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Technology

Technology Tuesday – from Joomla to GRAMPS NarrativeWeb

Until recently I’ve been using Joomla CMS to create my website – mainly to get practice for another project I’m involved in. But as I’m the only person updating my site, it’s rather overkill. Another problem was that the few genealogy plug-ins were too heavy on resources for my free hosting, and I don’t want to upgrade to paid.

So I’ve been storing my actual tree on Rootsweb with a link from my family history site, which is not only a bit clumsy, but also has another problem – for some reason all my GEDCOM files are being corrupted at some point, and I can’t track down how or where. What I do know is that despite what my GEDCOM shows, my uncle and my father-in-law were never married to each other, and my grandmother was not the son of my husband’s great-uncle.

My OS is Linux, and my genealogy software is GRAMPS, which uses the NarrativeWeb plug-in to create a website from its database. The instructions are included on the GRAMPS documentation site, plus the basics of customising your site.

As I’ve created several CSS/ HTML sites, I decided to customise – I wanted to include all the pages that I had on the Joomla-version of my site, which gave information about the main families and some of my more interesting ancestors.

I edited the template for the index page (created by the plug-in) to include a link to my blog, and added notes to GRAMPS to be used for the index page, and for the customised footer (I added my SiteMeter stats script). I also made slight changes to the CSS, to make the headings more to my liking.

I then generated my site through the GRAMPS plug-in – this lets you choose your template and any notes that make up the standard pages it creates. It also lets you choose the tree you want to include – I started with one of my children, as I wanted to include both my tree and my husband’s. It also lets you set privacy requirements – to exclude living people, to include them but not show their names or details, and how long after death a person should be shown as living. The default is 25 years – sounds a long time, but we have to consider legal stuff like identity theft, and family issues.

I created the extra pages with Bluefish, the HTML editor I prefer, and then had to decide – do I add images for those pages to GRAMPS, or add them myself in a separate directory? I took this problem to the GRAMPS mailing list, where I got feed back from others who had gone this route before me. The consensus was to add them to GRAMPS – I’d know where they were, and wouldn’t have to remember to add them in again when I updated the site.

I’ve backed up the pages I created myself, the edited template and stylesheet to another directory and to my Dropbox. The plug-in overwrites the directory every time you generate, so I need to be sure I can add these back in easily if they’re accidentally deleted. Finally, testing on my PC was finished and I was ready to upload to the server.

Uploading the entire site took a couple of hours, so I’ve installed Sitecopy ¬†on my PC so that I can easily update the website without uploading eveything. Sitecopy will upload only updated files to my server. There are couple of good tutorials for Sitecopy at http://tinyurl.com/6v9rnyt and http://tinyurl.com/6tn4or9 . There are several similar programs for Windows.

At last my site includes family history information, family trees, and photos all in one place – I don’t have to worry about out-of-date info around the web because I’ve forgotten to update it.

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