Genealogy System: a Web Application

This is a continuation of a project initiated last year. See the paper that the team wrote and presented at MASPLAS'02 entitled A Web-Based Genealogy Application System.

Last year's project description follows:

More and more computer applications are becoming Web based. As an example of developing a Web-based application (or of moving one from being PC-based to Web-based) we will explore the family tree genealogy application. We will obtain new requirements, design, and create a web-based genealogy application with new and improved functionality.

Family tree software has been available for over a decade and most available today are Microsoft Windows applications, see for example:

These software packages assist the user in finding genealogical information by providing CDs containing such data as Social Security records, passenger and immigration lists, marriage records, land and naturalizaton records, and military records. The Windows program then helps the user to input, format, and publish the family tree information.

However, there are weaknesses in the current programs, primarily concerning how the information is presented and in how it can be updated and maintained. What frequently happens is that one family member researches, inputs, and publishes their family tree and thereby undertakes the tedious and neverending task of updating and maintaining it. This task is particularly burdensome for large family trees.

Our Web based solution will distribute this burden by allowing other specified family members to update and maintain their branch of the family tree. However, write and change permission should be limited to these family members and to specified portions of the tree. These family members will make their changes remotely through Web pages and the current family tree information should, of course, be available on the Internet, possibly limiting access to family members by password.

This project is an example where it might be possible and appropriate to interface to an existing commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) package, e.g.:

For example, a shell that calls the package might handle the additional functionality. Consideration should also be given to converting existing genealogy data to operate with the new Web-based system.

Finally, it might be interesting to develop a business plan for marketing such a Web application. It is not as simple as selling Windows software because users will need space on a server as well as an easy way to upload the changes.