I have some family members who have been asking for a family website wherewith they can assemble both family history information and upload pictures (sometimes with stories) and so forth in a friendly way. They seem to want some form of social interaction with the site as well for the stories and images. I believe the driving force behind wanting their own site is the creation of family community: they want to feel connected and to personally collaborate one with another in such ways that allow the family to feel more connected and solidarity with those within the immediate tree.

So far I have been at a loss in terms of finding an existing family history opensource solution. I've poked around at PhpGedView, but it's not very user friendly; neither does it offer some functionality that they'd like so it wound up a bust.

Is anyone familiar with some such already existing solution for personal family history or is this something that is lacking in the family history community at the moment?

Ultimately, if this does not exist I may be forced to write something myself in Ruby on Rails that integrates the features they'd like to see, but for the moment I'm hoping that something may exist to at least tide them over through the next reunion and perhaps longer.

  • 1
    Is genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/4168/104 of any help?
    – user104
    Aug 23, 2014 at 19:30
  • 2
    +1 It would be useful to find an OpenSource solution, since commercial vendors like Ancestry are prone to pulling the rug out from underneath their user base. For the MyFamily debacle see the Ancestry blog post Ancestry.com Focuses on Core Offerings Being able to keep control of your own data, and to have it in a form which can be exported again, would be a huge plus.
    – Jan Murphy
    Aug 24, 2014 at 8:31

4 Answers 4


Since the main purpose is to "allow the family to feel more connected", I would suggest first forming a family history group on Facebook. I started one a few years ago which has about 130 members aged 10 to 90. Only a dozen or so are "genealogy-minded", but most of the others enjoy reading the stories and posting their own family photos.

I keep the actual family tree on its own separate website, but many of the discussions and photo identifications occur on the Facebook page. This works best for us, since the family members vary greatly in computer skills and their genealogy interest. Also, there is no need for mass emailing or other alerts.

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    @ylluminate I think this is a great first step while you are considering other options or even building from scratch your own site. A facebook group can be set to require your admin approval for new members to join. Aug 31, 2014 at 3:34

It is worth taking a look at TNG this allows a website with restricted access and individual members have various rights that allow them to publish.

Webtrees is another alternative which is based on phpGedview.

Or consider a Wordpress website with Buddypress for the community piece and the Rootspersona plugin for the genealogy piece.

I would recommend that you try to find a commercial package to do what you want to save the support effort that will necessarily result from a bespoke solution, unless of course, you want to make the software more widely available.


I endorse @Colin's answer because for what you describe TNG (The Next Generation of Genealogy Site Building) is well worth your time to take a look at. It is developed by Darrin Lythgoe who does a excellent job of updating and maintaining the program. Cost is minimal and easily installs on your server where you control your data. There are also several plugins available for it. The feature of different user levels is fantastic so people can be limited to contributing to only certain branches of your entire tree. Version 10.1 was released recently and retails for $32.99. Darrin only charges for major updates for existing users. Your purchase covers the 10.x version and you would get reduced pricing for upgrading to 11.x when released.

Personally I have used the program in the past but now keep my genealogy on my devices using Mac Family Tree due to not having a good family base who wanted to contribute to a web based solution.


I had also previously asked a variant of this question in this forum and it got moved/migrated to Software Recommendations.

That post in Software Recommendations also has some information related to your post, and the recommendations I received there were "Wordpress + TNG".

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