RISC World

Organise your family history

David Bradforth concludes his series on genealogy...

With your data now collated and organised, you'll be looking next for ways of presenting the data to the masses at large. As such, you'll be looking for software that will achieve the simple aim of allowing you to do so, either in printed or electronic format.

This month, I've split this article into two parts - the first covers solutions for RISC OS users, whereas the second half provides brief details of a number of programs that will allow PC and Mac users to achieve the same aim. Why have we done this? Unfortunately it's likely that if you're researching your family history you'll also be making use of a PC as many Internet resources are still not available to RISC OS users.

Oregano UK Ltd have made some promising sounds about the future of Oregano 2, but for the moment if you want access on-line information it's probable that the PC/Mac direction is the only one open to gain full access to data - even that supplied by the government.

RISC OS software solutions

So far as commercial solutions for RISC OS users go, there seems to be but one - Ancestor+ - which is described in detail on the APDL website part of this CD-ROM. We've explored this package in a reasonable amount of detail over the last few issues, and as such we'll not go further into it. Other than to say that RISCWorld subscribers now get a 10% discount.

What's lacking in commercial software, certainly isn't lacking in terms of freeware.

GedcomWeb, by Hilary Phillips, allows you to convert GEDCOM files into family tree Web pages that make a little use of JavaScript to ensure the presentation is consistent. Unlike the web output from other genealogy software packages, GedcomWeb offers an interactive output that will allow the user to view and print different parts of the tree, and display in different styles.

Even if you're not too keen to share your family tree on the web, the output is still very useful for sending to relatives who may not have genealogy software as it will work with any modern web browser on any type of computer.

Features added since 3.00 include:

  • Support for lots more GEDCOM fields including occupation, christening, baptism, cremation, burial, plus more detailed event fields.
  • You can now put in your own HTML headers and footers for the web pages, so that you can add your own logo or link to your homepage at the top of the tree
  • A redesigned choices interface so you can customise everything the author can think of
  • Improvements to the way trees are displayed, including the option to display the central person's siblings

GedcomWeb 3.00 has been compiled to run with the Iyonix PC and later, and as such will work with any version of RISC OS after 3.5 subject to Castle Technology's latest SharedCLibrary modules being loaded. The author provides a 26-bit version upon request, and may one day be convinced to recompile it using the Gstubs library - makes things easier for all users.

GedcomWeb is shareware, and the authors home page is at

If you'd prefer a text report of all the information contained within a Gedcom file, GedText by Rob Hemmings may well fit the bill.

GedText was written to work particularly well with the family tree output from Denis Howe's Family, but should work reasonably well with any GEDCOM data. As may be expected, it will not presently interpret all possible tags but will certainly make an effort to do so.

The latest version adds the ability to sort output by date of birth, and is available through Tim Powys-Lybbe's website at as well as in the software directory on this issue.

Rob comments that the program is not completely finished, as there are still various improvements he'd like to see himself if he gets the time, so do make comments directly to the author as I'm sure he'd appreciate them - similarly if you've made changes of your own.

Digging through the Usenet archives, I've come across this from R-Comp:

We've been working away for a little while on a project which is sure to be of interest to RISC OS family history enthusiasts. It isn't designed to compete with existing products such as Ancestry, instead offering a powerful tool to be used alongside more traditional "family tree" products. We were targeting a release at the Birmingham show, but since the Motorcycle museum burned down, we have decided to announce it now. If you're interested, come along and ask about it at the show.

I was aware that the Rawnsley's were looking into their own family history, and must admit this didn't come as too much of a surprise. If there's any useful news on this item, we'll add it to the end of this article as a 'Stop Press' announcement.

This list is by no means complete, but I've got one further item that may be of interest to RISC OS users interested in genealogy. As you work through the different documents relating to your family history, you'll probably come across different calendar periods from Gregorian and Julian and more besides.

To answer this need, Erik Groenhuis released the Calendar module allowing in a limited fashion just that. Available from we've noticed that there were some ambitious plans for the module at its original announcement, so do contact the author if only to encourage further development.

PC and Mac based solutions

For PC users, there seem to be three key solutions - RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Maker. Each offers facilities catering for everybody from complete beginner to absolute professional, although it must be said that the more complex your data the more difficult it can become to navigate your way around it.

Generations, a Broderbund offering not yet available in the UK, used to be available in a multi-CD pack containing data relating to the UK market for about £49.

It must be said that buying genealogy packages together with data is something of a false saving as the likelihood is the data you pick up for free will be completely irrelevant to your needs anyway. If you do require data, simply use, and carry out a search for text elements relating to that data. If it's out there and available, and often free, it'll be flagged up.

For Mac users, Reunion - a much developed Mac version of Generations - is the ultimate all in one solution. It's been under development for over ten years, and has won numerous awards along the way.

Winding things up

This brings to an end our short series on genealogy, but we'd like to keep the subject current in peoples minds. We'd like to hear of your own genealogy experiences - how you produced your data / trees, how you forced RISC OS to access research materials and so on.

If we get enough stories together, I'll put an article in the next issue summarising stories and we'll get a copy of Ancestor+ out to the best story (that which offers the most practical advice for fellow users).

Email your stories directly to me, and with luck I'll see you next time.

Dave Bradforth