Web output as a substitute for a dedicated viewer for the family file

Tip version: 04.3

Revision Date: 09 May 2001

Generations versions: 5.2 and above

One very good feature that was present with the older software (v4.2 and below) was the Generations Publisher/Reunion Viewer software. That is no longer present with the newer software.

The programmers decided that web output made a dedicated viewer/player program unnecessary. This easy generation of web-oriented output is a great addition to the program. Using it to export the entire family file works fine for small and medium sized family files, but it has great problems with a large family file. The size and complexity of the resulting output can be dramatically larger than the original (.uds) family file.

During the beta testing I tried exporting "everything" (all details turned on) for family and individual cards for a large family file, circa 15000 individuals at that time. This file was some 11-12 Mb in size in the .uds format and, of course, there was only one file. The "Internet Family Tree" web output generates a separate html file for EACH family and EACH person (remember, I had both turned on). So I was now looking at having some 15000 person files and a smaller (but still very large) number of family files. I don't know how big the total output would have been, as the disk partition I had Generations on filled up before all the data was exported. I had over 90 Mb of free space before I ran that test, so the output was clearly at least 8 X the original, perhaps more. I should note that I was doing the test under Windows 95 OSR 2.1 on a "FAT32" partition, so I wasn't wasting space due to an inefficient cluster size. The vast number of small files would lead to significantly more inefficiencies on an original Windows 95 setup with only the "FAT16" disk clustering. The much larger hard drive sizes which have become available since the introduction of the Generations v5.2 software have greatly reduced the consequences of this problem.

The vast number of files that are generated slows down disk response when those directories are accessed and increases the odds of directory structure problems. As a stylistic matter, the look and feel of the web output is nothing like that of the regular program. I have several relatives who have gone on to purchase Reunion or Generations Deluxe as a result of my sending them a "transfer" or .rtx file along with the Reunion player program. That gives them a very good opportunity to explore the program. I think Sierra is making a mistake in not offering that option in the current release. Just my $0.02 on this one, but I know I am not the only beta tester who told Sierra more or less the same thing. Repeating the point, the Internet Family Tree web option is great for small to mid-sized datasets, or for PORTIONS of a large dataset, but not a realistic option for large family files.

This situation has changed somewhat with the later versions of the software, and now the v8.6 software includes a convenient wizard to help users create html output in preparation for a transfer to a CD-R or CD-R/W disk.

A significant alternate to that output option is to create one of the other types of reports (Register report, family history report, ahnetafel report, etc.) for the Internet. These do not suffer the same space penalties as the Internet Family Tree report. The drawback is that they do not allow the same freedom of navigation within the file.

Regards, Mike Hobart

Copyright © 1999-2001 Michael A. Hobart, commercial reuse restricted.

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