- 1 DRAFT ONLY - NOT READY YET
- 2 Quick Start Guide
- 3 The User Functions
- 3.1 Navigate
- 3.2 Search
- 3.3 Get data
- 4 The User Interface
- 5 Editing/Entering Data
- 6 Privacy
DRAFT ONLY - NOT READY YET
This Users Guide is intended to introduce novices to webtrees (or WT for short) so they get comfortable using the program on a day-to-day or more occasional basis for their genealogical research. The Guide aims to provide information about how to use webtrees from the basics to some more advanced features. Most importantly, it serves to gently introduce the processes and steps to accomplish specific tasks. More a tutorial and overview than reference manual.
This guide is aimed at researchers and editors and not the casual public visitor who does not login nor the administrator who is managing more advanced capabilities. Some features of webtrees can only be modified by the site administrator and are detailed in the Administrators Guide. Online help via the many question mark symbols (insert symbol here yet) can aid the casual visitor as well as novice user to navigate the program.
We start with a Quick Start Guide and overview, followed by more detailed User Tutorials and procedures.
Quick Start Guide
Provided here is a brief overview to get the new webtrees user off to a flying start. At the top of each main heading is a link to more detail for that step. For those who are experienced with similar software, skip directly to the detail in the link. For users new to webtrees and genealogy programs in general, read through the quick start completely before jumping down the rabbit hole of links. This to first get an overall feel of important points about the setup and flow. Once done, then go back through and hit the detailed pages to get a step by step introduction of how to do a specific task.
Starting a New Tree / GEDCOM
What layman call a Family Tree is often termed a "GEDCOM" or Genealogical Database in webtrees and to genealogists. Each Family Tree or database in a webtrees installation is stored in its own GEDCOM file. A tree is possibly misleading and represents a myopic view of the relations of people over generations from one persons perspective. Like a banyon tree, as soon as there is a large enough group of people each with their own view, it is no longer easy to determine a starting trunk or source. It is a dense forest of interconnections. Hence database, web or mesh of individuals is a more correct term overall to represent what you are creating here. But the terms are used interchangeably in this guide and often the software to help ease the casual user into using the system.
You can either start from scratch or import work done previously in another program. Those with experience in some other genealogy program can often export the data from there into a GEDCOM file. Once available, the work can then be imported into webtrees to start where you left off. Similarly, the webtrees can be archived or exported to a GEDCOM file for loading into some other program elsewhere. Just remember that the GEDCOM file captures the facts but only hints at links to media. A user has to separately handle media files that may have been attached. Otherwise, if starting from scratch, the administrator will have to start a new GEDCOM to allow a new tree. Once available, you can begin entering new data on people, places and families. See the main article on how to perform these tasks.
Once you have a tree or database, you have to start adding or editing information. Information in webtrees and GEDCOMs in general revolves around two major objects: Individuals (or People) and Families. Additional supporting objects are Place Hierarchy, Media, Sources and Repositories. To remind yourself of these objects later, look under the main Lists pull down menu in webtrees.
Important secondary facts associated with most objects or facts are dates and places. Just realize there is a lot of freedom and flexibility in what you enter. But the more precise and following of conventions, the better the program can automatically process the data for you. So later on click through the links on these two important facts to learn these important conventions.
People and Families
Most genealogical software, as does webtrees, strive to avoid islands of disconnected people in the database. Therefore, you are restricted to adding people who are related to people already in your database. Further, the connections between people are made inside and through a Family. People become related by how they relate inside a Family. Some term this the immediate family. In webtrees, they are known as Relatives as there are usually two and sometimes more immediate families an Individual may be a part of.
Most people become part of two families in their lifetime. A child in their parents family and, when they marry and have children, as a parent of their own family. Philanders and others may create many more families, whether intentional or not. Note that the concept of a family is not the same as a household. In databases such as these, there is a historical focus on biological relationships with a more recent one of legal relationship through adoption or religious connection available as well. So unless adopted, a young child raised by a step-parent will never appear associated with or in the same family as the step-parent. Something to keep in mind when recording individuals, families and their relationships.
Adding/Editing People and Families
To add a new person, add a close relative to an existing person in the family tree. Generally one adds a spouse, father, mother, or child. A new person can be added in the Close Relatives tab on the Individuals screen, or from a Family screen by clicking to add a child, husband or wife. Adding a child, father, mother or spouse will create the new family if it did not exist already. This because the relationship has to be created when adding the new person and a relationship only exists within a family.
Adding a new spouse will create a new family with the two individuals as parents. A problem arises when trying to add a new sibling before the family exists. It takes a spousal or parent-child relationship to create the family. So even if nothing is known about either parent, one must create at least one parent first to add a sibling. In such cases, create the parent with "Unknown" as their first and last name as a place holder. Later on, the parent can be edited to correct information when known.
There is a distinction between adding someone NEW versus making a link to someone who already exists in the database. Most often you are adding new but occassionaly you may need to link to an existing person. The need arises when distant cousins marry or siblings in one family marry different siblings in another family.
Rarely there is a need to add an unlinked person first, for example, if you are working on a separate branch that might eventually get connected. While possible, it is purposely inconvenient, requires Administrative privileges, and can only be done from inside the Administrator screen (see Add an unlinked person).
When you add a new Individual, you will have the chance to fill in a lot of information. Do not get too worried, just add what you know. You can always edit or add more information later.
To help with consistency and aid the user, some fields may be filled in for you. Like the last name of a child in a family, or the gender if you selected "Add a son", "Add a daughter" or the like. But you can change any of the information even if pre-filled in. You can also leave blank any information that is not known.
Generally, a person is minimally defined by their name. Often the gender and maybe one basic event of their life is known as well. The three basic events are:
Note that to add a marriage, you have to add a spouse. The marriage even is actually stored with the family and not the individuals.
Having finished one person, you can proceed to the next person in the family. However, it is likely that you have more Facts and Events on the life of the person, like place of residence, religion, education, etc. You can add this data now as well or come back and do it later.
A Family is created automatically when you add a spouse, parent or child. Just as with an individual, you can add facts, events, and multimedia to the family. Such information will be displayed in the Family screen and with each spouse. A key fact with any family is the Marriage. Another might be a census giving the family members, occupation, and residence. Note that you can add a Marriage when in the Individuals screen. But that fact is actually stored with the family. Something to keep in mind when wondering why your edit disappeared after saving (because it appears staged as an edit waiting for approval with the family and not the individual).
- See also: a FAQ entry on Creating relationships
Adding Sources and Repositories
As you become more accomplished, you will appreciate the concept of sources. Every fact in the database can be attributed with a link to where you got that information from along with the details in the source reference. The name, birth, death and so on are all facts that can be sourced from many places. If you can, get in the habit of ALWAYS adding a source to every fact, event or even name and Individual. Many a time you come back six months later, see something that now seems incorrect, but wonder where you got that notion from. Genealogy is more a constant refining process where you develop better and better educated guesses until you feel you have overwhelming evidence to support just one answer. This happens with every fact -- the name, birth date, birth place and so on. So while it may appear as a tedious task, adding sources pays later.
You can add a source in the Sources tab on the individual display, and on virtually every fact and object editing screen - whether you are adding or editing new people, events, multimedia etc. The 'Sources' tab is appropriate for sources of a general nature relating to the person. If the source applies to the specific fact, event, image etc, it is better to note the source there. And it is just fine to create a use a source that simply identifies it as an attestation by a specific individual. At least you know where it came from in case you need to reconfirm later or decide which source wins out when conflicting.
Sources can be linked to a repository as well. So the source may be your family bible while the repository is a particular household or family that holds the bible. Or the source may be a particular book and the repository a library where you found the book. Get in the habit of listing the repository as well, even if your own collection. Like sources attached to facts, you will not remember later on where you had seen that important document you forgot to make a photo copy of. Leave a breadcrumb to find that trail later.
You can illustrate your family data with a rich selection of Multimedia: images, voice and video, documents, webpages and other illustrative and documentary material. You can illustrate your sources with images of original documents, and include the complete works - stories, memoirs, biographies, as well as links to external sources and pages.
Enriching the viewing experience
After entering a number of people in the family, it is time to think of enriching the viewer's experience. There are many items that make viewing the family tree more enjoyable:
- Maps - GoogleMap module allows you to display locations for all events in person's life.
- News (the Welcome Page has forms for adding news about family etc.)
The User Functions
Once you have some data in your family tree, you are ready to show them to the users. This section desribes the basic operations the user - either visitor or registered user - can do to find what she wants on the webtrees page. The webtrees page should be mostly self-explanatory, but there is a lot of functionality under the hood. The user will want to Navigate the tree to find the information she is interested in, to Search if navigation does not get her there, and possibly to Get data - either as a printed report/page to show somebody without a computer, or possibly in an electronic form.
webtrees has a very powerful navigation functions, which allow you to move easily between different persons, families and branches of the Family Tree. You can start with a Person, and navigate using this person nearest relatives, a chart of descendants, a chart of ancestors or a chart that includes both. webtrees also extensively uses Lists, which are "live", allowing you to filter, sort, select and jump to another list.
The Charts and Lists appear twice on the user interface: in the Top menu, and repeated for the Individual. The Top menu Charts by default start with the designated root person of the family tree, configurable for each registered user. The Individual menu charts start with the individual. The Top menu lists are global, the Individual menu lists start with the individual or his family.
The genealogy data is often represented as a tree, but one can construct two very different trees, each with an individual at its root. The Ancestry tree shows the individual and two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great-grandparents etc. The Descendancy tree shows an individual, all his/her children, all grandchildren etc.
ChartsCharts can be used as excellent navigation tools, with many options. Start with the Hourglass chart, which combines the Ancestry with Descendancy views, centered around you or the chosen individual. This gives you the nearest family neighborhood, with more people than the Close Relatives tab. The Pedigree chart extends towards the ancestors, and is similar to the Ancestry chart except for the layout. The Descendancy chart has the same layout as Ancestry but extends towards individual's descendants. The Family Book chart displays descendant families, each arranged in an Hourglass layout. You can achieve similar effect of displaying separate families in the Ancestry and Descendancy charts by selecting the "Booklet" option. The Relationship chart shows all individuals on the way between two individuals; The Relationship charts from the individual to the user favorites are pre-defined.
All those standard charts have common navigation tools. The Zoom File:Zoom.png icon expands the individual box, showing his/her life details. The Link to charts File:Link to charts.png icon shows a sub-menu of various charts for the individual and related persons, and the Arrow File:Arrow.png pointing in different directions moves the display in the direction indicated, and in some contexts also displays a submenu if the destination is ambiguous. A plus or minus sign File:PlusMinus.png expands or contract parts of the tree.
Other diagrams present the data in different graphic formats. The Circle diagram gives a snapshot of several generations of ancestors, with individual in the center. The Compact chart crams the individual and his/her ancestors up to great great grandparents (with optional images) in one compact page. There are two diagrams showing people and events as they develop in time. The Timeline chart shows all events of one (or more) individuals on a timeline. The Lifespan chart compares multiple individuals, with their events shown with small markers. Once selected, you can switch between those two views. In each diagram you can also navigate to the individual by clicking his/her name.
A summary of available charts:
- Ancestry tree
- Descendancy tree
- Combined Ancestry and Descendancy tree
- Single line joining two individuals
- Time span
Lists, like charts, can also be used as live navigation tools. Lists, especially lists of people and families, show up in multiple locations, and almost all lists are connected. For example, viewing a list of people, you can click on the place name, which will bring you to the place hierarchy display with people and families related to this place; if you click at the date, you will be brought to the anniversary calendar with lists of events that occurred on this date (month, year, etc.). all list have column headers that can be clicked to sort the rows alphabetically; the people list have additional options to sort by first name, and to add parents.
People and families
Lists of people and families are displayed in many places: when the "Family List" and "Individual List" menu items are selected; as a result of a search; in the "On This Day" and "Upcoming Events" boxes; as lists of people and families linked to a particular Source or Media object; as lists of people and families related to the selected Place location etc. People lists share the header that allows you to filter and select people based on a range of criteria:
Persons whose gender is unknown
Alive in specified year
Alive (individual or both)
Dead (individual or both)
People born more than 100 years ago
|People born within last 100 years
People who died over 100 years ago
People who died within last 100 years
Couples both alive
Couples where only male is alive
Couples where only female is alive
Couples where both partners are deceased
|Couples with unknown marriage date |
Roots: people who have no parents recorded in the database (both if family)
Leaves: people who are alive and have no children recorded in the database
Using any one of those filters you can narrow the list of choices. Clicking the person or family will navigate to this person (family) display. Selecting the place or date will bring the Place Hierarchy or Anniversary lists.
If places in your GEDCOM are structured (see Place data for details), the Place Hierarchy list will display the list of top level place elements. They typically should be country names, although in some not-so-distant future they could be "Earth", "Moon", "Mars" etc. When you click on any such element, you will be presented with a list of its sub-elements, for example States if the country was US. The sub-list will be accompanied by a map, if available. You can continue to lower level sub-units (Counties, etc.), or select "View all records found in this place". You will eventually see a list of people and families. Birth, Death and Marriage places are listed, but the name will show in this list if the place is mentioned with any event.
As always, clicking the person/family opens this person/family screen, clicking the place opens another another list of all people/families associated with this place etc.
The MultiMedia List menu item will display the list of Media Objects. You can use the "Filter" function to search for media that have the selected phrase in the title. The Objects returned usually include thumbnail, and also a list of people/families it is associated with. You can navagate to any of them by clicking the name.
Sources and Repositories
The Source List and Repository List display the sources and repositories found in your Gedcom respectively. They do not currently have any filtering tools. If you click on a source, you will be brought to the source screen, with its details and a list of people for which this source is cited. If you click on a repository, you will see a the depository details and a list of sources in this repository.
The Anniversary Calendar will display the anniversaries occuring on a specific day, month or year. It will show lists of people and families, and for each the events that match the selection criteria. The list will show events (selectable in the "Show events" option) and also indicate, which anniversary it is, relative to the selected year (which may not be the current year). Only "positive" anniversaries are shown, i.e. the screen will only show events that occurred before (or in) the selected year,. For example if your anniversary date is March 1780, and you are displaying months, events that occurred in all Marches before 1780 will be shown.
You can select Day, Month or Year from the menu, or switch using the "View Day", "View Month" and "View Year" options on the screen.
- View Day will display events that occurred this day of this month in any year.
- View Month will display events that occurred any day of this month in any year.
- View Year will display events that occurred any day of any month in this year.
For example, if you want to find all events that occurred on February 29, you need to first select a leap year (latest leap year if you want all events, for example 2008), then click on February and finally on the 29th.
The screen has other useful functionality. You can select all people, living people or limit the range to the last 100 years (the "Show" option). You can select the gender (all, men, women) and select the events that are to be shown (All, Births, Deaths and Marriages and a selection from more common events).
You can also select different calendars. The events that occurred on a specific date may have an anniversary on different dates in the Julian, Jewish or Islamic calendars. Due to different calendar rules, the determination of the anniversary may only be approximate (typically the difference does not exceed one day).
As with all lists, clicking on person's name (or family names) opens this person or family screen. Conversely, clicking on a date, month or year in any other lists brings this anniversary calendar focused on the selected date, month or year.
When you click the "Close relatives" tab on the individual display, you will switched to a screen showing the individual's family in which he or she is a child, and the family in which he or she is a spouse. You can navigate to parents and siblings, as well as to the families listed on this display.
webtrees has a powerful search facility, which can be accessed for a quick search through a Search box, and via the Search menu. The Search box does the same search as the General Search item in the Search menu, but with all Search for options and all Databases selected.
The General Search allows you to search for almost anything - names, places, dates, fragments of text, etc. There are some caveats - dates must be entered in their English abbreviated form (e.g. 12 Jan 1817) and you can use regular expressions if you know how. The search is not case sensitive, and wildcards are assumed - the search term will be found no matter what precedes or follows it. The options are:
- Search For
- You can check one or more of the following
- Individual Names. Actually this should say Individuals - this option searches the Individual Records for the text string you entered
- Family Names. As above, it searches Family Records fro the search string
- Sources - will search Sources for the term you specified
- Exclude Filter
- Excludes some non-genealogical data by default, you can turn it off.
- Includes records of associates in the search.
- Database to search in
- select the Gedcom to search for, if there is more than one.
Soundex should return search results even if the spelling is not exact. You can use Basic type, but the Daitch-Mokotoff is more efficient in finding close matches, and only this type works for non-English search terms. Of course, the Soundex search may return more results than needed, but it is more likely to find what are you looking for. The search terms can be entered as Given name, Last name, or Place, and modified by selecting a Year.
In addition to viewing the Family Tree on thew ebpage, you may need to extract some data to work on them off-line. Typically this would include the printed or printable form to be distributed on paper or included in a family book or other publication, and raw data for further manipulation, creating tables or extracts or importing to other programs.
You can print any webtrees page using your browsers 'PRINT' command; there is also a menu item called "Reports", devoted to generation of reports in printable form.
You can select from an array of reports in the Reports menu. For each report you have some options to select, and they can be delivered as HTML (i.e. on the webpage) or as a downloadable pdf file (you need a pdf reader to open the file). You can select family tree reports (Individual, Family, Descendants, Ancestors, etc.), some genealogical information information lists (Marriages, Deaths, Births etc.), as well as other lists like recent changes or address lists.
Please note that the Address reports currently show only addresses attached to the individual and family records, not addresses in the Residence facts.
Often a better option to produce a printable version of some section of the family tree is to use the Charts menu. You can tune up your chart using its options, and then select the "Printer friendly version" at the bottom of the page to clean up the display. You can print the result or use a pdf printer driver (for example Open Source PDF Creator) to create the pdf file.
If you have Administrator privileges, you can download the complete Gedcom together with the media. Other user categories can use the Family Clippings Cart to pack into a file a selection of data they can access, if this option is enabled by the administrator.
Family Tree Clippings Cart
If allowed by the site administrator, you view an individual, a family or a source, in the Other menu you can access an Add to Clippings Cart submenu. It serves as a method of exporting a portion of the family tree and accessing this tool will present you with a list of options to add just this item or expand the selection by adding other relations or, in case of sources, records of all people and families quoting this source. If the site manager has so configured it, users may also reach the Clippings cart from the main menu.
You can keep adding items to your cart until you are ready - the content of the cart will be preserved between sessions. The cart will show the list of items, you can also remove unwanted ones. When you are ready, you can download the file which will contain the family tree file for the referenced individuals (a gedcom) with all selected items, plus associated media files, if you selected that option.
The User Interface
webtrees is a feature rich piece of geneological software and as such there is a plethora of information that can be displayed and edited at any one time, thus resulting in a complex but reasonably intuitive user interface. This section aims to help orientate you by describing the general layout and design of the interface.
When visiting a webtrees powered website for the first time you will see the Home Page. This page should contain some form of introduction to the website and possibly some basic geneological information. If however, you are a registered user and are logged in, you will see the page titled My Page instead.
Which ever page you visit you will always see and have access to the Menu Bar. Depending on whether you are logged in or not and what modules the site administrator has installed, will determine what menu items are available. In addition, the currently selected theme may determine the "style" of the icons shown.
Your editing status depends on the Administrator policy, and may vary depending on installation. Typically you can edit your own data, and need editing privileges to edit others.
The site administrator controls the approval of changes made to the site. On a new installation, the approval process is set to pending for ALL users -- including the administrator. This means the changes you make are not immediately visible to other users. They are marked on the page as changes, pending approval by the Administrator.
There are several access levels for people that can review and approve (accept) or decline (deny) others' edits. This process of displaying pending changes is not yet perfect, and some entities are not visible: for example creating a new Source does not display it, and if you did not happen to write down the source ID, you must wait for approval in order to proceed.
If the web site is configured with the PENDING CHANGES block on the home page, after any changes are made, an email is sent to admin informing the admin of edits to the database. The email is not repeated until 24 hours passes (lest each editing session would create a spam). The administrator approval process is described in a separate article, see Accept / Reject Changes.
Gedcom data structure
The data model as well as file storage in webtrees is based on GEDCOM standard. There are many resources detailing the structure, the meaning of Gedcom Tags and usage, including the draft Gedcom standard that is the base of webtrees model. webtrees is very flexible in using the model, and allows files with significant departures from the model to be processed. The verification procedure can check your Gedcom file for strict and lax conformance with Gedcom standard. It is recomended that you review the basics of Gedcom data structure.
In working with genealogy data you must remember to always verify, document, write down the sources. Memory is fragile, and years later you will not know if the error was in original source or just sloppy data entry. Two articles on this topic are available here, Evaluating Evidence and Standards For Sound Genealogical Research, with many references to external sources. Before starting entering large amounts of data, review the most basic rules for entering dates, places, sources and other common elements:
In entering Events and Facts you fill data fields, some of which are the common to most entries. In describing and Event, Date and Place are considered most important, and have their special rules for entering data: see the articles on Dates and Places. Other entries that you will frequently encounter are Type, Address, Associate, Source Citation, Restriction, Agency and Note. All those elements are useful and add valuable structure to the data, you should take advantage of them if possible.
In the heart of genealogy are people and their pedigree. Pedigree, according to Webster (Middle English pedegru, from Anglo-French pé de grue, literally, crane's foot; from the shape made by the lines of a genealogical chart) is defined as an ancestral line. Adding, modifying and deleting people and their links in families creating the ancestral lines is described in two main articles.
Also at the heart of genealogy are the family relationships between people. Whereas information about a specific person is contained in his individual record, relationships are handled by family (FAM) records. FAM records describe one family: usually husband, wife, and children. An individual record typically contains a FAMC pointer to the FAM record where the person is a child, and a FAMS pointer to the family where that person is a husband or wife. With these two fundamental relationships, all other relationships are derived.
Facts and Events
To give life to people and famiy data in your database, you add facts and events. The terminology is a little confused; Gedcom standard talks about Events like Birth, Baptism, Graduation, etc. with a generic "Event", and about Attributes sometimes called Facts like Education, Occupation or Residence with a generic "Fact". The conceptual difference is that Events occur at a definite point in time (the point may extend as far as a day), while Facts are either extended in time (e.g Education), or don't have a specific time attached to them (e.g Number of Children). webtrees does not treat the Facts and Events differently, and allows you to add Facts and Events to an individual or family by selecting from a list of possibilities. The Administator can customize this list, adding and removing both individual and family entries, as well as „Quick Add'” items available with a single click. If you don't see here what you need, ask the administrator to add it.
Editing raw Gedcom record
Each top level record (individual, family, object, source and repository) has its own Gedcom fragment that you can view and edit. In a perfect world, all editing should be possible trough user interface, but who has seen perfect software? Also, imported Gedcom may contain errors or non-standard tags that webtrees does not understand, and errors could also be introduced by webtrees as well. Of course this should not happen, but who has seen software completely free from bugs?The Gedcom record has a simple structure, each line starting with a number that indicates the level: after a tag with level 1, subsequent tag level 2 indicates that it is subordinate to the level one tag. For example if the event is Birth (1 BIRT), Date (2 DAT) applies to Birth, Time (3 TIME) applies to Date, and Place (2 PLAC) applies to Birth:
1 BIRT 2 DATE 11 NOV 1825 3 TIME 23:55 2 PLAC Greenwood...The tags are always 3 or 4 capital letters, and are separated by space from level number and from subsequent value of the tag (if any). If a tag is missing, is in the wrong place, or the user interface does not supply the value you seek, you can correct it by editing the Gedcom fragment. For example, if the Media Object you are adding is a painting, and the user interface offers only photo as the type of the file (no photography before 1827 or so :-(, you can look at the raw Gedcom fragment:
0 @M897@ OBJE 1 FILE media/Aunt_Matilda.jpg 2 FORM JPG 3 TYPE photo
and change the line 3 TYPE photo to 3 TYPE painting.
As a user you are possibly concerned with privacy. While it is a responsibility of an Administrator to set the privacy policies, it is useful to know, what options are available. You may wonder whether your personal data will be visible to everybody, and may also encounter restrictions on what you can see. webtrees has very detailed privacy rules which can restrict viewing and /or editing of specific event types, specific events, selected people, people not related to you or only distantly related etc.