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Pastfinder Computer Users’ Group

February 18, 2009

Creating Your Own Web Page


The first question is “why would I want to create a web page?” There can be many answers to that such as becoming a force for a cause, displaying art or poetry that you’ve created or, as genealogists, telling others about your family and creating new contacts and receiving new information in return. Let me give a couple of examples.


Rootsweb allows free pages for genealogy and family use. On the family site I posted this page:

The family picture on that page only had some of the people identified but a viewer whose grandmother was in the picture sent me to a woman whose father was there and had the same photograph with everyone identified. What a help! More recently I was contacted by another person whose ancestors were in the picture asking if I could send him a higher resolution copy of the picture. In return he sent me a picture taken in 1870 that includes my gggrandfather and my ggggrandfather with their wives. My ggggrandmother was the daughter of Revolutionary War soldier Levi Pratt whose pension application I have and passed around at the October 15, 2008 CUG meeting. My ggrandfather is also there but we can’t separate him from his brothers in the picture. My new cousin has since sent several other family photos.


There are two approaches to posting your genealogy; one is to just send a GEDCOM to a site such as Rootsweb and another is to create you own web page on a site provided by your Internet Service Provider or a genealogical site like Rootsweb. We’ll cover both approaches. While some of this may sound complicated, it’s really only several small steps, not one large giant process. Take it one small step at a time.


Sending up a GEDCOM

Before you can send up a GEDCOM file you have to create one. In FamilyTreeMaker, open the program and click on File/Export File/Entire File. Then from the dropdown list, select the file you want to use and then under Save as Type, move down the list to select GEDCOM (*GED). That was an easy first step! Now go to, scroll down the left column and under Family Trees (WorldConnect) click on Submit Your Family Tree. You can then enter a User Name and Password that will allow you to submit your file and edit it later if you want. Click on Standard for your first submittal. Follow the instructions from there to tell Rootsweb the name and where your GEDCOM file is located. Two simple steps and now people can contact you about your family. And don’t be worried about spammers harvesting your email address from Rootsweb; they post them all as graphics so they can’t be automatically collected. You can get an email account at Yahoo or Google that you can use for all of your postings, thus never exposing your real address.


Creating a Web Page

Creating a web page is as simple as typing an email. Making it pretty takes more work. Let’s make it simple to start. With WordPerfect, Word or Open Office Writer, you can create a page with text and images and save (publish) it as an html file which can be put on the web. For more detailed work, the free program NVU can be downloaded from several sites on the Internet. Many people with Microsoft Office have FrontPage included that they can use. I use it for Pastfinders web pages.


What your purpose is and what you want to post will determine how you want to proceed but let’s assume for now that you want the world to be aware of your family history. You can go to and request a free web page. They offer two choices of free pages; Genealogy and Family. You can post a family tree on the Genealogy site and family information and pictures on the Family site. There’s a load of help provided on how to proceed. There are free programs that will take a GEDCOM file that you can create with your genealogy program and create a total web page.


This page compares several programs. . They take your GEDCOM file and convert it to an index page and subsequent pages of family members. The latest one that I’ve tried is Ged2Web. It provides an index of persons and when you click on one you get his or her parentage, marriage and children and if you scroll down you’ll find his or her ancestors and further down you’ll find all of the descendants. Go here for an example that will be posted after we create it below.


If you use Roadrunner you are entitled to 50MB of free space so you can put up a lot of material. RR has tutorials and tools that help in getting your page built and in place. Start here and be sure to read the tutorials: Other ISPs have similar plans so check with your provider.


Let’s put a genealogy up on the Internet. We will need to create the genealogy and we’ll use Ged2Web for that. We’ll need a GEDCOM file and I have one for the Holbrook family. Then we’ll need a cover page to introduce what we’ve done. If this is to be the main page of your site, then it would be called index.htm but we’ll put this up on the Pastfinder site so we’ll name it holbrook.htm.


We open Ged2Web and click on Import. We can then browse for the GEDCOM file we want to use, in this case, Holbrook.GED. The result is a folder called HTML which we will right click on and rename it holbrook. It’s best to rename the HTML file since each one that you create will have that name. In the folder are other folders containing the family information and a file called surnames.htm. That is the file we need to click on to see the index of names that leads to the entire genealogy. Note that we use lower case because some ftp servers reduce everything to lower case and URLs are case sensetive.


Almost any wordprocesor can be used to create a web page. To verify if you can use yours, go to File/Save As and see if saving as an HTML document is an option. We will create a cover page that will have a link to surnames.htm. We’ll type some general information and then include the link. In our case, the link will be to the folder holbrook and the file surnames.htm and we’ll enter it as surnames.htm. You do this by entering the text you want such as Go here and then highlight that text and click on Insert/Hyperlink. When the hyperlink box opens, click on the Document icon on the left. The text you created shows up on the bottom line and if that’s the address you want to use, copy and paste in to the top hyperlink line. Then click on Apply.


There are two types of links that we can use; one is called absolute and it includes the HTTP:// and the full address. The other is called relative and includes only that part of the address that takes it

from where it’s located to the destination address. We want a relative address here and that is the default setting in OO Writer.


What we have now is a text document but it will become web page when we save it. We’ll go to File/Save As and in the Save as type box, click on the arrow to see all of the different formats that OO permits. We’ll scroll down to HTML Document and type in the name holbrook. Now our document is no longer just a text document, it’s a web page. Go to View and then View Page Source and look through the document that you just created. Verify that the link to surnames that we just created looks like this: <A HREF="surnames.htm">surnames.htm</A> . What you are looking at here is the code that gets sent up to the Internet that produces the web page you created.


Now we have to send it up to our web site. You’ll need the username and password that were issued by the provider and the name of the folder into which you can upload your file. We’ll use FireFTP with Firefox. To get FireFTP, in Firefox go to Tools/Addons and click on Extensions and select FireFTP. We have two things to send up. The folder called holbrook and the file called holbrook.html. Since the page we sent up was not the index page we need to add a link to our index page that points to Holbrook.html. But I already did that when you weren’t looking. Let’s do it and see what we get.


Now the disclaimer. I did not create the Holbrook file but I downloaded it from the internet. And there’s a point to be made here. BE CAREFUL. Look at Thomas Holbrooke who had 3 kids born in 1653; one in England and another on the same date in America. Also, his first kid was born before he was.

Creating a Presentation


The easiest way to tell a story to a group of people is to make an on-screen presentation that summarizes what it is you want to say. It leads both you and the audience through the story without missing anything. I have a projector and so does the library so all that’s necessary is a laptop computer and the proper software.


There are many programs for creating a presentation: Microsoft’s Power Point comes with some versions of Microsoft Office, Corel Presentation comes with WordPerfect Office and Open Office has a program called Presentation that used to be called Impress. We’ll use the free program Open Office Presentation but the process is similar for all of the programs.


While the program can be tailored to fit the way you want to set it up, we’ll take the bare bones approach and take most settings as they are offered but don’t be afraid to experiment to find the way you want it. Look at all of the drop down menus from the toolbar to see what can be done.


Opening the program we have a choice of starting with an Empty Presentation, From a Template or one we’ve already started. We’ll accept Empty Presentation and click on Next. Now we get to choose a background and for our purpose here, we won’t be fussy; we’ll take the first one offered and click Next. Here we’re offered a choice of transitions and other affects; we can click on any one to see what it does but we’ll leave it at No Effect and click on Create. Now we’re at the first page of our presentation and we get to choose a layout for our slides. We can use one throughout or use different ones depending on the slide content. Lets select the one on the top right called the Title Slide. We’ll click in the box at the top so that we can include some text. We’ll enter Creating a Presentation. Then we’ll move down to the main portion of the slide and click to add some text and we’ll type How to create an on-screen presentation for Pastfinders. Now we’ll go up to the top of the page and click on Slide and that moves the present slide over to the right and provides a blank new slide of the Title Slide but we can change that to be whatever we want. We’ll select the second one in the first column called Title, Text. We’ll call it Getting Started by clicking in the Title Box and entering that text. Then we’ll click in the Text Box and enter the following:

             Decide what program to use.

             Obtain the program and get familiar with it

             Choose a template, layout and background

             Follow the instructions to add text or images

             Save the result



If you want to include an image, choose the appropriate layout, click on Insert and scroll down to what you want to insert. Then browse through your files until you find the image. You can choose to link to the image instead of having Open Office create a copy for your presentation. If you look through all of the layouts you’ll find something to fit almost any need. A split page with text one one side and an image on another is a good way to present family or historical information for which images exist.


You can also insert a link to another document or to the Internet; another image, a video, a saved web page or a page on the Internet if you are connected. On the slide where you want to include the link, highlight the text where you want the link, click on Insert/Hyperlink and just enter the link you want to go to.


Once you have the presentation, what can you do with it? For a Pastfinder presentation, you just bring your laptop and connect to our projector. You’ll need to set your laptop up for dual displays by Right Clicking on a blank spot on your desktop, clicking on Properties, Settings and Advanced. From there, each laptop may be different but you want to set up the dual monitor mode with one display the laptop and the other a Monitor. The monitor should be selected as a Clone and not an extension of your laptop.


You could also connect it to your TV depending on the type of output connections available. Usually one is called S-Video and that can be set up as you did above only select TV and NTSC. You can also e-mail the presentation to others or you can put it on a CD or DVD.


To play your presentation, click on Slide Show in the upper right. You can just let it play with a fixed time between slides but for a presentation, the slides can move from one to the next by pressing the Left Mouse Button. There is a remote with the projector that serves that purpose and you can select to go forward or backward as you work through your slides.