Darrin Lythgoe has created some powerful genealogy software that installs on a Web server. The software is called The Next Generation, often abbreviated as TNG. You can install The Next Generation on a web server that you own or rent and then upload your genealogy information in GEDCOM format, along with any pictures you wish to use. Unlike most genealogy Web pages, the information is not stored as normal HTML files. Instead, it is stored in a database on the Web server, and pages are dynamically generated "on the fly" when a viewer visits your Web site.
The Next Generation is written in PHP (a scripting language). The program stores its data in MySQL database tables and dynamically creates new displays when someone goes to the site and retrieves the genealogy information.
Generating web pages when needed has many advantages over static HTML pages. For instance, the user can specify what language they want to be used on displayed pages. The user selects the language, then clicks on a link to the page desired, and a new page is generated at that moment in the desired language.
There are many more advantages to using The Next Generation. You can read my full review of the program at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2004/06/the_next_genera.html. More information is also available on the TNG site at http://tngnetwork.lythgoes.net.
GENDEX was a method of indexing genealogy information spread across many web sites. It was created by Gene Stark. His web site, www.gendex.com, was a genealogy search engine that indexed more than 22,000 online databases of genealogical information on 60 million people. That means you could search the data from many Web sites by visiting only one site. When you found something that looked worthwhile, you clicked on the name on www.gendex.com and then got transferred to the original source of information on another site.
The GENDEX site was shut down on April 22, 2004, apparently due to financial issues. I see that the domain name of gendex.com has now been re-issued to another company that is not involved with genealogy.
Now there is new hope for GENDEX; it has been "married" to The Next Generation. Multiple web sites running The Next Generation software are now supplying RSS feeds of their data, which is then merged together into one GENDEX site.
I received an e-mail this week from newsletter reader Lee Drew that describes the new features. Here is an extract from Lee's message:
Here's a side item that may interest you. I along with many other genealogy website owners use Darrin Lythgoe's "The Next Generation" software on our sites ... much to our delight...
A few weeks ago many of the users created a single site that lists most of our sites and feeds the data to each site via RSS.
Additionally, Darrin has created a gendex server and many of us have supplied a gendex file from our sites for inclusion in his master gendex database. Amazingly, within the past two weeks over 1.2 million names are now searchable from the master gendex server.
To see both links, see the left side of my home page: http://www.famhist.us and click on the two TNG links.
I'm not claiming any credit for this work... I'm just enjoying the work of Darrin and several other programming wizards in the TNG Users Group.
There are now 1.2+ million records available for search. The TNG users group is one of the most helpful associations I've ever seen. TNG author, Darrin Lythgoe, is a fantastic coder as well as being a one-man customer support hero.
I think you'll enjoy the search feature and will immediately recognize its value to other folks researching the surnames on our various websites.
Best to you and yours.
Thank you, Lee, for the information. Indeed, I did go to http://www.famhist.us and try the links.
I believe this effort shows promise. If more sites join together in building a large GENDEX database, this could become a very valuable tool. In theory, it could become one of the larger genealogy databases available online. All it needs is your data and similar data from thousands of others.
I have to add a personal note here: I am delighted to see this technology available. In 1995, I gave the after-banquet speech at the annual GENTECH conference held in Dallas, Texas. My speech was "Genealogy in the 21st Century: a look into the electronic crystal ball." Keep in mind this was before most people had heard of the new invention called the World Wide Web.
In my presentation, I described the early twenty-first century scenario in which genealogy information would be spread across thousands of individual computers all across the world, hooked together by networks. A master server would serve as the index of "who's got what" and would point to where you could find the information you wanted. I described what is now called a "peer-to-peer" network several years before that term became popular.
My prediction never came true in genealogy - until now. The Next Generation with its new master GENDEX database appears to be almost the same thing that I described eleven years ago. I should thank Darrin Lythgoe and his friends for improving the accuracy of my crystal ball.
Ironically, what I described did become true earlier in another medium. When I gave that talk in 1995, Shawn Fanning was still a high school student, living not far from me. He later became a freshman at Northeastern University, and then still later he dropped out of college to start a business called Napster, based upon the exact same principles that I had described years earlier in Dallas!
Shawn Fanning and Napster eventually encountered huge legal obstacles, and Fanning lost his company. The name Napster was sold to another company and has since been resurrected as an online music service with an entirely different model. Napster no longer uses the peer-to-peer networking model that I described in 1995.
Peer-to-peer networking, however, lives on in many arenas and is growing in popularity. Indeed, online genealogy databases may embrace peer-to-peer networking after all.