Yesterday’s announcement that Wholly Genes Software would discontinue development and support of The Master Genealogist (TMG) has created all sorts of questions. Some of the questions concern the future of Second Site, a popular program used to publish genealogy data on the World Wide Web. Until now, Second Site has been a program that extracts data from TMG and then builds gorgeous-looking personal web sites that show a person’s or family’s family tree. Now that TMG is going to slowly go away, what should users of Second Site plan on using for their web publishing efforts?
John Cardinal, the software developer of Second Site, answered that question today with a brief statement. Essentially, he said that Second Site would continue as a viable product; he will keep the present capability to import data from TMG but will also add the capability of importing data from a GEDCOM file. You can read his statement in the comments section following the TMG announcement at http://blog.eogn.com/2014/07/29/the-master-genealogist-to-be-discontinued.
I see this as great news.
I have always admired Second Site as one of the better programs for creating personal genealogy web sites. It converts a genealogy database into an easy-to-read format that most any web user can read and understand.
The web sites created with Second Site can be public—visible to everyone on the Web—or they can be private—only accessible by those to whom you give a password. Publishing on the Web is not the only method of publishing genealogy data, however. If you have a CD or DVD burner, you can create a CD or DVD disk to share with the members of your family. Another method is to publish the files onto a flash drive. If the recipient(s) has a Windows or Macintosh computer, the disk or flash drive is all they need to review the family history you have compiled. No additional software is required. See Publishing Your Site on CD or DVD at http://ss.johncardinal.com/cdrom.htm for instructions.
Historically, the primary disadvantage of Second Site has been that is only is useable by those who keep their data in The Master Genealogist. By adding the capability to read GEDCOM files, John will make the program useful and desirable to millions more genealogists.
GEDCOM is an imperfect method of transferring genealogy data from one program to another. Both programs need to be written to handle GEDCOM files. In this case, the issue is GEDCOM capability being added to Second Site plus the GEDCOM capability already available in whatever genealogy program you are using at the moment. Luckily, almost all modern genealogy programs can create GEDCOM files.
To repeat myself, GEDCOM is an imperfect file transfer method. It does have some significant disadvantages. However, using GEDCOM is still much, much easier than re-entering all your genealogy data manually on the keyboard. For details, see my earlier GEDCOM Explained article at http://blog.eogn.com/2014/05/24/gedcom-explained.
In short, anyone who already uses Second Site today and wants to continue to use it should not be concerned. Whether you continue to use The Master Genealogist for as long as possible or if you decide to switch programs someday, you will still be able to use Second Site.
To anyone who does not use The Master Genealogist, today’s announcement is great news. You will soon have another option for displaying your genealogy information on the Web or on CD-ROM or on a flash drive. Even if your present genealogy program already has the capability to create Web pages in HTML format, having additional options strikes me as a good thing. Second Site may (or may not) do a better job of producing easily-readable pages than your present genealogy program does. Having two or more options available is undoubtedly better than being locked into a single method of publishing information. The user can choose the one that he or she prefers.
You can learn more about Second Site at http://ss.johncardinal.com. I am sure the same site will eventually have more information about the new GEDCOM capabilities as the release date nears. However, don’t look for that information in the next few days, probably not for several weeks. John Cardinal is going to be busy for a while as he writes additional code.