/ David Wallace Croft
The Family Web
News and Updates
I've written a tutorial,
"Family Web and XSLT", on how to generate Family Web webpages from
XML data files using XSLT. I'm also wondering if the next step is to
Web Ontology Language (OWL).
If anyone is interested in joining an electronic mailing list to
discuss the creation of an XML-based Family Web format, please
After almost 2 years since posting and tens of thousands of hits to
this web page, I have just heard that a commercial product has
adopted this standard for the automated generation of genealogy
web pages. See the Links section below.
Also, check out the new mailing list
Genealogy Web Format
"Family Web" is a suggested public-domain format for displaying
genealogical ties on the World-Wide Web (WWW)
using the HyperText Markup Language (HTML).
Optimized for speed in traversing genetic links and automated
family tree construction using web-based search programs, the
Family Web format can be more efficient than the traditional
family tree charts when using hypertext links.
An example can be viewed at
A "Family Web" page is a genealogical web page dedicated to a single
individual containing hypertext links to similar pages for the individual's
genetic parents and children.
Webs versus Trees
Family tree structures allow for a detailed view of a portion of an
individual's genetic line at a glance. Unfortunately, mapping the
entire family tree on a single page is impossible for most
individuals. "Family Webs", however, use hypertext links to just
the nearest nodes, the genetic parents and offspring.
When combined with the hypertext capabilities of the WWW and HTML,
it becomes relatively easy to document one's lineage and add links
as research uncovers new ancestors. In addition, by placing this
information on the WWW, genealogists have access to powerful automated
search programs and the cooperation of others in the same pursuit.
It is likely that many Family Webs will suddenly expand as a crucial
link is discovered on a distant Web server and individual Family Webs merge.
Family Web Future
Anyone can build their own Family Web with just a basic text editor and
enough knowledge about HTML as provided in example Family Web pages.
What I would expect to see in the future, however, is public-domain
downloadable or on-line programs with data entry forms to allow the
rapid generation of Family Web pages with ease. Also, I expect automated
web-based search engines to be developed that will reconstruct a visual,
perhaps even multi-dimensional, family tree by gathering the basic
node-to-node connections off of publicly-available Family Webs.
I plan to write such programs and release them to the public-domain.
However, as the Family Web format is an open, flexible standard, feel
free to write your own programs and forms to speed the process along
or to improve upon existing utilities. If you do, please be sure and
let me know via
so that I can create a link to your application from this page.
The easiest way to implement the Family Web format suggestions is to
simply copy another Family Web page and modify the individual-specific
data. An example is available at
These format suggestions are merely suggestions. If you have some ideas
to contribute, please contact
Title the page with the format "FAMILY WEB: name (birthyear-deathyear)".
Placing the "FAMILY WEB:" at the beginning makes it easier for
automated search programs to find pages that conform to this standard.
For the name, use the first name first, middle name, then last name.
Since the last name (family name, surname, cognomen) is not necessarily
tied to the direct genetic links (maiden names, legal name changes,
cultures where the family name comes first, etc.),
there is no need to place the last name first.
At the beginning of the page, place a link to this web page so that
others can learn about and contribute to the development of this format.
In Header 1 font, give the name, birth year, and death year in the
format "name (yyyy-yyyy)" just as you included in the title.
In Header 2 or 3 fonts, create the sections "GENETIC PARENTS" and
"GENETIC CHILDREN". These are where the bulk
of the linking is expected to proceed. Under each of these sections
use the genetic descriptions "Father:", "Mother:", "Son:", and
"Daughter:" followed by a reference link to their
individual Family Web page. These two sections are all that are
really needed to reconstruct an entire family tree from a collection
of Family Web pages.
Add any other information that you think would be relevant.
The "Family Web" format as proposed does not attempt to define what
this information needs to be, but some
have been made.
Finally, be sure to place the date in which the page was last
updated and your e-mail address at the bottom of the page. This
will allow other Web Genealogists to contact you with updates
such as missing family links.
That is the entire suggested format at this time. Again, feel
free to contact me with any ideas or questions. A list of
Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQs) is available. A list of
related links is also
Remember, a Family Web is
distinguished from a family tree in that it dedicates a single
web page to each individual which uses hypertext links
to the nearest nodes, the genetic parents and children.
Good luck and love your family!
If you would like to be added to the Family Web mailing list
for announcements and discussion regarding this proposed
public domain standard format, feel free to drop me an
The volume of messages on the list is expected to be minimal.
You can also enter your e-mail address below to receive
automatic notification whenever this web page is updated. Please
note that this is separate and apart from the mailing list.
David Wallace Croft.