Gigatrees: A Introduction

Gigatrees: A Introduction

What is Gigatrees?

is a genealogy application that will build a complete family tree from your GEDCOM file and generate HTML pages that are suitable for both offline or online viewing. There are two versions of the program. The FREE version includes all the core features while keeping the configuration as simple as possible. The Pro version adds to this, dynamic web page creation using the PHP file extension and an SQLite3 database, web hosting of your dynamic web pages at no additional cost, configurable headers and footers, blogging capabilities, plugin support, plus tons of configuration options and extended capabilities. The Pro version is geared toward users needing more advanced features, and it does require a one-time nominal FEE.

Genealogists and family historians have a lot of great options for creating both free and subscriber family trees. I use some of them myself, but all of them are missing features I need. That is why I developed Gigatrees. Gigatrees' focus is on evidence-based genealogy. It promotes the use of source documentation for genealogical claims and provides useful extensions for formalizing that documentation. Many of its features are not found in other products, such as an auto-generated reliability assessment for every claim, which indicates the liklihood that the claim is true based on the documentation you provide. Reliability assessments highlight areas where your documentation may be lacking. They're intent is to help you focus your research in areas that need it the most, and your visitors will appreciate the heads-up. Gigatrees also performs a thorough data analysis, comparing event dates between related individuals and highlights when inconsistencies are found. The integrated blogging feature allows genealogists to include proof arguments, and family historians to provide colorful background about their ancestors' lives. The integrated blog allows users to create an ever expanding picture of their family history limited only by their imagination (and their writing talents).

Gigatrees allows you to fine tune the contents and look of your family tree by providing over 100 configurable parameters. Some of its features, not mentioned above, are bi-directional and scrollable pedigree charts, origin and population distribution heatmaps, ethnicity estimates, geocoding and advanced location processing, language translations, ancestor, generation, descendant and kinship lists, census tables, advanced date handling and <much more>. Gigatrees also recognizes thousands of application specific <GEDCOM extensions> including 's shared roles and source citations. In addition to specific vendor fields, it also supports several important extensions that can be added via configuration so that your GEDCOM file does not need to be altered. Gigatrees was designed so that it can be used alongside your favorite genealogy applciation without interference. These additional extensions include complete source citation management, adding source categories and evidence models, attaching source references to parental associations, defining impossible claims, overriding location coordinates, adding privacy flags and extending photo and image handling.

Gigatrees runs under Microsoft only. It will not run natively under MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, or any other operating system. That being said, some users have run it successfully under MacOS using a <virtual Windows machine>. Gigatrees includes two executables, a configuration interface (CI) and a command line interface (CLI). The configuration interface is used to load, modify and save configuration files and to launch the CLI. For advanced uses, the CLI can run independantly from the command line or in a batch file. The configuration interface includes detailed descriptions for each option, which can be viewed when clicking on the option name. These built-in descriptions replace much of the online documentation. The <Gigatrees Blog> is used to provide additional descriptions and tutorials. Personalized statistics can be found in the administrative <Dashboard> along with the latest news, release history and other useful features. It is recommended that you visit the Dashboard on a regular basis to keep track of your application usage and to address any issues that might be found. On the Dashboard you will be able to sign in with your email and application id. Once signed in, pro users will be able to add application ids for additional computers (desktop, laptop, work computer, etc.). This will allow you to run Gigatrees at home and on the road. You can find the application id at the top of your build log or by double-clicking on the gigatrees-cli.exe file. Your application id will act as an access code to the dashboard, so please keep it private, it cannot be easily changed.

What are some of its features?

Gigatrees has many unique features. The web pages it creates are mobile friendly, built upon the responsive features of jQuery and Bootstrap 3, so that they look good on any size screen. Gigatrees will read virtually any GEDCOM 5.5, 5.5.1 or 5.6 file including many vendor specific extensions. It also has built-in support for ANSI, UTF-8 and UTF-16 encoding, as well as ASCII, extended ASCII and UNICODE character sets. Gigatrees is fully configurable. It includes options for <translating> your web pages and for replacing data text strings that together allow family trees to be presented in many written languages. Gigatrees can be configured to generate pages in either HTML or PHP. PHP pages are saved in an SQLite3 database for dynamic page serving reducing your website footprint to just a few files. Pro users looking for a place to <post their family tree online> can upload their SQlite3 database via the Dashboard to host in at the gigatrees.com domain. There is no additional charge for this service and no promotional advertising will be displayed on any of their family tree pages. This service is offered as just another of the many extra features available to Pro users. Hosting of family trees is still in beta and may suffer occasional operations changes or outages until development is complete.

Complete website header and footer substitution is also supported. Additionally, stylesheet overrides, menu bars and plugins allow for creating unique websites, or if you would rather, provide for seamless integration into existing websites and content management systems like <WordPress>. Gigatrees also has <integrated blog> support for replacing WordPress when your ready. Gigatrees supports extending your Source records by providing a convienient method for adding full source citations, either directly or using templates. The blog (and other note and text fields) supports embedding references to source records, individuals records, media records, blog posts, footnotes and help text. Together they make your integrated blog fully coupled to your genealogy database.

Gigatrees supports webpage metadata, automatically links embedded URLs and allows for embedding HTML into almost any data field. Gigatrees has built in support for many popular vendor specific and Gigatrees-only <extensions> as well. Gigatrees allows for inserting new GEDCOM records and appending existing records via the configuration file, eliminating in many cases the need to modify a GEDCOM file to add new extensions. Gigatrees supports <privacy and living flags>, automatic living detection and accurate birth year estimation, allowing for both public and private website generation. Gigatrees has built in support for detecting <user source citations> in a GEDCOM file, for adding new expanded <source citations>, <source categorization>, source reference quality, <defining evidence models>, <indicating impossible claims> and both automatic and manual <reliability assessments> ensuring that both you and your visitors understand the accuracy of your claims. Gigatrees also supports several methods for <assigning sources to parental associations>, providing you the ability to finally provide documentation to back up your biological connections.

Gigatrees has a number of other general features, such as the <handling of both individual profile photos and source record images>. It also calculates consanguinity between spouses, <calculates ethnicity estimates>, has advanced date handling allowing it to recognize most unambiguous <date formats>, including built in support for British monarch dates. It also has <advanced location processing>, including the ability to automatically determine the coordinates for every location in your database.

Among its many unique report pages are location, origin and population <maps>, <data alerts>, pedigree charts, <census tables>, <generation>, ancestor, descendant, kinship, immigrant and nobility lists, event timelines, an autogenerated photo album and a <fully integrated blog>.


Upgrading Gigatrees

Gigatrees does not require the previous version to be uninstalled. You may copy over the previous installation, however doing so may overwrite previously modified configuration and user files. Instead, users should install Gigatrees into a new folder and then copy over any configuration or user files as necessary, including, and especially, the mapping coordinates database, gigatrees.sqlite found in the installation's "includes" folder. Your previous installation can be <uninstalled> once you've verified the new installation is functioning properly.


Installing Gigatrees

To install Gigatrees, <download> the latest version and extract the downloaded file into a folder of your choice. The extracted files will be installed into a gigatrees subfolder. Gigatrees is a standalone program and does not require separate installation files nor does it modify the system registry. It should be installed only onto a Windows operating system with the same architecture (x32, x64).


Uninstalling Gigatrees

To uninstall Gigatrees, simply delete the installation folder.


Running Gigatrees

Start the program by double clicking on (gigatrees.exe). On the main screen you can enter or browse to the names to your input file and output path. There are additional items that can be configured using the Options menu, but modifying those are not required. Once the input file and output path have been set, you can launch the application from the Run menu. When the application is launched it will create a batch file in the same folder as your executable, and then run that batch file in a separate command window. The batch file will be given the same base name as your configuration file. If you did not create or save a configuration file yet, it will save your configuration as undefined.xml and put it into the same folder as your executable. Once the application finishes, the build report and the web pages can be accessed using the View menu.

First time users may want to load the sample configuration file (sample.xml) before launching the application to see how Gigatrees works. The sample configuration file uses a torture test GEDCOM file that has been floating around the Internet for ages. The sample configuration will save your web pages to the installation's "web" folder by default. The sample configuration varies depending on which distribution you download. The Pro version includes both a new blog entry, and a blog entry based on an existing GEDCOM NOTE record. It also includes a separate generation list, descendant list, and origin map. Geocoding is no longer automatic, so the origin map(s) and the main population distribution heatmap will not show up until you configure the Coordinates by setting one of the geocoding API keys. This will require a separate sign up, but the process is painless.

Once you've run the application on the sample configuration, you can use the View menu to view the website that was created and scroll thorugh the various pages to see how they look. I have hosted websites for both versions: Free and Pro. After verifying that you can build the sample website, you can create your own configuration starting with either the default configuration or the sample configuration. Before launching the application with the new GEDCOM file, you might want to go through the various option pages to see what other features can be enabled, disabled or modified to better suit your needs.

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