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RootsMagic to TNG

For those of you that use RootsMagic and are looking for a way to share your tree online, TNG (The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding) is a great option. This does involve a few steps, which prompted me to write this blog article. I hope it helps. I’m using RootsMagic version 8, but I’m guessing that you should still be able to follow these steps if you’re still using RootsMagic version 7. In fact, since we’re importing a GEDCOM into TNG, most of these steps should work with other genealogy programs (Legacy, Family Tree Maker, etc.). Features like shared facts/events and media links may differ. I’ll go into more detail on those features below.

First, some important things to consider.

  1. TNG is much more than a way to share your tree online. It is a fully functional genealogy database program. Instead of a program that you install on your desktop computer, your genealogy database resides on your very own website. Usually this is a website that you’ve set up by using a webhosting provider where they have all of the hardware and they allocate space for you. It is important that your provider supports PHP (a web scripting language) and MySQL (relational database), since that is what TNG uses. Most providers offer these tools.
  2. That said, you can edit your genealogy database in TNG, add sources, etc.
  3. However, if you prefer to use something like RootsMagic as your “main” genealogy database program and you want to use TNG as a method of sharing your database online, then you probably won’t want to do a lot of editing directly in TNG because it may get overwritten each time you import a new GEDCOM file from RootsMagic.
  4. If you like the idea of sharing your tree online in a way that other family members can contribute, then you may want to just stick with TNG as your main genealogy database and create user logins for those family members that you trust to contribute to your tree.

Now, let’s dive in!

Steps

The steps that I use are as follows. It seems like a lot of steps, but they go pretty quickly when done on a regular basis.

  1. RootsMagic – make updates
  2. RootsMagic – export to GEDCOM
  3. TNG – import GEDCOM
  4. FileZilla – upload media files that were recently added to RootsMagic
  5. TNG – create thumbnails for media
  6. TNG – set place level for new places
  7. MySQL Workbench – set media option to open in a new window (optional, my personal preference)

As with most software, there are multiple ways of doing things, which I’ll explain in more detail.

RootsMagic – Export to GEDCOM

When exporting your RootsMagic database to a GEDCOM file, I suggest selecting the option to include “Multimedia links“. I don’t bother selecting the option to “Privatize living people” because TNG already does that.

RM8 GEDCOM Export

TNG – Import GEDCOM

First, make a backup by going to Admin Home, Utilities, Select All, Back up, Go.

Admin Home, Import/Export, Import, Choose File.

  • For the “Replace” option, choose “All current data“. Note, this will wipe out everything in your TNG database and replace it with what is in your GEDCOM. This is fine unless this isn’t how you want to use TNG. If that is the case, you probably should stop reading this article.
  • Select “Import media links
  • Select “Import latitude / longitude data if present

Media in RootsMagic

Before going further, let’s discuss media. In RootsMagic, when you add media to a person or fact, you are really just adding a pointer to where your media resides on your hard drive (Filename). You can add other details, such as a Caption, Description, Date, and Reference #. These details are stored in the RootsMagic database and get exported as part of your GEDCOM file. The actual media file does NOT get stored in your database and does NOT get exported with your GEDCOM, just the textual descriptions.

You will notice that RootsMagic creates a thumbnail of your image. That thumbnail does get stored in the RM database, but does not get exported. You will be creating new thumbnails in TNG. By the way, if you have modified your media file and want to refresh the thumbnail in RM, you don’t have to delete and re-add the media. Just change the Filename, like adding the letter “x” so it no longer finds your media file. Save. Then go back and remove the “x” and save again and it will generate a new thumbnail for you!

Below is an example of a media item (1860 census page) in RootsMagic and how it appears in the GEDCOM file.

Media Setup in TNG

Using the example above, how do I get TNG to find my media file? Obviously there is no “D” drive on my website and the path will be much different.

In TNG, it will create the following folders for your various types of media.

  • photos
  • documents
  • histories
  • headstones
  • media

You can customize these to your liking. For my TNG setup, I have installed TNG below “public_html” in a folder named “familytree“. So these other folders are below that. For example: /public_html/familytree/photos/.

RootsMagic doesn’t care where your media files are. Each file could be in a completely unique folder structure or even on different drives.

I suppose that the simplest approach to using both RootsMagic and TNG would be to have your desktop computer folders match closely to TNG. For example:

  • C:\FamilyHistory\photos –> /public_html/familytree/photos/
  • C:\FamilyHistory\documents –> /public_html/familytree/documents
  • etc.

That doesn’t work for me. But, I’ve found a slick way to set all of this up while keeping my preferred folder structure on my desktop computer. I store everything in buckets based on a family surname and I’m using Dropbox, so everything is always backed up automatically for me and accessible from anywhere. Below is an example of the folders I have for the “Britt” surname. I repeat all of these subfolders for each surname.

D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Births\
D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Census\
D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Deaths\
D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Marriages\
D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Military\
D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Newspaper\
D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Other\
D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Photos\

So, if I’m storing an image of a census page for someone in the Britt family, it goes to …\Britt\Census\. If it’s an image of a death certificate, it goes to …\Britt\Deaths\.

But, in TNG, I really just want everything in TNG’s “photos” folder. I don’t even care to differentiate between photos, documents, headstones, etc. Who cares? It’s just somewhere to upload copies of my media so it can be shared online.

Here’s the tricky part. Remember the media filename in GEDCOM? It has that long path that matches how it’s stored on my hard drive (D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Census\). When I upload my GEDCOM, my TNG database needs to know how to find the file on my website, so I can’t just upload it to the “photos” folder. So, what you do, is pick sort of a “root” folder on your desktop computer from which all of your media files can be found. For me, that’s D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\. This would not work well if I linked a media file in RootsMagic that resided anywhere other than below this “root”*.

Now, in TNG, I need to tell it where this “root” is. Go to Admin Home, Setup, Import Settings.

*See that highlighted item at the bottom of the screen shot. You can include multiple folders if your media in RM comes from more than one “root”. Just separate them by a comma, no spaces, and end them with a backslash “\”. For example: “D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surname\,C:\users\calvin\photos\”

Remember, I’m showing you how I have things set up for me. It will be different for you, but hopefully showing these examples will help you configure things as needed.

Now that you have set this up, when you import your GEDCOM, the file: D:\Dropbox\_FamilyHistory\Surnames\Britt\Census\Britt_Leroy_b1811_Census_1860_01-h.jpg will need to be uploaded to my TNG website as: /public_html/familytree/photos/Britt/Census/Britt_Leroy_b1811_Census_1860_01-h.jpg. That will be the reference in the TNG database.

Uploading Media Files to TNG

There are multiple ways to upload your media files to TNG. I prefer to use FileZilla to upload them.

FTP Utility

I use FileZilla, but you can use any FTP utility. You simply connect to your website, navigate to the appropriate target folder, which for me is /public_html/familytree/photos. Then you navigate to the matching folder on your local computer and upload files as needed. I keep a little “to do” list of media that I’ve added to RootsMagic so that when I do my next GEDCOM, I know which files need to be uploaded.

TNG – Media, Upload

Another method: Admin Home, Media, Upload

Note: This method will generate the thumbnail as part of the process.

TNG – Select a Person, Edit, Add Media (another method)

Note: This method will generate the thumbnail as part of the process.

Media – Generate Thumbnails

If you uploaded your media using an FTP utility like FileZilla, you will need to generate thumbnails for these new images. You should do this AFTER importing your GEDCOM.

Admin Home, Media, Thumbnails, Generate

Note: If your images are too large, it won’t be able to generate a thumbnail. I’ve found that if my images are no more than about 1920 pixels in width or length, usually this isn’t a problem. IrfanView has a nice feature to reduce a batch of files at once.

TNG – Places – Set Place Level

When your GEDCOM includes places that are new to TNG, you’ll need to manually set their “place level”. This isn’t critical. If you don’t bother, the maps will show pink pins indicating that the place level is undefined.

Go to Admin Home, Places, do a search for all places missing a place level. Edit each one and choose the appropriate place level, such as “City/Town”, “County”, “State”, etc.

MySQL Workbench – Set Media to Open in New Window (optional)

Okay, call me picky, but I like the option turned on for my media to open in a new window. This essentially means that when the user clicks on the thumbnail, the image opens in a new browser tab. You can do this from TNG by editing the media and setting this option.

I didn’t want to do this for each image that I upload, so I execute an UPDATE statement in my TNG MySQL database. You’ll want to download something like MySQL Workbench so that you can connect to your server and query your TNG database. Below is the UPDATE statement that I use.

set sql_safe_updates=0;
update {database_name_here}.tng_media set newwindow = 1 where newwindow is null or newwindow = 0;
set sql_safe_updates=1;

Shared Facts

One more thing. In RootsMagic, you can “share” facts. For example, you can enter the fact of “Census” for the head of household person and instead of adding it again for every family member, you can “share” it with each person mentioned on the census page. This is a great time saver.

The “_SHAR” tag in GEDCOM is not a standard GEDCOM tag. This is a custom tag that RootsMagic uses. However, TNG does handle them by creating these facts for each person. In other words, TNG doesn’t have the same “share” feature, but it’s method of copying the facts to each person works great, at least for me.

Summary

If you made it this far, you’re a genealogy and techy nerd. ha ha. Just kidding. Good job! I hope this helps someone. I absolutely love both of these programs and I honestly think that TNG is just a fantastic way to share your genealogy research online. I realize that there a many other ways to do this, but this method suits me. Good luck and feel free to comment and share your experiences with others.

Other Resources:

Calvin Knight

I have always been intrigued with the process of finding information about my ancestors. I also love learning new ways to implement technology. By day I'm a database developer.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Putting copies of all your media into a TNG Photos Media Collection doesn’t seem to me to be the best way to go. When there are thousands of media to transfer, and manage, one needs to have a very organized file naming system in place beforehand to find anything afterwards. What also needs to be addressed is how to keep track of what has already been uploaded into TNG, and what new media needs to be uploaded from time to time. If not, duplicates copies are made in TNG which interrupts earlier established links. TNG offers the option to create Media Collections that mirror the media file folders one keeps on one’s home computer that are accessed by one’s main genealogy program. In addition, TNG offers the option to subdivide those Media Collections into Trees, should that be desired. In our administration of TNG websites hosted by the Guild of One-Name Studies, one common misunderstanding is how differently genealogical data and media are handled by TNG. Thank you for sharing many excellent suggestions for doing this effectively.

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