The following was written by the folks at the UK & Ireland Genealogical Information Service:
In March this year the GENUKI service turned 21. As part of its coming of age, GENUKI – the UK & Ireland Genealogical Information Service – is being given an extensive makeover, to provide a better experience for its end users and to make it easier for page maintainers to maintain and develop. In particular it should help us to recruit additional people to help maintain and develop GENUKI. (Hopefully we will be able to bring on board further people who know about family history even if they have little prior experience of web page creation, as a lot of the computer expertise that has to date been involved in maintaining GENUKI pages is removed from the maintainers’ task.).
This makeover involves the conversion of GENUKI to a Content Management System (CMS) based on Drupal. A CMS such as Drupal takes over responsibility for the management of a website’s data (the “information content”), and the look and feel of the website, leaving the website’s maintainers to concentrate on providing the website’s information content without the need to know the technical details of constructing and formatting web pages. This also makes it easier to ensure consistency of presentation of information, and – when so wished – to introduce site-wide changes and new facilities. What GENUKI users will see is greater consistency across the counties, supported by an improved search facility, whilst in the future we will have a framework that enables us to provide additional ways of presenting and viewing GENUKI’s data. Already we have been able to provide much more information for each of many thousands of parishes regarding (i) various kinds of maps showing the location of the parish, and (ii) sources of photographs related to the parish.
In addition to creating the new Drupal platform, this work requires the conversion of all of GENUKI’s original content from its former HTML page structure into Drupal nodes. So far some 90,000 pages have been converted, which has involved the creation of specialised software routines to first separate the data content from the underlying HTML, and then further separate the content itself into its individual topics, from which the new pages can then be reconstituted.
Conversion began in mid-2015, beginning with the pages at the UK and Ireland level, followed by those for England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, together with a number of counties in each of these four countries. The many remaining county and parish pages are now being dealt with steadily, county by county, whilst ensuring that there is minimal disruption to our normal service. The current state of progress is shown in our Conversion Status page at http://www.genuki.org.uk/news/drupal/implementation/status. (This also shows which counties are in need of someone to take on the task of further expanding their information content.)
GENUKI’s address remains http://www.genuki.org.uk. During the transition, as users navigate around GENUKI they are able to move seamlessly between old and new style pages. Links to pages outside GENUKI are also now marked with a little icon – a small square and upward pointing arrow.
The conversion task is being carried out by a 5-person conversion team, led by Phil Stringer.