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My kin are spread around the globe and I would like to create a family tree to share with all the members of the clan.

I'm not sure how I go about this and may be looking to use some software that allows me to update it on occasion. Hopefully one with an intuitive interface that makes it easier to do so.

Ideally it would have the following features:

  • accessible by family members in different parts of the world, both to edit and view
  • handle unusual family situations
  • able to view trees that grow wide very quickly (i.e. many children per family)
  • not be locked into a proprietary file format
  • full Unicode support, such as being able to handle Traditional Chinese characters
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closed as off-topic by bwDraco, Kevin Panko, nc4pk, Excellll, Raystafarian May 2 '14 at 15:24

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Phillip - Would you be interested in the Genealogy Q&A site proposal at Area 51? If you could "commit" to helping out the Beta, that would be wonderful. Sorry to leave this as a comment here, but I couldn't find any other way of getting in touch with you. The proposal is at: – lkessler Sep 23 '12 at 1:18
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Another vote for from me. It's basically a combination of a social network and a family tree.

  • It's free, with a premium option.
  • It has a very responsive flash-based interface that is pretty easy to learn.
  • It's viral. When you add a family member you are prompted for their email address. If you provide it, they will get an invitation and will be able to start adding content themselves.
  • Not sure about the unusual family situations, but the same person can be in two places in the family tree, same-sex couples are easy, and I'm pretty sure they support adoption and polygamy.
  • They're adding new features all the time, which is nice.

The main problem is that all of the information is stored in their servers. They do provide export mechanisms and GEDCOM support, but I haven't tried it, and I'm pretty sure not all the information is extractable.

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I once tried the Free PAF Family History Software (registration required).
It sounded pretty complete, but I haven't used it much.

Free PAF Family History Software

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) is a free genealogy and family history program. PAF allows you to quickly and easily collect, organize and share your family history and genealogy information.

Free Color Charts with PAF Companion

Print your family tree in colorful ancestor and descendant charts. PAF Companion is easy and fully compatible with PAF.


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I was always disappointed with the charts most genealogy software spat out so looked for a better alternative and found GenoPro

Took a fair bit of manual editing to get it just how I want but nothing else I've tried is as flexible - well worth a look.

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Personally, I am a huge fan of GRAMPS. I've used it for years, primarily because it allows me to use it as the repository for all of my genealogy research, but frankly I have never tried sharing amongst my family in this way. I have found getting good quality info from family members can be tough, plus there are always conflicts to resolve. (No Aunt Bertha married Uncle Gorgonzola in 1954, not 1957). Issues related to conflict resolution make version control and the ability to "go back in time" and check the history of specific edits are critical for me. Gramps is version control aware.

I'm not sure how the gramps UI handles native chinese characters, but it has mature multi-language support. There is an active translators page, which covers the UI and documentation - the chinese (zh_cn) is in a partial state of completion.

Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I would be cautious about managing my family tree online if it was going to include information about living people. Uploading a GEDCOM to rootsweb is one thing, but when you start managing information about peoples kids, you need to consider very carefully the security of the site you're uploading the data to.

I find it easier to be the official 'collector of family history' interview & gather & publish family memories often. I have distributed copies of GRAMPS with the DVD's I produce, but no one (in may family at least) has installed it and contributed anything. Family member do call with info or send me email, but as people soon find out, maintaing accurate family records is actually a lot of work!

But hey! maybe I descend from a long line of slackers. YMMV ;-)

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PhpGedView is open source, and offers on-line viewing, editing, and producing of reports. User accounts can control access to the data. It can import from and export to the standard GEDCOM format, and it appears to use the GEDCOM data structures internally.

While the software itself is free, you will need web hosting for it. If you don't have that already, I recommend DreamHost who offer simple one-click installation and updates of PhpGedView (and other packages such as Gallery which would probably also be useful to you if you're into family history), though their $8.95/month charge not be what you'd consider free/cheap (here's a referral link if you like my suggestion).

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If you think that second paragraph is too spammy, please let me know here in the comments and I will remove the referral link. It is really just a genuine suggestion from a satisfied customer. – Randy Orrison Sep 24 '09 at 6:04
I think it's OK. You still linked dreamhost directly without the referral, instead of sneaking it in there. – th3dude Sep 24 '09 at 18:14
phpgedview has ben superseded by webtrees. – Benoit Dec 19 '11 at 11:10

You can also use geneanet which permits you to share a tree between many people et setup access rights. It's free for basic use and based on geneweb.

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Geneweb is rather simple (and maybe limited in terms of fonctionality) but it's very easy to use, works in a browser and is free (GPL).

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I've heard good things about Kinfo. From the FAQ:

How is Kinfo different from a traditional genealogy program?

At the heart of Kinfo is a collaborative family tree. This is a pretty new concept - usually family trees are created and maintained by a single person as a hobby. Here, we're using the reach of the internet to allow everyone in your family to put the pieces together.

How is the Kinfo tree different from a traditional family tree?

Kinfo uses a patent-pending method of displaying your family. Families are infinite, spreading in all directions through marriage and offspring. If you were to show every connection at once, you'd see a tangled mess. Traditional family trees follow a bloodline, so they're mostly filled with ancestors rather than living relatives. At Kinfo, we want to link everyone in your family together regardless of whether they're a blood relative or not.

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