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The Genealogue

Louis KesslerLouis Kessler's Behold Blog

the Development of my Genealogy Program named Behold

DMT 4.3 - New FTDNA File Format and Matching Algorithm

2021. augusztus 26., csütörtök 23:32:45

I have released Version 4.3 of Double Match Triangulator which includes changes to allow it to read the new Family Tree DNA segment file format.

On July 1, Family Tree DNA announced changes to their matching algorithm along with other updates on their blog: Updates To Family Finder, Featuring Improved Matching And A Soon To Be Released Chromosome Painter.

On July 7, they sent an “Important Update” via email to their users that they were continuing to refine the matches and hoped to complete this by July 23.

Changes to FTDNA’s Matching Algorithm

Family Tree DNA, like the other DNA companies, considers the details of how they do their matching proprietary. All that really can be analyzed are how the resulting matches have changed.

The most important change is that now segment matches are only reported down to 6 cM. Previously Family Tree DNA reported all matches down to 1 cM. The company was often criticized in the past about reporting these small segments which were often random matches that were not IBD (Identical by Descent).

As a result of this change, the total cM reported between two people should be more compatible with the matches reported at other companies that cut off their matches at 7 cM.

But the change in the matching algorithm has also changed the individual matches. Here, for example, is a comparison of two 3rd cousins.

These are the segment matches Family Tree DNA now reports:


So Family Tree DNA now reports 9 matching segments totalling 95.1 cM.  The smallest segment is 6.1 cM and the largest is 18.7 cM.

Previously, these were the segment matches for the same two 3rd cousins:


Family Tree DNA previously reported 21 matching segments totaling 110.7 cM. The smallest segment was 1.7 cM. The largest was 18.1 cM.

For comparison with the new matches, let’s ignore the 15 matches under 6 cM (shaded in the above table). This leaves us with 6 matches totaling 63.3 cM with smallest 7.2 cM and largest 18.1 cM.

Those are quite different results. None of the Start Locations or End Locations or Centimorgans or Matching SNPs are the same between the old and new matches.

Looking at the 9 new segments individually:

Chr 2:  This segment is 6.1 cM new and 5.0 cM old

Chr 4:  This segment is 7.7 cM new and 9.9 cM old.

Chr 7:  This segment is 7.7 cM new and 4.7 cM old.

Chr 11 (1 of 2):  This segment is 10.1 cM new and 8.2 cM old.

Chr 11 (2 of 2):  This segment is 7.0 cM new and 7.2 cM old

Chr 18: This segment is 9.9 cM new and 9.7 cM old

Chr 20: This segment is 18.7 cM new and 18.1 cM old

Chr X (1 of 2): This segment is 14.0 cM new and 10.3 cM old

Chr X (2 of 2): This segment is 9.4 cM new and 3.8 cM old

2 of the 9 segments are smaller with the new matching than they were with the old matching.

7 of the 9 segments are larger with the new matching than they were with the old matching. And 3 of those old values were smaller than the new 6 cM threshold.

The good thing is that all of these 9 segment matches overlap. Even though their starts and ends and lengths don’t match exactly, you can tell which ones are the same. None are missing, at least in this example.

The largest cM difference is 5.6 cM and the largest start or end position difference is 3,176,824 base pairs, both of which are significant amounts.

What this does show is that you should try to avoid comparing segment matches done with the new algorithm to segment matches done with the old algorithm. In cases where you only have an old segment match file and cannot get the new match file for that person, then you may have no choice but to use the old one.

Changes to the Chromosome Browser Results File

Along with the other changes, one change Family Tree DNA did not advertise was a change to their segment match download, which they call their Chromosome Browser Results File.

One problem Family Tree DNA’s website had for over the last year and a half was that if you had a large number of matches, you couldn’t download your segment match file at all. Clicking on the “Download All Segments” button:


would result in a little progress circle going round and round and round … and it would never stop, even after hours of letting it run. The files that were being generated were just too large and the website’s servers would time out and stop processing without informing you.

So that had to be fixed, and it was. By only including the segment matches 6 cM or more, the files were already made much smaller and required less processing to produce. Also column 1 used to contain the name of the DNA tester and was the same in every row. So Family Tree DNA excluded that column from the file, making the file even smaller.

The final result:  Now even the largest files will process and complete, and after not more than a couple of minutes, the download file will be produced. And that is great news.

The bad news for Double Match Triangulator is because the DNA tester’s name is no longer in the Chromosome Browser Download file, there is no way for DMT to tell who the tester is. The tester name is not part of the downloaded file name either.

So users of DMT using the new Chromosome Browser Download files will have one more step to do. You’ll have to open the file and add into cell G1 the tester name as it is referred to in other files, and save that. Full instructions are in the DMT help file on the page with Family Tree DNA instructions.

My Week as the WikiTree Challenge Guest

2021. július 24., szombat 18:24:55

@WikiTreers is a free One-World family tree set up like a wiki. It has been in operation since 2008. It currently has over 27 million profiles.

The community of people who use WikiTree set up various online social events and challenges amongst themselves to encourage improvement of the quality of their tree. They declared 2021 their “Year of Accuracy” and this year thought of a very innovative way to promote WikiTree and get new people involved. Each week, they invite a well-known (in the genealogy world) guest to add their ancestors up to their great-grandparents to WikiTree. The challenge part happens when the WikiTree community goes at it to extend the guest’s tree adding sourced profiles with documented biographies. They collaborate with each other in a Discord chat room. The challenge part is to see who can acquire the most points, by breaking brick walls (when compared to the guest’s main tree elsewhere) and adding profiles for new ancestors and their siblings, with additional credit given for any profile edited. The points really are just for fun and extra motivation to help do the best job possible with the guest’s tree.

The guest’s week starts on a Wednesday. There is a livestream with Mindy Silva, the WikiTree Challenge coordinator, the Team Leader for the week, the previous week’s guest and the current week’s guest.

My Intro, Wednesday July 14

My week started on July 14. It was the end of the John Boeren’s week. The first half of the livestream was what was called the “reveal”, where the team reveals what was done on the guest’s tree and who did the best, points-wise, in the challenge. John has all his roots in The Netherlands. The Wikitreers managed to add over 1000 profiles of John’s ancestors to WikiTree, just about completing his ancestry to 8 generations deep, in some cases breaking brick walls by extending John’s tree further than he had done in his own research.

This was followed by my introduction and a review of some of the brick walls that I have in my research:

Unlike some of the guests, this was not my first exposure to WikiTree. I heard about the WikiTree challenge in January and that prompted me to join WikiTree in February. I then added my ancestors and started to write up their profiles on WikiTree.

I really enjoyed watching the Wednesday livestreams with the various guests, and seeing their reactions at their reveals. The WikiTreers worked very hard and always surprised the guest with what they found.

Then in June, they had Jarrett Ross, the GeneaVlogger as the guest. There was a tree I thought I could help with, so that week, I became one of the challengers working on Jarrett’s tree. It was an intense week of working on someone else’ genealogy, but was a lot of fun.

Wed July 14 to Wed July 21

With my involvement up the that point, I was hoping that Mindy would allow me to be one of the challengers, or at least help the participants in the Discord chat. Unfortunately, that was not allowed. I was not supposed to know anything about how they were doing. It was all supposed to be a surprise to me at the reveal.

So I followed the rules, stayed off WikiTree, and I even uninstalled Discord from my phone so I wouldn’t get notifications that might clue me in. I was very honorable in that way because I realized it would be more fun for me to be surprised at the end.

But I was allowed send one-way messages to the WikiTreers. Jarrett had done this two weeks earlier with a few tweets from his Twitter account. So I did the same and sent out a series of 21 hints via Twitter including the @WikiTreers address to make sure they’d see them. e.g.:

I had no idea what they were working on, but those hints I sent out made me feel like I was involved.

Every Saturday, WikiTree has a morning livecast with Sarah Callis, Mags Gaulden, and Mindy that summarizes the WikiTree community’s activities for the week, ending with a brief summary of how this week’s WikiTree Challenge is going. Mindy couldn’t make it this week and invited me to take her place. Of course, nothing of significance was going to be revealed to me. I was to be kept in the dark.

My Reveal, Wednesday July 21

I kept myself busy on Tuesday and Wednesday diverting my mind from thinking about WikiTree by working on a few projects, cleaning my desk, and adding sod to my lawn.

I knew my challenge would be tougher than the others. All my grandparents and only one set of great grandparents had emigrated to Canada from Russia or Romania in the early 1900s. That meant that any deeper research would require Russian or Romanian records. Those records do exist, but very few of them have been digitized, translated, indexed and been made available online. I have had success on several of my lines using specialized researchers who have access to the archives in Russian and Romania and have been able to find records for me. I knew the WikiTreers would not be able to do that.

To make matters worse, I had been adding profiles to my tree since February, so the WikiTreers didn’t even have very many new profiles they could add for me.

Sure enough, they realized they would not be able to take my genealogy further back, so they wisely did the next best thing and focused more heavily on the siblings of my ancestors that had come over and worked to improve their profiles, find new sources, newspaper articles and other valuable information that I had never seen before.

This was WikiTree’s summary of my week:
Highlights from Louis Kessler’s WikiTree Challenge - WikiTree G2G

Excellent Results

Although they may not have extended my genealogy, the results were extremely rewarding to me. I had a few brick walls, not ancestral, that I really thought they could help me with and they did.

My great grandmother’s brother was Louis Segal who married Sophie and had a daughter Sarah in Romania. They moved to England in the 1900s, went to Canada in the 1910s and ended up in Jacksonville, Florida in the 1930s and then I lost track of them. The WikiTreers found their ship record to Canada as well as the likely 1940 gravestone of Louis Segal in Jacksonville, plus other twists and turns and tidbits to that story. They added all that information to Louis’ profile on WikiTree along with sources. I’ve got enough there to solve most of my big mysteries about him. I’m currently working on rigorously going through his biography and forming conclusions and reorganizing it appropriately. The “Research Notes” section of WikiTree biographies is a wonderful tool for this type of analysis.

The WikiTreers also added valuable information like this to other relatives. It will take me several weeks (at least) to go through all the work they did and review the new information found.

They attempted to look at the Rothschild family for me. Although they could not connect my wife’s Russian-based ancestor to the family, they added a lot of Rothschild profiles to WikiTree which was valuable work.

Another absolute breakthrough happened when I was going through some of my documents to provide for my hints. My number one brick wall is my father’s stepfather Louis Kessler and his first wife Sarah Katkow. They were supposedly from Ogec, Russia according to the 1916 Canada Census, and I couldn’t nail down where that was. That is until I found two death records for Sarah.

I had always thought those were two copies of the same death certificate. But they were in fact death registrations for Sarah registered in two different municipalities. And the 2nd one lists Sarah and her parents’ place of birth being Odessa, Russia!  The mystery of Ogec is finally solved. It was nice for me to contribute significantly to my own research during this challenge week.

Mondays with Myrt – July 26

I discussed my week on the WikiTree Challenge on Mondays With Myrt (Pat Richley-Erickson) starting about 13:50 in until about 47:00:

Going Forward

I know how long it takes to write good sourced biographies. It involves cross referencing all the information you have and putting it together into something that makes sense.

So the biographies that were added during my WikiTree Challenge week are very much appreciated. I’ll be maintaining those into the future and using WikiTree as the place I write my ancestors’ history.

Great thanks to all the WikiTree people who worked so hard on my tree this week.

There are still 5 more months of the WikiTree Challenge. Great guests are lined up. There are a few coming up, like Drew Smith and Melanie McComb, whose trees I plan to help with. Looking forward to the fun.

Come see me. This is my week on the WikiTree Challenge

2021. július 12., hétfő 19:59:56

This Wednesday, July 14 at 3 p.m EDT, I’ll be introduced as the @WikiTreers guest for the week.

I’ll be on the panel of the Livecast which will be about an hour long. The first half hour will be the “reveal” of John Boeren, whose week they’ll have just finished up. The next half hour will introduce me and the challenge that the WikiTreers will have with my tree.

The July 14 livecast link is:


The livecast of my “reveal” next week will take place Wed Jul 21 at 8 p.m. EDT on both WikiTree’s You Tube Channel and WikiTree’s Facebook Page.

Note the intro is at 3 p.m. EDT and the reveal week is at 8 p.m. EDT. The first week was moved earlier to accommodate John Boeren who lives in The Netherlands.

Come to the livecasts so you can add comments and chat. If you can’t make the livecasts, both sessions are recorded and will be available afterwards via WikiTree on their YouTube or Facebook pages.

What’s Going to Happen

I have seeded WikiTree with my family research back to about great-grandparents, which to be honest, is almost all I know.

Genealogists who use WikiTree (known as WikiTreers) have been participating in this challenge since the beginning of the year. Every week they have a new guest and spend the whole week working on the guest’s genealogy. They try to break brick walls and find new ancestors, and add their nuclear families (i.e. siblings and children). Along the way, they check all the information and add sources to back up every fact. This is part of WikiTree’s “Year of Accuracy” and that is what they are striving for.

They also improve each relatives’ biography and try to find interesting details of their lives that will add some life to that person. Biographies are possibly the most valuable contribution you can give your ancestors.

The work they have done for their other guests so far have been fantastic. For example, watch Devon Noel Lee’s reaction and Connie Knox’ reaction to what was found for them when they were the guest.

My genealogy has always been an interesting but difficult challenge. All the 10 “grandparents” I research (my 4, my wife’s 4, my father’s stepfather and 1st wife) immigrated to Manitoba or Saskatchewan from Russia or Romania in the early 1900’s. Russian and Romanian records are not easy to find and not easy to translate once found. It will be a real challenge.

But my experience with the WikiTreers for the past 6 months during the challenge is that they have all shown to be excellent researchers who have been gaining expertise as the weeks go by. They share what they’re working on with each other on the chat that the challenge uses at And more often than not, they figure out a solution to most problems. And they all had fun doing it as well. I tried it for a week when Jarrett Ross was the guest and it was thrilling.

Whether or not they break 100 brick walls, or no brick walls, I know they will be improving all my profiles at WikiTree, adding sources and research notes, and providing many new paths for me to explore with my research. I know I will be very surprised at the reveal, likely multiple times.

Radio Silence

I had hoped I’d be able to help as a participant in my own challenge, and do research with all the others. But that’s not the way it works.

So I am respecting the rules and as of my intro on Wednesday, I will stay completely off WikiTree and not peek one iota. I will not go on the Discord chat channels, and I’ll even uninstall Discord from my phone to prevent notifications from it.

I’ve got a couple of projects to keep me busy during the week. But I can tell you right now: it’s going to be a looooooong week!

So please join me if you can, at my kickoff and at my reveal the week after.

The WikiTree Challenge – From the Inside

2021. július 8., csütörtök 8:05:01

I wrote several months ago about the WikiTree Challenge:
No Genealogist Should Miss the WikiTree Challenge

Each week, WikiTree is holding a challenge for all the people who use WikiTree as part of their “Year of Accuracy”. They invite a genealogy special guest – usually someone well-known amongst genealogists – to add their basic tree onto WikiTree and let the WikiTreers (that’s what they’re called) go at it. The goal is to extend their ancestral lines accurately, adding people and writing biographies that are based on reliable source information. The challenge part is that the WikiTreers get points for each ancestor or ancestor’s sibling added and extra points if they break a brick wall, which is finding ancestors that the guest didn’t have in their primary tree or correcting ancestors they may have had wrong.

And LOT of brick walls get broken!


Look at the special guests to date. If you’re into genealogy, you’ll likely have heard of many of them:

Week 1 – A.J. Jacobs
Week 2 – Cece Moore
Week 3 – Jonny Perl
Week 4 – Jen Baldwin
Week 5 – Henry Louis Gates
Week 6 – Judy Russell
Week 7 (rest week)
Week 8 – Thomas MacEntee
Week 9 – Katherine Willson
Week 10 – Pat Richley-Erickson
Week 11 – Rob Warthen
Week 12 – Dallan Quass
Week 13 – Ellen Thompson-Jennings
Week 14 – Tim Janzen
Week 15 – Cheri Passey
Week 16 (rest week)
Week 17 – Connie Knox
Week 18 – Scott Fisher
Week 19 – Devon Noel Lee
Week 20 – Nathan Goodwin
Week 21 – Gena Philibert-Ortega
Week 22 (rest week)
Week 23 – Yvette Hoitink
Week 24 – Coral Parks
Week 25 – Melissa LeMaster Barker

Each week on Wednesday, WikiTree has an hour live video on their YouTube channel and their Facebook page that reveals all the findings of the previous week’s guest, and introduces the guest for the next week. If you miss it live, you can watch it later on YouTube as all the weeks are recorded. As part of WikiTree’s weekly Saturday morning livecast, they include a brief progress report on how the WikiTree Challenge is progressing. 

From Wednesday to the next Wednesday each week, WikiTreers work together on the guest of the week’s tree on WikiTree.

Learning About WikiTree

I found out about the WikiTree challenge early on. On week 2, when Cece Moore was the guest, I got hooked. I then attended almost every Wednesday live session and many of the Saturday sessions.

This of course, raised my curiousity level about WikiTree. I knew about it since 2011 when I included WikiTree on my GenSoftReviews site. I didn’t open an account at WikiTree until 2017 when I got back to working on my own genealogy again, but I only added a few profiles. This year, after watching a few WikiTree challenges, I was impressed enough to take the plunge. I signed their Honor Code in February and started adding more profiles of my ancestors and my closer relatives to the tree.

WikiTree is a One-World tree. Like FamilySearch and Geni and several others, WikiTree wants each person to be in their tree just once. So everybody has to collaborate and work together on a common genealogy and add sources and improve each others’ biographies.

WikiTree has a lot of features. So many, that it will take you several months to just find out about them. There are apps and tools that help you in many ways. There are watchlists, feeds, profiles, images, charts, help, markup, connections, relationship finder, merging tools, DNA. The list goes on and on.

But it’s the social aspect of WikiTree that is the most interesting. They have group projects, their Forum called G2G, and recurring events to give users fun ways to improve the information in WikiTree such as their Source-a-thon, Friday Date Night, the WikiTree Question of the Week, and this year they started their WikiTree Challenge.

Week 26 – Jarrett Ross’ WikiTree Challenge Week

I had just stood on the sidelines for all the WikiTree Challenge guests up to now. The guests had varying backgrounds: early America, England, Germany, Netherlands, even early Canada. It would have been in a trial by fire for me to try to work on any of those. My expertise, like anyone’s, is of course in the lines I research and the places my ancestors lived. Few of the guests up to now had overlapped with what I know most about.

That’s until the last week. Jarrett Ross was the guest.

Jarrett Ross is a professional genealogist who calls himself the GeneaVlogger. Jarrett’s YouTube channel called GeneaVlogger is where he posts wonderful videos on genealogy that include interviews, tips, tutorials, reaction videos, and videos about his own ancestry research.

Jarrett’s ancestry is Jewish on all his lines. And many of the lines come from the Russian Empire. Hmm. Sounds like something I can relate to.

Behind the Scenes at the WikiTree Challenge

I signed up for the July challenges and was allowed to work on Jarrett’s tree with the other WikiTreers.

Mindy Silva is the challenge coordinator, and Laura DeSpain was this week’s team captain who leads the research for the week.

A shared spreadsheet contains all the participant’s names, where we write the ID of the profile we are editing. That’s so we don’t try to edit a profile that someone else is currently working on.

There are special pages set up to document any brick walls or mistakes we find in the guest’s tree, and there is a page of resources specific to the guest’s genealogy including additional information from the guest. It has a place to add interesting finds and anything needing extra work.

And for motivation, the challengers have access to a live scoresheet showing the points we’ve currently earned compared to everyone else, ordered by highest total points earned.

There are also links to Jarrett’s main research tree. His happens to be at Geni. The challengers are allowed to use his information, but must make sure they have a source for anything they want to add to WikiTree and must verifiy that information themselves.

After the Wedmesday guest intro, everybody gets to work.

Jarrett’s tree initially includes some information about all his ancestors out to at least his great-grandparents. We are allowed to work on any person or lines that we like, for as much time as we like, but we only have a week.

On Thursday morning, I started on one of Jarrett’s lines, went through a few of the sources he provided on his Geni tree as well as some I found on my own.

The genealogical puzzles started appearing. Some facts didn’t align with others. I needed to research more, possibly to check different places for BMD records or Census or ship records. Russian Jewish research is more difficult, and JewishGen and a few other resources are the best you can do for those.

A huge part of this is how we communicate. The WikiTree Challenge uses Discord as their method of coordinating the work. Discord is a powerful group chatting platform, that originally was developed as a social gaming platform for mobile games. It works wonderfully for team coordination. We all were using it to tell each other what we’re working on, what we need help on, get help, give help. It really worked well and looks like this:


Whenever I asked for help on Discord, I always got it.

I must have spent 20 hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday researching that one line. I found a bit of new information that I hoped will help Jarrett. Along the way, I added a few people to WikiTree, including biographies, source notes and pictures whenever possible.

All WikiTreers are encouraged to add research notes to a profile whenever they encounter something about a record that is important to note, such as conflicting evidence, assumptions, what resources were researched and whatever else might help anyone reading the profile.

I switched gears after three days and spent a day looking at some of the other lines. Once I found a line needing a bit of detective work, I continued with it until the end of the challenge.

Overall, this was a 50 hour week of very intense research and detective work. Most nights I was up until 2 a.m, simply because it was such a rush and I’d lose track of time. There was a lot of very pleasant communication on Discord with all the other researchers that was a lot of fun. It was nice to be able to help others and get helped by others. And I learned new things as well.

It was definitely a manic and intense week, but also exhilerating. So much fun, but quite exhausting. My family wondered where I was hiding most of the week.

I can see how some WikiTreers can love doing it. Each week, the participation seems to be increasing and the participants keep gaining experience and are becoming really expert researchers.

The work of several dozen diligent people plus some of my contributions produced an impressive result.

The reveal for Jarrett is recorded here:

What’s Next for the Challenge

The above video finished with Jarrett and introduced John Boeren as this week’s guest. John is a regular on Mondays with Myrt. He lives in The Netherlands, with all Dutch lines going far far back. That’s not my specialty, so I won’t be part of the team this week. I’ll wait until a future challenge comes up that I feel I can better help with.

And the week after John. Well, that’s my week!  I’ve been selected to be the guest for the week of July 14 to July 21! All these WikiTreers will be working on my tree, hopefully breaking some of my brick walls and finding information new to me, or even disproving what I thought was true. Anything and everything will be accepted with open arms.

I’ll give all the details about my week in my next blog post in a few days and let you know when you can catch the livecasts which I’ll be on.

Genealogists: Do Your Biographies!

2021. június 29., kedd 7:44:16

When I first started doing my genealogy in 1978, I didn’t have a genealogy program to use. I started just like everyone else, simply recording information, and how everyone was connected in hand-drawn family trees.

I had access to a Script document processor utility on the mainframe at my University that I could use, so I entered what I had into that. I used its outliner to number the people of my tree. I added basic birth, marriage and death information plus the occasional note if I knew anything else about  the person. Script would then create a document for me of all my information including a table of contents and index of names. It definitely did what I needed at the time.

Sources? Nope. Nobody knew enough to record those in their genealogy back then. Fortunately, I kept all the papers where I gathered my information, so I do know where I got most of my early stuff from.

From about 1992 to 1995, I tried various genealogy programs. The one I liked best was Reunion for Windows and I entered all my information into that. Leister sold Reunion to Sierra Online, and Sierra named it Generations and worked to improve the program, which I was a beta tester for. But within a few years, Generations was purchased by who stopped selling Generations in favour of the other program Family Tree Maker that they owned.

Between 1995 and 1999, I entered the genealogy I had in printouts from the Script DP into Reunion/Generations. The GEDCOM I created in 1999 was the last bit of genealogy data entering I did for quite some time. I decided I was going to write my own program for that, and it would be Behold. Alas, today Behold still is still just a GEDCOM reader and not yet a full featured genealogy editor.

Online Genealogy Trees

After I retired from my day job in 2016, I decided it was time to get back to working on my genealogy and taking it to the next step. There were now hundreds of different genealogy programs out there. Not a single one of them totally appealed to me. But I, like many of you, discovered that our genealogy hobby had been changing.

There were online genealogy systems now available. You could enter your data online and others could see it and communicate with you about it. But even better, these online systems would help you with your genealogy, They would find records and other trees that might apply to you, and offer them as hints, and allow you to bring in their information while sourcing them automatically for you. Wow!

The two that come to mind are Ancestry and MyHeritage. I ended up subscribing to the full MyHeritage plan, mainly because they provide their free Family Tree Builder program that runs on your computer and fully syncs the data up and down between your PC and their online system. By comparison, Ancestry does not have their own program that can sync, and they have only allowed two 3rd party programs, Family Tree Maker and RootsMagic, to connect to your online Ancestry trees. FTM’s syncing has always been problematic, and RootsMagic’s was more of a person-at-a-time rather than an all-at-once syncing. By comparison, I found that Family Tree Builder’s syncing with MyHeritage works very well and reliably.

So now I’ve got all my facts with dates and places being entered, and I’m continuously fed new hints via MyHeritage Record Matches and Smart Matches along with their source citations.

This is the new genealogy people. Embrace it!

There’s an important second type of online genealogy tree as well. These are called One World Trees. They are all collaborative efforts where all the genealogists work on the same tree at the same time. Some people don’t like that. They say that the bad part is that other people can change your information. But on the other hand, don’t you want others helping you and collaborating with you and working with you to make your information better? (Aside:  I don’t know why people think it is “their” information, but that’s a whole other can of worms that I’m not going to get into in this blog post.)

The three main One World Trees are FamilySearch’s Family Tree, Geni, and WikiTree. All three are collaborative, and the ultimate goal of each is to create an accurate representation of all the people in the world, with each person being a unique non-repeated profile. If you truly want to record your genealogy for posterity and contribute to the greater good, you need to get your information up onto one or even all these trees and help make the data right.

MyHeritage does Smart Matching against these three One World Trees and will tell you if you have people in your tree who are already on one or more of them. I have found this MyHeritage feature so very useful.

WikiTree Biographies

This is wonderful. I’ve got all this magically supplied sourced information coming at me in droves. How do I keep it all straight?

Well recently, I discovered the secret.

A few months ago, I heard about an amazing promotion by WikiTree, called the WikiTree Challenge and I wrote a blog post about it:  No Genealogist Should Miss the WikiTree Challenge. I had started looking at WikiTree a few years earlier, but it was this event that got me to look more closely at what makes WikiTree tick.

WikiTree is different from all the other genealogy programs. They only let you record the basic facts about a person: Name, birth, marriage and death, dates and places. Everything else goes into a Biography.

The Biography can be anything you want. It is the only place you can include source information. It is where you can include research notes. What you really want to use it for is to tell the story about the person and provide the sources that back your information up.

WikiTree includes a markup language, so that you can easily include titles, bold text, lists, links, pictures and stickers. It allows you to make a really nice looking biography.  Here for example is the biography I created for my grandfather Louis Braunstein on WikiTree:


Now MyHeritage also has an area where you can add a biography like this with formatting, but it’s nowhere near as easy to do it there as it is at WikiTree.

And you know what I discovered? You can just go to WikiTree and copy the biography and paste it into MyHeritage’s biography and presto, it includes all the formatting and pictures and looks great.


So I’ve now got a great way to create my person profiles.

The Value of Biographies

Now I know that we as genealogists are supposed to go through our sources and learn everything we can from them. But how many of us really do that. Is it really possible just by analyzing a source and what it contains to remember what it contains? No, not unless we write it all down.

And how best to write it all down?  How about this:

  1. Find each important fact mentioned by each source.
  2. Include that fact in each affected person’s biography.

Many of you, I’m sure, have been doing that. After all, that’s what they teach us to do in genealogy school.

But it’s really hard to do until you start writing these biographies, something that WikiTree prompted me to do. And am I ever grateful.

Not only do I have a way, through the biographies to be able to accurately recall the facts about their lives, but I am also learning new facts and correcting old or contradictory facts as I go.

My biographies each start small and basic, but they grow and gets better every time I revisit one.

Biographies are central to genealogy. Don’t gloss over them. Add everything you know. Your ancestors are more than just a bunch of facts. Bring them to life!

Can GEDCOM 7.0 Succeed?

2021. június 15., kedd 19:40:47

It’s been just over a week since FamilySearch released the official version of GEDCOM 7.0. See my article about the announcement.

Now we probably will go into a period of silence, where nobody hears anything more about GEDCOM 7.0 for a while. The expectation is that all the developers are hard at work implementing the new standard so that they can release it as soon as possible.

But are they?

Not likely.

Motivation. Why?

Developers need a good reason to go through the work to implement the new version of GEDCOM. That’s true for any new feature they add to their program. It needs to be something useful and worth their time. The benefits must be better to them than any of the other features they are thinking of adding.

And unless it is an absolute must-have, then there’s no way a developer will put their current work aside and make GEDCOM a priority.

Something will need to motivate developers to implement 7.0.

Is GEDCOM 7.0 a Must-Have?

Everyone got very excited about GEDCOM 7.0 when it was announced, first before RootsTech as a release candidate. And then again a week ago with the official release. It’s because FamilySearch has not released a new version of GEDCOM in over 20 years. It seemed like something was finally being done. Maybe finally, our data would transfer properly between programs.

If you looked closely at the new spec, you’ll see a good number of small changes. The assumption is that each of these is addressing the transfer of genealogy data that GEDCOM currently doesn’t transfer properly.

Do I see one item there that makes GEDCOM 7.0 a must-have? To be honest, I can’t say that I do. There’s a whole lot of small changes, small new things added, and small things removed.

Okay, maybe there are 3 or 4 really good and useful changes that I see and I as a developer would like to implement. I won’t list them because every other developer will have 3 or 4 different items that they want. The point is, do you go through the work of implementing the hundred other changes required for the 3 or 4 things you want?

The developer likely already had implemented those 3 or 4 things into their own GEDCOM export and import in their own non-standard and custom way. What they’ve done already works for them. Why change?  They’ll need a good reason.

Why Your Data Doesn’t Transfer

GEDCOM 5.5.1 limitations are not and never have been the primary reason why your data does not transfer between programs.

The primary reason why your data does not transfer between programs is because the programmers have not implemented GEDCOM 5.5.1 correctly.

An example: Source information. This has been the number one complaint of people who use GEDCOM to transfer data is that their source information doesn’t transfer properly between two programs. The blame is often placed on GEDCOM being incapable of transferring sources details.

That is False. The problem is that developers were lazy and did not take the time to look to see what GEDCOM had. If they would have, they would have seen the PAGE tag and how to properly construct it. They could then have exported any source citation to GEDCOM in a manner that any other program could properly import it again.

I have seen few, if any, programs that have implemented the PAGE tag properly.

As I said over 10 years ago:

Maybe what’s really needed is an education program. So that developers will be able to study and learn what treasures are really hidden in the old GEDCOM standard. So that they’ll be able to learn how to implement the features correctly.

FamilySearch Needs to Be A Leader

Developers need a reason to use GEDCOM 7.0. If one developer is the first to implement GEDCOM 7.0, nothing is gained. There are no other systems to exchange data with. If two developers implement, they can exchange. If a dozen implement, they can all as well. (Assumption: they are all implementing it correctly, or we’re back to data loss.)

FamilySearch has emerged 20 years later from their abandonment of GEDCOM. They now want to lead the charge towards a new standard. For the others to follow, they really need to lead by example.

FamilySearch needs to show their commitment to their own GEDCOM 7.0 in a strong and demonstrative way. They need to show the rest of the genealogical community that GEDCOM 7.0 is required and they need to do so through their FamilySearch Family Tree.

You cannot export a GEDCOM from FamilySearch. The FamilySearch Wiki says:

Currently, a GEDCOM file cannot be exported directly from FamilySearch Family Tree. However, you can use partner programs of FamilySearch to get the data from FamilySearch Family Tree, and then create a GEDCOM file in those programs. Here is a list of the programs that are compatible with GEDCOM and FamilySearch.

What FamilySearch has done is developed GEDCOM X as their means for transferring data within their Family Tree and between Family Tree and partner programs. GEDCOM X is a programming interface to transfer the data directly. It does not produce an intermediate text-based file such as GEDCOM.

If FamilySearch really wants to commit to GEDCOM, they need to program into Family Tree a means for any user to export their tree to GEDCOM 7.0. In so doing, they’ll no longer be making a standard that they believe will work, but they’ll be putting the standard to test and see what works and what doesn’t and what needs to change. That will make the standard solid, and produce GEDCOM files from FamilySearch that other developers will want their programs to be able to input, and that alone will encourage developers to implement GEDCOM 7.0.

Supporting their own standard is not something new for FamilySearch. During the development of GEDCOM 2.0 to GEDCOM 5.5.1 from 30 to 20 years ago, FamilySearch had their program PAF (Personal Ancestral File).  Every time a new version of GEDCOM was released, a new version of PAF (usually with the same version number as GEDCOM) was released which used the new GEDCOM format.

PAF was free, and was an excellent and very popular program. And it still is being used by many people as it continues to work on Windows 10 even though FamilySearch dropped support of the program 8 years ago.

Maybe its time for FamilySearch to release PAF 7.0 to support and promote GEDCOM 7.0? That might do the trick.


Otherwise, I’m sadly quite pessimistic about GEDCOM 7.0.

I think FamilySearch could have done a much better job with this release. The goal needs to be to help developers do GEDCOM right. We don’t need “new expressivity”, “new flexibility” or “new compatibitlity”.  The old ways weren’t that bad. The developers just weren’t implementing them properly.

I was one of 10 genealogy developers and GEDCOM experts who worked during 2018 and 2019 to contribute our thoughts and ideas towards the GEDCOM 5.5.1 Annotated Edition and the GEDCOM 5.5.5 document that followed that were both edited by Tamura Jones.

Tamura is a well-known GEDCOM expert who posted scores of articles about GEDCOM over the past 15 years, including many detailed analyses and sets of best practices. He was encouraged to put these best practices together into a document to help developers. He did so in 2018 as the 5.5.1 Annotated Edition. Then a year later, Tamura released 5.5.5 as a “Maintenance release. Quality. Simpler & Stricter”. 5.5.5 has already been implemented by several different GEDCOM validator programs.

In my opinion, 5.5.5 is an excellent and important improvement over 5.5.1 for developers, without introducing anything new for developers to deal with. It is much superior to FamilySearch’s 7.0 which changed too much for no real apparent reason.

If FamilySearch is truly interested in advancing GEDCOM, they should be including what the genealogy programming community wants. The work and best practices of Tamura Jones are not something they should be ignoring. In fact, FamilySearch’s best move would be to contact Tamura and invite him to be a managing editor (or even THE managing editor).

Otherwise, I repeat, I’m sadly quite pessimistic about GEDCOM 7.0.

GEDCOM 7.0, Official

2021. június 8., kedd 7:04:19

FamilySearch released the official version of GEDCOM 7.0 today. You can find it at selecting “Specifications” from the menu.


The standard is available as PDF or as HTML pages. The PDF is 96 pages, compared to Version 5.5.1 which was 101 pages. The specifications page also has a link to the Github Repository which is where the people on the team have been putting together the document. There’s also a Changelog, as well as the specifications for the previous version 5.5 and 5.5.1 of GEDCOM and for GEDCOM X which programmers primarily use to transfer data directly with FamilySearch’s Family Tree.

The FamilySearch GEDCOM Specification itself lists its version as 7.0.1.  This is likely due to a GEDCOM 7.0 being temporarily released as Release Candidate 7.0.0-rc1 back in February for a week during RootsTech before it was pulled, likely deemed not-ready.  So the 7.0.1 differentiates this release unambiguously. See my blog post GEDCOM 7.0 from February which explains what happened with that release candidate.

This version is called 7.0 and not 6.0 because there was a GEDCOM XML 6.0 draft issued on Oct 2, 2000, an updated draft on Dec 28, 2001, and a GEDCOM 6.0 XML Beta Version issued on Dec 6, 2002. The GEDCOM XML 6.0 specifications never became official and I don’t believe any program implemented it. It evolved into GEDCOM X which FamilySearch released instead.


The Contributors are listed on page 91 of the specifications. They include a wide range of technical people and genealogy software developers. The contributors listed are:

Managing Editors

  • Gordon Clarke, FamilySearch
  • Luther Tychonievich, FHISO and University of Virginia


  • David Pugmire, FamilySearch
  • Jimmy Zimmerman, FamilySearch
  • Larry Telford, FamilySearch
  • Matt Misbach, FamilySearch
  • Russell Lynch, FamilySearch
  • Robert Raymond, FamilySearch
  • Gaylon Findlay, Ancestral Quest
  • Derek Maude, Ancestry
  • James Tanner, The Family History Guide
  • John Cardinal, Family History Hosting
  • Albert Emmerich, GEDCOM-L
  • Dave Berdan, Legacy Family Tree
  • Evgen Zherebniy, Software Mackiev
  • Jason Fletcher, Midlera Software
  • Uri Gonen, MyHeritage
  • Dallan Quass,
  • Tony Proctor, SVG Family-Tree Generator
  • Bill Harten, Puzzilla
  • Bruce Buzbee and Mike Booth, RootsMagic

Development Teams

  • Tags team: Luther Tychonievich, Albert Emmerich, Russell Lynch, Tony Proctor, John Cardinal
  • Extensions team: Luther Tychonievich, Tony Proctor, Jimmy Zimmerman
  • Notes team: Dallan Quass, David Pugmire, Jason Fletcher, Russell Lynch
  • External Media team: Dallan Quass, Jason Fletcher, Derek Maude

I know there are also many others not listed who contributed as well (myself included) as FamilySearch has been reaching out to all developers for their input.

Mondays with Myrt

This morning, Dear Myrtle (aka Pat Richley-Erickson), had her Mondays with Myrt session. I usually come to those. In her session, Tony Proctor was in attendance and while the MWM session was going on, Tony got an email announcement that GEDCOM 7.0 was released and mentioned it, so Pat invited both Tony and me onto the panel to talk about the specs from a developer’s point of view. This morning’s session is available on the Dear Myrtle blog:  ARCHIVED: Mondays with Myrt – 7 June 2021 including GEDCOM 7.0 info.

I should mention here (and I mentioned it live in the session) that Pat and her cousin Russ were the ones who originally started the BetterGEDCOM project about 10 years ago.

See the source image

The BetterGEDCOM project got developers to discuss their likes, dislikes and recommended changes to the GEDCOM standard that was at that time over 10 years old. Too much data, especially sources, were not being transferred correctly or at all between different genealogy programs. A lot of excellent discussion took place, but Pat realized there needed to be an official organization to do this work.

So Pat spearheaded the creation of FHISO.


FHISO was created to be a standards-setting organisation for genealogical information. FHISO stands for Family History Information Standards Organisation. Their website is at:

FHISO got buy-in from many genealogy software developers and solicited input from all developers. They had a Call for Papers that received dozens of submissions including two from me.

A number of people were on the FHISO Board and it had several chairs, the most recent being Luther Tychonievich, a Computer Science professor at the University of Virginia.  Luther over the past few years worked with FamilySearch as a managing editor to help get GEDCOM 7.0 released.

So it really is Pat Richley-Erickson and Russ Worthington who deserves a big thanks. It’s their initiative that ultimately led to this.

So Now What Happens?

Well, in my opinion, I think it will take a while for Version 7.0 of GEDCOM to be implemented by genealogy software developers. There are a lot of changes and it will not be simple to implement.

During the Dear Myrt session, Randy Seaver told us that RootMagic said they’ll have GEDCOM 7.0 implemented in a month. Personally I highly doubt it. They are currently still working to get RootsMagic 8 released and they are behind schedule. I’m sure they won’t want to mess with GEDCOM and delay their new version any more.

Changing GEDCOM input to support 7.0 would be relatively easy, if it weren’t for the new constructs needing support that a program may not yet have in their database. Export is trickier and needs to be carefully and precisely done, and avoiding custom tags where constructs are available so that other programs will be able to read their data.

FamilySearch is making a few tools available to help developers. Currently they have a v5.5.1 to v7.0 Conversion Code tool. Developers will be able to use this to convert their own GEDCOM exports and see what they will need to import and what their export will have to look like.

The Conversion Code Repository also includes parser/js, a simple program to read GEDCOM 7.0. It is written in JavaScript, so developers using other languages will have to translate it to their own language. But most developers already have their own GEDCOM 5.5.1 parser, so they’ll likely better off just carefully updating their own code.

I am impressed by the small size of the javascript parser. It is only 67 lines, and that include comments! Hard to believe it truly can do all the conversion. Has anyone tested it?

It won’t really help you if your genealogy program’s the first to support GEDCOM 7.0. You’ll need to wait until a number of different programs support it before you can use it to transfer your data from one program to another. More importantly, people today usually have a desktop program and an online systems they use. You’ll need to wait until both your desktop program and the online system (Ancestry, MyHeritage, WikiTree, Geni, etc.) support GEDCOM 7.0 before it become useful to you.

That might start happening in the next year or so. If more developers adopt GEDCOM 7.0, it will gain more traction as a standard, and that will encourage other developers to use it to replace 5.5.1.

My program Behold is currently just a GEDCOM reader. If GEDCOM 7.0 comes to be used by a number of different programs, then I’ll add GEDCOM 7.0 input into Behold. I’ll be looking at the various implementations of GEDCOM 7.0 export from the programs that first implement it and make sure I can handle them, as I’m sure there will still be significant differences in how different developers interpret and implement it.

That’s not very Smart of you, Microsoft

2021. május 7., péntek 19:12:11

I’ve been an Independent Software Vendor (ISV), i.e. single developer operation, for over 15 years. I have had my products Behold and Double Match Triangulator available for download for the many versions of each of them.

I never put adware, spyware, viruses or anything bad in my programs. I pay money each year to code sign them so that users and Windows itself can be assured that the program they are installing is the one that I distribute and has not been modified by anyone else.

From time to time, one specific antivirus tool has a false positive with one of my programs and declares it bad. When a user tells me about that, it’s usually not difficult for me to go to the antivirus company’s website and fill out a form to ask them to check my program. They’ve never taken very long to whitelist my program and the problem is solved.

Microsoft Smart Screen

Not too long ago, Microsoft made enhancements to it’s SmartScreen component that it uses on Windows 10 to help protect users against potentially malicious software. Up until a few months ago, the code-signing I added to my Behold and Double Match Triangulator setup programs was good enough for SmartScreen to accept them.

But over the past few months, the following has started to happen. Clicking on the downloaded setup program for either Behold or DMT now pops up the following window which is reminiscent of the dreaded blue screen of death:


Notice there is only one option: “Don’t run”.

You have to know enough and be willing to click on the non-obvious “More info” link to have it allow you to execute the program:


This will display the app information, and they know that I am the publisher because the program is code signed.

And now a “Run anyway” button is available.  Yeah, right. "Run anyway” sounds reassuring – not!

Clicking on “Run anyway” now takes you to the User Account Control window, which is the standard Windows safety procedure for any installation program, and at this point everything is normal:


(I had to take a photo of this window, because it takes over your screen until you answer Yes or No and you can’t screen capture it.)

Smart Screen and Microsoft Edge

Even worse, if you are using Microsoft Edge, then it gives you several additional ominous warnings. First, when you click the download link:


“behold-setup.exe was blocked because it could harm your device” – is not a very friendly download message.

If you hover your mouse over the download box, you get this:


It now shows a garbage can, so that you can delete the download, and three dots. This obviously is more suggestive that you click on the garbage can rather than the three dots.

If you do decide to click on the three dots, you get this:


Once again the first option is Delete. The second is Keep.

“Report this file as safe” takes you to a page where you can report the download as safe, either as a user, or as the developer (see below in this post).

“Learn more” takes you to a page about Microsoft Defender Smart Screen.

“See more” just lists your other downloads.

Clicking on “Keep” brings up yet another scary warning:


So how do you feel about installing a program which “might harm your device” when the only two options appear to be Delete and Cancel.

You have to know enough to click on “Show more” to proceed with the download. Doing so will give you this:


Notice they display my personal information. That is available in my setup program because it is code-signed. They pull out that information and don’t even display it well, showing my name twice, and giving my personal address (not nice of them) when my name, email address, company name (I use Behold Genealogy) and website address would have been much better.

You have to then realize that you must click on “Keep anyway”, and the setup file will finally appear in your Downloads with the ability to Open (i.e. run) it:


If you then try running it, you will get the blue “Windows protected your PC” box described earlier.

So that’s 3 additional ugly warnings that Microsoft Edge adds as obstacles to ensure that you really want to install my program. That even scares me and I know that my program is safe, so I imagine it must stop everyone else in their tracks preventing who knows how many people from wanting to try my programs.

Having my code signed used to be enough for Edge and it always had earlier allowed the download without problems. Try downloading in Google Chrome or Firefox and there are no obstacles. Installation still gives the blue “Windows protected your PC” box, but that’s a Windows thing, not a browser thing.

Report this file/app as safe

Clicking on one of the “Report … as safe” links takes you to this page:


There are two options, to report a program safe as a user, or as the developer.

Clicking the first button results in this:


Clicking on the 2nd option as the owner expands that form to ask more information:


I have submitted this several times in the past few months for both my programs.

After submitting this form as a developer, I get this email back:


And the next day, I get a similar email saying “Your file has been analyzed”. I click on the “View your submission” link in it and it takes me to this page:


If I read that correctly, they seem to be confirming that :

“behold-setup.exe has since established reputation and attempting to download or run the application should no longer show any warnings”.

They then say the signing certificate is still establishing reputation. That should be for other programs I sign it with. Behold and DMT should now be okay.

But they aren’t. Downloads still are going through all the above rigmarole.

I’d be okay if this procedure worked and cleared my program. Unfortunately it did not. I can keep trying, but this is more than frustrating I have to say.

Extended Validation (EV) Code Signing.

There does appear to be one way to get rid of these horrendous messages. That is to upgrade my level of Standard Code Signing to Extended Validation Code Signing.  For only $200 more a year, I can get an EV Code Signing certificate:


Supposedly from what I read, an EV Code Signing certificate will alleviate all these SmartScreen warnings as soon as I start using it.

So a week ago, I purchased a new EV Code Signing for 3 years. For some reason, they were taking a long time to validate my phone number. Yesterday, I found that EV certificates are only available for businesses, and they confirm your signer information by verifying that your organization is valid and that the phone number corresponds with the organization.

I call my software development “Behold Genealogy” but it is not an incorporated business. I declare my earnings on my personal income tax every year. For me to register Behold Genealogy as an official business involves many complications and is more than I want to do.

I’ve now sent in my EV Code Signing refund request.

So What to Do?

As an Independent Software Vendor (ISV), I am somewhat screwed here. Microsoft is putting up roadblocks to my users making them distrust my programs so that they’ll be reluctant to download and install them. And the reputation of my programs is only able to get better if there are users downloading my programs, A bit of chicken and egg here.

All I can really do is add some explanatory info at my two download links to help assure downloaders, try to get their trust, and give them instructions on how to avoid the obstacles and download my programs.

And I hope that Microsoft takes a closer look at the problems this is causing to ISVs like me, and at least mean it when they say my programs have now “established reputation”.

Update: June 3, 2021:  It looks like my Code Signing Certificate must have achieved the “reputation” required by Microsoft. Downloads now happen freely in Edge and there no longer are any “Windows Protected Your PC” blue windows during install.

I am very relieved that this happened on its own in less than a month.  My Code Signing Certificates should now retain their reputation at least until I have to renew them which is 2 and a half years from now.

It would have been nice to have received notice when my “reputation” was achieved. I had been working on other ways to package my software so that Microsoft might approve it. e.g. build it as an MSIX package and submit it to the Microsoft Store, but even that wouldn’t have guaranteed anything.

None-the-less, this still was not a nice thing for Microsoft to do, and for the past month (and I’m not sure how many before that), it caused me a lot of anxiety and unnecessary effort to attempt to find a solution. If Microsoft’s “Report a Download” page resulted in a confirmation of established reputation and no more warnings that actually was true at the time, and not a month later, I would feel much better about it.

My Top 10 DNA Matches at Each Site

2021. május 2., vasárnap 7:00:52

Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge for this week is:


I thought I’d do that, following Randy’s template:

A) On AncestryDNA, I have 149,270 matches. My Top 10 matches are:

* First cousin, mother’s side, 1,047 cM, in tree
* First cousin, mother’s side, 914 cM, in tree
* First cousin 1x removed, mother’s side, 411 cM, in tree
* Second cousin 1x removed, father’s side, 355 cM, in tree
* Second cousin, father’s side, 202 cM, in tree
* Second cousin, 1x removed, father’s side, 183 cM, in tree
* Second cousin, mother’s side, 162 cM, in tree
* Second cousin, mother’s side, 159 cM, in tree
* Unknown cousin, father’s side, 122 cM, not in tree
* Unknown cousin, father’s side, 117 cM, not in tree

I have 10 other relatives in my tree (total 18) who tested at Ancestry.
I have 149,252 matches who are unknown cousins who are not in my tree.

B) On 23andMe, I have 1,501 matches. My Top 10 matches are:

* First cousin 1x removed, father’s side, 7.36% (548 cM), in tree
* First cousin 1x removed, father’s side, 3.67% (273 cM), in tree
* Second cousin, mother’s side, 3.13% (234 cM), in tree
* Second cousin, father’s side, 2.13% (159 cM), in tree
* Second cousin, father’s side, 2.00% (149 cM), in tree
* Second cousin, father’s side, 1.83% (136 cM), in tree
* Second cousin, father’s side, 1.69% (126 cM), in tree
* Unknown cousin, father’s side, 1.64% (122 cM), not in tree
* Unknown cousin, father’s side, 1.50% (112 cM), not in tree
* Unknown cousin, unknown side, 1.47% (110 cM), not in tree

I have 8 other relatives in my tree (total 15) who tested at 23andMe.
I have 1,486 matches who are unknown cousins who are not in my tree.

C) On MyHeritageDNA, I have 18,020 matches. My top 2 matches are:

* Uncle, father’s side, 1,994 cM, in tree
* First cousin 1x removed, mother’s side, 466 cM, in tree

The next 8 matches are all unknown cousins not in my tree with cM:
141, 127, 124, 123, 119, 116, 112, 112.

I have 1 other relative in my tree (total 3) who tested at MyHeritage.
I have 18,017 matches who are unknown cousins who are not in my tree.

D) On FamilyTreeDNA, I have 25,672 matches. My top 2 matches are:

* Uncle, father’s side, 1,861 cM, in tree
* First cousin 1x removed, mother’s side, 442 cM, in tree

The next 8 matches are all unknown cousins not in my tree with cM:
192, 172, 168, 164, 163, 163, 162, 161.

I have 1 other relative in my tree (total 3) who tested at FTDNA.
I have 25,669 matches who are unknown cousins who are not in my tree.

E) On LivingDNA, I have 2,228 matches. My uncle shares 2,003 cM.
The next 9 matches share:  145, 131, 130, 129, 123, 121, 120, 118, 116.
I have 2,227 matches who are unknown cousins who are not in my tree.

F) On GEDmatch, using Tier 1 One-to-Many, I have 59,415 matches that are 7 cM or larger. My top 3 matches are:

* Uncle, father’s side, 1,918 cM, in tree
* First cousin, mother’s side, 958 cM, in tree
* First cousin 1x removed, mother’s side, 433 cM

The next 7 matches are all unknown cousins who are not in my tree with cM: 104, 94, 92, 87, 87, 84, 84.
I know I have 1 other relative in my tree (total 4) who uploaded to GEDmatch,
but I have not thoroughly checked the other 59,405 matches to see if there are any others.

G) On Geneanet, I have 763 matches. My uncle shares 1,925 cM.
The next 9 matches share: 55, 54, 53, 51, 50, 49, 49, 47, 46.
I have 762 matches who are unknown cousins who are not in my tree.

H) On Geni, I have 1,857 matches. My top 10 matches share:
164, 163, 152, 148, 147, 144, 138, 138, 135, 135.
All 1,867 matches are unknown cousins who are not in my tree.

I) At Borland Genetics, I have 862 matches. My top 3 matches are:

* my father, 1887 cM, in tree
* my mother, 1887 cM, in tree
* my uncle, 1805 cM, in tree

My next 7 matches are unknown cousins who are not in my tree with cM:
74, 61, 54, 48, 48, 47. 40. 38

Note that my father and mother’s DNA were partly assembled from my and my uncle’s DNA using the Borland Genetics tools.

What does this indicate?

* With endogamy, you get a lot of matches.
* I am unable to identify my relationship with matches as high as 122 cM at AncestryDNA and 23andMe, 141 cM at MyHeritage, and 192 cM at FTDNA.
* I have not yet found known relatives at LivingDNA, Geneanet, Geni, or Borland Genetics other than my uncle whose data I uploaded.
* I found this exercise very interesting. Compare my uncle at all sites to see how much the same person varies at different sites.
* I bet I’ve mentioned a few sites you didn’t realize you can upload your data to.

Update:  May 6, 2021 – My Uncle

I thought it worthwhile to do my Uncle as well. He is my father’s brother, so he doesn’t share my maternal matches. Since he is a generation above me, he should average double the DNA that I do with my paternal matches, but of course he got different DNA than my father did, so that ratio should vary quite a bit for each individual match.

A) AncestryDNA – Was not tested

B) 23andMe – Was not tested

C) On MyHeritageDNA, My uncle has 21,131 matches (17% more than me). 
His top 10 matches are:

* Me, nephew, 1,994 cM, in tree
* #2 to #8 are all unknown cousins not in my tree with cM:
177, 172, 136, 133, 132, 131, 130
* #9 – Second cousin, 1x removed, 129 cM, in tree
who is my second cousin, 2x removed, 79 cM with me, not in my top 10.
* #10 – Third cousin, 121 cM, in tree
who is my third cousin, 1x removed, is not in my matchlist at MyHeritage.

D) On FamilyTreeDNA, My uncle has 30,284 matches (18% more than me).
His top match is:
* Me, nephew, 1,861 cM, in tree

His next 9 matches are all unknown cousins not in my tree with cM: 
180, 176, 173, 172, 170, 169, 167, 166, 166 

E) On LivingDNA, I logged in as my uncle, and it gave me a screen saying this: 


This was strange because long ago I uploaded his DNA, and in fact, my highest match is with my Uncle. So they do have him. The above screen would not let me go any further, so I could not check his results.

F) On GEDmatch, using Tier 1 One-to-Many, my uncle has 59,821 matches that are 7 cM or larger (0.7% more than me). His top match is:
* Me, nephew, 1,918 cM, in tree

His next 9 matches are all unknown cousins who are not in my tree with cM:
165, 136, 134, 132, 132, 130, 129, 129, 128.

G) On Geneanet, my uncle has 738 matches (3% fewer than me). His top match is me with 1,925 cM.  His next 9 matches are all unknown cousins with cM:
74, 57, 55, 54, 48, 46, 46, 46, 46

H) On Geni, I did not upload my Uncle’s DNA there.

I) At Borland Genetics, my uncle has 257 matches (70% less than me).
His top 5 matches are:

* his brother (my father), 1890 cM, in tree
* his nephew (me), 1805 cM, in tree
* his father (my grandfather), 1278 cM, in tree
* his mother (my grandmother), 99 cM, in tree
* his grandfather (my great-grandfather), 71 cM, in tree

The next 5 matches are unknown cousins who are not in my tree with cM:
64, 63, 54, 45, 45

Note that my father, grandfather, grandmother and great-grandfather’s DNA were partly assembled from my and my uncle’s DNA using the Borland Genetics tools.

Using Behold as a Data Viewer for a WikiTree GEDCOM

2021. április 14., szerda 0:58:40

It’s been a while since I’ve put my full effort into getting Behold to that next level that would include GEDCOM export and editing. In fact, I have to admit that I really haven’t made a lot of changes to Behold except for bug fixes and a 64-bit executable since 2017.

What I did start doing in February 2018 is working on my own family tree again after maybe a 15 year hiatus. I chose MyHeritage as my primary online platform and I add my information through both their online system and through MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder software that stores its database locally on my computer. The two fully sync to each other very nicely with private data about living people only stored on my computer. I keep up with all the Record Matches and Smart Matches that MyHeritage generously provides from its huge record collection and its millions of family trees. There’s very little need for me anymore  to manually search for Census records, vital records or cemetery stones. Most are sent to me without any effort on my part.

MyHeritage also automatically searches the main one-world collaborative trees  to help me locate my relatives in those trees. These include FamilySearch, Geni, and WikiTree.

The one difficulty in using MyHeritage, FamilySearch, Geni, WikiTree (and also Ancestry), or using desktop programs like Family Tree Builder, RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, etc., is seeing what data you have. All these program let you enter your data on forms that contain some of the data in fields. But for extra details and to see more of the data, you need to press buttons to open additional windows. Some programs don’t let you open more than window form at a time. Your data is compartmentalized and you never can see everything at once.

Maybe the programs have reports you can run, but each report is usually for a specific purpose, and rarely is there an “everything” report for you. I’ve never been satisfied by this, and that’s one of the reasons why I built Behold.

Dear Myrtle and WikiTree

A few weeks ago, Pat Richley Erickson aka Dear Myrtle, was a genealogy guest star for the WikiTree Challenge. Pat writes in her blog post: Thank-you WikiTree Volunteers:


Pat concludes that post by saying:

Now perhaps you understand what a great deal of work I have to do correlating new findings with my current genealogy database.

Over the next week, Pat went to work. She downloaded a GEDCOM of her WikiTree relatives and loaded it into RootsMagic 7. She wanted to compare side by side what was in WikiTree’s version of her tree, and what she had already compiled in RootsMagic. Pat had a Mini-Myrt session to describe what she had done:

I was very interested in seeing how Pat was going to do this, and she ran into problems. She could not see all the data from WikiTree all together as she hoped it would be. Pat saw I was in attendance and asked me if I use software that does show all the data. And I said yes, my own software Behold.

So Pat arranged that I return for her next MiniMyrt session and demo how Behold displays her WikiTree data. I did and Pat wrote up about this in her blog post: MiniMyrt - Behold Software and Myrt’s WikiTree GEDCOM File

This is what Pat’s GEDCOM from WikiTree looked like when loaded into Behold:


Each of her earliest ancestors was shown in the treeview on the left. Pat could easily see her brick walls broken by looking through that list for ancestors she did not recognize. Thomas Player was one of those ancestors.

The GEDCOM includes a link to Thomas Player on WikiTree. Behold displays this as a hyperlink that will open that page in your browser. Also included as a hyperlink is an image on WikiTree which is a picture of Parish Banns and that as well can be opened from Behold with a single click.

Most importantly, the WikiTree user profile is included as a Note. You can read what the WikiTreers added as Thomas Player’s profile and that includes the sources they used. They will allow Pat to check the sources and verify for herself that this Thomas Player indeed does (or does not) belong as a new ancestor at the top of her tree.

When trying earlier to load the GEDCOM into her RootsMagic program, this is what Pat could see for Thomas Player


Very little information is shown on the person page itself. The “Note” button can be clicked to bring up the WikiTree note which is good, but that is an extra step. However that Note window is modal, meaning you can’t do anything else in RootsMagic or look at anything else until you close it again.

RootsMagic does import the link to Thomas Player on WikiTree. It does so as an address and you have to click the “Address” button (opening another modal window) to see it: And the link is not a hyperlink, but you can click on the “Visit website” button to open it in a browser.


The Parish Banns object is included in RootsMagic as a Media item. You have to click on the “Media” button to bring it up in another modal window. And the url in this case is not clickable. You’ll have to copy and paste it into your browser.


RootsMagic also shows 3 unidentified reference numbers that puzzled Pat:


RootsMagic does not show the value of the GEDCOM TYPE tag, whereas looking at them in Behold shows them for what they are:


Once you know what they are and realize they are pretty useless, you can hide them in Behold.

A week later (on April 14), Pat had another Mini-Myrt session where she showed how she’s using Behold to help her with her find the new ancestor information that was added to WikiTree so that she could verify it.

Pat may continue to discuss this work on future Mini-Myrt sessions each Wednesday. Here’s the Mini-Myrt registration form if you would like to attend.

Thoughts and Ideas

My goal from Behold’s Everything Report is to make all your data available to you in the most useful way possible. I add relevant family events to each person’s information, include helpful checks and extras such a list of living and deceased relatives at death for verifying with obituaries.

What I’ve noticed though is that the GEDCOMs from the online family trees, specifically MyHeritage, Ancestry, FamilySearch, WikiTree and Geni, have a lot data included with their owne tags and embedded formatting that don’t follow the GEDCOM standard. As a result, many programs will not read, interpret or display a lot of that data correctly.

A program that does understand the data can present it much better, and a program like Behold is designed to display all the data, more conveniently and all together. Behold can allow a WikiTreer to see all their data, rather than just one page or one person at a time. I personally find Behold’s data display very useful whenever I work with my WikiTree data, and I expect others would as well.

As part of my development of Version 1.3 of Behold, I’ll be putting in a bit of effort to make WikiTree’s notes look better. WikiTree does not have formally specified sources, but includes them in their notes as “ref” values or as bulleted free-form text in a sources section. I should be able to extract these to allow the sources to be included in the Sources section that Behold displays.

For Version 1.3, I’ll also be working on including customizations to make Behold better display customized data from MyHeritage, Ancestry, FamilySearch and Geni as well. It should be fun.

Update: Apr 15, 2021:  Pat has now posted the corrected video and I’ve embedded it above. She also had a follow-up Mini-Myrt session and I’ve added info about it above.

Update: May 13, 2021: The Wednesday Mini-Myrt sessions continued for a few weeks where I was a participant:


No Genealogist Should Miss the WikiTree Challenge

2021. március 5., péntek 1:43:33

@WikiTree #WikiTreeChallenge

Wikitree with over 25 million profiles, is the 3rd largest collaborative family tree, after FamilySearch Family Tree and Geni. As the name suggests, the site is designed like a wiki, giving all users ability to contribute and change (preferably with sources) and collaborate about the contents of any page.

The goals of the site is to strive for accuracy through collaboration.

But I’m not here to tell you about the site. You can go to WikiTree and find out that for yourself.

What I wanted to tell you about is one absolutely amazing activity that the WikiTreers thought up and are taking 2021, their Year of Accuracy. This don’t-miss event is their WikiTree Challenge.

Each week, they focus on one guest star who is very well known in the genealogical world. Previous to appearing, this special guest has his/her ancestors entered onto WikiTree. The guest appears Wednesday evening in a live kick-off event where Sarah Callis acts as host and is joined by Eowyn Langholf, Mindy Silva and the team captain for the week who do the work to coordinate the event. They review the guest’s family tree together asking the guest about his/her challenges and brick walls.

Then dozens of volunteer WikiTreers work all week on the guest’s tree. They collaborate with each other to find new sources, make the tree more accurate and even break down a few brick walls finding new ancestors and relatives that the guest didn’t know about.

The next Wednesday, Sarah and gang are back with the guest to review what was done, what information was uncovered and to get the guest’s reactions to all this new research.

It is impressive how much the diligent WikiTeam uncovers. They summarize each week with a scoresheet that lists all the researchers involved and how much each has added to the guest’s tree. That’s the “Challenge” part.

This event will be taking place all year, with a new guest almost every week.

WikiTree Challenge deserves your attention and publicity!

Think of it. Where else can you find your genealogy super-stars talking about their own genealogy? Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is noted for presenting the genealogies of his special guests on Finding Your Roots on PBS. It was so much fun to hear Dr. Gates talk about his own ancestry, and then a week later in the big reveal, was provided with information about his own family that was new to him. At one point he had to call his wife over to show her what was discovered.

All the shows are taped. You can go back and watch them if you missed them. But it is so much more fun to go there while its live and join the chat.

Here’s a list of the challenges they’ve had already, and a link to the videos so you can watch:

WikiTree Challenge Week 1 A.J. Jacobs

Week 1: January 6
      - AJ Jacobs (Journalist & everyone’s cousin): Kickoff, January 6

Week 2: January 13
      - AJ Jacobs (Journalist & everyone’s cousin): Reveal
      - CeCe Moore (The Genetic Detective): Kickoff

Week 3: January 20
      - CeCe Moore (The Genetic Detective): Reveal
      - Jonny Perl (DNA Painter): Kickoff

WikiTree LiveCast featuring CeCe Moore and Jonny Perl for the WikiTree Challenge

Week 4: January 27
      - Jonny Perl (DNA Painter): Reveal
      - Jen Baldwin (Ancestral Journeys): Kickoff 


Week 6: February 3
      - Jen Baldwin (Ancestral Journeys): Reveal
      - Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Finding Your Roots): Kickoff

Week 7: February 10
      - Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Finding Your Roots): Reveal
      - Judy Russell (The Legal Genealogist): Kickoff

Week 8: February 17
      - Judy Russell (The Legal Genealogist): Reveal
      - a break for all the WikiTreers

Week 9: February 24
      - Thomas MacEntee (High-Definition Genealogy): Kickoff

Week 10: March 3
      - Thomas MacEntee (High-Definition Genealogy): Reveal
      - Katherine Willson (Social Media Genealogy): Kickoff

Katherine will have her reveal next week on March 10. Look who is also scheduled for March:

- Pat Richley-Erickson (Dear Myrtle)
- Rob Warthen (DNAGedcom)
- Dallan Quass (RootsFinder)
- Ellen Thompson Jennings (Family History Hound)


And following that, April has been announced:

- Tim Janzen (Genetic Genealogy expert)
- Cheri Hudson Passey (Carolina Girl Genealogy)
- Connie Knox (

Do make sure you check out this WikiTree LiveCast recorded Feb 27 as a RootsTech Special, recapping the first 7 weeks of the Challenge.

The Challenge is going to be continuing all 2021, so expect many more great guest stars to be revealed.

In addition to the Wednesday LiveCasts, they also have a weekly recap every Saturday, discussing how research is progressing for the guest of the week. For all of their past LiveCasts, see the WikiTree Video list on YouTube.

For information on upcoming LiveCasts, follow @WikiTreers on Twitter or go to the WikiTree page on Facebook.

If you want the challenge of working with others to break through the brick walls of your genealogy heroes, then join WikiTree (it’s free) and sign up for some future challenges.

Here’s a great presentation prepared for WikiTreers who want to take on the WikiTree challenge and work to improve the profiles of the guest stars.

This is fantastic stuff. It’s so much fun to join in the live chat every Wednesday night. Hope to see you there.

My Highlights at RootsTech Connect 2021

2021. február 28., vasárnap 8:04:22

Like hundreds of thousands of you, I had been looking forward to this year’s version of #RootsTech2021,  which is completely online and free to everyone.

I have attended RootsTech in Salt Lake City three times in person, in 2012, 2014 and 2017. I couldn’t go from 2018 to 2020, but those years RootsTech had started live streaming their keynotes and one track of their talks, so there was lots I was able to enjoy from home. They also introduced the RootsTech App which helped to know what was going on. Those of us not there were still live tweeting with the hashtag: #notatrootstech

This year, due to the circumstances, RootsTech Connect has been forced to be all online. It was very different. I’d like to go over the parts of the conference that I enjoyed the most.

Road to RootsTech

The RootsTech site wasn’t available until Wednesday. But the people behind the conference got together about a week before and produced a series of videos called the Road to RootsTech. They were well produced, fun and information. It was great to see all the people behind the conference telling us what was coming. We sa even got a sneak peek of the website from Bryan Austad, the main programmer behind the site who was working 24/7 right up to Wednesday to be sure it would be ready.


The Website Itself

Once the website activated Wednesday morning, it was quite a beautiful site to take in. The choice of colors and graphics were very well done.


You had access to descriptions of the hundreds of sessions available, information about all the speakers, and later that day, the expo hall opened where you could visit the virtual booth and get information about and even chat with the 80 or so vendors. And you could build your personal Playlist of all the sessions you wanted to see.

DNA Sessions

DNA topics are a big interest of mine. I have been to a lot of webinars about DNA over the past year, so I was looking for something a bit different or new to me this time around.

Alison Wilde presented a session on her SCREEN Method – Alison described her structured way to record your notes on each of your DNA matches. I thought that was really innovative and well thought-out.


Also see Alison’s other video on YouTube on her advanced note taking system called AP-Screen and her website:

The other DNA topic that was of most interest to me was Leah Larkin’s two sessions: When Your Tree is a Banyan: Untangling Endogamy, where Leah explains the difference in endogamy between different groups of people:

See Part 1 and Part 2. Leah is also asking for more shared match data for her Endogamy study. If you are interested in helping her out, check Leah’s blog post: Contribute to the Endogamy Study.


A month ago, I started taking an hour every night to digitize all the stuff I have in the boxes in my closet and basement, the binders in my bookshelves, and the folders in my filing cabinets. The most interesting sessions for me on that were the series of 3 sessions by Maureen Taylor, Christopher Desmond and Nancy Desmond called Unlocking the Shoebox.


Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.  Lots of great hints, tips and ideas.

I also noticed that ShotBox was a vendor with a virtual booth in the Expo Hall. I had heard about ShotBox several years ago, but now that I’ve actually started my digitization, I understand what types of items my sheet feeder scanner, my flat bed scanner, and my hand-held digital camera phone cannot handle well.

ShotBox had a show special on for RootsTech so I went for it.


My ShotBox should be arriving in about a week.


Only a week prior to RootsTech, it became known that FamilySearch was going to announce a release candidate for GEDCOM 7.0, to replace the over 20 year-old standard that currently is in use. Because my program Behold is a GEDCOM reader, I’ve always been involved with GEDCOM and was very interested in hearing what was going to be presented. Gordon Clarke of FamilySearch had two sessions about this. I watched the two sessions Wednesday night.

But inexplicably, the sessions were removed from RootsTech on Thursday, and all information about GEDCOM 7.0 was taken down. For a timeline of what happened, see my blog post: GEDCOM 7.0.


A genealogical conference isn’t a genealogical conference without socializing. RootsTech Connect provided the ability to chat with other attendees and speakers. I was able to get in touch with a few people I knew from past conferences and have some enjoyable live chats with them.

There were also two other sessions I very much enjoyed.

One was the Family History Fanatics RootsTech Connect 2021 Recap that was on Friday afternoon. 


There were over 70 of us watching live and we were all involved very actively in the live chat that was happening while the webinar was going on.

Then on Saturday, I attended my first ever Dear Myrt After Party. My flight time home had always prevented me previously from attending her After Party which she hosted at her home. But this time, I didn’t have to fly home.

It was a lot of fun. Rather than a webinar, this was a full virtual meeting, so we were all full participants. We had about 60 people there.


Pat set up a game for us and we split up into breakout rooms to form teams to try to find the answer to research questions on FamilySearch, Ancestry and Trove.



Steve Rockwood closing RootsTech Connect. 

Well, RootsTech Connect technically isn’t over. The hundreds of sessions will be available to watch for a year at the RootsTech site. I have about 30 left on my list to watch, many to help with my own personal research.

At the end of the conference, FamilySearch updated their number of attendees:


A million of us. Wow!

Using a GEDCOM file to add to FamilySearch

2021. február 24., szerda 5:25:49

Today I got a newsletter from Elizabeth O’Neal, who runs the Heart of the Family site.  The newsletter was about “Getting the Most Out of RootsTech”. What caught my attention was her point 5: “Check your growing list of cousins.”

Elizabeth was talking about Relatives at RootsTech, which looks at your FamilySearch tree and sees if there are any of the over 320,000 attendees that you are connected to. Some people like Randy Seaver are connected to tens of thousands of people. Me: zero, zilch, nil, none.

I had already added all of my direct ancestors to FamilySearch, which amounted to about 31 people, and I connected them to anyone I could find at FamilySearch who was related, putting in the necessary intermediaries to connect us.

But what Elizabeth said that I did not know was that you can upload a GEDCOM file to FamilySearch. She gave this link to the FamilySearch article: How do I upload my GEDCOM file.

This does not upload your information to FamilySearch’s FamilyTree, but uploads it to their Pedigree Resource File (PRF) which “allows you to share your family history on FamilySearch without letting other people change it.”

One you’ve done that, then you can copy that information into FamilyTree. See the article: How do I copy information from my GEDCOM into Family Tree?

So I had to try that. Other than this possibly being a very good way to get my information into the tree, it might allow me to fairly quickly connect more of my branches to the main tree. And maybe I’ll result in finding some relatives who are also registered for RootsTech.

So let’s try it and see how it goes.

Initial Step:  Create GEDCOM

I have my main tree at MyHeritage. I use their free desktop program Family Tree Builder which keeps the two synced together. I’ll open Family Tree Builder and export my GEDCOM.


I’ll select all people and omit all living people and all people and data that I’ve marked private. I’m not sure if the photos I have of my relatives will transfer to FamilySearch, but I’ll export them in the hope that they will.

Checking the GEDCOM file with Behold, I can see I have 6413 people in the file. The GEDCOM includes all the living people in the file, so all the father/mother/child connections are there, but none of them have any information included, not even the NAME tag. I do want the tree to connect to me, so I find my INDI record in the file and add to it a new line:
     1 NAME Louis /Kessler/

Step 1: Upload my GEDCOM to FamilySearch

1. I sign into FamilySearch and click Search.
2. I click Genealogies.
3. I scroll past the search fields to the section titled What are Genealogies?
4. At the end of the section, I click Submit Your Tree.
5. I click Upload GEDCOM File.


I chose my file, entered a tree name and description and clicked Upload.

In very little time (less than a minute), my tree was uploaded and ready to compare.


Step 2: Compare My File to FamilySearch Family Tree

So now I press the Compare button in the screenshot above. The word “Comparing…” appears as the Status while this takes place. After about 15 minutes, the Status changes to “Ready”.

I press the View link that now appear where Compare used to be. The results flash for a second and then I get taken to this:


I go back and try again but this keeps happening. I try it in Edge, Google Chrome and Firefox. It’s a problem in all browsers. The page before does stick around long enough that I can do a screen capture:


So there’s a glitch here that FamilySearch should fix, but it looks like the processing worked. I had 2128 non-living people in my GEDCOM of which 680 are already in Family Tree, 42 are potential matches and 1406 that I can add to Family Tree.

Step 3: Review the Potential Matches List

(*** NOTE:  I learned after the fact that it might be better to do Step 5 before doing steps 3 and 4.  See Step 5, below)

Aha! If I go back and click on “Potential Matches” before it transforms to the “Oops, I did it again” page, the Potential Matches page does appear. Glitch workaround success!!  I get this:


Below the summary, on the left are my 42 potential matches. The first potential match is shown on the right comparing my GEDCOM to what’s on Family Tree. Now I can select in the top right either “Not a Match” or “Yes”. This one is a “Yes”.

After clicking “Yes”, I get this screen:


I can now decide to replace some of the information for this person in the tree with the information from my GEDCOM. I’m going to be very conservative here, and not transfer anything that is different or suspect. If I don’t click on any of the “Replace” links, then the “Save” button doesn’t activate. 

If I do click on at least one replace link, and then click on “Save”, then the following Reason for Update box appears:


They do not, however, force you to enter a reason. You can just click “Continue” and it will be saved.

They gave me two potential matches for the following person, but neither was the correct one, so I clicked “Not a Match” for each one. That took me to this screen:


I now clicked “Add” to add this person to Family Tree.

The name of each potential match links to the Family Tree entry for the person, so when I’m in doubt, I can check in more detail what Family Tree shows.

Of the 42 potential matches, about half were the correct person so I merged them. And the other half were not the correct person, so I added them. 

I found some new information that I didn’t have before, as well as a few corrections which I then added to my MyHeritage tree.

It took a couple of hours to go through the 42 potential matches:  a very worthwhile effort.

I liked the way this procedure worked. It was nicely implemented by the FamilySearch people.

Step 4: Review the Add to Family Tree List

Here I have 1407 people. It appears they have to be added one at a time. It takes two clicks per person, one to add them, and one to navigate to the next person.

Looks like this will be grunt-work that I’ll save to do while I’m watching some RootsTech sessions.

Step 5: Review the Already in Family Tree List

This list now included the 680 people that were already in Family Tree, plus the people I added from Steps 3 and 4. If I were doing this, I’d review this list first before the others get added. 

It is nice to review the information that I have for each of these people versus what FamilySearch has. It is presented in the same format as shown in the “Already in Family Tree” graphic (above). You get the opportunity to replace information in Family Search if you’re sure (with evidence hopefully) that yours is correct.

Final Thoughts

I never realized that FamilySearch Family Tree had this capability to load a GEDCOM, compare it to the tree, and merge your information into it.

I was very impressed by how it worked. Family Tree already had 680 of my people in my tree, and this will allow me (after I do the grunt-work) to add 1448 more people, which is all the other people in my Family Tree Builder tree who are not living or private.

I don’t know when FamilySearch added this capability, but thank you Elizabeth O’Neal, for making me aware of it.

Hopefully the addition of so many new people will allow Relatives at RootsTech to find me a relative before the end of RootsTech.

Followup Feb 24:  I went through the 1407 people to be added and added them one at a time. About 10 of them ended up being duplicates because the name or a date was different than the person it should have matched. So I used FamilySearch tools to combine them. I’m sure there are a few others that I’ll have to find over time. Also, for some reason, FamilySearch gave me an error when trying to add 3 people, so I couldn’t add those three.

A few glitches, but I got the job done. I do see why they don’t want to blindly add people’s GEDCOMs en masse, as that would cause a mess.

Double Match Triangulator 4.0

2021. február 23., kedd 23:06:56

Yesterday, I released  new version of Double Match Triangulator. This took longer than I hoped, but finally it’s out.

In late November, GEDmatch changed the format of their segment match file and also made a change to their one-to-one report, so DMT needed to be updated to handle those.

Also in May 2019, MyHeritage changed their segment match files to include a unique ID for each person. DMT now uses the name plus part of that ID so that like GEDmatch, two people with the same name will be differentiated.

But the biggest changes are under the hood.  I reviewed most of DMTs internals and geared it to give you as much of the information and assumptions that you can make from your data.

DMT’s interface now looks like this:

The only change to the interface is the addition of a Male (1 X) / Female (2 X) selector. The selection will be reflected in the number of X chromosomes DMT includes in the results. DMT now knows that for males, ancestral paths on the mother’s side are the only one allowed. And it understands that no ancestral path on the X can go through two F (fathers) in a row.

I also found and fixed a bug that was causing the Map page to take 10 times longer to generate than it needed to.

DMT, Painting and Clustering

Double Match Triangulator works differently than all the other autosomal DNA tools. By comparing all the segment matches of two or more people, DMT determines every single triangulation between the people whose files you have.

The addition of user-entered Most Recent Common Ancestors (MRCAs) in DMT version 3 allowed DMT to take the next step and allow painting of ancestral paths to segments.  This is exactly what you do manually with DNA Painter, except that with DNA Painter, you are only adding single matches.  DMT used triangulations and makes use of the fact that segments that don’t triangulate likely are on the opposite parent as those that do triangulate.

DMT also calculates all possible inferred matches, where Person B matches Person C but Person A does not. Basically, these refute the ancestral line towards the more distant MRCA of Persons B and C. .

Put those together, and you can get most of your genome painted fairly easily.  DMT will create a file for you that you can input into DNA painter. For example, if you know 11 MRCAs and have their segment match files, this is what the results might look like when uploaded to DNA Painter:

Other autosomal analysis tools that do clustering have become available in the past few years. DMT does clustering as well. It does so by using the most common ancestral path of a person’s segments to be the cluster for the person.

With those 11 MRCAs in the above example, DMT places people into the following clusters:


In this example, almost half the people got assigned to a cluster on either the father (F) or mother (M)’s side. For people who you don’t know your relationship to, this will be a great clue as to which ancestral line you should look at first.

DMT is Available at:

The new version 4 of DMT can be found on the DMT website:

For those of you who have already purchased DMT ($40 USD) it is as it always will be a free upgrade. Simply download and install it.

For those who haven’t, please feel free to try the program. The download is fully functional but only shows you results for chromosome 1. That should be enough to give you a good feeling for what it can do.


2021. február 19., péntek 21:17:27

**UPDATE** June 8: 
FamilySearch has released the official version of GEDCOM 7.0.
See my blog post: GEDCOM 7.0, Official.

It appears that a GEDCOM Version 7.0 Release Candidate will be announced at RootsTech Connect on February 25.

This will likely take place in the session by Gordon Clarke titled:
”GEDCOM is Alive and getting Smarter” –> See Feb 24, 2021, below.

The home for GEDCOM 7.0 appears to be:


The current Release Candidate 7.0.0-rc1 appears to be available:

As a web page:

As a PDF:


I’m going to keep track on this blog post of anyone writing about GEDCOM 7.0. Please let me know of any new articles you find and I’ll post them here:

Feb 19, 2021:

Feb 20, 2021:

Feb 21, 2021:

Feb 22, 2021:

Feb 23, 2021:

Feb 24, 2021

Feb 25, 2021

  • Gordon Clarke’s two presentations inexplicably no longer are available from RootsTech Connect.  The YouTube videos at the links above (Feb 24) are unavailable as well.
  • The site also became inaccessible.
  • The three blog posts on James Tanner’s Genealogy’s Star personal blog have been removed. (see above, Feb 19, 20, 23)
  • The GEDCOM Standard page at has removed the “What can we expect in the future?” and “What is GEDZip?” paragraphs that referenced GEDCOM 7.0 and GEDZip. (See Feb 19)

Feb 27, 2021

  • Markus Henn tweeted:  Answer from @RootsTechConf staff: @FamilySearch has determined to not publish information regarding #GEDCOM standards at this time. This includes some content intended for #RootsTechConnect 2021. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your patience and support.”

Feb 28, 2021

GEDCOM Should NOT Allow Extensions

2021. január 18., hétfő 23:54:45

The GEDCOM standard for transferring genealogical data has been in use basically unchanged for over 20 years now. Just about every genealogy software program can export (some of) its family data to a GEDCOM file, and can import (some of) the family data in a GEDCOM file into its database.

The issue is the “(some of)” qualifier that I put in.

We want our programs to export all their family data so that a user can transfer that data to another program or website. For the most part, the basic name-birth-marriage-death-date-place information transfers reliably. It’s everything else, facts, events, sources, repositories and even notes that often don’t make the crossing.

The blame is usually put solely on GEDCOM, accusing it of being unable to represent the data.

I disagree. I put just 10% of the blame on GEDCOM, and 90% of the blame on the programmers of genealogy software who have, for whatever reason, decided not to use some of the GEDCOM tags and constructs but rather use their own inventions instead.

Why Data Doesn’t Transfer

Several obvious reasons:

  1. The exporting program doesn’t export some of its data. You can’t import what’s not there.
  2. The exporting program sometimes exports its own custom GEDCOM tag or construct rather than use what’s in GEDCOM. An importing program can’t import what it doesn’t understand.
  3. The exporting program exports some of GEDCOM incorrectly. Hard to import anything that isn’t correctly exported.
  4. The importing program doesn’t import everything. Usually it won’t import what it doesn’t export.
  5. The importing program doesn’t recognize certain standard GEDCOM tags and constructs when it uses its own custom GEDCOM tags and constructs in their place for its own export. So for these tags and constructs, it will only import its own data again.
  6. The importing program imports some of GEDCOM incorrectly. It may lose some data as a result.
  7. GEDCOM does not have a construct for storing a certain type of data, so it can’t be transferred. Many people think this is a worse problem than it is. There’s not much family data that GEDCOM cannot transfer.
  8. GEDCOM allows developers to use their own custom tags or extensions, so the developers do use their own. Other programs will not understand anything a developer does that’s not in the standard unless they do custom programming specifically to handle that developer’s custom tags and extensions. Allowing this was a mistake.

What is the Problem?

The number one problem is that developers for whatever reason, are not taking the time to ensure that they understand the GEDCOM standard and try to export their data the way GEDCOM is telling them to.

Too often, they are jumping to the conclusion that there is no way to export their data to GEDCOM, so they take what they think is the easy way out, and they invent their own tags and constructs for their data.

What harm in that? – they think. After all, their program will export their data, and their program will be able to import it again. Do they really care if another program can?  (They should, but I won’t get into that in this article.)

An Example

I recently had an online conversation with a very experienced genealogy software developer who was wondering how strict a genealogy program should be with respect to GEDCOM support.

He gave this example of how he wanted to export information extracted from a marriage licence and add it as part of the MARL (marriage license) tag in GEDCOM.  


The MARL tag is valid. GROO, BRID and RECR are not. Source information is being included in an MARL fact under the GROO and BRID tags, when it should be in GEDCOM’s SOURCE_CITATION structure instead.

Other than the program creating this, no genealogy program will be able to read and load this data as intended into its database.

So how should this case be handled?  This was my answer:

Converting your MARL event to valid GEDCOM (adding illegal indentation for clarity) would give this:


The birth places and ages could also be documented, but they shouldn’t be done under the marriage license event. They should be under the individual’s birth event:


What GEDCOM is saying regarding Evidence and Conclusions is this: Evidence should be in the DATA portion of the SOURCE_CITATION. Conclusions are the Events/Facts that you enter.

The TEXT information can be included as it is in the document and needn’t have to be pigeonholed into real or imaginary tags like GROO or RECR


As I see it, two very bad things happen when developers do not follow GEDCOM as intended:

1. They will export GEDCOM that other programs will not understand.

2. They will not bother to implement some GEDCOM constructs that they are not using, so their program will not be able to import and properly interpret those valid GEDCOM constructs from other programs.

People think GEDCOM is the main reason why data doesn’t completely transfer between programs. False. It is the inconsistent implementation of GEDCOM for both import and export that is the primary cause of data loss.

Future enhancements to GEDCOM should require that only GEDCOM tags and constructs be used. No developer tags or constructs should be allowed.

Requiring compliance with no exceptions is the only hope we will ever have for all our genealogy data to one day be able to transfer correctly from program to program.

Further Reading

From 2015: Complete Genealogy Data Transfer
From 2015: Is GEDCOM Good For Sources?
From 2013: Nine Necessities in a GEDCOM Replacement

Setting Up an IIS Webserver for Local Website Development

2021. január 7., csütörtök 4:07:42

Windows 10 comes with its own webserver called IIS (Internet Information Services). By default, IIS is not enabled because most people don’t need a webserver on their Windows computer. But if you want a copy of your website on your computer and want to be able to view your local copy and use it to test updates to your site prior to sending them up to your live site, then you’ll need your own webserver.

IIS is not your only choice on Windows. I have looked at WAMP and XAMPP as alternatives, but I am personally most familiar with IIS and have previously used it successfully for my websites, and I’m happy continuing to do so.

In March, my SSD on my computer crashed. That was my C drive with my operating system and all my software. My data was all on my 2 GB internal D harddrive and it was fine. And besides, I had all my data backed up.

I had set up full working local copies of my websites for development on my old computer when I purchased it in 2014. The setup procedure is relatively simple, but is full of gotcha’s, so I thought I’d document my efforts this time around.

I’ll give you the steps that I needed to get IIS working on my new Windows 10 desktop so that a copy of all my websites would work locally on my own machine.

Enabling IIS on Windows 10

In the Windows search bar, I entered: “Turn Windows Features on or off”. That  opened a window with all the neat stuff Windows 10 has that you never knew about.

I found the line that says “Internet Information Services” and checked the box.


I clicked on the plus sign to the left to expand it. That shows the various options available. Most of those needed are enabled already. In my case, I knew I needed server-side includes, so I opened up “Application Development Features” and checked the box beside “Server-Side Includes”. This will allow the .shtml pages I have on my to work.


I clicked OK and IIS was activated. Now I could type “IIS” in the Windows search bar, and the Internet Information Services Manager would open.


On the left Connections pane, I clicked on “Default Web Site”. Then on the right pane under “Actions”, I clicked on “Browse *:80 (http)” and the default web site called “localhost” would appear in my default browser which for me is Microsoft Edge.   

There! I’ve installed a webserver on my computer.

Adding Security, i.e. https

Most websites now use the https protocol, which adds an extra level of security over the http protocol. Browsers now will warn you of potential insecurities that a website might have. Website developers want to minimize these warnings and in so doing, maximize the security for their visitors so that the connection will be private for their personal information and passwords and for doing e-commerce.

The technology of doing this involves obtaining a certificate that confirms the validity of the site. The site passes a private key that verifies it is the site that the visitor is talking to, and not some other site intercepting the visitor’s keystrokes.

I should have done it earlier, but finally last May, I converted my live web sites to use the https protocol. My webhost Netfirms made this simpler than I expected. They provide a free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate from the company Let’s Encrypt. With the selection of just one setting, they do almost everything required automatically. There were some “mixed content” issues due to images I was linking to in other sites and 3rd party links that I needed to fix, as well as some minor WordPress changes. There was also a redirect I had to add into my .htaccess file so that all http requests would become https. But overall, it went quite smoothly.

Now I needed to add the same https protocol for my local sites.This took me a number of days to figure out how to do.

IIS gives you an ability to create a self-signed certificate. Browsers do not normally trust self-signed certificates, because they technically are not secure. But the real purpose here is to simulate the security, so that my development environment on my computer will include the https protocol that my live sites have and will act similarly.

To create the self-signed certificate, I opened IIS and double clicked on the “Server Certificates” icon. Then in the Actions panel, I clicked on “Create Self-Signed Certificate…”  Specify a friendly name for the certificate, e.g. mycert and click OK. Without any delay, the certificate was created and was now listed.


It is important to notice who the certificate was issued to. In my case it was issued to Z420. That’s the name I gave to my computer when I booted it for the first time.

Now we’ll create an https version of the Default Web Site using the certificate. In the Connections panel of IIS, I drilled down to the Default Web Site and selected it. In the Actions panel, I clicked on “Bindings…”. In the “Site Bindings” window that opened, I clicked on “Add…”.  In the “Add Site Binding” window, under “Type”, I selected “https”. Then I entered the name of the computer as the Host name and selected “mycert” as the SSL certificate.


After clicking OK, I saw that https was added to the Site Bindings window.


I closed that window and looked over in the Actions panel and saw there there were now two entries under “Browse Website”.


I clicked on the second one to bring up the “secure” https version of my Default Web Site:


Sure enough, the Microsoft Edge browser shows this as secure with the small lock symbol on the address bar.  Google Chrome also shows https://z420 as secure. Firefox however does not, but says the certificate is not trusted because it is self-signed:


Firefox will not relent on this, but you click on  “Accept the Risk and Continue”  and this big box won’t come up every time again. Firefox will still show a tiny warning symbol on top of the lock symbol on the address line, but that’s really of no consequence if you’re just doing local testing.

Installing PHP

PHP is a programming language used on many websites. It is the language WordPress is written in. I don’t use PHP on my website (I use Server Side Includes – see above), but my other 3 sites are all PHP pages.

To install PHP to work with IIS, you can do so manually, downloading the Windows Non Thread Safe version of PHP from and then manually change the settings as required for IIS. Or you can download Microsoft’s Web Platform Installer (Web PI) and let it install PHP for you. I decided to use Web PI.

After Installing Web PI, I selected “Product” and “Frameworks” and all the different Frameworks that Web PI has available appeared. I wanted to install version 7.4 of PHP. I have a 64-bit Windows Operating system, so I wanted the x64 version. I’m using full IIS, not IIS Express, so I choose PHP 7.4.1 (x64) and then clicked on “Add”.


After I did so, in the bottom left it said “3 items to be installed”. Clicking on that displayed:


I close that window, click on the “Install” button and let it go.


Alas, this is one of the complaints about WebPI. It doesn’t always go smoothly and may install other packages it didn’t tell you about. So the PHP Manager and Windows Cache Extension installs failed. And it included CGI and another earlier version of PHP that I didn’t ask for.

This turns out to be okay. My desired version of PHP did get installed.. And the earlier version will prove to be needed while I’m converting my live websites from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7.4, allowing me to test in both. And CGI is a required IIS component for PHP. I’d have to manually include it (using “Turn Windows Features on or off – see above) if Web PI didn’t do that for me.

PHP Manager is useful to have because it will allow me to easily change PHP settings and switch between versions. Downloading and installing the PHP Manager for IIS from its website is a simple process. This adds a new icon to the IIS window that brings up a nice way to check the PHP configuration, change settings, and change the PHP version.


PHP Manager suggested two minor recommendations for the PHP configuration which I accepted to remove the warning.

Adding My Websites

The Default Web Site directory was set up by IIS to be c:intpubwwwroot.

I’ve already got local copies of my websites set up in my D:Documentswww folder. I want them to stay in my D:Documents folder so that Windows File History will continue to automatically back them up for me.

I originally tried setting my websites up with IIS virtual directories. But that had the problem that internal links referencing the home folder would think that localhost was the home directory, resulting in missing images and incorrect links, e.g. below should have been a graphic, and it linked to localhost/index.php when it should have been to localhost/dmt/index.php.


There did not appear to be a simple solution to this. If there was, this would have been my preferred solution because Edge and Chrome both considered all my virtual directory sites to be fully secure.

So instead of using virtual directories, I created full websites in IIS. What I lose by doing this is that the secure versions of the sites are no longer subordinate to https://z420, so Edge and Chrome no longer think they are secure with my self-signed certificate. I looked for a solution to this as well, and could not find anything simple for this either.

So I was in a catch-22. Either virtual directories with full security but links that don’t work, or full websites with working links but security warnings.

Since this was on my local machine for development purposes and only I would be accessing it, I needed the links to work and the security wasn’t as important so I went with full websites.

To create a full website in IIS, in the Connections window I clicked on Sites, and then in the Actions pane I clicked on Add Website.


In the dialog, I entered a short site name and host name to clearly differentiate it from my live site ( and make it easy for me to bring up my local site in my browser just by typing “dmt” into my browser’s address bar. Since I only need to develop the secure version of my site, I select the https binding and pick the self-signed certificate I created earlier in this post that I named mycert.

Browsing my local site now gives this:


I clicked on “Advanced”, and then on “Continue to dmt (unsafe)” and despite it looking ugly with the “Not secure” warning in the address bar, it displays my site correctly and the links work.


Somewhere/how I need a certificate that claims it is from the site “dmt” and then Edge will display my local page without the warning. I’ll keep looking for a simple solution to this.

I did the same thing for my other 3 sites as well, giving me this in IIS:


Redirecting HTTP to HTTPS in IIS

Typing “dmt” in the browser window by default looks for the http version of the site. I want to simply type my abbreviated site names without needing the https:// before it to get to my secure local site. The solution to that is redirection.

I used Web PI again and find the URL Rewrite module. I clicked on “Add” and then “Install”.


That added a “URL Rewrite” button to the Features view in IIS.


In IIS I next clicked on URL Rewrite. I click on “Add Rule(s)…” and followed the instructions given in: Best way to redirect all HTTP to HTTPS in IIS.

I found I did have to access each site once with the preceding http, e.g. as in: “http://lk” which will get redirected to https://lk. But after I do that once, then entering just “lk” in my browser will redirect to my https site.

Set up the MySQL database and phpMyAdmin

WordPress stores all its posts and comments in a MySQL database. I decided to use Web PI to install MySQL:


That was simple and went well. All I had to do was give it the password I wanted.

Web PI surprisingly does not include an option to download the phpMyAdmin tool, which is a browser-based MySQL database tool that most MySQL database Admins use. So I loosely followed the instructions given by Cyril Kardashevsky.

I downloaded the latest version 5.0.4 from It comes as a zip file. I unzipped it and copied the contents into its own folder where my websites are: D:Documentswwwphpmyadmin. Then I set it up as a website just as I did my other websites.

Next step was to open my browser and go to phpmyadmin/setup in my browser. 


I clicked on “New server” which takes me to a server settings page. I left all the options as default, and then clicked “Apply”. It created a server called localhost and returned me to the above window. I pressed “Download” and that created a “” file that I moved to my phpMyAdmin folder. I edited the config file, entered the password I wanted, and saved the file.


Now I went back to my phpMyAdmin site, to see the phpMyAdmin login:


I entered the user as “root” and the password I specified and pressed “Go” and phpMyAdmin opened and I could see the new database in the left panel:


Revisiting Self-Signed Certificates

Up above, I wrote:

Somewhere/how I need a certificate that claims it is from the site “dmt” and then Edge will display my local page without the warning. I’ll keep looking for a simple solution to this.

Well, before I even finished this blog post, I ran across the solution as outlined here: How to Create Self-Signed SSL Certificates in Windows 10, and it’s pretty simple.

Type “PowerShell” in the Windows search bar, and then click on “Run as Administrator”. That brings up a PowerShell window where I entered (as one line):

New-SelfSignedCertificate -CertStoreLocation Cert:LocalMachineMy –DnsName "dmt" -FriendlyName "mycertdmt" -NotAfter (Get-Date).AddYears(30)

What this does is produce a self-signed certificate for domain “dmt”, which is the very short domain name I use for on my computer for my local version of my site.  Note that I don’t use a suffix like “.com” for my local domain, but if it had a suffix, I’d have to include that in the command shown above.

This is what it looks like in PowerShell and the response after entering the command:


I ran this 4 more times, changing the two dmts in “dmt” and mycertdmt, to bho and mycertbho, to gsr and mycertgsr, to lk and mycertlk, and to phpmyadmin and nycertpma,  Those were for my other 3 websites and the phpmyadmin site I created.

After running those 5 commands, I typed “Computer Certificates” into the Windows search bar and clicked on “Manage computer certificates”. That opens the Microsoft Management Console to it’s Local Computer Certificates window. Then I opened the Personal folder and then the Certificates folder. It shows the 5 certificates that I just created, as well as the original Z420 self-signed certificate I created from within IIS.


Now I select the 5 certificates I created, right-click and choose “Copy”. I go to the left panel and expand “Trusted Root Certification” and right-click on “Certificates which is under it and choose “Paste”. That copied the 5 certificates to the Trusted Root Certification folder.

Then I opened IIS and in the Connections panel selected my dmt website. In the Actions panel I clicked on “Bindings…”. I selected the “https” binding. I clicked on “Edit”. The “SSL certificate” selection had all the self-signed trusted certificates I just created:


I selected the appropriate one for dmt, and clicked OK. But I got the message:


To prevent that message and to use individual bindings with each certificate, I had to go back and simply check the “Require Server Name Indication” box that’s under the “Host name”.

And sure enough, I’ve now got the secure lock symbol on my local site and no ugly warning:


This works in beautifully in both Edge and Chrome.

Firefox still does not like the self-signed certificate and requires you “Accept the risk” one time as described earlier in the post. After you do, you’re left just with a caution sign on the lock symbol which isn’t too intrusive:


Reloading my MySQL databases

I lost my local copy of my MySQL databases when my computer crashed in March. Those aren’t really important, because they really are just a backup of my WordPress database that I have online. In effect, I just lost my backup.

But, in order to get WordPress going again locally, I had to copy my data down from my online site.I’ do this anyway from time to time to backup my online data.

To get the data, I login to my account at my webhost Netfirms, I load their version of phpMyAdmin, and I export the database:


At the bottom left, you can see it downloaded to a .sql file.

Now I can go to my local phpmyadmin site, login, click on the Import tab, choose the file, and click on “Go”.


However, the maximum files size is set at 2 MB, and my file is 7.5 MB.

So I’ll open IIS and open PHP Manager. In the PHP Settings section, I’ll select “Manage all settings" and I’ll find and increase the upload_max_filesize setting. The setting actually resides in the PHP configuration file known as php.ini.


And now the sql statements get executed and the database gets imported:


That was my GenSoftReviews database.

Now that I did that, all the WordPress code should just work. Does it?

Not with PHP 7.4, but when I use PHP Manager to downgrade back to PHP 5.3, then yes! My local copy of my GenSoftReviews site does work, with all the latest content that I just copied from my live site:


Then I did the same with my Behold blog and forum database. The SQL download for that was 50.5 MB, and I got this error:


I tried one suggestion to increase the PHP post_max_size setting. That didn’t work. I tried another one that suggested increasing the IIS Configuration setting  uploadReadAheadSize that is under system.webServer/serverRuntime. That didn’t work either.

The solution that worked for me was changing the IIS Configuration setting: maxAllowedContent length:


I changed it from 30000000 (30 million) to 500000000 (500 million). My 52 MB exceeded the 30 million value.

I wasn’t out of the woods yet. Loading the file I got this:


Unknown collation: ‘utf8mb4_unicode_520_ci’.  But I see on the left that it did create the 2nd mySQL database and some of the tables were successfully created. It failed on my “wp_commentmeta” table. 

I opened my SQL download file and saw that other collations in the file were ‘utf8mb4_unicode_ci’, i.e. without the “_520”. So I took out the “_520” from the 4 instances and saved the file. Then from phpMyAdmin, I selected that database, went to the Operations tab, and clicked on the red text: Drop the database to delete the database. Then I tried the Import again.


Again I switched back to PHP 5.3. It’s a little awkward having to switch to PHP 7.4 for phpMyAdmin and then back to PHP 5.3 to get my blog going. I may be doing more of this switching between PHP versions until I get everything working in 7.4. It’s a good thing PHP Manager makes this switching easy.

In PHP 5.3 with my blog and forum database now loaded, lets see if it works.


Nope. Not yet.

After an hour of debugging (I won’t go into the gory details), I determined that there was something wrong locally with one of the WordPress plugins I was using. By changing the name of the plugins folder to “notplugins”, WordPress would not find any of the plugins and hopefully load my site properly without plugins. That worked. The local copy of Behold blog now appeared and was loaded with my latest live data that I was loaded into my local mySQL database:


  And my forum worked as well:


Compare with my live site and you’ll see there is no login line in either case, because that was from a plugin, but none-the-less:  Taa daa!

Adding the plugins back one by one allowed me to find the one that failed. The culprit was a plugin called “maxblogpress-ping-optimizer” which I don’t really need anyway. I copied back all the other plugins and everything worked including my login line.

I should also add that there is just one difference between my WordPress code on my live website and my local site. It’s in my wp-config.php file. I set up a variable $whereami to say which site the file belongs to:  my live site (Production) or my local site (Test). And the only difference in the two files is which whereami statement is first and which is second, the second one being the value used:



All of the above took several weeks. Some of the steps took me a dozen tries before I got it right, and many required web research to find out how to fix or get around something. I didn’t ever get to the point of frustration where I had to resort to asking a question on StackOverflow, since I did manage to find a solution to all my problems, sometimes resorting to answers already on StackOverflow.

This blog post acts as my reminder to myself of what I did, and will help me remember what to do again when I get my next computer, hopefully no less than 5 years from now. I doubt if anybody will have to do exactly what I have done here, but I hope this post will help a few people with a specific problem when their web search brings them here.

My site seems to work fine with PHP 7.4 except for my blog, forum and GenSoftReviews which use old versions of WordPress and bbPress. My next step will be to get the latest versions of WordPress and bbPress working with my own customized theme. I may have to replace plugins that are no longer available, and look at what custom modifications I made that are still necessary and find a way to implement them without hacking the WordPress code directly as I did before. Then in the future, I should be able to keep PHP, WordPress and bbPress up-to-date and not run into a forced upgrade again.

If what I described in this blog post sounded difficult, I expect my upgrade of WordPress and bbPress won’t be any easier. But maybe I’ll be surprised.

2020 GenSoftReviews Users Choice Awards

2021. január 1., péntek 21:49:09

Happy 2021 everyone! This is the 12th year of the awarding of Users Choice Awards to genealogy software that users have rated highly.


Since 2008, GenSoftReviews, has had users write 5,874 reviews for the 1,041 different genealogy-based programs listed at the site.

Of these 1,041 programs:

  • 498 run on Windows
  • 133 run on a Mac
  • 114 run on Unix
  • 127 are for handheld devices
  • 408 run online (i.e. from a website)
  • 365 are full-featured for recorded your family tree
  • 532 are free
  • 235 are no longer supported by the author, but many are still in use

To receive a Users Choice Award each year, a particular program must:

  1. Have an end-of-year user rating of at least 4.00 out of 5.
  2. Have at least 10 user reviews.
  3. Have at least 1 user review during that year.

GenSoftReviews uses an exponential rating algorithm. Every user rating will have double the weight of a rating from one year earlier. So more recent ratings will have more influence on the overall rating.

A complete list of all the 2020 winners and previous winners can be found on the GenSoftReviews awards page, with their rank, rating, and a link to their descriptions and reviews.

Summary for 2020

27 programs were awarded a Users Choice Award in 2020.

Sixteen programs won last year and won again this year:

  • Brother’s Keeper, winner since 2009
  • Personal Ancestral File (PAF), winner since 2009, unsupported
  • Reunion, winner since 2009
  • The Next Generation (TNG), winner since 2009
  • Ancestral Quest, winner since 2011
  • Family Historian, winner since 2011
  • Family Tree Maker (up to Version 16), winner since 2011, unsupported
  • Ahnenblatt, winner since 2012
  • Famberry, winner since 2013
  • Genealogie Online, winner since 2015
  • webtrees, winner since 2015
  • Family Book Creator, winner since 2016
  • Generations,winner since 2016, unsupported
  • The Master Genealogist (TMG), winner since 2016, unsupported
  • GedSite, first-time winner in 2019
  • Second Site for TMG, first-time winner in 2019

Seven programs worked their way back into the winner’s category this year:

  • Aldfaer, who previously won in 2016,
  • Ancestris, who previously won in 2017-2018,
  • Clooz, who previously won in 2012-2018,
  • Familienbande, who previously won in 2015-2018,
  • Oxy-gen, who previously won in 2018,
  • RelativelyYours (unsupported), who previously won in 2016-2018, and
  • Rootstrust, who previously won in 2018.

Four programs became an award winner for the first time:

  • Centurial, evidence-based software by Acoose.NET (Fouke Boss)
  • MacFamily Tree, a full-feature program for the Mac by Synium Software
  • My Family Tree, a free full-featured Windows program from Chronoplex Software (Andrew Hoyle)
  • ScionPC, a free “Genealogical Management System” by Robbie J Atkins of New Zealand. During the year the program became unsupported.

Programs that Did Not Repeat from 2019

There were four award winners from 2019 who failed to win again this year:

Two programs who were award winners in 2019 slipped below the required 4.00 value this year:

  • MyHeritage, who was an award winner from 2014 to 2019, and
  • Mundia, an unsupported program that won for the first time in 2019.

Two programs who had the required 4.00 rating, but did not receive at least one review during 2020:

  • iFamily for Mac
  • Ultimate Family Tree (unsupported)

Wishes for the Future

The goal of GenSoftReviews is to encourage developers to build genealogy software that their users like. Congratulations to the award winners. You have a majority of users who are willing to praise you for your software.

Developers winning a GenSoftReviews award should feel free to place their award badge on their site and encourage their users to review their software.

To those developers who did not win an award (and even to those who did), I encourage you to look at your program’s reviews and ratings and to use them as constructive criticism to make changes that can improve your users’ opinions of your software.

Averting Blog Disaster

2020. december 12., szombat 7:58:14

Yesterday, I logged into my account at my webhost Netfirms and I was met with a somewhat alarming message:


That was not pleasing to me. I knew what that meant. Likely I’d need to make major revisions to my website to get my Behold blog and my GenSoftReviews site to work under the new version of PHP.

My Behold blog and GenSoftReviews sites are 12 years old. I developed them both myself with WordPress. GenSoftReviews uses a WordPress plugin called WP Review Site that I purchased and then customized to my liking. My Behold Forum uses bbPress version 0.8 that was able to integrate with WordPress.

I spent many months customizing my blogs and forum to my liking, starting with the Behold style that I created to make my blog and the forum completely match the rest of my site. I added a user database for my Behold and DMT trials and purchases and automated the sending out of trial keys and recording of purchases. I created an integrated login system so people could post comments on my blog and messages in my forum. I added sophisticated spam filters to prevent the multitude of spam from getting onto my page. I added my newsletter system into the framework. Almost every single thing is tweaked and customized exactly to my liking.

The programming language for this is PHP and the database is MySQL. I had never used either of them prior to this endeavor, so it was a trial by fire. I’m proud of what I created and it has worked almost without a hitch for the past 12 years. That is of course without upgrading the underlying versions of WordPress and bbPress that I was using. I couldn’t upgrade them, really. The customizations I had done were extensive and some of the plugins that I was using were no longer available and were not being upgraded to work with new versions of WordPress.

Flipping the PHP Switch

I knew what would happen when I selected a PHP version 7 or greater: My blog would stop working. I tested it out and sure enough, only an error message appeared where my blog should be.  I changed it back, and it worked again.

I spent the next couple of hours adding PHP 7.4 to my computer. I went back to my live blog and tried a few things. I flipped the PHP switch on my live site again and got the error again. I flipped it back to 5.6 and … oh oh, I still had the error.

This was no ordinary error. This was the dreaded Error 500 – Internal Server Error, that told you absolutely zip, zero, zilch about what was going on:


So how do you figure out what’s causing an error when no information is given? Into my Wordpress PHP code I went. For the next 3 hours, I was debugging it live online, line by line, putting in “here I am” statements and tracing to find what line is causing the error. I found out it was the line that was trying to initialize the MySQL database.

    $wpdb = new wpdb(DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD, DB_NAME, DB_HOST);

I spent two hours trying to get WordPress to initialize the database and tried everything including setting up test programs, and scanning the web and StackOverflow for this type of problem and solutions. I almost went as far as changing the password on the database. The funny thing that I noticed was GenSoftReviews was still working, but what that meant didn’t yet register on me.

It was now 1 a.m. I used Netfirms Support chat and got help from one of their support people. I was trying to figure out from the support person why the PHP change and then changing back now resulted in my blog not working. We tried a number of things and finally I was given a ticket where a Technical Specialist would contact me in 24 to 48 hours.  It was 2:30 am and I went to bed.

The next morning I was right back at it with some new ideas. I tried various things and continued debugging. Overnight and for much of the day, I had a sad little message posted on my blog and forum:


After a few hours working through it all, I checked my email and I had got this message:


Umm. What!?. This is an automated message from WordPress to me. Sure enough, lots of WordPress files were missing on the server.  And there were extra files as well. What I had on my computer which was supposed to be a working copy was different than what was online.

So I used BeyondCompare to mirror the tens of thousands of files on my computer in my blog directory back onto my website at Netfirms. When that completed a half an hour later, my blog appeared and worked fine!

An earlier email from the morning said this:


What had happened earlier that I didn’t realize was that WordPress on my website updated itself to its latest version. That I knew would crash my blog just as would the PHP upgrade. It should have twigged on me that because GenSoftReviews still worked. It couldn’t have been the PHP upgrade and downgrade that caused the problem since that would have affected GenSoftReviews as well.

Phew. Problem solved. But no images were being displayed in my blog. Another whoops. The images were uploaded from my blogging program Open Live Writer. Open Live Writer updates the blog posts into my blog’s MySQL database at Netfirms, but the images are put into the wp-content/upload folder with the WordPress code. I had never thought of syncing those images back to my computer.  So I inadvertently deleted them when I mirrored up my files.

Another support chat with Netfirms and they were able to restore that folder for me from their backup.

By the way, I was very pleased with the Netfirm support chats. There was no waiting and the support person at the other end was very courteous and knowledgeable and helpful!  It was not like this 5 years ago at Netfirms. They have really upped their game impressively.

Upgrade Necessary

I was still being presented with this message::


This is a window I was now getting when I try to go into Admin mode for my blog. Prior to last night, I had never seen this message before. I don’t know what triggered this message to start happening, but I did notice it at some point last night and dismissed it as something I can’t do and not to worry about. 

Maybe I accidentally hit that “Upgrade WordPress link”, or maybe WordPress itself may have detected an error in the plugin when I switched to PHP 7 – I’m not sure which. But something caused Wordpress to merrily start upgrading itself in the background. That’s why the database wouldn’t open. That’s why all the files were different. That might have initiated those emails.

That “Database Upgrade Required” message prevents me from getting into the Admin mode in Wordpress. I tried using the:
      define(‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, false);
directive that is supposed to turn the display of the message off, but it didn’t for me. So instead I just hacked the WordPress code and commented out the calls to the routine:

Netfirms is forcing its users to upgrade to PHP 7. As I result I will also have to upgrade WordPress and bbPress. I guess after 12 years of smooth sailing, it’s come to this and I’ll finally have to bite the bullet and update everything.

Sigh! That’s not what I wanted to have to do now. I’ve got an updates to both DMT and Behold that I’m working on. But neither of those will be of use if I don’t have a working website to present them.

I’ve got an adventure ahead of me. It will be a lot of work, and a lot of learning, but it should be interesting and fun as well.

Fiction versus Fact

2020. december 1., kedd 5:51:03

In my last post, I discussed a methodology that I could quickly put together an ancestors-only tree for my niece at MyHeritage.

I was able to get back to about 3rd great-grandparents on most of her lines. But it was her mother’s father’s mother’s side that started to get interesting.

My niece’s mother’s father’s mother was Emma Blanche (Smith) Graham (1883-1976). Now you can instantly spot that I’m in for a challenge with a maiden name of Smith. Smith of course is one of the most common surnames there are. So how can I ensure I get the correct John Smith out of two million John Smith’s?


Following one of Emma’s ancestral lines I assembled at MyHeritage, it led me back through Smiths of Niagara Peninsula (Upper Canada) in the 1800’s to a Wilcox line in the 1700’s that led to Elizabeth Cooke (1641-1715) who was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Hmm. Plymouth was where the Mayflower arrived in 1520.


Her father was Jean John Cooke. One of the Record Hints that MyHeritage gave me was this one from WikiTree:


Jean John Cooke was born in Leiden in The Netherlands. Instantly, I recognized that as the city where the passengers on the Mayflower lived before their voyage in 1520. This year is the 500th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival! Might the picture WikiTree has for Jean John Cooke be the Mayflower? Could my niece be one of the 35 million Mayflower descendants?

I visited Leiden in 2014 for the Gaenovium Conference. What a beautiful city! And I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Tamura Jones, who just happens to be an expert with regards to Mayflower descendants. 

I sent off an email to Tamura asking him if this Jean John Cooke might have been on the Mayflower. Tamura confirmed for me that Francis Cooke was on the Mayflower along with his eldest son John who was a boy a the time. His wife Hester and other children came later.

This Jean John Cooke was the son who was on the Mayflower. Eureka! I can say now that it’s a fact that my niece is a Mayflower descendant, right?

Not so fast. Tamura then told me that he could not find the Wilcox line I supplied him in the lists of descendants he had. He said I should check that line.

So I went to our friend Google and came up with this: I2742: Daniel WILCOX (1631 - 2 Jul 1702) ( It’s from an obviously well researched and sourced genealogy of the Needham Family.

It indicates that Daniel Wilcox (1656 – bef 1730) was the son of Daniel Wilcox (1631 – 1702) and NOT Jean John Cooke’s daughter Elizabeth Cooke, but a previous wife, possibly: Susanna Thompson.

So Daniel Wilcox and his full brother Samuel Wilcox, are not descendants of Elizabeth Cooke and thus not descendants of John Cooke or Frances Cooke.

The extensive references at the bottom of the page talk about this and indicate that “there is no evidence that Elizabeth was the mother of his sons Daniel and Samuel”. 

I immediately scratched out the fiction of Elizabeth Cooke being an ancestor and replaced her with the fact of it being possibly Susanna Thompson.

So much for my niece being a Mayflower descendant, at least on that line.


We did get a not-so-small consolation prize out of it though. If you take a look at that Daniel Wilcox link I have above, at the bottom of the page in the references it states:

The Churchill Centre, "Mayflower Ancestry: For and Against"
"No genealogies have been more carefully prepared, or reach a higher standard than, the Mayflower Society genealogies. There is solid evidence that Daniel Wilcox married a first wife prior to his marriage to Elizabeth Cooke, granddaughter of Francis Cooke. There is no evidence that Elizabeth was the mother of his sons Daniel (Churchill’s ancestor) and Samuel. There is circumstantial evidence that she was not. In genealogy, absence of evidence means absence of conclusions."

Checking out Sir Winston Churchill’s ancestry, he does in-fact connect to Emma (Smith) Graham’s line.


Sir Winston was in fact a 5th cousin of my niece’s great-grandmother, making my niece a 5C3R (5th cousin, 3 times removed) to the British Prime Minister.

Just the Facts

The Needham Family site is a fantastic resource. You can see the numerous references at the bottom of each individual. It would take years to redo that work.

So I decided to go through his site and cross reference the ancestors I had collected and change any information I had to what he had. As I did that, Needham pointed me to another excellent study that was of Benjamin Wilcox by John Blythe Dobson, and I cross referenced and changed my information for my people from that study as well.

Of the 129 ancestors I had found for Emma (Smith) Graham, Needham had information on 84 of them, and Dobson had 32 of them.

I put the information in my spreadsheet so that I could quickly visualize and access the information at Needham and Dobson’s sites:


Notice the people in orange. They were fiction I obtained from other people’s genealogy.

Dobson stated:

"We know of no basis for the recent claim that she was a Sarah Hart or Hort, b 16 Apr 1684 at Dartmouth, daughter of Thoas Hart or Hort and Margaret. Not only is any such person absent from the town’s vital records, but …". Needham states "Some claim she was Sarah Hort, daughter of Thomas Hort. I have seen no definitive proof of this claim."

which negated the Hort name and Sarah’s parents and grandparents.

And Needham only gives Susanna Swift as “Susanna” with a 1612 birth date, not the 1622 that I had. So the Susanna that married Ralph Allen, likely wasn’t Susanna Swift. So scratch her parents. Needham also didn’t give a surname for Rachel Sherman, so I removed that as well.

There could, of course, be later scholarly research that updates what Dobson or Needham have found, but I’d like to see it with extensive references that can be followed before I’ll believe it.

Prime Minister?

Notice the Borden ancestors in the spreadsheet above. Needham pointed me a site with the Descendants of Richard Borden. That site pointed me to information about Sir Robert Borden (1854-1937), who happened to be the 8th Prime Minister of Canada.

So now I can assuredly add this Prime Minister as well to my niece’s cousin list. He would have been her 7C5R (7th cousin, 5 times removed).


One other connection I managed to make. While searching to verify the fiction or fact of a “Thomas Bloomfield” ancestor, I came across Amanuensis Monday - Post #286: 1684 Will of Thomas Bloomfield (1615-1686) of Woodbridge, N.J. by the incredible genealogist Randy Seaver on his Genea-Musings blog.

Randy’s genealogical work is also of the gold standard that I would 100% trust.

Searching his site for more information, I found his page Genea-Musings: Surname Saturday - BLOOMFIELD (England > colonial Massachusetts > New Jersey) and from that page I was able to tell that Thomas Bloomfield was Randy’s 10th great-grandfather.

He’s also my niece’s 10th great-grandfather. So that makes Randy and my niece 11th cousins.


I’m sure there will be more connections that will come up for my niece. Once a genealogy gets back this far to Colonial America and England, there’s much more to be found.

These first discoveries are exciting for me. My own genealogy by comparison heads back to Romania and Ukraine in the early 1900’s, so I’ve never really got to experience these sorts of family connections the way so many other genealogists do.

And I feel much better knowing that these connections are not fiction, but fact.