The Family Web

News and Updates


I've written a tutorial, "Family Web and XSLT", on how to generate Family Web webpages from XML data files using XSLT. I'm also wondering if the next step is to investigate using Web Ontology Language (OWL).

If anyone is interested in joining an electronic mailing list to discuss the creation of an XML-based Family Web format, please register here.

After almost 2 years since posting and tens of thousands of hits to this web page, I have just heard that a commercial product has adopted this standard for the automated generation of genealogy web pages. See the Links section below. Also, check out the new mailing list option.

Genealogy Web Format

"Family Web" is a suggested public-domain format for displaying genealogical ties on the World-Wide Web (WWW) using the HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Optimized for speed in traversing genetic links and automated family tree construction using web-based search programs, the Family Web format can be more efficient than the traditional family tree charts when using hypertext links.

An example can be viewed at .


A "Family Web" page is a genealogical web page dedicated to a single individual containing hypertext links to similar pages for the individual's genetic parents and children.

Webs versus Trees

Family tree structures allow for a detailed view of a portion of an individual's genetic line at a glance. Unfortunately, mapping the entire family tree on a single page is impossible for most individuals. "Family Webs", however, use hypertext links to just the nearest nodes, the genetic parents and offspring. When combined with the hypertext capabilities of the WWW and HTML, it becomes relatively easy to document one's lineage and add links as research uncovers new ancestors. In addition, by placing this information on the WWW, genealogists have access to powerful automated search programs and the cooperation of others in the same pursuit. It is likely that many Family Webs will suddenly expand as a crucial link is discovered on a distant Web server and individual Family Webs merge.

Family Web Future

Anyone can build their own Family Web with just a basic text editor and enough knowledge about HTML as provided in example Family Web pages. What I would expect to see in the future, however, is public-domain downloadable or on-line programs with data entry forms to allow the rapid generation of Family Web pages with ease. Also, I expect automated web-based search engines to be developed that will reconstruct a visual, perhaps even multi-dimensional, family tree by gathering the basic node-to-node connections off of publicly-available Family Webs. I plan to write such programs and release them to the public-domain. However, as the Family Web format is an open, flexible standard, feel free to write your own programs and forms to speed the process along or to improve upon existing utilities. If you do, please be sure and let me know via e-mail so that I can create a link to your application from this page.

Format Suggestions

The easiest way to implement the Family Web format suggestions is to simply copy another Family Web page and modify the individual-specific data. An example is available at .

These format suggestions are merely suggestions. If you have some ideas to contribute, please contact David Croft.

  • Title the page with the format "FAMILY WEB: name (birthyear-deathyear)". Placing the "FAMILY WEB:" at the beginning makes it easier for automated search programs to find pages that conform to this standard. For the name, use the first name first, middle name, then last name. Since the last name (family name, surname, cognomen) is not necessarily tied to the direct genetic links (maiden names, legal name changes, cultures where the family name comes first, etc.), there is no need to place the last name first.

  • At the beginning of the page, place a link to this web page so that others can learn about and contribute to the development of this format.

  • In Header 1 font, give the name, birth year, and death year in the format "name (yyyy-yyyy)" just as you included in the title.

  • In Header 2 or 3 fonts, create the sections "GENETIC PARENTS" and "GENETIC CHILDREN". These are where the bulk of the linking is expected to proceed. Under each of these sections use the genetic descriptions "Father:", "Mother:", "Son:", and "Daughter:" followed by a reference link to their individual Family Web page. These two sections are all that are really needed to reconstruct an entire family tree from a collection of Family Web pages.

  • Add any other information that you think would be relevant. The "Family Web" format as proposed does not attempt to define what this information needs to be, but some suggestions have been made.

  • Finally, be sure to place the date in which the page was last updated and your e-mail address at the bottom of the page. This will allow other Web Genealogists to contact you with updates such as missing family links.

That is the entire suggested format at this time. Again, feel free to contact me with any ideas or questions. A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) is available. A list of related links is also available.

Remember, a Family Web is distinguished from a family tree in that it dedicates a single web page to each individual which uses hypertext links to the nearest nodes, the genetic parents and children. Good luck and love your family!


Mailing List

If you would like to be added to the Family Web mailing list for announcements and discussion regarding this proposed public domain standard format, feel free to drop me an e-mail note. The volume of messages on the list is expected to be minimal.

You can also enter your e-mail address below to receive automatic notification whenever this web page is updated. Please note that this is separate and apart from the mailing list.
Last updated 2005-04-09 by David Wallace Croft.