webtrees ReadMe File

Note: This information is also available at the webtrees WIKI


  6. GEDCOM (family tree) FILES


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* webtrees: Web based Family History software
* Copyright (C) 2013 webtrees development team.
* Derived from PhpGedView - Copyright (C) 2002 to 2010 PGV Development Team.
* All rights reserved.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

See the file GPL.txt included with this software for more detailed licensing information.


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webtrees is the web's leading online collaborative genealogy application. webtrees allows you to view and edit your genealogy on your website. It has full editing capabilities, full privacy functions, and supports multimedia like photos and document images. As an on line program, it fosters extended family participation and good ancestral recording habits, as it simplifies the process of collaborating with others working on your family lines. Your latest information is always on your web site and available for others to see, defined by viewing rules you set. For more information and to see working demos, visit http://webtrees.net/ .

webtrees is Open Source software that has been produced by people from many countries freely donating their time and talents to the project. All service, support, and future development is dependent on the time developers are willing to donate to the project, often at the expense of work, recreation, and family. Beyond the few donations received from users, developers receive no compensation for the time they spend working on the project. There is also no outside source of revenue to support the project. Please consider these circumstances when making support requests and consider volunteering your own time and skills to make the project even stronger and better.


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To install webtrees, you need:


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Installing webtrees is really easy. All you need is a webserver with PHP and MySQL. Almost every web hosting service provides these, but be sure to confirm that those supplied meet or exceed the minimum system requirements.

  1. Download webtrees-1.3.2.zip from http://launchpad.net/webtrees
  2. Unzip the files and upload them to an empty directory on your web server.
  3. Open your web browser and type the URL for your webtrees site (for example, http://www.yourserver.com/webtrees) into the address bar.
  4. The webtrees setup wizard will start automatically. Simply follow the steps, answering each question as you proceed. (See '''Step Six''' procedure below.)

That's it!

However, before you can use webtrees, you need one (or possibly more) GEDCOM (family tree) files. If you have been doing your research using a desktop program such as Family Tree Maker, you can use it's "save as GEDCOM" function to create a GEDCOM file. If you are starting from scratch, then webtrees can create a GEDCOM file for you. Alternatively, you can import data directly from PhpGedView.

So, after installation, you'll be directed to the GEDCOM (family tree) administration page, where you'll need to select one of the following options:

  1. On successful completion of all steps you will be taken to the GEDCOM (family tree) administration page where you can:
There are lots of configuration options. You'll probably want to review the privacy settings first. Don't worry too much about all the other options - the defaults are good for most people. If you get stuck, there's lots of built-in help and you can get friendly advice from the help forum.


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Upgrading webtrees is quick and easy. It is strongly recommended that you upgrade your installation whenever a new version is made available. Even minor webtrees version updates usually contain a significant number of bug fixes as well as interface improvements and program enhancements. The Administration page of your webtrees installation will display a notification whenever a new version is available.
  1. Now would be a good time to make a backup.
  2. Download the latest version of webtrees available from http://launchpad.net/webtrees
  3. While you are in the middle of uploading the new files, a visitor to your site would encounter a mixture of new and old files. This could cause unpredictable behaviour or errors. To prevent this, create the file data/offline.txt. While this file exists, visitors will see a "site unavailable - come back later" message.
  4. Unzip the .ZIP file, and upload the files to your web server, overwriting the existing files.
  5. Delete the file data/offline.txt

NOTE for Macintosh users. Step 4 assumes you are using a copy tool that merges directories rather than replaces them. (Merge is standard behaviour on Windows and Linux.) If you use the Macintosh Finder or other similar tool to perform step 3, it will replace your configuration, media and other directories with the empty/default ones from the installation. This would be very bad (but you did take a backup in step 1, didn't you!). Further details and recommendations for suitable tools can be found by searching google.com

NOTE for anyone using custom code (modules, themes, etc.). It is very likely that your custom code will not work when you upgrade webtrees. We recommend that you disable all custom code before you apply the upgrade. Disable custom modules, switch over to a standard theme, and remove any code "hacks". Once the upgrade is complete and you are satisfied your site is fully operational contact the source of those modules or themes for a new version.

GENERAL NOTE: Depending on the changes in the new files, your browser configuration and possibly other factors, it is always wise to clear both the webtrees cache and your browser cache immediately after the upgrade is completed. The webtrees cache can be cleared simply by going to Administration -> Cleanup data directory and deleting the cache.

If you have any problems or questions, help is available on the webtrees forum.

GEDCOM (family tree) FILES

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When you ADD, IMPORT or UPLOAD a family tree (GEDCOM) file in webtrees the data from the file is all transferred to the database tables. The file itself is no longer used or required by webtrees

When or if you change your genealogy data outside of webtrees, it is not necessary to delete your GEDCOM file or database from webtrees and start over. Follow these steps to update a GEDCOM that has already been imported:
  1. Decide if you want to IMPORT or UPLOAD your new GEDCOM file.
  2. From the Administration page, go to your webtrees Family trees (GEDCOM) configuration page. On the line relating to this particular family tree (GEDCOM) file (or a new one) click either IMPORT or UPLOAD.
  3. Take careful note of the media items option ("If you have created media objects in webtrees, and have edited your gedcom off-line using a program that deletes media objects, then tick this box to merge the current media objects with the new GEDCOM.") In most cases you should leave this box UNCHECKED.
  4. Click "SAVE". webtrees will validate the GEDCOM again before importing. During this process, webtrees copies your entire family tree (GEDCOM file) to a 'chunk' table within your database. Depending on the coding of your file, its file size and the capabilities of your server and the supporting software, this may take some time. No progress bar will show while the data is being copied and should you navigate away from this page, the process is suspended. It will start again when you return to the Family Tree management page.


Every Family History program has its own method of creating GEDCOM files, and differing output format options to select from. webtrees' import routines can read many different formats, but not necessarily all. If your software has a "UTF8" option you should always use that. However, webtrees has been tested with these alternative formats: