JLiki Postscript

by JL Beeken on 8-12-2008

After more than a month harping on about JLiki I feel like I must have been talking in a vacuum. I know some of you read through from beginning to end but it’s so quiet out there. (I expected a parade.)

After almost two years of thinking out loud this feels like the end of the road for me, organization-wise. My genealogy computer life has gone from increasingly complicated to flat-out simple in about a minute. In the end my main interest is output because why else am I doing this? If just to entertain myself it wouldn’t be enough. Everything else is on the path to getting there.

So my filing problem breaks down into:

1. How to organize files for my own use (and sanity).
2. How to organize all this information for other people’s enjoyment and easy understanding, and
3. How to not leave a big mess when I die.

So, suddenly it all makes sense. As usual, simplicity wins the day.

For anyone who’s wondering on some of the finer details I’ll tell you what I’m doing in case it helps any. If you’re doing something else, why don’t you let us know? More heads than just mine are always better.

First of all, for my family history wiki, I’ve expanded the MainMenu as far as it will go at every generation. That goes to the 11th leaving out the one line that goes to the 27th because there’s no point dragging that out by itself. Just toss in a Descendants report for the 19 generations down to my 5th great-grandfather and call it a day.

In the folder where I keep all the wiki attachments I’ve made folders for the maternal lines. It could just as well be the fathers instead. All documents and pictures are filed under the relevant mother/wife, except in the direct line it goes to their own folder.

JLiki

There are no second tier folders except where a descendants chart or report includes photos so it needs its own folder for tidiness. Copies of all my files go in one folder or another. It’s pretty simple. Just deal the deck.

From this point on, working at random is fine since the wiki is interconnecting loops. My favorite ancestor of the moment works just fine.

To work on photos in the wiki I’m having to do something different (again) since they’re all TIFFs, and I can’t use those in the wiki or in web pages. What I’m doing is creating two pictures of anyone I want showing in the wiki directly; one GIF 100px wide for the thumbnail linked to one JPG 800px high. I do this as I work, not in batch-mode.

JLiki

The html code for this is:

  

which I keep at the top of my MainMenu under LinkCodes so I don’t have to memorize it. Linked files don’t add any weight to the wiki itself. I also link maps and other location pictures either from thumbnails or just straight text links. It’s always nice to see a picture or map of a place as you’re reading instead of having to sidetrack to Google for ten minutes to look it up.

Depending what the photo collection is in any particular folder I may make an album or a PDF, so I can fit in 10 or 20 at once with IPTC captions. I purchased ACDSee Pro Photo Manager for its incomparable batch options but it also makes really nice looking PDFs with IPTC captions or anything else you want to include. All my IPTC work is paying off here. If I find more pictures later a PDF is easy to edit by adding or moving pages around. For this I use my PDF editor from Zeon.

I list all the children born to a marriage in the woman’s tiddler for the sake of consistency. Some of these people are dead ends. Anyone with further information gets made into a WikiWord and has their own tiddler. Unless there’s something outstanding about their life, I just link in a Descendants Book report for the non-direct lines and pictures if I have them. (These descendants reports may need to be updated periodically but that’s all I see for maintenance work.)

JLiki

Some of my aunts, uncles and first cousins, though, were excessively active people so I go off on tangents for them including their special documents.

Obits I’ll usually make into linked documents with pictures, if I have any, using Kompozer. It keeps the size of the wiki smaller if there’s less text. I also do this with other documents. I generally prefer HTML pages for looks but sometimes it’s a PDF because it just is. If you have a PDF editor you can link PDFs to other files as well as adding notations to clarify things for your readers. I know my ancestors better than my siblings. Not true for the siblings I’m making the wiki for.

So, that’s it for the wiki and the sharing part. By the time I’m done, (including both my mother’s and father’s families) the wiki itself will be under 500KB and the attached files under 500MB. Easy enough to toss onto a $10 USB-drive for a Christmas present, or any other. The entire family history, as it now exists, ready to be read and enjoyed by completely non-technical family members. Even the ones who wouldn’t be interested in genealogy at all if it wasn’t for this stunningly attractive presentation of it.

Or, for about $10 I can put the whole thing in a zip folder and send it to 10 or 20 people at once by Hightail. Any other time I can send an updated folder with instructions to overwrite the old one.

If I want to send only my mother or my father’s side to someone, all I have to do is get a blank TiddlyWiki and import the desired tiddlers, delete the other side from my MainMenu and it’s done.

Back at my hard-drive, the only other filing that’s needed is some basic divisions for my own work. I have a main folder called ANCESTORS, as it’s been for years. This is broken down into Beeken History, Baker History and Source Library. The Source Library is my MRIN Filing System.

The two family history folders are each divided into Documents, Photographs, Email and For Filing.

The ‘Documents’ folder may be dissolved once all the files have been attached to the wiki. I haven’t decided yet.

‘Photographs’ is just photographs. Every single one of them in one folder with a minimum of sub-folders.  Gravestones, Maps, that’s about it.  These are the original scans (if they exist) and edited versions for anyone who needs to revert to the original for printing, etc. And for me, in the meantime, to find what I’m looking for without browsing through 200 folders. Some lucky descendants will receive the whole works on a series of DVDs. By that time, if they’ve been paying attention to the wiki, they’ll know who everyone is and will appreciate it. If they don’t appreciate it, well, there goes my life’s work.

‘Email’ ends up as Source files, some of it is just conversation with cousins that goes on and on about nothing.

‘For Filing’ is a dumping ground for files that have been collected but not sorted yet. If I need something to do, that’s where to go looking.

At first I was reluctant to let my old folders go but after a couple weeks they went away by themselves. So, between the simplified filing system and the wiki, I’m feeling free. Free at last.

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