Saturday, January 17, 2009

a personal WIKI

Main Page - Family

from my GENBRIT email:-

Back in August, I posted a message about my experimental use of a Wiki as a personal (rather than collaborative) software application for genealogy.

The principal reasons for experimenting with it were:

- You can load all kinds of "media" into it: images (in lots of formats), video, pdf documents, word documents and use it like an electronic filing system.

- It is good at linking information together: take a look at Wikipedia and the way that everything is linked to everything else.

- It is very good for editing the free-format (eg biographical)information about people.

- It allows the creation of templates which could be applicable tosuch things as recording information from certificates or censuses.

- The software is free

The main challenge has been in writing scripts that will populate the wiki from my existing genealogy database, together with the complementary scripts that will recreate the database from the
wiki.Only with both of these sets of scripts in place, have I felt confident to work on the wiki, knowing that I can always switch back to the old database if things don't work out.

I have put one or two example pages on a website at
which give an idea of how it looks. Please note that these are just
html extracts from the wiki (essentially screen shots) - the full wiki
database is not running at this site. This means you can't edit pages,
search etc, and some of the links go nowhere.

What I like so far...
- As expected, the wiki is a superb way of cataloguing scanned
documents, transcripts, images, etc.
- Mediawiki's citation extension is excellent for tagging facts about
ancestors with references to the source information, which appear as
numbered footnotes. I have mostly used these as links to separate
pages for the source materials.
- The use of "categories" is a very handy way of grouping pages
together (eg into families).

So far, I have populated the wiki with almost 300 "people pages" and
about an equal number of pages with source material, information about
places and other miscellaneous material.

I have't yet decided to move my genealogy data exclusively to the wiki, but results so far are quite promising. Is anyone else out there pursing any similar projects?


Steve West


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