TNG, the best Genealogical softeware program online! Put your genealogy online quickly and easily — with TNG!
By Darrin Lythgoe
What are the system requirements for running TNG? TNG requires the following to be present on your web site:
1) PHP (a scripting language, 5.0 or higher required; and 2) MySQL (a database, 5.0 or higher required).
You may also need an FTP program (“file transfer protocol”, a good free one can be found at http://www.coreftp.com/) to move the TNG files to your web site, and of course you will need a web browser (looks like you’ve got that one covered already), as TNG only runs within a browser. TNG is 4.8 Mb zipped, about 10.2 Mb extracted. You’ll need at least that much space, plus some space for your data (about 2 Mb for every 1,000 individuals is a good estimate) and your media (100 photos at 100 Kb each is 10 Mb).
For most people, having a “web site” means publishing your content to a remote computer that is “hosted” somewhere else. If you’d like to run TNG on your own computer, you will first need to turn your computer into a web site by installing a web server (like Apache or IIS).
Does TNG run on a Mac? Does it run on a PC? TNG is web-based software, so it doesn’t matter what kind of computer you’ve got at home. You’ll install TNG on your web site, then run it in a web browser (e.g., Firefox, Chrome, Safari or IE). Nothing gets installed on your home computer in a typical setup, so your operating system isn’t an issue.
Could I run it from my home computer anyway (without a web site)? Yes, you could do that, but since TNG is web-based, you must first turn your home computer into your own private web server. In other words, you’ll need to install a web server program, plus PHP and MySQL. That may sound a little challenging, but there are free software packages out there that contain all the components you’ll need. If you’re running Windows, look into something calledWampserver. If you’ve got a Mac, use MAMP instead. An alternative that also works on Linux is called XAMPP. If you can get one of those packages installed on your home computer, then you can run TNG right there with no web site or Internet connection required.
Why are you charging for it? Well, for a few reasons. First, it gives me an incentive to continually improve the product. I know I need to keep up or sales will drop. Second, it provides me with the means to give you prompt, excellent support. Unsatisfied customers are not acceptable! And finally, I believe that people who pay a little for their software are more likely to use it and take pride in it. Because of that, most of the TNG sites you see are very well done, and that makes all of us look good. If you think the price is too high, please let me know. If enough people tell me so, I will consider lowering it. So far, however, the only feedback I’m receiving is that I’m not charging enough. I’m taking that as a compliment!
What is PHP? What is MySQL? PHP (which at one time stood for “Personal Home Page” and now stands for “PHP Hypertext Preprocessor”), is a “server-side” scripting language. In other words, it’s program code embedded in a web page. When somebody on the Internet asks for the page, the code is executed on the server and removed from the page before the finished product is returned to the user as HTML. When used with a database, PHP can be a powerful tool for creating dynamic web pages.
MySQL is a database (“SQL” stands for Structured Query Language). It can’t do everything that the “big boys” can do (ie, Oracle), but genealogy doesn’t really require all that extra stuff.
Do I have to know PHP & MySQL? Do I have to know HTML? You do not have to know PHP or MySQL, although anything you do know will be a bonus. You will have to know your database name, your hostname, and your database username and password. Your hosting provider can get these for you. You don’t really need to know any HTML either to run TNG right “out of the box.” In fact, achieving a professional look and feel is also a snap when you use one of TNG’s pre-built templates. If you want to customize your site beyond that, then some basic HTML and CSS knowledge will be needed.
How can I tell if my provider supports PHP & MySQL? First, check their web site. Most hosting providers will mention it with their plan features if they do. If you don’t see it there, ask them directly.
My host doesn’t support PHP/MySQL. Can you recommend a hosting provider that does? Absolutely. There are quite a few respectable AND affordable providers out there, some only about $5/month. I’m happy with mine (Simply Hosting), so you could give them a look. They will give TNG users a month of free hosting, and they’ll even install the software for you if you need it. Another provider that has what you need isICDSoft. If you need more suggestions, ask me about it in an e-mail message and I’d be happy to name a few.
Do you have an evaluation copy I could try? No, I don’t (sorry). Since all the scripts that make up TNG are merely text files, it would be virtually impossible to include any “expiration” code. If you want to try the product, please see the Demo options on the menu above. You’ll find that the demo lets you do just about everything the real product does. If you’re worried about how TNG will display your data, you can email me your GEDCOM and I’ll import it into a test area for you to review. If you want to do this, please ask me first before sending the file.
Do you have a money back guarantee? I offer free support if you need any help getting the software up and running. If you find any bugs, I will fix them for you. All small and incremental updates are also free. If you still have an awful experience that I can’t help you with, or if you find your web host doesn’t support all the system requirements (ie, PHP, MySQL), I will cheerfully grant you a refund. In other words, you must make an attempt to install the software, and you must let me help you before you give up.
Has TNG been translated into any other languages? Can it be translated into my language? Yes (to both questions). Full translations (except for the Help and installation guide) have already been made in Afrikaans, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish, and partial translations are available in Croatian, Greek, Icelandic, Romanian, Russian and Serbian. If you want to translate everything into a new language not listed here, that’s fantastic. The display messages should be fairly easy to translate into any other language, since they have been separated out into their own files. In other words, you don’t have to hunt through any code to find the text.
How can I customize TNG? You can add your own touches in a few different ways:
1) You can apply one of TNG’s pre-built templates to get a professional look and feel in an instant.
2) All fonts and colors are controlled from the same few style sheets included on every page, so you can change anything you want with regard to appearance if you have a little knowledge of style sheets.
4) Two other HTML files–a header and a footer–are included at the top and bottom of each page, so you can build one header/footer combination and have it show up everywhere. Some basic HTML knowledge is required to change these files and the home page.
5) All the display text has been separated in its own set of files, so you make it say whatever you want in whatever language you choose.
6) Quite a few system variables are configurable (ie, number of generations on the pedigree chart, etc.)
Is source code included? Yes. All PHP scripts are merely text files, so the code is easily accessible. You may make any changes you’d like, but I may not be able to support you from there. Be sure to keep good documentation!
How does data get into TNG? Do I need a GEDCOM file? If you already have your genealogy in a desktop program (like PAF, Legacy, FamilyTreeMaker, Reunion, etc.), then the quickest and easiest way to get your data into TNG is to have your program output a GEDCOM file (standard method of genealogical data exchange) and then import it into TNG. The whole process takes only a few minutes (or less, depending on how big your file is). Of course you don’t really need a GEDCOM file. If you want to enter your data by hand directly into TNG, you can do that through the administrative interface.
What does LDS mean? LDS refers to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka, “Mormons”). The LDS church invented the GEDCOM standard, so there are several LDS-specific tags. TNG supports these tags, but these fields will not be displayed if you don’t use them. If you don’t even want to see them in the data entry screens, you may turn that off as well.
How many names can TNG support? Theoretically, there is no limit to the number of names it can support. I have 14,000 names in my database and have never had a performance issue. Some have many more (I know of one user with about 1,250,000 names). If your database is that huge, however (a few hundred thousand names or more), you may begin to notice a slight performance drain (pages will take a few seconds longer to display). The vast majority of people will not experience any problems, since most files consist of 10,000 names or less.
Can TNG be my only genealogy program? It certainly can. There are definitely still reasons to use a desktop solution as your primary repository (simply because you don’t need to be connected to the Internet to use it, and also because those programs usually contain many features that a web-based application can’t), but if you’re looking to collaborate with remote users, or if you do most of your work away from home, using TNG as your only program is a valid option.
Can TNG work as a “module” in my content management system (CMS)? Yes, free add-ons have been written for some such systems, including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and others. You certainly aren’t required to use a CMS, but if that’s what you want to do, you must also download and install the appropriate add-on. A link to the site where you can download these free add-ons will be shown to you when you download TNG.
What is a “content management system”? A CMS is a package you can download and install on your web site to turn your site into a portal. You can then download and install different “modules” on your site that integrate very tightly with the portal framework. The main advantages of running TNG as a module in this environment are single sign on (log into one place for both your CMS and TNG), and tighter integration. Drawbacks? Using TNG in conjunction with a CMS like this could slow things down a bit, plus you’l be reliant on the CMS and the author of the TNG add-on. If they update their code, then you may need an updated add-on in order to keep TNG running.
Do you have a support forum? Yes, there is a support forum, a wiki and two mailing lists, which I’ll tell you about when you come on board.
Can TNG be used with any other databases? No, not at the moment. It would be great to make TNG database-independent, but that stands to be a big project which I don’t have time for at the moment.
How easy would it be for me to rewrite TNG in ASP? JSP? .NET? Cold Fusion? Frankly, I think it would be quite challenging, since there are nearly 500 different scripts involved here.
Can I use TNG on more than one web site? You can, but it would require you to buy an additional license. TNG may be used on one web site only, although you may also install it on your home computer, provided your home computer is not also your Internet web server. 🙂
I am a web hosting provider. Can I resell TNG? Not without permission, but if you would like to do this I would be happy to set up an arrangement with you.
Can I charge people to use TNG on my site? You may, as long as we’re talking about one installation and you are the chief administrator. If you are installing TNG multiple times so that each user can have their own independent environment, you will need additional licenses.
Can TNG be used to put my genealogy on a CD? Can it make a book? Since TNG requires PHP, MySQL and a web server, it will not work on a CD. Besides, making a static CD defies the whole premise of TNG, which is to make your genealogy dynamic. As for making books, TNG does not have a specific “Create Book” function, but you may certainly print off your web pages and form them into a book. I know of people who have done that.
I already have another application using my MySQL database. Do I need another database to use TNG? No, you should only need one database. Each database can contain many tables, and TNG’s tables are defaulted to have a “tng_” prefix to keep them separate from any other tables you may already have. On top of that, you can still change the name of any TNG table just in case you’re still having a collision problem.