Saving bases

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This article explains how to save a GeneWeb base using command line tools. The same operations are also accessible through the web based interface gwsetup.

Storage devices are not 100% failsafe, and one should maintain multiple archives on separate devices. It may also be prudent to maintain intermediate versions of a base, allowing fallback to an earlier version in case of severe modification problems. Lastly, the .gw save format is a clean and sure mechanism to exchange bases between GeneWeb users (GEDCOM is also available but not with 100% compatibility).

A simple mechanism to archive a base is to make a copy of the base.gwb folder. A better mechanism is to produce a textual file using the .gw format.

To create an archive for base toto, use the gwu command and archive the resulting output:

gwu toto >

Or using option -o for gwu :

gwu toto -o

You may select any name of your choice, provided you keep the extension .gw. For safe archival, make multiple copies of the file, on multiple devices.

Using the .gw file format has many advantages :

  • simplicity : a single file when the base folder contains multiple files (note forum and update history are not preserved through a .gw file) ;
  • economy : a .gw source file is quite smaller that the corresponding folder ;
  • compatibility : the .gw format maintains compatibility with future versions of GeneWeb ;
  • accessibility : the .gw is a human readable format, and allows for global editing or difference detection
(using a command such as diff under Unix/Linux/OSX)

To restore base toto from, use the gwc command:

gwc -o toto

Partial extraction of data from a base

Gwu commands allow the partial extraction of data from a base.

  • -a : extract the ancestors of the designated person.
  • -d : extract the descendants of the designated person, as well as their spouses and the parents of their spouses (except, for the latter point, if the option -nsp has been activated).
  • -ad : extract ancestors of the designated person and their descendants, including spouses, but without spouses' parents. Note that in this case, the descendants of the designated person are included in the extract.
  • -s : extract persons bearing a particular surname, including their spouses and the parents of their spouses (except, for the latter point, if the option -nsp has been activated).

Linked pages associated with extracted persons should be part of the extracted data (to be verified).

Archiving a V7 base

With the new folder organisation proposed by GeneWeb V7, it becomes possible to archive an entire base (content, images, documents, personalisation) with traditional archiving tools such as tar, zip or rar. Remember nonetheless that such an archive is "attached" to a specific version of the GeneWeb execution software! As such, for a more permanent version-independent archive, the .gw format remains the preferred solution.


In the .gw file created by gwu some orphan information is not saved:

  • Isolated persons, that is which have no family and are not part of any family.
Such persons may appear as witness of another person subsequently deleted.
  • A Linked page (created with the WikiText syntax, or with the command m=NOTES;f=linked_page) will not be saved if it is not referenced in the notes section of a person, or in another linked page.
  • Should gwu stop with Uncaught exception: Invalid_argument("index out of bounds"), add the -mem parameter (seen with 5.02 on Ubuntu)

GeneWeb Manual

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Use and manage genealogical databases

Technical annex