Friday, May 5, 2017

Roots Magic Websites for Genetic Genealogy

I've been trying to find a way to embed my family tree onto my personal blog for a while now. It just seems like a logical thing to include on a blog about my family history. But I've never found any options I liked that would allow me to do that. You'd think that because I host my main tree on, linking to my public tree would be sufficient. But since the only ones who can view Ancestry member trees are people with active paid subscriptions, this isn't a perfect solution.

This came to my attention again as I was interacting with one of my cousin matches on AncestryDNA. AncestryDNA was able to match us together, and we have have a shared ancestor hint linking our trees together. But because he doesn't have an active subscription, he doesn't think he can see my tree. And since his tree is private, I'm not able to see his. He even asked me how to change his tree to public because he doesn't actually care about keeping it private.

We're trying to work that out right now. I'm pretty eager to know who he is because he isn't connected to anyone else that I recognize. The entire exchange has gotten me thinking about the continued struggle of being an AncestryDNA customer. How did I make it this far into this exchange, and I'm still no closer to an answer about this connection?

And on that same note, how can I make this process easier and more familiar to that generation of users that will never, ever be comfortable using computers?

I've come across a lot of people who have websites that allow them to post interactive versions of their GEDCOM files online. I decided that could be a good option for addressing this problem. If I could optimize it enough for a genetic genealogy application, I thought it could be a very useful tool. I set out to explore some of the options that exist. Since I have full access to Roots Magic 6, and it has free site hosting, I decided to try them out first. And I have to admit, I'm pleasantly surprised by the results.


Not only is the site simple to navigate, it's one of the few GEDCOM-to-web options I've ever seen that bothers to include sources. And as I thought about how I could make the most of it as a tool in making contact with DNA matches, there were a couple of other features I decided to include:

  • All of my confirmed biological ancestors from the last 12 generations
  • All of their descendants I can find who share a biological connection with me
  • Social media links
  • Links to my profiles and trees from the DNA testing companies I've tested with
  • My GEDmatch kit number
  • A link to my blog

This site, which took me less than 10 minutes to set up, is an awesome little hub for my genetic genealogy efforts. I can imagine sending it to anyone who might be related to me, and everything they need to compare notes with me is all in one place. Regardless of what testing site they use, I make it easy for them to connect with me, and find the resources they're looking for.

Looking at the sample site on the Roots Magic website, I also see that they've color coded different lines. It's nice to see that feature carried over into the site, because there's an awesome bit of untapped potential for that for genetic genealogy. I can activate color coding when DNA matches for different lines have been confirmed. I can even color code them based on the testing site they come from. I don't know how well the pedigree view on the live site would allow me to do this, or whether the color coding displays on any other view within the website. But I know working with the data within Roots Magic, that potential is there.

What tips and tricks do you have for reaching out to your DNA cousin matches? What tools are making it easier for you to collaborate and discover your common ancestors? Let us know in comments!