Monday, 10 January 2011

Genealogy websites 2011

One returning from my Christmas break I started to think about a suitable blog with which to start the New Year. Initially I thought about a review of 2010, but then we've done that and got the T-shirt! So, how about 2011, and what will it bring? Since my main interests are genealogy and creating websites, the exciting happenings in website development, and the possible effects on our websites is an obvious. But first, I would like you to look at The Wilderness Years to do so you will need lots of memory and preferably the Google Chrome Browser, if you haven't got it, it is worthwhile downloading for this site alone. It will just about run on the latest Firefox (but not well), and I could not get it to run at all on the latest Beta version of IE9. When asked for your town, I would suggest that you enter a large city, or at least a place where Google Earth will have lots of photos.

Now that site is based on the new HTML5 coding, and I am not suggesting that it will have much effect on research sites such as Ancestry, or Findmypast, but I am certain that it will be used by people, like myself, who write their own websites. It will also be used in conjunction with another new language, CSS3, which is used to code the positioning and layout of the pages.

Will this affect the User?

Yes, it will! Already the latest browsers are starting to incorporate the functionality which they need in order to read HTML5 and CSS3. Chrome is probably the best at present but it is steadily being introduced into Firefox, Opera, IE9 and other major browsers. The figures below are taken from visitors to my own website.
1) Browsers used:
As might be expected IE is at the top of the list whilst at the bottom are the mobile phone browsers. In general, it is fair to say that non-IE users tend to be very dedicated in updating their browsers to the latest version, and IE users less so as the table below shows:

2) IE Users:
At last some three-quarters are now using IE8 but there is still over 5% using IE6 or earlier. Those users are going to have problems because only the latest browser will be able to read the new codings, and their problem is that little will be done to get the sites to display properly when using them. Even IE7 and IE8 users will not get the full benefit of the new technology, although the probability is that the sites will degrade gracefully for these users.

IE users with the XP operating system also have a big problem since it would seem that IE9 will only be available for Vista and Win7 operating systems - a change to Chrome could be their best option.

Website Generators

To generate my Pedigree web pages I use the HTML generator included in the Legacy Family Tree program. I still consider this to be the best program around for these types of web pages, but it is now getting old and tired as it is written in very basic HTML. It has received a boost with the publishing of a program from LTools which enables the conversion to CSS/HTML, but, in my view, will shortly need to be rewritten - this comment also applies to most similar programs.

The Future

This year promises to be one of the most exciting in website development for many years but for the new techniques to achieve their potential depends not only on the website developers but also relies on the users to upgrade their browsers and the software manufacturers to improve their generators - before we reinvent the wheel!!


The author is a volunteer beta tester for Legacy Family Tree.

© Ron Ferguson 2011


  1. HTML5 moves one step closer to universal adoption: HTML5 Gets an Official Logo from W3C

  2. In fairness to Microsoft, I have tried to run 'The Wilderness Years' using IE9 RC and it still will not run

  3. I don't know if you meant Millennia will need to rewrite their web-page generators -or- I will need to rewrite LTidy. I don't have any plans to rewrite LTidy unless Millennia makes major changes on its end. But if Millennia does that, hopefully they will address the CSS issues and make LTidy unnecessary!

  4. Sorry, Dennis, that was not very clear, I was in fact referring to Legacy updating their website generation. I too hope that they will start using CSS.

    My main point though is a wake-up call to all to update their browsers and developers their software. When I next do a major rewrite of my site, probably later this year, I am almost certain to abandon IE6, and will definitely be using CSS3 and may well write the lot in HTML5. How this will affect Legacy's pages I am not sure at present.