Genealogy Web Application

Background

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.

Family tree software has been available for over a decade and most are Microsoft Windows applications. For an overview, see Genealogy Software Review. Also, for specific genealogy software companies, see: Family Treemaker, Legacy Family Tree, Roots Magic, Ancestral Quest, Family Historian, Tribal Pages, Ancestry.com. These software packages assist the user in finding genealogical information by providing access to such data as Social Security records, passenger and immigration lists, marriage records, land and naturalizaton records, and military records. They also help the user to input, format, and publish (possibly on the Internet) the family tree information.

However, there are weaknesses in the current products, 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 unending task of updating and maintaining it. This task is particularly burdensome for large family trees.

Project

To overcome the weaknesses of the current stand-alone programs, our web-based solution distributes the burden of adding information so that several (possibly many) family members can update and maintain their individual branches of the family tree. However, write and change permission can be limited to specified family members and to specified portions of the tree. These family members make their changes remotely through Web pages and the current family tree information is available on the Internet, possibly limiting access to family members by password.

This is a continuation of an earlier project, see Project 5 at IT691 Projects Fall 2006 and the associated Research Day 2007 paper entitled A Web-Based Genealogy System. We will first revive this system, and some knowledge of PHP will be necessary to do this. We will then compare the system to existing product systems and then determine possibly implement potential improvements.

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.