Data capture with GeneWeb

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This page describes in details how to use the person and family forms to enter your data into a GeneWeb genealogy base through your web browser. If the owner/manager of the base has granted you permission to do so (through a generic or a personal wizard password), the welcome page will offer the possibility to create a new family, and each individual page will propose many personal and family related actions.

Internally, a GeneWab base is structured around persons and families,

  • personal records keep informations specific to an individual (first-name, last_name, dates and locations of birth and death, events, etc ...)
  • family records identify parents and children regrouped into a "family".
  • both records can also link to other persons such as witness, godparents, etc ...

Before creating personal records, it is important to fully understand the notion of homonyms!

All the data entered in a base is captured through a personal or a family update form.

Triggering an update form

If you have understood the section above, you may proceed through:

  • Add a family on the welcome page
  • Update an individual on the personal page

Note here that it is not possible to directly "add a person" in GeneWeb. Such addition happens in GeneWeb through three mechanisms:

  • as parents of an existing person, or in a new family
  • as children in a family at creation or modification times
  • as spouse of some existing parent
  • as witness of an event, or relation of a person (godparents, adoptive parents, etc)

When exploring the update forms, you will see that for each person related capture zone, you have the possibility to create or to link:

  • the first case creates a new person bearing the specified first-name last-name. If an homonym exists you will be warned
  • the second case links to an existing person for which you must know the first-name, occurence and last-name. If you mistype any of these informations, and you happen to hit an existing eprson, GeneWeb cannot detect your error!!

At the welcome page, brings you directly to the family update form. See #Update a family

In a personal page, clicking on the "update" button will open a choice page proposing to:

  1. if allowed by the owner/manager of the base (see configuration file):
  2. If the person is married, for each couple you may:
  3. If there are multiple unions, a "invert" button will appear, and if two unions between the same persons appear twice in sequence, a button "Merge" will appear.
  4. In all cases, a last button will propose to add a family with the person pre-recorded as one of the parents:
  5. If there are children associated with this person, a button "Change children last-names" will offer the possibility to change the name for all children without having to do it child by child:

lastly, if the person does not have parents recorded in the base, a button will offer to "Add parents", the last_name of the father being pre-recorded in the appropriate field:


  • all these choices lead you to a form, or ultimately to a confirmation page. Nothing is definitive until you hit the last Ok
  • in all forms, some fields may be pre-recorded. This is just a convenience, and you are allowed to change that information, but this is valid only for persons being created. For instance, when you add a child into a family, the names and data of the other children appear in the form, but editing these data has no effect at all on the base!!

Some important details

These points are highlighted as they are opportunities for errors!!

Modyfying the first-name or last-name of a child

Example, in the family of "Bob Thomson" and "Alice Barr", a child was wrongly named "Robert" when his first-name really is "Philip".

What should be done:

  • Open the "Person" page page for "Robert Thomson" (assuming occurence is "0"), and then modify the data that needs correction as described in Update a person, then click Ok.

What should NOT be done:

  • Open the "Family" page for Bob or Alice, select "Update family" and change the first name of Robert in this page.
    • This would cut the parents/son relationship between Robert and his parents.
    • This would also create a new person called Philip Thomson, unless a "Philip Thomson" already exists in which case an error will be reported.

Add a child to a family

For instance, in the family of "Bob Thomson" and "Alice Barr", you want to add Hubert as a new child.

What should be done:

  • Case 1: Hubert does not exist: Open the "Family" page for Bob or Alice, select "Update family" and check the mark to create a new a child at the position you think is appropriate (see [[#Update family}}).
  • Case 2: Hubert exists:
    • same as case 1, but link to Hubert rather then creating him.
    • alternative: open the "Person" page of Hubert and select "Add parents", but make sure you link to Bob and Alice rather than create a new Bob and a New Alice which you would have to merge later!!

What should NOT be done:

  • select create when link should be used instead. see the #Create or link? sub-section.

You should now be aware of these two forms "Add family" and "Update family" which have quasi identical looks, but behave slightly differently in a very important way: as their names suggest, "Add family" adds one to the family count in the base while "Modify family" does not. So if you made a mistake while adding a family, do not back track with your browser and edit your mistake! You must proceed and now "Modify" family you just created.

Apart from this "slight" behavioral difference, the two forms offer an identical interface:

Add or Modify a family

Any pre-recorded data in the form can be edited, modified, suppressed. Those actions will not be valid until the Ok button is hit.

Any zone making reference to a person has the three input bars for first-name, occurnece and last-name, and has the important radio button to select "Create" or "Link".

Remember that

  • when linking, accents are not necessary
  • additions and corrections for a person to be linked, although doable,, will no be taken into account at Ok time. These additions and corrections must be done through the "Person" page of the existing person.

When creating a child, to a family, you are given the opportunity to specify:

  • sex
  • dates and location for birth and death

Any other personal information must be entered through the "Update person" mechanism.

Any child whose first-name is empty is ignored

Any child whose last-name entry is empty will inherit that of his or her father.

Other updates

  • To add a child, if no child area is available, check one of the "Add a child (n)" at the appropriate place. A new form with additional children area will be shown. None of the previous edits will have been taken into account. This will happen at the last Ok button selection.
  • If the birth dates of the children are known, GeneWeb will sort them in the proper order.
If the dates are not known, you can rearrange the order bu "inverting" adjacent children, or by exchanging their first-names with copy/paste. In this last case, remember to select "Link" rather that "Create" for any child that pre-existed.
  • To suppress a child, blank out his first-name zone.


The validation of changes will happen only when selecting the Ok button. No addition/suppression will have been taken into account before that step.

This validation step may trigger two king of reports:

  • "Addition or modification of a family". You will be shown a short summary of the family (parents, children with some compact dates), and possibly some comments about the family members (missing sex indication, wrong order, ...)
  • Error:
The error page will inform you of its exact nature. You can back-track with the browser, edit a correction and validate again. You can also quit. This leaves the base in the state it was before you started this update.
One typical error is name conflict. At this point you can either back-track and edit appropriately the names and occurence, or create the person with the new available occurence number supplied by GeneWeb.

Suppressing a family

This form is reached from the "Family" section, then "union with xx", then "Suppress family". It contains only the Ok button, for your confirmation. If you do confirm, then all the links between the familymembers will be severed, but no person will be removed from the base. The only data lost will be that relative to the specific union event (marriage/divorce dates and places, and withesses ...).

One potential result of this action is to create "isolated" persons, that is persons belonging to no family (as child, parent or spouse), or no longer witness. These persons will disappear from the base at the next clean action!

One method to detect such persons (but possibly not all), is to click on the last-name of one of the former family members (you can always backtrack with your browser, and "see" those names in your window. The URL links to their personal pages are still valid!!). Clicking of such a last-name will display all its bearers, giving you a chance to spot isolated former children. treating witnesses with the same appraoch is harder.

Updating a person ===

This form will appear after selecting "Update" on the personal page of a person, then "Modify person".

All the data known about this person will be pre-recorded in the form, and can be edited or suppressed.

Clicking the Ok button at the end of the form is the only way to record permanently any changes.

Several fields propose a tick-mark next to labels such as "Insert alias", "Insert nickname", etc .... Ticking these marks does not instruct GeneWeb to perform the alias or nickname insertion, but is a request for a new "larger" form obtained when hitting the Ok button. None of the changes will have been recorded yet.

description of the various fields

Read carefully the meaning of each of these fields as they are not treated in the same fashion in the various reports proposed by GeneWeb.

  • First-name and last-name have their usual meaning. Coupled with the occurence number, this constitutes a unique identifier for the person, which can be replaced by an equivalent (internal to GeneWeb and non stable across save/restore) numerical number.
One should enter the "usual" first-name in the first-name zone, and report all other first-names, public first-names in the appropriate zone described below.
This will render effective the maintenance of a first-names list in the base, showing which first-name is most frequent, all bearers of the same first-name, etc.
  • Public name is the name by which a person is usually known. Kings, actors and celebrities fall in this category. For instance "Louis the XIV th", while having "Louis as first name" has "de Bourbon" as last-name.
Public names are a valid search criteria for a person, and is displayed first as title on the personal page, the first-name last-name being positioned below.
  • Image refers to a .gif, .jpg or .png file associated with the person, that will be display at the head of its personal page. It can be a URL ("http;//servername/folder/filename.jpg"), or a simple file that the gwd server will search for in the bases/images/base folder.
If no filename is provided, gwd will search for a file names last_name.occurence.last_name with any of the extensions above. In the filename construction invoqued, all accents will be removed, uppercase letter lowered and any blank or non alphanumerical character will be replaced by an underscore _.
For instance, the person named Anne-Cécile Dupont de Nemours will use anne_cecile.0.dupont_de_nemours as filename.
  • Nickname is a public name typically attached to some well known persons. For instance "Louis VI le Gros".
A person having a nickname can be searched using "first-name nickname" combination rather than "First-name Last-name". For instance again, "Louis VI" (his public name) is reachable as "Louis le Gros", "Louis VI le Gros", "Louis Capet", etc. Note that "Le Gros" is not considered as a last-name and is not shown in the last-names list.
A person may have several nicknames. "William the Conqueror" is also known as "William the Bastard", hence the necessity allow for multiple nicknames capture zones
Is a nickname exists, the public-name (or the first-name if there is no public-name) will be displayed first as title on the eprsonal page, the first-name last-name being shown below.
  • Alias is a name under which a person is known, without that being an alternate first-name. For instance, "Aurore Dupin" is known as "Georges Sand". Similarly "Anne-Marie d'Orléans", daughter of "Philippe Ier" et niece of "Louis XIV" is known as "Mademoiselle de Valois".
An alias is a whole and is not broken into first and last. So "Aurore Sand" and "Georges Dupin" are not valid search criteria for "Georges Sand" or "Aurore Dupin", neither is "Mademoiselle d'Orleans.
If there exist multiple aliases, they are displayed in smaller bold face below the title.
  • First-name alias may have several uses:
    • It can be the list of your first-names recorder with the authorities.
    • It can be a familiar nickname used by friends and family as "Bobby" instead of "Robert"
    • It can be an alternate first-name with varying spelling or hypothesis as extracted from anciens documents
There can be multiple first-name aliases
When present, they are displayed in smaller typeface below the title
  • Name alias is a placeholder for alternative last-names when spelling is not stable for instance.. Usage is not frequent.
  • Birth and baptism records date and place of those events. No specific problem.
  • Death records death information. No issue again except for the "automatic choice" explained below:
The death zone offers a pull-down menu whose first option is -. This value means "unknown". Based on this, provided you do not supply a date of death, GeneWeb will record "alive" for persons younger than 80 years, "unknown" for persons aged between 80 and 120 years, and "dead" for persons older that 120 years. You can always select yourself manually the option which you prefer.
Persons whose death status is "unknown" will not have an age computed on their personal pages. So you should make your own educated choice for persons aged between 80 and 120 years.
  • Occupation records the main professional activity. It should not become a full biography which can be more easily expanded in the notes section.
  • Titles record nobility titles. There may be multiple titles, and a check-box "insert title" is available. Clicking on the Ok button when one of these tick-boxes is active will publish a fresh form with an additional title zone.

Titles are broken into two separate items: a title proper and a place. The title proper contains the title name: Count, viscount, dike, king, .... The place contains the territory linked to this title.

Note the particle: at display time, both parts will be joined such as in "Count of Anjou", "Duke of York", "King of England", .... Each of these will be clickable, allowing the display of the other tenants of the same title for the same place. But managing separately those two parts will also allow to query for all "counts" ro all "kings", or for all titles associated with a place.
The field name associated to a title allows to enter a public name associated to the title. For instance, "Charles Quint" is called "Charles 1er" as "king of Spain", and "Charles IV" as "king of Sicily", etc..
The field N-th is used for titles numbered in sequence as in "3rd count of Warwick". in htis case, the value to enetr is "3" (not 3rd!). This should not be confused with a number such as "Louis XIV" which indicates that he is the 14th Louis, but not the 14th king of france.
The button "main title" allows to select the main title which is the only one displayed in some contexts (on the page of a spouse or a child for instance). This obvouisly applies only if multiple titles exist.
To suppress a title, blank out the first capture field of the title zone
  • Acces defines the rules for access to the personal data according to the friend/wizard status or the visitor. This applies only to persons younger than a limit defined by the configuration parameter [[c| private_years}} (default is 150).
    • By default, persons bearing a title, or whose one parent has a title is considered "public" and visible by all visitors.
    • If the value of access is "public", then this person is visible to all
    • If the value of access is "private", this person is visible only to friends and wizards, and invisible to other visitors.
  • Notes contains any other data you wish to record and display about a person. The formatting of this area is driven by HTML tags (limited to the tags listed in gw/tags.txt,), and a wiki style syntax described here.
Note the existence of several sub-notes area associated with events such as birth, wedding, death, etc...
  • Sources records your sources for data about a person. This field is not extensible beyond limits, and it may be necessary to overflow into the notes area as needed.
Note also a source sub-field associated with events.


The validation of changes will happen only when selecting the Ok button. No addition/suppression will have been taken into account before that step.

remember also that if any of the "Insert some sub-field" tick-mark is "on", hitting Ok will only produre a new larger form.

This validation step may trigger two king of reports:

  • "Modified person". You will be shown the name of the person, and possibly some comments about missing or inconsistent informations sex indication, parent too young, age at death too large, ...)
  • Error:
The error page will inform you of its exact nature. You can back-track with the browser, edit a correction and validate again. You can also quit. This leaves the base in the state it was before you started this update.
One typical error is name conflict. At this point you can either back-track and edit appropriately the names and occurence, or create the person with the new available occurence number supplied by GeneWeb.

Suppress a person

This page appear after selection "Suppress person" in the "Update person" page.

This form contains only the Ok button for your confirmation. If you do confirm, a new page confirming the deletion will be shown.

A deleted person does not in fact totally disappear from the base. All its personal data and its links to parents do disappear, but its link to a spouse and children is maintained and is displayed as if both its first-name and last-name were a ?.

Send an image

This form appears after choosing "Update person" and "Send image", provided the owner/manager of the base has allowed it, and that the field "image" of the person is empty.

The form selects then sends an image file with extension .gif, .jpg ou .png which will be attached to that person. This file will replace pre-existing files associated with the person and will be stores in the bases/images/base folder.

Si cette personne avait déjà une image, celle que vous enverrez la remplacera.

Note : si le champ "Image" de la personne n'est pas vide, vous n'aurez pas accès à "envoyer image". Si vous voulez le faire, faites "Mise à jour" et "Modifier personne" et effacez le contenu du champ "image".

Supprimer une image

Vous tomberez sur ce formulaire à partir d'une page personnelle après avoir cliqué sur "Mise à jour", puis "Supprimer image", à condition que le propriétaire de la base en ait donné l'autorisation.

Si vous cliquez sur "Ok", l'image associée à la personne est supprimée.

Changer les noms des enfants.

Vous tomberez sur ce formulaire à partir d'une page personnelle après avoir cliqué sur "Mise à jour", puis "Changer noms des enfants".

Tous les enfants de la personne sont affichés. Il est possible de modifier le prénom, le patronyme et le numéro de chaque enfant.

Une facilité intéressante : si on supprime le nom de famille d'un enfant, ça prendra automatiquement celui du parent.

Cela peut être commode pour changer le nom de famille de toute une branche : on change avec "modifier personne" le nom de famille de l'ancêtre. Puis on applique "changer nom des enfants" sur l'ancêtre en supprimant simplement dans ce formulaire les noms de famille de ses enfants, ce qui est une opération rapide. Puis on recommence avec les enfants.

On peut s'en servir aussi pour corriger le prénom d'un enfant d'une famille. Mais si c'est juste pour un enfant, cela peut se faire simplement avec "modifier personne".

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