I know of Publishing family tree online? but my requirements are different.

I would like to have my family tree online to create and improve it with relatives. I'm looking for a tool to share my work and let others help me. It's very important for me to be able to publish privately my birth, death and marriage certificates and link them to the correct tree node. I also would like to be able to share notes or comments. A solution could be create links to my dropbox, google or skydrive folder. What website or software is able to do that?

  • familypursuit.com
    – user47
    May 24, 2013 at 14:31
  • The software Ancestral Quest by Incline Software has a private collaboration feature and the publishers provide space on their servers for people who want to use that feature. (I have not used AQ in several years and have not used that feature.) If this is something that might meet your needs, the page explaining the service is here: ancquest.com/aq_collab.htm
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 4, 2014 at 8:18
  • To provide an answer there needs to be some further clarification of what you want. You say that you want an online method to create/share/collaborate but as you mention using online storage like dropbox and concerned about visibility/privacy. Do you want it only to be seen by named collaborators and would you not wish anyone else to see anything? Using a bespoke website, like ancestry, will allow you to do this as would a program solution where you use online storage to share, however the latter will not allow publishing of any part which would be done separately. [contd]
    – user1290
    May 17, 2014 at 12:33
  • [contd. from previous comment on behalf of user1290] Do you want it to be fully customisable or a configured solution? There are php based software and similar that can be installed on your own site (which can be from a provider) to fully control how it looks, who can see, as well as the pre-defined options like ancestry or findmypast.
    – user104
    May 17, 2014 at 13:43
  • A new dimension you have today is doing genealogy based on DNA tests. To do this it really helps if all the people testing are using the same family tree ==> you have the same pictures of what tests has been done and what you have done. My suggestion is then to use wikitree
    – salgo60
    Jun 17, 2015 at 6:44

11 Answers 11


Ancestry.com will fit the bill. This is basically how I use it.

I have a paid account, and I've "shared" my tree with a half-dozen or so family members who all have freebie accounts. They can't see the Ancestry paid-only documents that I've attached to people, but they can see the source citations for those documents, as well as all of the vital information, uploaded photos and documents, etc. that I've attached to the people.

You can set your tree on Ancestry as either public or private. Public trees are viewable by any Ancestry member, but living people are anonymized (they can only see the sex and relationship, no names, dates, etc.). Private trees are only visible to you and anyone you specifically share them with.

Regardless whether you go public or private, when you specifically "share" your tree with someone, you can give them one of three roles:

  • Guest (read-only)
  • Contributor (can edit facts, add photos and documents, etc.)
  • Editor (can do the above plus add/remove people)

"Editors" can always see living people, but for Guest and Contributor roles you can decide if you want them to see that information.

Sharing is easy to set up, you enter their email address and Ancestry prompts them to create a free account if they don't have one already.


You want to have a look at TNG available here it allows you to put your tree on line (on your own web hosting) and then restrict what is visible by requiring people to login to view some or all of your data. I don't use it but I understand it does allow some collaboration and changing of data by logged in users if you give them those permissions.


To meet the specifications outlined, you will need to establish, maintain (and probably host) a password-protected web site with links to media (photos and documents) which offers full editing rights to nominated users. As you note, any package that integrates with a public web display will not suffice.

So long as your local software has the capability to export HTML then it could do the first part of the job. I know that GRAMPS allows you to build static web pages with a single click. The files generated can then be hosted anywhere that you think is sufficiently secure. Although Dropbox and G-Drive allow limited web page delivery, I am not aware of anyone hosting anything as complex as a full family tree there. At that point you will have a published tree that approved people can view and comment upon (but not edit).

To actually make changes on the website adds another layer of complexity. I suppose that you could add a CMS (content management system) that allowed editing of the published information but that would then get out of sync with the back-end package that generated them.

A step beyond static pages exported from your desktop application would be to move to a database-driven system such as The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding which uses PHP scripting to display pages generated on the fly from SQL tables.

Managing a site like that (on your own hardware) is a specialised task usually carried out by credentialed system administrators. Unless you understand the full implications of that, you may need to redefine your project specifications to allow the use of one of the major providers. You may find that something like Tribal Pages provides an acceptable compromise between functionality and security.

  • It isn't necessary to host on your own hardware. Plenty of ISPs provide hosting services that include PHP and mySQl; you still need a degree of competence/confidence with the technologies though.
    – user104
    Jun 5, 2013 at 10:05
  • I don't want this. There are many collaborative tools to create common project on the web. It exist nothing for collaborative familly trees ? May 24, 2014 at 7:05

Wikitree http://www.wikitree.com allows you to mark people in the tree with differing amounts of privacy. So your great great grandfather who lived and died over 100 years ago might be fully public, but people who are alive or immediate family to people who are alive can be made varying degrees of private, so others see only very limited information. I know you can attach pictures. and I think you could attach scanned images of documents. They encourage polite collaboration. Read their Code of Honor here. http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Special:Honor_Code Their goal is to create on accurate world tree, so if you just want to put up your tree, this would not fit your needs.


I've found two other sites that allow online family trees plus collaboration:

Tribalpages.com (at most 48/yr - http://www.tribalpages.com/pricing.html) Familypursuit.com (59.95/yr)

Familypursuit has features specifically to keep track of research notes and track changes. It also allows up to 10 GB of photos and documents. Tribalpages maxes at 5000 photos. I have no idea what that equates to in GB. An interesting thing about Tribalpages is it will show up to 16 different bloodlines in color to help trace a bloodline through a tree. They both have security on who can do what.


MyHeritage lets you upload pictures, add them to particular person and make everything private (not by default, though). Also, there are several sites that offer what they call "private social networking" both family focused and otherwise


The software Ancestral Quest by Incline Software has a private collaboration feature and the publishers provide space on their servers for people who want to use that feature. (I have not used AQ in several years and have not used that feature.) If this is something that might meet your needs, the page explaining the service is here: http://www.ancquest.com/aq_collab.htm

Note especially the check in / check out section, and the scrapbook section. If I'm reading their description correctly, the attached birth certificates could be done as Scrapbook items, and you might be able to choose to give copies to your collaborators, or not, depending on the settings.


If you feel you are competent enough to set up a web hosting account (there are many many free options to offer php + mysql) and install software onto it you should look at Webtrees which is free to use.

It may look quite complicated to start with but is extremely powerful and as the person administering your own site you have complete control over who sees information, ranging from public to completely private. You also have control over other user accounts so only people you know and trust can become collaborators. In addition to this, any edits or additions to a project require your approval before they go 'live' onto your family tree.


There a 3 ways to accomplish what you want, either:

  1. Develop your own program to build a family tree which has the features that you require. This is a big task and can cost many thousands of dollars. If you have a programming background, this may be an option for you, but it is complex for even the advanced programmer. One issue with this option is that you have to manage your own security of software and hardware.

  2. If you have some technical experience you can install a program on your own server which allow you to build your tree and do some of the other aspects that you wish. You will still need to pay for your server and domain costs, but this will be considerably cheaper than option 1. It will not be as customised as option 1 but will have many features, some of which you may not have thought about. There are still security aspects you would need to consider here and I would advise on installing your site on a secure server.

  3. Use a private family tree builder. Make sure that it is private (read the terms) and uses a secure server. This is the cheapest of the options as many of the online family tree builders are free to use. You will be storing your data on a remote server, but unless you have your own servers in your own house, you will be storing information on remote servers with option 1 as well.

Examples of online family tree builders include Family Echo & Famberry whom I work for.


I just came across Full Family Tree which would seem to meet many or all of your requirements.

I have not used it but its home page says:

Your mission is to complete your family tree and to show what you have to your family. Their mission will be to do the same for the areas where you are not able to fill in. Your collaboration with your family will end up creating a very full and rich picture of your family.

This website is free. We will not ask you to pay for anything, and you won't be hassled to upgrade at any point; there is nothing to upgrade to. You get the full set of services and features for free right from the start.


I personally prefer webtrees for collaboration OR for just presentation. But there’s also WorldConnect for the latter.

However, this is all coming rather close to recommending programs, which is not supposed to happen here, according to https://genealogy.stackexchange.com/about

It’s because of that rule that I restrained myself from naming certain sites that infuriate me by their active support of bad scholarship, wishful thinking, wild speculation, and invasion of privacy.

  • I'm not asking for a specific program and open a debate on which is the best. I'm asking for solutions and ideas and orientations ;-) Jun 20, 2013 at 14:43
  • 1
    Asking what programs or websites support a certain set of features, or how people carry out a specific task or tasks, is OK, as the answers can be factual. Asking for recommendations or the 'best' (or the opposite) can only be answered with opinions, which is why that's not allowed.
    – user104
    Jun 20, 2013 at 15:05

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