GEDCOMYou have a nice shiny new TNG website, all set up with a gorgeous front end, family photo on the home page, introductory paragraphs there, inviting folks to browse your site.  But the fuel tank needs filling before you can drive off.  It’s time to get the ancestors loaded into the back so that you can start that journey down the ancestry road.

Your family tree is ready to go, sitting in your home computer.  How do we get all of that information into TNG?  Easy enough, you extract the family data into a file called GEDCOM, short for GEnealogical Data COMmunication.

If you are unfamiliar with the GEDCOM concept, have a review of the article on GEDCOM – an introduction.  If you want to dive into the technical details of the GEDCOM file, visit Anatomy of a GEDCOM.  Also, have a look at the way TNG should be set up to protect your tree information from public downloads, at Trees and GEDCOM downloads.


To get started, you should really check that your data is clean and correct in your home computer program.  TNG is not going to magically clean up any untidiness in the source material for you.  So go through your family tree, filling in dates, sources, people and marriages.

Are there tools to help with this?  Yes, most family tree software applications have some level of error checking.  And if not, you will find a useful set of data error reports in TNG.  Have a look at the article on TNG data validation.

There are also some third-party utilities that can assist here.  Try a Google search.

I like a free software tool called FT Analyzer.  It is freeware and does a good job of spotting data problems, such as: birth or marriage after a death date; parents too old, too young; surname lists; suggests census sources, and more.

John Lisle likes GENViewer by MudCreek Software Inc.  You can try the free evaluation version of GENViewer first before investing in the full version.  One useful feature is in identifying “islands” in your data.  Islands are pockets of ancestors that are not yet linked into your main trees.


Your family tree is now clean and you are ready to create the GEDCOM file.  What to include in it?  You could exclude living individuals or private individuals, or limit the information on people, but TNG has all of those privacy settings, so you should export as much as you want to.  Some programs allow you to export media, geographic coordinates and special events.  TNG will accept that information as well.  Media requires extra handling and this will be discussed in the next few articles.

If you have multiple family trees, you will likely want to make separate individual GEDCOM files for each tree that you decide to export.  TNG will bring all of the data inside a GEDCOM file into one tree.  Within a family tree can be multiple branches of the tree.

The next article will cover the steps of getting that GEDCOM imported into TNG.