The Future of Second Site, a Program for Publishing Genealogy Data

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

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 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

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 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.


This is great news, I was wondering if this would be the outcome and was hoping John Cardinal’s Second Site would start allowing GEDCOM imports.


I don’t believe John has said he WILL implement GEDCOM input to Second Site. Responding to a question about this he said “I have considered that option in the past, and I will reconsider it based on the news about TMG.” and ” In the long-term, I may extend SS to support GEDCOM input.”

So while it is a possibility, and I hope it is, I don’t read that John has committed to doing this, and if implemented would not be in the short term.


Thank goodness! Possibly switching to another gen program would be enough of a headache but figuring out how to publish my data using a new program would be a migraine!


It would be even better if John Cardinal would take over TMG, or develop a comparable program.:)


    Yep, It’s always better when you can get someone else to do the heavy lifting. I’m not sure what TMG and SS are written in, but I’ll give you big odds they are not in the same language based on age, etc.

    Maybe John C could use the GenBridge API to pull other format files into TMG format, who knows?


SS rocks but the limitations of the GEDCOM standard will be an issue. In terms of capabilities nothing comes close to TMG so it would be a shame if no one takes over the product.
I have always been bothered by the low prices charged for most genealogy software. Just not enough reward available to those who develop these fine products. Sadly this pricing sets an industry expectation that probably can’t be overcome no matter how good the product is.


    I think that is why so many of the Genealogy programs are run by minimal-staff operations, maybe a developer, part-time programmer and an office manager. How many people can you pay if you sell 5,000 copies a year at $30 each?


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