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    TNG — The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding

    When I redesigned the NWMGS website, one of the things I wanted to improve was the cemetery listings.  I had all kinds of great ideas, including linking people to their military records, if available, other family members, obituaries, as well as the tombstone photos.  The design and implementation of the database was the easy part.  After I had done about ten small cemeteries, I found that the category listing on the site (which is set up in Joomla!) took an extremely long time to come up.  Since this was just supposed to be a listing of the articles in the Cemetery category, why was it taking so long?

    Some investigation revealed that Joomla! was processing the content in each article before it rendered the category list.  This was causing all kinds of problems, not the least of which was the slow page loading.  Shared hosting providers limit resources for each account so that one bad apple can’t shut down everyone else on the same server.  This Joomla! behavior was making us the bad apple — topping out our resource limits.

    With over 50,000 tombstone photos to index, well — so much for all those great ideas.

    It was about this time I was trying out Legacy Family Tree 8.0.  I’ve tried several times to use a genealogy program for the cemeteries because it makes it a lot easier to connect family members and attach documents and photos.  But the HTML created by Legacy has always been horrible, and it isn’t any better in 8.0 — in fact, it might even be worse.  And you can attach as many photos and/or documents as you want, but it will only show one photo.

    When I was in conversations with CS about the problems I was having with Legacy, Sherry mentioned Darrin Lythgoe’s TNG for the HTML, so I checked it out.

    Darrin’s work impresses me, and so does Darrin.  I sent him an email before I purchased TNG so that I could make sure I’d be able to use it as I envisioned.  After I bought it and installed it, I had other questions and received immediate responses to those, too.

    If you just want to upload a GEDCOM to TNG, using the program is pretty straightforward and a little digging in the various set up options will get you underway in a fairly short period of time.  If you want to tweak it, there’s a bit more of a learning curve.  Several times, when I asked Darrin about specific functionality, he did have to tell me “it doesn’t work that way” and I had to find a different solution.  But here’s the thing —

    Darrin took the time to tell me how several options *do* work so I could figure out a work-around to suit my purposes.  Too often, developers and customer service people are so busy playing hide the ball (Evernote is notorious for this), they won’t give you enough information to figure out what you’re dealing with.  Fine — but they don’t fix the problem, either.

    A few years ago, I had an 8MB PDF in Evernote that would never finish syncing.  I would leave it to run over night, check my logs in the morning, and find that while a hundred megabytes of data had been uploaded, the PDF in question was still syncing.  Evernote CS was no help.  I recently discovered, quite by accident, that every time you open a PDF from Evernote, it creates another file in the Attachments directory, so you can end up with several copies of the same PDF in there.  Was it trying to sync all those copies?  I have no idea.  I guess their CS doesn’t know, either.

    I’m very happy with TNG and it seems to be the solution I was looking for.  Yes, it takes much longer to process the cemeteries — with the database system I had originally set up, I could do about 100 entries in an hour.  Now, it takes several days to do just one small cemetery.  But I think the result is much nicer.

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