A long-living family archive website

This page inspired me to start a new project for this year: a family archive website.

It is a website where my extended family can post pictures and information, and the idea is that it will be a long-living site: I am shooting for 100+ years – that seems certainly feasible, the technology (HTML + HTTP + …) seems stable enough.

I expect this site to go through cycles of activity and non-activity. I like to imagine a great-grandchild discovering it, after it hasn’t been updated for decades, and getting fascinated with the facts and pictures posted there.

So I’m making some design decisions that will make that kind of lifespan feasible. Comments on these decisions are very much appreciated:

1. Plain HTML only, using HTML transitional 4.01 and CSS. Use basic set of semantically useful tags, and allow only updating of the stylesheet for changes in the look (I’m not sure about this one). No server side functionality like PHP or Perl. No database.

2. Passwords and server information stored with a variety of family members.

3. A scalable and easy-to understand (and updateable) IA. For now, it looks like this: (all thoroughly cross-linked, but implemented as static HTML):
home
— about this site
years (a list of years we have information on, in reverse order. There are also decade overview pages.)
— individual year (or decade) page (each with text and links for all the information we have for that year, like who got married, and links to information and people)
people (a list of people, organized in family trees)
— individual person (contact info if any and links to years and information).
information (a list of all the content (that’s not people or years) that has been added to the website, organized by year it was added.)
— individual information piece (a page or website, including all relevant files, that presents information about the family. For example, a photo album, or a description of an event.)

4. This website is not the place for experimentation – just plain uploading of information and cross-linking. There will be a sub-domain where family members can request their own free websites where they can do whatever they want (start blogs, …).

Comments or experiences with similar projects welcome!

16 thoughts on “A long-living family archive website

  1. Without some sort of server-side code (e.g. photo galleries, tools to easily update text content, etc.).

    The good thing is, the “output” of any scripts continue to be “plain” HTML, which you can then spider using a webpage download tool, and archive onto CD as an HTML archive.

    Suggestion for very easy photo tool that stores pictures directly on the file system (so you can also just backup the directory containing them) is Gallery (http://gallery.sourceforge.net). My father is in the process of scanning old pictures, and is up to date adding current pictures.

    For family tree info…well, I haven’t looked for scripts, but we are currently using Reunion to organize the family tree, plus related media (scans of old documents, pictures, movies, etc.). You can export this to HTML. Not the best solution, as the ability to edit this will be difficulty because of potential compatibility of the program over time.

    I guess my main feedback would be tools to help update/output that plain HTML. MoveableType with suitable modifications to templates might be suitable for this.

    Keep us up to date…

  2. Without some sort of server-side code (e.g. photo galleries, tools to easily update text content, etc.).

    The good thing is, the “output” of any scripts continue to be “plain” HTML, which you can then spider using a webpage download tool, and archive onto CD as an HTML archive.

    Suggestion for very easy photo tool that stores pictures directly on the file system (so you can also just backup the directory containing them) is Gallery (http://gallery.sourceforge.net). My father is in the process of scanning old pictures, and is up to date adding current pictures.

    For family tree info…well, I haven’t looked for scripts, but we are currently using Reunion to organize the family tree, plus related media (scans of old documents, pictures, movies, etc.). You can export this to HTML. Not the best solution, as the ability to edit this will be difficulty because of potential compatibility of the program over time.

    I guess my main feedback would be tools to help update/output that plain HTML. MoveableType with suitable modifications to templates might be suitable for this.

    Keep us up to date…

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