How to Add an Integrated Blog to your Gigatree

How to Add an Integrated Blog to your Gigatree

Genealogists are wordy people. It's sometimes hard to shut them up. The most verbose usually setup blogs to talk about their passion. Blogs tend the run the gamut: personal family histories, discoveries, research, tips, tutorials, etc. It made sense then to build blogging capabilities directly into Gigatrees so that posts can be directly integrated into genealogy data, primarily to give them access to sources and so that other record types like individuals can reference them. When a blog is integrated with genealogy data, the blog posts can never be lost ... wherever the data goes, so goes the blog.

Gigatrees supports blogging by comandeering the existing GEDCOM NOTE record. Gigatrees will treat any NOTE record containing a title field as a blog post. NOTE records without titles are still considered notes. Along with the title field, Gigatrees supports fields for setting the base filename (slug), publication date and time, modification date and time, author, abstract or summary, a featured image, thumbnail and credit line, a category, hash tags, keywords and flags. Gigatrees also supports a number of general blogging options like setting the sort order, minimum hash tag size, number of items an the index page, etc.

For complete traceability, source references ("NOTE.SOUR@") are linked to their sources, and the referenced source pages link back to the blog pages referencing them. When Individual records reference a note record ("INDI.NOTE@"), a link to the blog post will appear under the "Article References" tab on the individual's profile page.

There are several ways in which blog posts can be added. The first method would be to edit your GEDCOM file directly. That's fine and dandy if you use a GEDCOM editor like me, however most people don't. Another way is to use the "Append Records" option of Gigatrees to add fields (GEDCOM tags) to existing NOTE records. The "sample.xml" configuration file in the installation uses this method to convert an existing note to a blog post.

"Append Records Page"
Append Records Page

The main advantage of using the "Append Records" option is that it only affects the configuration file (your GEDCOM file is not modified) so it can be used by anyone no matter what type of data editor they use. You can use this option in conjunction with the "Insert Records" option to add entirely new note records without actually touching your data. This is handy if you want to slip a post into your blog about using mushroom compost to make your roses pop. Though interesting to some, it has nothing to do with genealogy, so you would not want to add it to your genealogy data. The same thing can be accomplished, but easier, by using the "Blog Posts" option. That option will display an index of blog posts found in your configuration file and allow you to edit them directly, where the available options are all located on a single page and you do not need to muck with any GEDCOM tags.

"Blog Posts Index Page"
Blog Posts Index Page
"Blog Posts Edit Page (top)"
Blog Posts Edit Page (top)
"Blog Posts Edit Page (bottom)"
Blog Posts Edit Page (bottom)

When blog posts are defined, Gigatrees will create index pages in the form of a typical and simple blog. Gigatrees supports pagination on the index pages, and allows embedding HTML tags into the text of articles. It will auto hotlink all URLs it finds in the text and images are displayed by default using the FancyBox jQuery plugin. Gigatrees also supports tagging. Whenever Gigatrees finds a pound sign (#) followed by text, it will flag it as a hash tag. Dashes in hash tags are converted to spaces when displayed. Hash tags can also be added outside of a post in the configuration. Separate index pages are created for each hash tag, category and author found in your Blog. Hash tags in your text are automatically hotlinked to their index pages. The category and author are also linked at the top of your blog pages and on the index pages, and the hash tags are linked at the bottom. In addition, the author, category and hash tag index pages are listed and linked at the bottom of the main index below the pagination element. When Disqus is enabled, your Blog pages will also include at the bottom of the page a complete commenting system.

"Blog Index Page (top)"
Blog Index Page (top)
"Blog Index Page (bottom)"
Blog Index Page (bottom)
"Blog Post Page (top)"
Blog Post Page (top)
"Blog Post Page (bottom)"
Blog Post Page (bottom)
"Blog Post Page (image)"
Blog Post Page (image)
"Blog Master Index Page"
Blog Master Index Page
"Blog Category Index Page"
Blog Category Index Page
"Blog Tag Index Page"
Blog Tag Index Page

By default, blog indexes are sorted by reverse publication date. Gigatrees also supports sorting by reverse modified date, and by reverse record id. Since record ids are generally assigned in numerical order, sorting by id is the same as publication date with the added benefit that you can manually adjust your record id to force a particular sorting order. You can for instance give a post that you want to be sticky an id much larger than all the others.

"Blog Options Page (top)"
Blog Options Page (top)
"Blog Options Page (bottom)"
Blog Options Page (bottom)

By default, publication and modified dates are shown in long format (i.e. January 12, 2001). Gigatrees supports a Short Dates option to force showing the dates in short format (i.e. Jan 12, 2001).

Gigatrees allows you to specify an abstract to display on the index page along with the blog post's title. When no abstract is specified, one will be created automatically from post content. The length of the auto generated abstract can be configured. HTML tags are stripped from all abstracts.

You can also configure the filename prefixes and suffixes for article, author, category and tag index lists and pages. You can choose to append the category to the article title on page headers and filenames.

Gigatrees supports featured images for articles, however sometimes it is inconvenient to find an appropriate image for an article. Gigatrees therefore allows adding multiple generic featured images using the "Featured Images" option. These will be assigned randomly when none is specified for a blog post.

"Blog Featured Images Index Page"
Blog Featured Images Index Page

If you are embedding HTML in a blog post, you will find Gigatrees treats all carriage returns (or newlines) found in text as HTML break characters. Unexpected line breaks can occur in text because many tags such as header (<h>), page (<p>), and blockquotes have implied line breaks built into their opening and closing elements. To minimize these unexpected breaks, you generally need to butt HTML tags up against one another rather than putting them on separate lines. Gigatrees has a Remove Extra Line Breaks option that will convert multiple breaks to single breaks, and remove extra breaks around some of the more common HTML opening and closing tags. When this option is enabled, you can still force extra breaks by adding the HTML non-breaking space characacter entity (&nbsp;) to a blank line. The Remove Extra Line Breaks option only works if the HTML tags contain only breaks between them and no whitespace.

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