to 8 Mb. I put the whole book "History of Oakdale Township" on my website (the link is buried). It is 147 pages of PDF. I had to scan it at a lower dpi than the default and it came out 5.9 Mb. Too big a file takes too long to load for your readers. Break it into chapters is the easy answer. To experience a large file load, click on: Mixdocs/History Oakdale Township.pdf. For a crude separation by sections (this book did not really have chapters), see: History of Oakdale Township.html. X10hosting allows a maximum file size of 10 Mb.
I created one slideshow with a free commercial site, see: http://www.digicamsoft.com/softhttphotos.html. To allow the user to stay with my site, I used the “open a new window” technique described below. A second slideshow was created (on my site) for the 93 page Thomas McClurken pension file. This was done with the slideshow wizard at: http://www.barelyfitz.com/projects/slideshow/.
To open a link in a new window target=”_blank” is added into the link right before >Your Text</a>. This is done by editing the html file with a text editor, such as, Wordpad. To clarify, the line href="http://www.digicamsoft.com/rkemps/William_20Kemps_20Album/">this link</a>.
This technique was originally used extensively on this page.
The usual way to create an email link, for others to send email to you, is to use your name as a link. My usual hyperlink would be mailto:email@example.com (misspelled intentionally). To prevent spammers, I use the file created as a feature in Gedhtree. See: Gedhtree/maddr.html.
I use Family Tree Maker 2011. One website use is to create a GEDCOM file. The GEDCOM file is needed for Gedhtree and also for posting on RootsWeb. I also use Family Tree Maker 2011 to create Outline Descendant Reports. These are used as a starting point for my Outline Descendant Report pages, such as, ODR Thomas McClurken.html.
I use Family Tree Maker 2011 to create the Outline Descendant Report. Then I choose File -> Export Outline Descendant Tree -> To Acrobat (PDF). Then I open the PDF file. I choose Edit -> Select All, then Edit -> Copy. Then I open a Word document and paste in the text. Then I continue as with the other pages.
It is a good idea to check your site for broken links. I have used Online Broken Link Checker with success.
Last updated 2/29/2016