Posts tagged ‘Rootsweb’

June 15, 2016

RootsWeb Upgrade — #Genealogy

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon


“We are currently working to move the entirety of RootsWeb to new machinery that can handle the load and be backed up in a consistent and reliable manner,” says’s Anne Mitchell.
“Ancestry is making the switchover this week. During that time, you may notice short periods when RootsWeb is unavailable.”

Ancestry Insider believes that RootsWeb / Ancestry are making this upgrade to generate good will.

After the RootsWeb crash back in February,  the RootsWeb community, expressed themselves effectively and Ancestry is responding! When Ancestry acquired RootsWeb, they said they would keep it running.

Thank you Ancestry for keeping that promise.

Rootsweb is a very old genealogy resource that just needed some love to keep and enhance its usefulness to the genealogical community.

Stanczyk complained and apparently other Rootsweb users were also complaining that new additions to RootsWeb were not being indexed. This includes GEDCOMs uploaded to WorldConnect, Obituary Daily Times, and mail archives. This jester had to drop my trees and move to Tribalpages.

So, after this upgrade is finished, Ancestry will have fixed that. If it is indeed fixed, perhaps Stanczyk can move a family tree back.

You may have experienced some data loss the last time RootsWeb went down. That will not be happening during the outages this week, as these are planned, controlled, outages.

March 8, 2016

RootsWeb Still Dead … But Signs Of Life ? #Genealogy #Cloud

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Rootsweb Returns March 15th, 2016RoostWeb estimates it will return March 15th. That is good news.

However, it being down hurt my blog website because I had links to my genealogy research that I had in RootsWeb and much of that research is over a decade ago. Now I had backups of  almost everything. That is my blog for today.


First off, it points out how important it is to have backups of your research. I had used RootsWeb as my cloud backup for SO LONG. So long that I had forgotten what I had up there and where it was sourced from. As it turned out, I was missing one spreadsheet. It was important in the sense that it was good data and I had even built my blog using the data from that spreadsheet as a menu item. So my recommendation here is that you have backups of everything and that you know where each copy is.

This may seem trivial, but let me point out that at this juncture, many genealogists use their CD ROM/DVD, their USB (aka thumb) drive, and even the cloud (iCloud, Dropbox, Box, EverNote, oneDrive and GoogleDrive) to backup their data from their hard drive. But what happens when your hardware is obsolete? Remember floppy drives??? Most of us are old enough to remember those removable media (in various sizes). They are gone now. What happens to your backup? It is not backed up if you cannot ACCESS the data.

So it is also true for the Cloud. This jester has a trademarked magazine, “Cloud Is Falling™“, that I started when I realized that we do not own the cloud, we only access it (perhaps for free or for a fee). So what happens if the Cloud Goes Down or a portion of the cloud no longer exists (the cloud company goes bankrupt or changes terms such that you can no longer access it)? You cannot access your research data. It is the same as hardware obsolescence. Perhaps you have heard of “Murphy’s Law” (i.e. anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) and the corollary extension: (at the worst possible time). @AmyJohnsonCrow (twitter) was using the RootsWeb outage to illustrate the need to have backup plans (as well as backed up data). 2016 had illustrated that a few times. We need only recall eliminating FTM family tree software at the end of 2015. Fortunately, MacKiev has taken over developing and publishing FTM and now (as of March 4th) we have FTM and soon(??) RootsMagic that will have the TreeSynch capabilities to synch with via their newly published API.

Ok, RootsWeb was out and still is down, so I rebuilt much of my Reference Data from the Menus of my blog to use another portion of the cloud instead of RootsWeb. This will give me redundancy by having the same data on two distinct clouds. I now have all my data on the hard drive now too! How did I do that while RootsWeb was still down?

That is an interesting tale. I used The Internet Archive and in particular, I used their WayBack Machine to access my RootsWeb page. Fortunately, they had made a snapshot of that page whose data I was missing and I was able to cut & paste the data back to my hard drive in a new spreadsheet! Pretty nifty huh? I hope you will enjoy my new spreadsheet which I have enhanced and even improved (i.e. corrected data). The new page: 1811_BiechowChurchRecord_births.htm  can be reached from the Menu of my blog’s home page.

June 28, 2014

RootsWeb Is Alive!

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Rootsweb is completely back online. You can now login to your accounts again and update your online family trees. It had gone down 16-JUNE-2014 along with and its many other offerings (due to a DDoS attack). While was back quickly, other Offerings like Rootsweb,, and MyCanvas remained down.

Stanczyk is happy to report Rootsweb,, and MyCanvas are back online.

The cloud is still down for as of this article’s publishing.

June 21, 2014

Is RootsWeb Dead? — #Genealogy, #Cloud

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

MyCloudStanczyk is wondering … “Is Rootsweb dead”? Please give me date and place of death if that is the case. Earlier in the week had a multi-day outage due to a DDoS.  That is  a distributed denial of service, whereby a ‘botnet  make an overwhelming number of requests from a website until it crashes or ceases to be able to respond to requests.

So since Ancestry, hosts Rootsweb, I was thinking perhaps that DDoS took out Rootsweb too. I tweeted  @Ancestry and asked if anyone was working on Rootsweb being down and did not receive any response — so I am blogging in hopes that will respond. Now I know parts of Ancestry came back a little at a time. Searching, then trees, the blog, finally message boards (connected to Rootsweb n’est c’est pas?). How many days now has Rootsweb been down and when will Ancestry get around to fixing the problem. Mundia is also down and perhaps Ancestry will never bring Mundia back, since they had already announced  (June 12th, 2014) that it  was going away. Likewise for MyCanvas and also are dead too and they were scheduled for termination too.

This is a Cloud problem. When you live upon someone else’s cloud and it crashes you are down too and you do not come back until their cloud is reconstituted. I guess in this case maybe longer. Maybe you remember the news when in 2012 Amazon’s cloud crashed and that cloud crash took out Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, and even GitHub (a nod to my Developers guild) or the when Amazon’s  cloud crashed in 2011 taking out FourSquare and Reddit.

My advice is from the Rolling Stones in 1965: [enjoy]. Mick Jagger was way ahead of his time.



February 25, 2013

Thinking About Gedcom — #Meme, #Genealogy, #RootsTech

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has been thinking about GEDCOM a lot these days. As you may know, GEDCOM is the de facto standard format for a genealogical family tree file, in order for it to be shared amongst the many genealogical software programs / websites / apps. Most genealogy programs still use their own proprietary format for storing data but will import / export the data in the GEDCOM standard for you to exchange data with another program or genealogist.

Did you catch the phrase ‘de facto standard’ ? OK it is NOT an open standard maintained by ISO or ANSI standards organizations. But it is widely supported and in fact you should NOT buy or use software that does not support the export and import of GEDCOM files!

Well we are coming up on RootsTech 2013 and my mind is turning back to the technical part of genealogy again!

Today’s blog is about the GEDCOM used by Were you aware that you can export your family tree from You can by selecting/clicking on ‘Tree Settings‘ under the ‘Tree pages‘ drop down menu (Tree Settings will be the second from the bottom in the menu list). If you click on ‘Tree Settings’ you will see a screen similar to:


Notice that after you click on the ‘Export tree‘ button, that you get a new button named, ‘Download your GEDCOM file‘  in that same place.

In all likelihood if you click on the  ‘Download your GEDCOM file‘ button you will get a file in your Downloads directory on your local hard drive. It will have a name of:


Now the phrase ‘<your-family-tree-name>’  will actually be something like ‘Eliasz Family Tree.GED’ . So your Downloads directory will have a similar named file (complete with blanks in the file name). The size of the file will be dependent on how many individuals, families, sources, etc. that you have recorded in your family tree. Figure on a file size of 2MB for about 1,100 people.

Now this file you just downloaded from is really just a plain text file with a set of standardized ‘tags’ defined by the GEDCOM standard. Software vendors are free to define their own custom tags too. Although CUSTOM tags must begin with an underscore (‘_’). I was curious as to how well implements/adheres to the GEDCOM standard, so I wrote a little program (in PERL for you programmer types) to analyze my GEDCOM file that I just downloaded.


My program,, spits out a slew stats about the GEDCOM including the tags used. As you may be able to see from the screenshot, there sorted at the end were 5 custom tags:


These names do not have any meaning except to and their website’s program(s). What you also see are that in 48,538 lines (in the GEDCOM file downloaded), that 5,158 lines have one of these five custom tags. Normally, I will just ignore these tags and import the GEDCOM file into my laptop’s genealogy software (REUNION, RootsMagic, PAF, etc.) and let that software ignore these non-understandable tags and within seconds I have my family tree imported in to my computer’s genealogy software. That is fine  — no problems.

But what do you think happens you if turn right around and upload that GEDCOM file into your RootsWeb family tree? If you use RootsWeb, then you know you get a LOT of _APID notes across all of your ancestors and sometimes, if you have many facts/citations for any ancestor, then the RootsWeb page for him/her will be horribly marred by all of these _APID tags!


Remember I said the GEDCOM file is a TEXT file. As such it can be edited by whatever your favorite text editor that you use. If your editor does global search/replace, then you can easily remove these CUSTOM tags (_APID, etc.). That will make your RootsWeb family tree individual pages look MUCH better.

Now I know what you are thinking. Do NOT go editing your GEDCOM file!  I agree.  Make a copy of your GEDCOM file and edit the copy of the downloaded GEDCOM file to remove the lines with ‘_APID’ on them. You can remove all custom tags, but I just bother with the _APID which are so irksome. If your editor can remove the lines with ‘_APID’ then that is what you should do. But if all your editor can do is replace the lines that have _APID on them with a blank line then that is OK too. Make those edits and save the edited (copy) file.  The blank lines seem to be ignored by RootsWeb — thank goodness.

Now you can upload the edited file, with the _APID custom tags removed to RootsWeb and your family tree will again look the way it used to before,  without these irksome custom tags.

Next time I will tell you what I found when I looked closely at what was putting into the downloaded GEDCOM file.

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