Media Database; Internal or External?

Allow me to re-open this worm can.

My genealogical quest is to compile one extensive tree with hundreds of media files: mostly image files
in the simplest way possible, make that entire “thing” a STAND-ALONE file/program/pdf/etc that I can share/give/copy to any family member who wants it. Like a physical book, everything is contained between the covers and you can pass it around. It is fully self-contained.

An external, linked database becomes a deal breaker in this scenario, I believe.
BUT-maybe I have to compile it that way and then export it into the magic “thing”?

I’ve thought about a website. The “point and click” structure is appealing. Anyone doing it this way?

Can we start a discussion?


Hello Kevin:
I do not publish with RootsMagic.
I only publish with website generation software called GedSite (
My website is:
I generate 2 versions.
The 1st version is the above listed public version that does not include living people.
The 2nd version includes living people.
I load this 2nd version locally onto my iPhone & I use it instead of the RootsMagic iPhone app.
If you are not necessarily interested in using a public website you can load your "entire “thing” onto a flash drive & “pass it around”.

1 Like

Hello Kevin,

There are lots of ways to do this, and the simplest might just be to use Ancestry, because for that, you have all the features built-in, including uploading all media. It’s not entirely self-contained, in the sense that you need to be on-line to see it, but you can use it with a free account, and invite relatives, who can also use free acounts to see your work. And Ancestry also has a free app.

Personal Historian might be another option, but I never tried that.


I understand the quest for that particular holy grail. I also want it. But it’s a tricky problem.

For example, I want to be able to export my RM data in some sense (probably not as a GEDCOM) and them import that data in genealogy software product B. And I want every bit of data to be 100% intact in genealogy software product B, including media files. Then, I want to do the same thing again, exporting my data from genealogy software product B in some sense and then to import my data into genealogy software product C. Again, I want every bit of data to be 100% intact in genealogy software product C, including media files. As you can guess, I would like to continue this procedure with genealogy software products D and E and F and so forth, and finally back into RM. And I want every bit of data to be 100% intact back in RM, including media files.

But at the same time, I don’t want my media files to be stored in my RM database nor in any other RM database. I want my media files to have meaningful file names and to be in a meaningful subfolder structure. So the horns of my dilemma are similar to yours. I think some kind of “container” other than GEDCOM is needed to contain such a self contained package that includes the media files.

Like IceMan, I am a GedSite user. GedSite is designed to work with data from any genealogy software, not just with RM data. But GedSite does an especially good job of processing RM’s special features like shared facts and Place Details. Essentially, GedSite uses a Web site as a “container” to contain your RM data. A Web site created by GedSite is not amenable to being imported back into RM or any other genealogy software as in my mythical example of genealogical software A and B and C being able to export and import each other’s data as a single package including media. But for one direction, namely from RM to GedSite, it does a good job of creating a “container” to hold all your data within a single set of covers.

The GedSite vendor has a companion product called Gedcom Publisher which does pretty much the same thing as GedSite except that the “container” which contains your RM data is an E-book instead of a Web site. The products are so similar that if you already know how to use GedSite, you also know how to use Gedcom Publisher. I own a Gedcom Publisher license, but I don’t actually do much with it. My problem is is not with the product, it’s with the concept of E-books. I just don’t like them. If I want to curl up with a good book, I want it to be a real book. I don’t want to read from an electronic screen of any kind.

So I have wished that there were a third companion product from the same vendor that would create real books on paper that included everything including media files, all under one cover. But I have to admit that printing all those census images and birth certificate images and death certificate images and courthouse marriage record images and obituary images and just images of all sorts on paper would be a real mess. They would have to be large enough to be legible and hyperlinks between the rest of the book and the images couldn’t work in the same way of just clicking on them. So making e-books with Gedcom Publisher might actually be another good way to create a “container” that includes all your RM data include media files between the covers and it is self contained.

My public site created by GedSite is still a work in progress and is still quite small. You can see it at Jerry’s Genealogy Data Displayed Via GedSite If you want to see a typical page without first fighting through the surname index, a good example may be found at
Ernest Lester (Lester) Peters, Sr. To be honest, I think this page is much too cluttered and I have tried to figure out a way to tone it down a bit without losing all the data.

For example, here’s another sample page that’s not quite so cluttered, not because it’s toned down deliberately but simply because I have less data on this person. Robert Earl (Bob) Ailey I go back and forth about how much data to show on GedSite. For example, these samples show my Research Notes as a part of my citations. Like everything else with GedSite, that’s purely optional. And these samples show things like census images both as linked to the facts and as linked to the citations. I wonder if the presentation would be better if I only showed the images as linked to the citations. As I said, my site that I created with GedSite is still a work in progress.

Thank-you so much for your considerate and thorough responses. I have many more options to investigate now.
Maybe I’ll find one that works if the whole process doesn’t wear me out first!
I should have started this work 20 years ago :wink: