The Arboreum Genealogy Project


May 1, 2003: Version 0.2.0 has been released! This version represents a major re-tooling of the source code and a significant revision to the XML schema used to store individual documents.

Read the change notes for further details.

What is the Arboreum Genealogy Project?

The Arboreum project is a set of applications designed for genealogy researchers interested in organizing and maintaining data in a platform and data independent way. This toolset allows the researcher to import data from traditional GEDCOM files, manage the data via XML documents and a native XML database, display, edit and navigate data structures via HTML, and export data to XML, HTML or GEDCOM based file sets.

Visit the features page for a list of currently available functionality

See the version 0.1.5 screenshot

View the generated Example Adobe Acrobat file for the Abraham Lincoln genealogy

View the generated web site outlining the Genealogy of Lizzie Borden

Why another genealogy program?

My interest in this project grew out of a number of frustrations. The current de facto method of exchanging data over the web is via GEDCOM files - a loose, text based standard that is implemented in a broad variety of ways by different software vendors. Having used and tested a variety of proprietary products over the years, I've been disturbed by the loss of data that can occur during migration from one package to another. In addition, a recent experience with a commercial vendor resulted in the installation of spyware on my Windows system. This system attempted to connect to the vendor's URL and download advertisements. I don't know what information was being uploaded to the vendor. I know that the installation of this executable was done without my permission or knowledge.

I'm also disturbed by the trend among proprietary vendors to commercialize genealogical research by forcing users to limit data output to proprietary formats or upload data to commercial websites. I have discovered my own research being sold by vendors without my permission or consent.

Another disappointment with commercial products is an apparent bias toward a western, individual-centric data management approach. Most products I've used concentrate on organizing a set of individual data sets and describing relationships between these individuals. Very little if any effort has been put into describing the historical and cultural context of an individual's life, or organizing data from other perspectives.

As a software engineer, I have the opportunity to create a toolset that will address these issues. I have attempted to design this application with a few broad assumptions how a genealogy program should function.

What's different about this approach?

This application suite approaches genealogical research from multiple perspectives and attempts to organize and present data in ways that are meaningful to the researcher and end-user. By building a generic system based on XML, it will be possible to integrate the data with other research being done in similar areas. In addition, the user-interface is designed to minimize the end-user's learning curve and allow quick navigation between perspectives and data sets.

Technical Specifications:

The main application is a Java based Swing program which runs on any platform supporting Java 1.4 or above. Current development is done on Redhat 7.3 Linux running Gnome 1.4 and on Windows 2000.

Installation instructions for version 0.2.0