Thursday, December 3, 2015

First Look at GigaTrees Family Tree Site

A Facebook friend asked me if I had heard of, or contributed to, the family tree website.  I admitted that I had missed it, and then went to look at it.  The site is apparently owned by Tim Forsythe.

1)  When I entered the website URL, I saw this screen:

The site says:

" was created for all types of users, from family historian newbies to certified genealogist technonerds. Regardless of your flavor, will make building your family tree a piece of cake. And when you are ready to take your Genealogy to the next level, you'll find provides loads of advanced features not found on other family trees, including support for the Genealogy Proof Standard, Bonkers consistency checking, Census Table Reports, Ancestor Distribution Heatmaps, Generation Lists and much, much more.
" is fast, friendly, flexible and free.
  1. It uses the latest technologies, including distributed content delivery networks, jQuery and Bootstrap 3 to provide fast, consistent and reliable page load speeds, worldwide.
  2. It supports both ANSI and UTF-8 encoding so no matter what language your data is in or which application you use, it will be displayed correctly.
  3. It is highly configurable giving you the ability to tailor the content of your tree to your own specific needs, but don't worry, the default configuration was designed to accommodate almost everyone. In fact, unless you are a power user, you won't need to change a thing.
  4. Best of all, is completely free. relies on the generous support of our satisfied users to cover operating costs."

Reading the text, it appears that you submit your family tree via a GEDCOM file, or add content person-by-person on the site, and then the GigaTrees site examines and analyzes your tree persons.  It also creates a set of files that could be uploaded to a website.

Note that the screen above has very few links or menus.  In fact, zero, except for the three bars at the top left of the screen on the line with the word "GIGATREES."  Clicking on the three bars, revealed a menu on the left side of the screen:

On that list is:

*  Sign In - I created an account
*  Blog - see
*  User Guide - a how-to for advanced users; see
*  Gigatree - build an offline family tree for download

I clicked on "Gigatree" and the screen showed some buttons for:

*  Upload GEDCOM
*  Restore Default Config
*  Save Config
*  Build Gigatree

I clicked on the "Upload GEDCOM" button and the GEDCOM file, with over 12,000 persons, started to upload.  It took about 8 minutes:

After the GEDCOM upload, I was back to the GigaTrees page.  I scrolled down a bit and added a tree name, then checked out all of the Configuration items.   Here are the first two screens with the title and configuration details:

After checking all of the Configuration items, I clicked the button at the top of the screen to "Save Config."

That took some minutes to save (as I recall), and then this screen appeared:

At the top of the screen above, with the light yellow background, is the message:

"Almost there.  We'll send you an email when your build is complete."

Well, I've not received an email over the last three days, and when I check the site I cannot see any tree data.

There is a sample tree for viewers to look at - see Tim Forsythe's  The Forsythe Saga - and explore.

Hopefully, I will be able to display and demonstrate more on this site when my tree has been built by GigaTrees.

Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Or contact me by email at


Celia Lewis said...

I've looked at it in the past, but dislike the lack of transparency of the owners/managers of the company. There is no "About the Company" link that I could find. I can see no good reason to add a tree to this particular company. I can read that you do know the owner/designer but personally, I need to know more, have a sense of why I should 'trust' tree data.

Might just be me on a rainy evening, but I'm shrugging and walking away from this site.

Marcy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcy said...

It sounds like another version of I would stick with We Relate rather than branch into GigaTrees. They have been around a lot longer and are good at what they do.

Unknown said...

Hey Randy, I just ran across your post. Very sorry to hear the website gave you problems, but very appreciative you went ahead and wrote about Gigatrees anyway. Unfortunately I don't yet have a fix for you. The problem seems to lie with my hosting service. Large trees, those having a lot of individual files create several zip files which are returned by my app server. For some odd reason, my hosting service chokes on concatenating these files together. I have trees much larger than yours that work fine, but when they do fail, they always fail. I've been working on a new framework that will eventually get rid using zip files altogether, but until then, there is not much I can do for those few folks that run into this problem. Smaller files seem to work fine. The good news is that I was able to go into my sever and manually fix these files, as I must do on occasion. Anyway you can access your file and build log now at:

You'll need to be logged in first. You should be able to run any of the individual tools without a problem I would think.

Your commenters made some good points on transparency. I added an About Us page as well to hopefully alleviate any concerns ... and of course I'm always on for coffee.

Thanks again for mentioning Gigatrees - you da man.

Tim Forsythe

Gramble said...

I have been integrating Gigatrees into a WordPress site on my local machine over the last week and am impressed.

To paraphrase a French review of Gigatrees, it's refreshing to use a genealogy program that doesn't look like it was written for Windows 95. I think the interface looks great.

There is an extensive - some might say daunting - array of options for configuring the output. If I had one criticism so far it would be that the help provided for all these options within the app and on the Gigatrees website is not always expressed in the most understandable way. It would be a hard task to get that right and satisfy both novice users and technical tinkerers.

The processing of GEDCOMs downloaded from, in my case, Ancestry is simple. Takes a couple of minutes to download and process the GEDCOM, producing a SQLite database file. I copy that file to the WordPress site, and that's it. I've modified the original Gigatrees-generated pages, adding a search tool (searching name, locations, sources, etc.) and letting you switch between multiple trees (currently running 4 trees off the same code base).

Some niggles remain in my customisation which I won't bore you with, and I've not yet figured out how to incorporate media files (saved locally from Ancestry via RootsMagic) or comments (via the Disqus plugin) in a way that keeps them attached to the same ancestor when updated data is uploaded.

Using Gigatrees has been very rewarding. The integrated data reports on 'impossible' dates and relationships and the A-Z location list, which shows dodgy locations with, for example, missing counties/states/countries, have let me improve the data quality of my Ancestry tree far quicker than if I had done a person-by-person audit.

For me, the ability to get under the hood sets Gigatrees apart from the other tools I've tried.