Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Dear Randy: Where Can I Find a Full-Featured, Free, Updatable Online Family Tree?

Reader Don asked this question in email today, saying:

"It's obvious after almost 2 years that Ancestry has no real intention of resurrecting Rootsweb World Connect Tree uploading. They've had a crippled replacement for a while but it's virtually useless. This is how I used to use Rootsweb trees. I'd upload a GEDCOM with full sources and notes. That way everybody could see every detail and every thought I had when entering the data I did. 

"My question to you is do you know of a suitable, free replacement? The replacements I've tried or investigated all have holes or problems. 

*  Ancestry: no full source data, notes only viewable by Editor, can't upload images automatically (I have about 1200 German church records alone). 
*  Family Search: No way to automatically update a tree (i.e. upload GEDCOM to replace old tree, no images), 
*  MyHeritageDNA: 10K people limitation on free account, no images, etc...

"I hope you can see what I'm driving at. You're one of the most knowledgeable people I've run across on all this so I figured no harm asking. An honest answer from Ancestry on the future of Rootsweb World Connect Tree would help. I have a gut feel they have one college intern working on it and progress and competency is sorely lacking. I've got 14 years of research I'm trying to share but without the old Rootsweb trees I've not found a good way to do it."

A)  Don has asked two questions here - one about WorldConnect and one about an online tree replacement.

I don't know the answer to the RootsWeb WorldConnect problem.  The website is still there, but I haven't tried to upload a GEDCOM there, so I don't know what the issue is.

B)  The question about the free replacement online tree with visible Notes, Sources and Media is more complex.  Don is right about Ancestry, FamilySearch and MyHeritage online trees.  There are several other options, including: - it's free, but a wiki ("our tree"), and permits notes, sources and images (or links to images).  A GEDCOM upload is permitted, but the user must check each person in the GEDCOM file whether they are already in WikiTree or not.  It is updatable by hand. - it's free, "your tree," full featured, has Notes, Sources and Media uploads.  I don't know if the Media upload is automatic with a GEDCOM.   I don't know if it is updatable except by hand.  I haven't used this extensively but blogged about it last year. - it's free, "your tree," can be updated, but Notes, Sources and Media seem limited.  Updating seems to be done by replacing the GEDCOM file., PHPGedView and The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding - These are all PHP supported, cost money to buy the software and.or have a website.  Updating seems to be done by replacing the GEDCOM file.  I have not used these.

I know I've missed some good options - and I hope my readers, or software suppliers, can add to my list in Comments or in email (which I will add to the list above).

You can see all of the available full-featured online trees (self proclaimed!) at the GenSoftReviews website.

B)  My solution is a bit easier for me to use.  I use RootsMagic family tree software ($30), which can sync with my Ancestry Member Tree and can exchange information with FamilySearch Family Tree.  

I add all content (names, relationships, events, dates, places, sources, notes, media, etc.) to my RootsMagic family tree on my desktop computer (I could put the "master file" and all media items in a cloud file (e.g., Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.).

*  At least once a week, I TreeShare my RootsMagic file with my Ancestry Member Tree.  RootsMagic shows a list of profiles that have been changed in either RootsMagic or Ancestry Member Tree, and TreeSharing occurs one profile at a time.  That way, my Ancestry Member Tree can have the same Notes, Sources and Media as I have in my RootsMagic file.  Typically, this takes an hour to do with 100 to 150 profiles.

*  I "match" my RootsMagic profiles to the FamilySearch Family Tree profiles for the same person.  I can add Notes, Sources, and Media to the Family Tree profile.  I do this from within RootsMagic.  There is an automatic "match" process in RootsMagic but I haven't used it.  RootsMagic requires me to go one profile at a time in the match process, and I can add a person not already in Family Tree.  However, this is a "shared tree" so others can add or edit the profile information I have added to Family tree.

C)  There seems to be no perfect solution for Don's problem, like he had with his RootsWeb WorldConnect tree.  If someone has a great solution for Don (and me...), please Comment on this post or email me.


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Donald said...

Unfortunately there are no real great options when it comes to online trees both paid for and free.
I guess if I had to choose MyHeritage/Geni would be my pick as a Paid for online tree simply because they are more transparent when it comes to their Terms of Service and Privacy Policy than say Ancestry is. Plus it will be only a matter of time before Ancestry becomes insolvent at this point. Free trees online are just horrible right now. WikiTree is in Wiki format which is god aweful, but they do enforce Sourcing so that's good. FamilySearch is a good format except it's version of a One World Tree is harder to maintain probably because no one enforces sourcing leading to conflicts.
What genealogy really needs is more Open Source and transparent solutions.

Ruth said...

Don must be reading my mind! I've also been looking for free web space for my tree. I too had my data on RootsWeb and it worked well for years, but that whole concept is just outdated and Ancestry doesn't seem too interested in bringing it up to date. No money in that. And while Ancestry is free to house and maintain my tree, I still don't totally trust them after that little problem they had with our information a few years back.

I have tried WikiTree and WeRelate, both wikis, but I don't like someone else being able to change my data. Hence the problem with FamilySearch. I'm happy to share what I have, but I don't want someone else messing up all my hard work!

I also use the free web space that comes with RootsMagic, but there's not enough room for all my images.

Right now, I use Ancestry and RootsMagic, though I don't upload my images to Ancestry because I just don't trust them. I store my images on OneDrive, where I have 15 GB free space. It all works out, but it would be nice to be able to have tree and images all together.

Marcia Crawford Philbrick said...

With RootsMagic, one can upload the data onto a Free site hosted by RootsMagic. This includes notes, images and sources. My data is available at

Valorie said...

Supposedly Rootsweb World Connect is being fixed. Until they roll out WC 2.0, we won't know if it's fixed or "fixed."

Ruth said...

Marcia, I'm interested in your Google Site for your Heartland Genealogy. What program do you use? Or was it a Google Sites template? It looks like The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding program.

Dave test said...

One of my smaller trees at Worldconnect just went beta in the last couple days.

Fax said...

The old adage applies: You get what you pay for. I would much prefer free, but I'm happy to pay for my Family History Hosting via GedSite. It takes my Gedcom from any source, including all images, notes, sources, etc., and also gives me the flexibility to add all kinds of pages, making it a full website, not just a tree. See here for some example live websites and here for the home page The GedSite program costs about $30, is fun to use, and is fully supported. You build your website on your own computer and can put it on a flash drive to distribute to family members or upload it to a website via a free FTP program. The best solution is to use FHH to have a full website of your own -- much quicker and easier than using FTP. I pay GoDaddy about $20/year for my domain and FHH about $60/year for full hosting and support.

Dave test said...

Two of my trees are now at Worldconnect.

Observations so far:
The text pedigree tree is limited to 4 generations instead of the unlimited number from the old style Worldconnect.

The descendants list does not distinguish any kind of generation differences.

Let's hope this is changed before it becomes a general availability product.

Dallan said...

This is Dallan from RootsFinder. We have a GEDCOM media uploader that is in beta right now and we are free up to 65,000 people and 2Gb of media (about 1,000 images). You get 100Gb of media for $35/year. Please email me at dallan _at_ if you're interested in trying out the GEDCOM media uploader.