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  1. #1

    Member Since
    May 28, 2011
    Which application?
    Apologies if this is not strictly the right forum, but I can't see anything more relevant.
    I'm getting on in years, and want to use my Mac make some kind of file which my grandchildren (and who knows, great grandchildren) can open when I'm gone, and find out all about me - wish I had something like this for my own grandparents. In old-fashioned terminology, I guess it would be called a multi-media file. I want it to contain quite a lot of text, but also images, audio files, video files, web links, links to my family tree, and to be interactive. Also to be able to be transferred to DVD, and if possible to be readable on platforms other than the Mac. Is there a single application which could create this kind of file? Or would it be best to just create a web site for this? If so, what would be a suitable web creation package? (I have no experience on this kind of application). If this isn't the right forum, would appreciate any pointers as to where to go.


  2. #2
    Genealogical trees have a standard format: GEDCOM. It's transferrable across platforms and every Mac genealogical program uses it. The Mac has a number of good genealogical programs, I happen to like MacFamilyTree but there's Reunion and others.

    As for your "assets" in this project -- the scans of the photos, the video files, the text and the audio files -- there are standard cross-platform formats for all that stuff (well, video's a little iffy as you'll see). There's no telling what the future will bring, but for now the safest possible format for unstyled text is good old TXT format. For styled text, you are safest with RTF (or RTFD if there are embedded graphics).

    For photos, JPG and TIFF are the longtime standards, and for audio files you're best off with WAV (uncompressed) or MP3 (compressed) for maximum longevity.

    Videos are a bit trickier, since no two computer platforms agree on what is THE standard, but I'd say DV (uncompressed) or MP4 (compressed) are your best bets for "normal" standard-definition footage.

    My advice on projects like this would cover these three main points:

    1. Scan your photos at the highest OPTICAL resolution your scanner can manage, save those files as TIFF, and burn them (uncorrected or tampered with in any way) to a data DVD (not blu-ray!). Once that's done, make JPGs out of the copies still on your hard drive and fool with them all you want, then save those to another data DVD. Future generations will probably thank you for leaving them the option of going back to the "originals."

    2. As inferred above, make copies of your original "assets" onto permanent media such as DVD as well as whatever form your finished presentation will take.

    3. Once you've built your genealogical file, you may wish to share it online (either through popular family sites like (paid membership required) or your own web site (the "tree" like structure of genealogies tends to lend itself to web site structure).

    Speaking from my own experience, an ideal approach is to "boil down" your text to a short (by this I mean under 30 minutes) script that you will narrate in a video showcasing your best photos, scans, video and such (all put together in iMovie or something similar, and burned to a "movie" DVD using iDVD or some such). A "summary" presentation like that will feature your own voice and memories, give future generations a starting point to dig more deeply if they are interested, and always be "a piece of you" they can take with them.

    There's a cottage industry springing up of people who will, for a fee, sit you down in a nice professional little interview setup and videotape you in HD talking about your life, telling stories, or whatever way you want to impart the info. They'll also have you read out (to a mic) longer or more formal essays you write about your life. They will then mix the video of you commenting with photos and videos you provided in a very professional way and put the whole thing on a disc like an episode of "Biography."

    If you have a LOT of material you'd like to leave behind, a book project might be more suitable (or a good complement to the "summary" DVD). My dad collected his own memories of his childhood and also solicited essays from relatives, friends and neighbours around at the time, added maps and a mix of period and contemporary photos to build a book not just about him and his family, but the town and the times he grew up in. He used a variety of software (word processor, spreadsheet for tracking, iPhoto for managing the scans, and finally Word for publishing*) but he produced an excellent book.

    *Word is not really suitable for good layouts, or at least it wasn't when he did his book, but a real DTP program like Pages or InDesign would have cut down on the effort on that end of the project considerably.

    You have lots of options, but the most important thing is to try and preserve your original assets as well as whatever presentation you choose

  3. #3

    Slydude's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 15, 2009
    North Louisiana, USA
    2.8 GHz 2008 MacBook Pro 10.11, 8 GB mem, iPhone 8+, 2015 iMac 16 GB 10.13 beta
    Kudos to the OP for thinking of doing this. I'm sure your family will consider this quite a treasure. I have been putting off gathering this information about some of the members of my family. Unfortunately, some of the older members, with the best stores, are no longer with us. Keep us posted on your progress.

    As usual Chas has some excellent advice.

    BTW you might consider enlisting the aid of other family members in gathering the information. These kinds of projects can get very time consuming very quickly. You may find out that they remember /want to add things about you that you've forgotten or consider trivial that they cherish.

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