Would you like to publish your genealogy information on the web at no cost? Sure, there are dozens of ways to do that, but most of those methods result in hosting on someone else's web site and having advertisements inserted into your genealogy pages. I don't like that. Another method is to pay a web hosting service and obtain your own domain name. That's an excellent solution except for one thing: it costs money. However, if you are already using the free Dropbox program, you already have a free solution that does not insert any unwanted ads into your pages.
It seems that Dropbox has a PUBLIC folder. Anything placed in that folder will appear on the World Wide Web. The files you place in the Dropbox PUBLIC folder will be copied to Dropbox's public web server. The files you place there will be exactly as you created them without any extra advertising or other unwanted additions. You should only place files in the PUBLIC folder that you wish to share. The files you place under PUBLIC will become visible to everyone on the web within seconds at no charge.
You could place the files directly in PUBLIC. However, I prefer to place them in a subdirectory or perhaps two or three levels down in subdirectories. Any of the following will work:
You can create something similar to fit your own needs.
Macintosh users will have the slash marks going in the opposite direction, such as: Dropbox/public/web/smithfamily/
Next, you need to create your web pages. Luckily, most of today's genealogy programs will do that for you, including RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, The Master Genealogist, SecondSite, Reunion, AncestralQuest, Gramps, and other modern genealogy programs. Load your preferred genealogy program as normal, and then look for a command of "Publish to the Web" or “Create a Website” or "Export as HTML" or something similar. When creating the files, specify the files are to be stored in the subdirectory created above. Once the files are stored in your Dropbox folder, wait a minute or possibly a few minutes until Dropbox synchronizes your files and copies them to the Dropbox servers.
Most genealogy programs will generate multiple files, possibly dozens of files. The "home page" file usually will be named index.html. This is the page that you want visitors to see when they first navigate to your site.
Use Windows Explorer or the Macintosh Finder program to navigate to your newly-created folder, and find the index.html file that your genealogy program created in it. Right click on the filename, and then choose the Copy Public Link option. You can copy the full URL (which will begin http://dl.dropbox.com/u/), or Windows users can click on Shorten Link to get a smaller one (which will begin http://db.tt/). For instance, the full link might look like this:
(This is a fictitious address, used only as an example.)
That is your new web site address. Give that address to others. When they navigate to that address, they will see your web pages.
You may want a shorter address. If so, use any of the URL shortening services to create a short address. I prefer Goo.gl at http://goo.gl as it provides anti-virus and anti-spyware protection as well as providing statistics on how many users have visited your site. Using Goo.gl, the above address converts to:
Again, give the address of http://goo.gl/CIy7e to others although you probably also need to mention that the suffix of "CIy7e" is sensitive to upper and lower case.
Another solution is more elegant but will cost a few dollars: obtain your own domain name. You can purchase a domain name that is not already registered to someone else from most any domain name registrar. For instance, you could register:
Once you purchase the domain name from a domain name registrar, follow the instructions provided by that registrar to remap your new domain name to the web address of your genealogy data on Dropbox, such as: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/561552/WebSites/genealogy/index.html
Wait a few hours for the changes to propagate to Internet name servers around the world. Then anyone can go to http://www.towlerfamilytree.com to see the web pages you created.
If you use subfolders under PUBLIC, you can even create multiple web sites. For instance, you could have the following all on one computer:
I have also used the Dropbox PUBLIC folder to publish information for others that will be online only for a few minutes or hours. I create the file(s), give the address to the recipient(s), and then delete the files a few hours later after the recipients have had a chance to see them. This is an excellent method of publishing family photographs for viewing by other relatives who do not use Dropbox or do not wish to share folders.
Depending upon what you are sharing, you may or may not want to have your files found and indexed by Google and other search engines. The default is to add your files to the search engine's index. If you prefer to NOT index the files and add them to the search engines, create a short text file called ROBOTS.TXT and place it in the same folder with your index.html file. To create a ROBOTS.TXT file, use any simple text editor (Windows Notepad or Macintosh TextEdit or something similar, not a word processor) and enter the following two lines of text:
That's it! Save the file as ROBOTS.TXT. This will tell the search engines to “disallow” (do not index) anything on your new web site.
Whatever your needs, always remember that you do have options. If you use Dropbox, you already have a free and simple method of making text, pictures, music, and other media available on the web.
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