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Software Review of:
GeneWeb 
A Web-Server, 
interactive approach to genealogy 

From the January, 2001 issue of PC Alamode Magazine
by Larry Grosskopf
GeneWebAlthough I have played around some with genealogy software previously, I have still not mastered this genre of software programs. I remain interested in software that can help me find out more about my past and my ancestor’s past. There is a program that is called GeneWeb version 3.07 that is rather unique in many ways. This program is a download from the Internet and it is free to use. It also allows you to obtain the source code and to utilize it to change or alter and add to the program with no restrictions other than when you offer it to others that you offer them the same rights you have. Even though it is freeware it is still copyrighted software (GeneWeb version 3.07, author Daniel de Rauglaudre, is copyrighted by INRIA). Provided with the program is a GNU General Public License from the Free Software Foundation, Inc., which is located in Boston, Massachusetts. This license must be provided with the software even if it is altered, whenever it is distributed with the primary purpose being to keep it “free.” 

You are allowed to re-program or alter the program and then charge a fee, if you so choose, but you must let the recipients have the source code and rights to change it for their own use. GeneWeb is called that purposely since it is a software program that works with Windows 95/NT/98 and Unix as well. It is what I would call command heavy for those of us who are used to Windows and only having to point and click. This program connects you to an Internet based server, which explains the name GeneWeb. There is additional documentation located there. 

GeneWeb version 3.07 was downloaded from the Internet and then must be installed onto your system. Here is where it gets a little bit tricky. Once installed, a DOS box opens up and you can then enter commands. To begin, you must use interactive commands, for example, with Windows 95/98/NT, you tell it Start, Programs and Commands MSDOS. Once you have started the program successfully, you will note that you must create a database as your initial step. You can create and name an empty database or import an existing GEDCOM file of your own choosing. I created my own and must commend the authors on providing extensive help, but the program can be cumbersome and frustrating if you don’t like to read the documentation. The interactive DOS window must remain open while you use the program. From there you type the various commands you need to use this program. You can create and name your database and then fill it under GeneWeb. What happens is you are connecting to a Server and that is where you really start humming with this program. Some other commands you might use include gwc for creating an empty database, ged2gwb for converting a GEDCOM file into a GeneWeb database or gwd for running the GeneWeb daemon which lets you consult and extend your GeneWeb database. 

Once active, it connects you to the web using your default web navigator and if you created a database, it lets you “Add a family” and modify your existing, though empty, database. If you converted a GEDCOM file, you initially see the number of persons in your database. You then operate it as a seamless classical web service, using the mouse to click on links and buttons and the keyboard to fill in or add missing information. Each time you click a button or link, a “trace” will appear on your interactive window. When you are finished, simply type CTRL+C and your session will end in the interactive window. When this occurs, you will no longer be able to interact with the web server unless you restart by using the gwd command again. 

The minimum requirements for this program are a Windows 95/98/NT or UNIX operating system with Internet access. Installation and use is a bit tricky, as I’ve alluded to already, but for the price, you can’t beat it. This program might be especially useful if you needed or wanted to research genealogy information in different languages, since there are several flags you can choose from and receive directions and information in that language. 

Let me mention what I considered strengths and weaknesses of this program. It is free, that is a real strength. An excellent help section is provided, another plus. On the downside, if you have never used command line type programs, this might be a bit confusing. Also, if you hate working in multiple windows, you might object to using GeneWeb. I would not recommend this program for the novice computer user or the novice genealogist, as there are easier programs to use. However, I would recommend it especially to those who would like to expand their research horizons and perhaps add to an already established GEDCOM database. This product is available from the Internet at the following web page <http://cristal.inria.fr/~ddr/GeneWeb>.


Larry Grosskopf is a Clinical Psychologist at the San Antonio State Hospital, with a strong interest in computers. He and his wife Marta are raising two children, Zoë, age 7 and Jackson, age 5.