On the Trail of Our Ancestors

Genealogical Link Updating Program
by David E. Ristenbatt

Orange Beads


GenLinks is designed to provide a fast and convenient way to initialize or update links in genealogical article files which point to persons in genealogical data files created with Gene Stark's GED2HTML program. Version 3 of that program uses a different directory and file numbering method so links to persons in files created by earlier versions need to be updated to work correctly. My wife, Donna, has a home page with articles about relatives of interest which contain such links. Another benefit is that it makes adding links to new articles much easier as described below.

Another function of this program is to automatically create an Alphabetical Index at the top of your Surnames file. This provides a convenient way for people to quickly jump to the desired part of the surnames list.

Download Version 1.1 of the GenLinks program for your IBM PC.

Operating Instructions:

GenLinks is designed to scan your HTML files, updating links pointing to individuals in your genealogical data files created with Gene Stark's GED2HTML program. It automatically updates these links to point to the appropriate directories, files, and name tags in these files. You do not need to use the "Stable Filenames" option in the GED2HTML program but the "Output GENDEX" option must be used since this program obtains the new links from the GENDEX file. Using the "Stable Filename" options tends to make the files containing the data for the individuals grow in size as more people are added to your genealogical data base.

Links are based on the ID number which is typically the person's IRN number. All digits in a link except the ID number may be zeros before processing since the ID number is the only part of the link which is used to reference the new link. This makes adding links to HTML articles easier since you can paste a link with all digits as zeros except the ID number which is after the "#I" in the link. Then simply insert the ID number and the link's text to complete the link. Check the format in your GENDEX file and add the appropriate subdirectory name before it. This program uses a search string based on the format in your GENDEX file when searching for links in your HTML article files.

A report file named REPORT.TXT is created to show the processed links and their related data. Each link generates a line showing the basic link, person's name in the GENDEX file, and the link's text in the HTML article file. The latter is typically the person's name as well so this creates an easy way to check that the desired links were created. Links with ID numbers not found in the GENDEX file are noted as well so corrective actions can be taken.

Links in HTML article files can be updated as frequently as desired without any negative side effects. The ID number in these links is never modified by the update process. Incorrect link formats which do not match the link format in the GENDEX file are passed over without modification.

There are three types of files which you can select when using this program. Look at the title of the File Selection Form to determine which type is being requested. Their descriptions are as follows:

  1. HTML File to Update Links - These are your HTML article files which contain links to individuals in the files created by running Gene Stark's GED2HTML program. This program updates these links as needed whenever you update your genealogical data files with GED2HTML.

  2. Batch File to Update Links - These text files are for updating links in multiple HTML article files by batch processing. One HTML article file name per line in the text file for each article which you want to update. The paths for the filenames are optional. A special menu selection will create a file list batch file containing the names of all HTML files in the directory where the file list batch file is to be created. If desired, you can edit this file to remove the names of files which you do not want processed.

  3. GENDEX File - This is the GENDEX file which was created when you ran the GED2HTML program. It is typically in the HTML subdirectory under the directory where your HTML article files reside. An index file is created by this program which points to the links in the GENDEX file. Whenever you update links in HTML article files, the date of the GENDEX file is checked to see if it has changed since the last creation of the index. If it has changed, you will be prompted to recreate the index file.

  4. Surnames File - This file needs to be a surnames file which contains all of the surnames processed by GED2HTML. This filename will be requested when you select to place an Alphabetical Index at the top of your surnames file. This provides a convenient way for people to quickly jump to the desired part of the surnames list. The index will not be inserted if there are multiple levels of surnames files nor if it already exists in the file.

This program requires file and directory names which conform to the MS-DOS standard of eight characters maximum before the period and three characters maximum after the period. Long file or directory names in the Win95 environment must be entered as their MS-DOS equivalents.

For your convenience, a file name choice list is available when you are in the file name field. The files in the specified directory which have the same file type (characters after the period) as the file name in that field will be included in the choice list. To include all files in that directory, enter "*.*" for the file name before typing F2 to pop up the choice list. Since the file names appear with their paths, multiple batch files in various directories can be combined into one large batch file using a text editor. This enables you to update files in various directories in one simple step.

Concluding Remarks:

Another side effect of updating to GED2HTML Version 3 is that the directory and file numbers start at zero instead of one. Therefore, files will normally be named from g0000000.htm to g0000099.htm in the first directory containing 100 files. If the files and directories created with previous versions are not deleted before running GED2HTML, the last file in each directory will be from the previous version since they are not overwritten by the new files. The same effect can happen with the directory names so there may be a directory which is no longer used. Another difference is in the location of the files containing the indexes to persons. These files have names similar to "ind0000.htm" and now reside in the "Index" subdirectory under the one containing you surnames file. Previous versions placed these files in the same directory as your surnames file. These differences can have the effect of causing a significantly amount disk space to be used by residual files from earlier versions. After running the GED2HTML program, check the dates of the files in each directory and delete the ones with the "g0000000.htm" and "ind0000.htm" naming format which do not contain the new file date. It is a good idea to delete the files from previous versions before running the GED2HTML program. Don't forget to delete the old files on your web server as well before uploading the new files.

GenLinks is an MS-DOS based program so it will run well under MS-DOS, Windows 3.x and Win95. It has forms and windows which are created with functions in the Vermont Views library created and copyrighted by Vermont Creative Software. The program and related files are copyrighted by David E. Ristenbatt, Manheim, PA 17545. Please feel free to distribute copies of the GenLinks.zip file to anyone who uses the GED2HTML program. If you find it useful or have problems or questions, please send e-mail regarding that to me at davidr@ristenbatt.com. I strongly encourage users of the GED2HTML program to register it with Gene Stark. Doing so makes his technical support available and enables him to further develop that useful program. I wish to give a special thanks to Gene Stark for his GED2HTML program as well as his input and suggestions relative to using the GENDEX file as a source for obtaining updated link information.

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