GeneWeb - Frequently Asked Questions
At the first use of GeneWeb, I get the message: Cannot access file
Look at the doc: "Two frequently encountered problems". If it does not work better, please
It does not work under Windows!
The first thing you have to check: is the gwsetup program which you
launched still up and running? Because, for it to work, it is
necessary that gwsetup remains. If this program were running in a
window and if you closed that window, it cannot work. If it is your
problem, double-click again on gwsetup.
Later, for the program gwd which allows you to browse your database,
same issue: you launch it by double-clicking on it and you must not
stop it while you want to navigate in your database.
It may happen that Windows does not recognize "localhost". In this
case, try the address "127.0.0.1" instead:
Otherwise, a frequent problem is that your Web browser, seeing that
you entered a Web address (http://...), tries to connect to the
network and if you disconnected your modem, it refuses. It is an error
of Windows, because the address being "localhost", it should not try
to connect: "localhost" means "your own computer".
It is due to the fact that your internet provider has installed a
program for automatic connection on your computer. This automatic
connection is responsible to this phenomenon. A solution is therefore
to remove it. Search in a menu, which must be named "preferences",
"options" or "configuration". There you see the automatic connection
and can remove it.
A different solution is to use another Web browser: if your internet
provider installed Internet Explorer in your computer, use
Netscape. If Nescape were installed, use Internet Explorer.
A third solution is to connect your modem, and wait for the
connection. When it is done, does it work? If yes, then we are sure
that it was the problem. Then disconnecting your modem, it often will
continue to work. Of course, it is not very satisfactory since you
have to connect each time you want to use GeneWeb, even if it is for only 10
Information from an user (Paul Laredo, thanks to him):
- launch gwsetup (or gwd)
- launch your Web browser
- stop the automatic connection with the provider
- type the address of the service
- it displays that the page is not available off line, you must
not click on the button "work off line" which is displayed but on
My genealogic software tells me that the base holds 3,000
individuals, but GeneWeb says: 3,050 individuals. Why this
In GeneWeb, parents are always recorded in couple. When there
is just the father or just the mother in the GEDCOM file,
GeneWeb adds the other parent, giving her or him a question
mark as first name and surname. The difference are these missing (but
having existed) parents.
When displaying relationship links, some are missing.
To avoid that the listing of relationship links be too long, GeneWeb deletes some of them when
displaying the result. For this, it uses the following method: when a
relationship link is found with a common ancestor, all the ancestors
of this ancestor are eliminated from the research.
A consequence of this pruning is that if one asks for the computation
of a relationship link with an ancestor, he will be displayed only as
an ancestor, even if he can sometimes also be a cousin.
For example, if my father and my mother are cousins, and if I am looking
for my relationships with my mother, it only indicates that I am her son,
not that I am her cousin's son, even if this link really exists.
Pruning is necessary: without it, for families a little bit "intermixed",
the displaying rapidly becomes invaded by a lot a relationship links and
eventually not understandable (I tested it).
The non displayed relationship links are however real relationship
links, and are counted in the consanguinity computing.
In CGI mode I just get a message "Internal Server Error"
A frequent problem is about access rights. The Web server often runs
CGIs as an user with very few rights (typically user "nobody" under
Unix). It may not be able to run "gwd". Check the access rights of
"gwd" and all the GeneWeb files!
Why is the age of persons of more than 80 years old not displayed?
Why aren't they in the statistics of the oldest persons?
In GeneWeb, the indication of death
has three states: "alive", "died" and "don't know". The age is
displayed only for "alive" (still living) persons. If the age is not
there, the reason is that either the person is dead (without
indication of date), or the indication is at "don't know".
If you added this person with GeneWeb and you did not specify if he/she
is alive or dead, or if your database comes from a GEDCOM file (the
indication "still living person" does not exist in standard GEDCOM
5.5), GeneWeb applies the following
You have to fix these indications if they are incorrect.
- if the person is less than 80 years old, he/she is indicated "alive".
- if he/she is more than 120 years old, he/she is indicated "dead".
- between the two ages, he/she is indicated "don't know".
The persons having ? (question mark) as first name and/or surname
seem to have a specific status. Which one and why?
These persons are considered by GeneWeb as "dead-ends": if they are
children, they cannot be spouses, if they are spouses, they cannot
have parents. And they cannot have associated notes.
Moreover, if they are spouses, they are not exported in the GEDCOM
files and their personal information (if any), is consequently lost.
It is sometimes possible, by hacking, to be able to give them notes
and to make links, but a warning: at the first cleaning up of the data
base, these notes and links are going to disappear: it is therefore
advised not to do that.
The first name/surname "?" being therefore "reserved" in GeneWeb. You can't name persons to "?",
if you want them to be linkable to the rest of the database. Also if
you want to attach notes or relations, (godparents, adoptive parents
or children, etc.), to the persons, you can't name them "?". The
solution is to edit these persons and change their surname or their
first name to something else: put "N", "Ne", "N...", "x", "??" or what
you want but not just "?".
Could you improve the "advanced request" by "this" or "that"?
The "advanced request" is a hack I programmed but which is not very
satisfactory. As GeneWeb does not
use a real database system, any improvement of this part would
consist on rewriting a new database system, which I don't plan to do,
because it is a huge work.
If, one day, GeneWeb uses a true
database system (it is among the possible directions), this
advanced request will be probably rewritten, and will be much more
powerful and easy to use.
Would it be possible to have a complete displaying of ancestors, even
with repetitions of Sosa numbers?
I understand that it would be useful, but there are big problems. I
already experimented with this feature but I became aware, for persons
having many ancestors, of the fact that the displaying was full of
references to other ancestors and became unreadable. Moreover, this
triggers much computation ("exponential algorithm").
If you want to know if an ancestor line is full, look at the reverse
problem using "missing ancestors".
What is the convention of short dates displaying?
Smith 1935-1950 = born in 1935, died in 1950
Smith 1935- = born in 1935, not dead (still alive)
Smith 1935 + = born in 1935, died unknown date
Smith 1935 = born in 1935, don't know if dead or not
Smith +1950 = died in 1950, unknown birth date
/1935 = before 1935
1935/ = after 1935
ca 1935 = about 1935
perhaps in 1935
1935/1938 = in 1935 or in 1938
between 1935 and 1938
This convention does not refer to a specific "standard". If you know
a better, more known, more standard convention, don't hesitate to tell
Would it be possible that you add more information about persons in
the "families" update forms, in order to go faster?
It would certainly be nice, but I don't like adding things. The more I
add, the more people ask me. In the beginning, I put only the person's
name, then I was asked to add dates, I added dates, then places, I
added places, then people ask me to add the dates precisions, the
occupations, and so on. All these informations increase the size of
this "family" form which is already rather complicated.
I know that it is tedious to have to return to the "person" form for
each added person, but I am not sure that adding and adding things be
the good solution. It is also an intrinsic problem of HTML, which is
not very "dynamic". However, I am personaly against solutions using
destinated to be invaded by advertising, among other drawbacks). Other
solutions are being studied, but not easy to implement.
In an update form, I filled in some fields, but they disapeared
Some fields are taken into account only in certain circumstances. So,
if a person is denoted "alive", the fields "date" and "place" of death
are ignored. If, in a "family" form, the field "separated" is
selected, the field "divorce date" is ignored. If the indication of a
person is "Link" (instead of "Create"), the fields about "sex", "date"
and "place" are ignored. And so on.
Generally, in such kind of forms, the choices are invalidated or validated
back when one select such or such button. It is not possible to program
that due to the fact that GeneWeb is
principles (see the question about the families update forms).
When I make a search by place/surname, if the result give several
persons for a surname, only the first one is accessible
Indeed. In a first version, I made a link to the surname itself, and
not to a person, but when the surname holds many persons, you don't
know at all who is concerned by this "place" and it is difficult to
To give the first person is more "informative". Yes, it is incomplete,
and the ideal would be to have the list of all the persons concerned
by this place, but it supposed that I programmed several things more,
and it has the drawback that the request uses much more memory space.
You can access the list of all the persons of this surname by clicking
on the surname in the person's displayed page.
When I browse my database, I get sometimes the message "probable
loop in the database; somebody is his own ancestor"
Your database probably comes from a GEDCOM file (it cannot happen
with a database created under GeneWeb). At import time, this error has
been detected but the database has been build. However, some
functionalities cannot work, like the relationship computing or the
To fix this problem, you must know which person or persons are
involved. Create your database again from the GEDCOM file (if you
made changes in your database, you can create it with another name to
avoid overwriting it). If you use interactive commands, look at the
result of "ged2gwb". If you use gwsetup,
after the import, go to the main menu and click on "traces of the
latest command". The persons who are their own ancestors are displayed
with the message (in English): "So-and-so is his/her own
I typed "Lemieux" and it answered me "Louis Maheux"
GeneWeb uses a spelling
correction which can sometimes give strange results, indeed. This
correction applies to first names, surnames and complete names.
When you type a name, GeneWeb
searches if it exists like you wrote it. Otherwise it looks for
approximated answers. For that, it simplifies the name with the
So, the first name "John Charles" has the signature: "JN CRL", which is
the same as "Juan Carlos", "Jean Charles" and "Johann Karl". If you search
for "John Charles of Bourbon", you can find "Juan Carlos de Borbón"
(particles "de", "of", "von" being suppressed also).
- Deletion of all vowels and H
- Replacement of all K and Q by C
- Replacement of all Z by S
- Replacement of all PH by F
- Deletion of all ending S
- Deletion of all doubbled consonantes
For the example given as title, "Lemieux", the signature is "LMX" which is
the same, except for the space, as "Louis Maheux": "L MX". If you want
a research by surname, click on the button "surname" before clicking on
Why the fields "source" in gedcom are not taken into account?
Actually, the sources are taken into account only if they are texts,
because GeneWeb has not planed to
record them differently. If they are represented by a structure, GeneWeb does not know how to treat them
because it does not know what are the meanings of the structure items.
In forms, the "tab" key seems to jump from a field to another in
an unlogical order
It is a browser issue. There is no way to ask them to have a correct
behaviour. Some browsers work correctly, others no.
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