Learn more about this Web Site

This section is included for those who are interested in learning more about how to navigate and find individuals of interest. This section also explains how these electronic publications were created and the technology used in preparing these publications.

Brief summary on how to navigate with Acrobat versions

Brief summary on how to navigate with HTML versions

Brief summary on how this Internet Site was built

Objectives for this publication

Technologies used for this publication

Brief summary on how to navigate with Acrobat versions

The acrobat versions are very similiar to most paper-based family history books. Both have a "back of the book" index which is organized by last names and then first names. These index entries are also hypertext enabled and also include birthdates and birthplaces if known. By clicking on the index entry, the Acrobat program takes you the the top of the page where that person is located. The index is the last one third of the book as there is only one index entry per line. To get to the index, slide the slider bar on the right side down to the bottom third of the slider bar area. Once you get in the area near the surname that you are looking for, you can scroll one page at time just like you were browsing a book. Most Acrobat publications operate in this manner. The master Acrobat publication also has an interactive three level index that starts on page 2 of the the Master Publication. The Acrobat versions also have a Table of Contents at the beginning of the book - this Table of Contents is not hypertext enabled (and the page numbers are not automatically updated - so they can be off a few pages when I get behind in updating these page numbers).

Acrobat versions can be downloaded for offline viewing as well. Once downloaded, there is yet another full index that is really quick and easy to use. Do not try this while on the Internet as this index is over 1.0 MB and takes several minutes to download on dial-up connections. Click on the Bookmarks tab in the extreme left side near the top of the screen. Clicking the plus sign in the box next to the "Index" will expand the index to show you the alphabet (first letter of the surnames). Clicking on the plus sign next to the letter shows you all the surnames that are included in the publication that begin with that letter in the alphabet. Clicking on the plus sign associated with any surname will show you all the first names associated with that surname. All index entries in this index are also hypertext enabled. Once you locate a person of interest, you click on that person and the Acrobat program will display the top of the page where that person is located. The master publication does not have this additional index since it has the three level index included.

Brief summary on how to navigate with HTML versions

All of the HTML publications have three methods of finding individuals within the family history. Two of these methods are found in almost all good paper-based family histories. The most common approach is the surname index. This is a two-level index. This first level is the alphabet which is hypertext enabled. Clicking the letter will send you to the first page where surnames start with that letter. Next you scroll through those surnames until you find (or do not find) the surname of interest. Once you find the surname, you click the first name of the person of interest and it will send you to the page where that person is located (displays the the line containing that person as the first line of the screen view).

The second method is fairly unique to these publications - a geographic index. This index is based on the many census records that document heads of households. This index is arranged first by state, then by county and lastly by the name of the person that appeared in the census as the head of the household. Just browsing this index provides a lot of insight on what geographies are covered and the major lines that are included.

The third method is using the hypertext enabled Table of Contents. If you are pretty familiar with these publications or family lines, you should use the Table Contents and quickly go to the beginning of major lines included in these publications. HTML files in these publications usually contain five to twenty pages of text. For those still using dial-up connections, I try to keep the HTML files between 50 KB and 100 KB in order to reduce the time to display each HTML page. Because of this factor, these Table of Contents varies somewhat from paper-based versions of Table of Contents.

Brief summary on how this Internet Site was built

This web site was generated using Ventura Publisher and Adobe Acrobat. Earlier versions of Ventura Publisher had no ability to generate web sites (either HTML files or Acrobat files). Version 5 of Ventura Publisher introduced the ability to generate Adobe Acrobat files but could not produce HTML files. Unfortunately, large Acrobat files were not feasible to publish on the Internet because the entire file had to be downloaded and not that many people had high speed connections in mid 1990s. With Version 3 of Adobe Acrobat, Adobe introduced "page on demand" which allowed Internet users to access one page at a time from large Adobe Acrobat files (much faster the HTML version which accesses several pages at a time). However, Version 5 of Ventura Publisher did not provide HTML as an output option and so producing a web site remained a future project. For some reason, there never was a Version 6 of Ventura Publisher but Version 7 was announced with HTML as an output option. I upgraded to Version 7 with the hope of publishing my family histories on the Internet. Unfortunately, the migration to Version 7 of Ventura Publisher was a dismal failure and I was never able to produce any HTML files (or even edit existing publications) without Ventura Publisher either corrupting the publication or locking up my personal computer. It was later learned that Version 7 of Ventura Publisher became RAM hungry and required 500 MB to 1,000 MB of RAM to become stable for larger publications like my family histories.

When Version 8 of Ventura Publisher was announced and the Ventura Publisher forums had many success stories concerning web publications, I decided to attempt the migration from Version 5 again. The excellent Ventura Publisher forum made me realize that I had three problems that had to be resolved that would enable me to migrate my publications to Ventura Publisher Version 8. First, I needed between 500 MB and 1,000 MB of RAM. Second, I would have to upgrade to Windows NT or Windows 2000 in order use that amount of memory (would not work other versions Windows). Third, my existing personal computer could only be upgraded to a maximum of 500 MB of RAM which all Ventura Publisher experts agreed would not be enough to produce a 5,000 page Master publication. So, I purchased yet another personal computer that could be upgraded to 2.0 GB (very few 733 MHz personal computers could be upgraded with that much RAM), purchased the Windows 2000 upgrade (system came with Windows 98) and got an extra 512 MB of RAM which upgraded my personal computer to 768 MB of RAM (this extra 512 MB of RAM cost around $1,200 - this was before the huge fall in RAM prices). This new computer resulted in a successful migration to Ventura Publisher Version 8 and HTML output became available.

The first HTML versions (text only) of my nine family history publications were built and I then had around 20 MB of files that were ready for Internet publication. The search began to find the most economical home for these files. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) Texas.Net included 50 MB of "free" web space for customers that used their company as their Internet Service Provider (ISP). In November of 1998, I switched my Internet Service Provider to Texas.Net. By changing my Internet Service Provider, I obtained free web space, but dozens of queries and dozens of e-mail recipients now had an old email address. I now found my address changing even when I did not move from current residence (welcome to cyberspace). In only the fourth month of operation (February, 1999), the maximum "free" traffic allowed by Texas.Net. Texas.Net wanted an additional $20 per month to increase traffic to only 5.0 Gbit per month. I knew that I would exceed this traffic in a short period of time (this happened about one year later). I now also had Adobe Acrobat files ready for the Internet and now need over 50 MB of space to upload these files and Texas.Net want another $20 per month for additional storage that I anticipated in the next few months. The search was on again for a more economical home for my genealogical publications. I selected TierraNet as his new primary web space provider. Unfortunately, TierraNet provides only web space and does not provide local Internet access, so the Texas.Net has to be kept for local Internet access in addition to adding TierraNet for hosting my web site.

Contrary to popular belief, Internet web sites are not free for publishers of larger genealogical databases (over 50 MB) or those that even have a moderate amount of traffic (500 MB per month). TierraNet's web site hosting services costs $25.00 per month (and intitially cost $70.00 per year for my unique URL, rcasey.net). Fortunately, the URL charges have recently come down dramatically to $20.00 per year (for five years pre-paid). Texas.Net provides my with local Internet access for another $17.00 per month. If you use this web site often and enjoy having access to it, please support this web site by purchasing my CD-ROMs or books). This move to TierraNet has now worked for several years but this author has not introduced any images for fear of dramtically increasing by space required and traffic. However, with my unique URL address, at least the web site address will not change. I am also using an email address associated with my URL address, so changing my Internet provider or web site hosting provider will not require new URL addresses or email addresses. During the first three months of 2003, this web site received over 25,000 hits per month, 260 unique visitors per month and traffic was over 1.1 GigaByte per month (over 300 entire books each month).

Ventura Publisher produces HTML that are very functional but not quite ready for the Internet. Every chapter produces one HTML file and has required this author to constantly split up chapters in order to reduce the sizes of HTML files generated. Reducing HTML file sizes greatly improves Internet performance in accessing these files over the Internet. Also, thousands of index tags became corrupted with non-printable characters being added randomly. During the conversion to Version 8 of Ventura Publisher, hundreds of quotation marks and apostrophes were globally deleted, so please be patient as these are being located and corrected in over 6,000 pages of text.

Over 2,000 households are included from census listings. This source material is currently in Ventura Publisher and makes extensive usage of tabs which do not currently convert to HTML very well. Ventura Publisher changes these tabs to a fixed number of space characters which makes the material difficult to read and makes the files much larger than other files. With another upcoming conversion to Ventura Publisher Version 10, future editions of this publication will attempt to use the newly introduced Table tags which should improve the appearance of this information (if this new funcationality works as advertised). This conversion effort will remain a future project until all books are published on the Internet and are published on CD-ROM sometime in the next few months. Any solution must be viable for not only Internet, but also produce acceptable results for paper based publications and CD-ROM based publications.

Objectives of this publication

I strongly believes in setting goals and objectives which is almost required when attempting a publication project such as this collection of family histories. These objectives were documented not only to keep me focused on getting his family histories published, but could help others understand how this publication was created and possibly assist others in their publishing projects. The objectives of this publication project include:

Flexibility of output media - This publication must remain flexible in format in order to be published in most of the media used by genealogists. This flexibility introduces several compromises and has a dramatic influence on software used, content of the publication and the format of the publication. The current four media (in order of priority) include:

1) CD-ROM publication (with 2,000 images)

2) DVD-ROM publication (with 20,000 images)

3) Paper based books (with 500 images)

4) Internet publication (with few images)

Page Size of Publication - After long deliberation of weighing all the issues, this author decided to keep the bulk of this genealogical publication in a six inch by nine inch format. The exception to this rule would be the sections of this publication that were created as an electronic only sections. This has two very strong advantages: 1) this is the optimal size for paper based publications which remains a primary objective; 2) this size takes reasonable advantage for printer output which is always eight and one-half inches by eleven inches. Unfortunately, this size is not optimal for most displays that will be viewing the electronic versions of these publications in the near future. However, the trend is very positive in this area as display sizes and resolution continue to improve. In ten to fifteen years (not that long in genealogical terms), it should be common to be able to display two pages (side by side) of a six inch by nine inch publication.

Affordable development costs - The total cost of software to produce these publications must be very affordable to the general public. The technology used must be technology that is generally available to the public. There should be two or three primary products and one or two support products. Total software costs should be around $1,000 including any royalties for electronic publications. The two primary products currently selected are Corel Ventura Publisher (currently Version 8) and Adobe Acrobat (currently Version 4.0). Two specialized products include Microsoft Word for Windows 95 (Version 7.0) which is used for complicated search & replace operations and Leadview which is used for image scanning and manipulation.

Technology must not be complex - The technology used should relatively easy to use and must not require any specialized programming skills to use. Ventura Publisher (and other Desktop Publishing programs) can be challenging for many and have problems generating a very large index (over 10,000 entries). With Ventura Publisher Version 5, repairing the index via search and replace had been the most challenging task associated with this project. However, the repair procedures were very repeatable and Ventura Publisher Version 8 has solved most index related problems (other than the hundredes index entries that became corrupted when upgrading to Ventura Publisher Version 8).

Scope and content of publication - The scope of this project is geared toward a database of 50,000 to 100,000 individuals. Publication of normal sized family histories (5,000 to 10,000 individuals) could use many of the options used in this publication but some aspects would be scaled down. Very large publications containing 500,000 to 1,000,000 individuals would have unique requirements as well and may not be addressed by features of this publication. The primary content to be published is family history information. Although other genealogical databases may lend themselves to this format (birth, marriage, death, census, cemetery, probate lists), these kind of publications would certainly have other requirements unique to their content.

No major conversions at this time - The exciting portion of this project has been the constant improvement of technology during the 27 years that this author has been compiling family histories on computer based systems. However, new improved functions come at great costs (both economical and time for conversions). The cost of five personal computers and associated software will never be fully recovered and these funds could have been directed to more publishing projects. Conversions and enhancements require major expenditures of time. Just adding the birthdates and birthplaces to 25,000 index entries was a major improvement to the index but diverted a significant amount of time from genealogical research. Many promote using all the latest bells and whistles and using the latest technology, however, it is easy to spend over 25 percent of your time with technology and content improvements. For this author, this equates to 14,000 individuals (two full family histories) that could have been compiled instead improving format and style.

Ventura Publisher and Adobe Acrobat will remain the primary tools - For now, Ventura Publisher and Adobe Acrobat are worthy technologies for this genealogical project. Ventura Publisher's ability to directly generate Adobe Acrobat files (for CD-ROM, Internet and input to print-on-demand printers) is very stable and robust. Ventura Publisher can also generate reasonable HTML files (for Internet and CD-ROM) which gives a book reading experience versus accessing information from a large genealogical database. Adobe Acrobat files are far superior to HTML files for electronic publications but HTML is widely known and used on the Internet. The format of this publication is far from perfect and this publication will see continual improvements, but several known improvements in the format have been put on the back burner because the conversion time currently does not warrant these improvements. With over 58,000 individuals compiled, I no longer have any minor conversion efforts and every improvement must be evaluated before significant time is diverted from genealogical research.

Conversion to Genealogy Database Program - This author has seriously considered joining the modern age by migrating this publication from the current desktop publishing program (Ventura Publisher) to a robust genealogy database program (The Master Genealogist or others). Selection of either technology has numerous major advantages and disadvantages. Either technology could be used to produce a high quality genealogical publication. This author will continue to use desktop publishing programs primarily to avoid a multi-year conversion project. Another important reason is just to present a serious alternative to genealogical database programs. The primary advantage of free-form programs over database programs is having total control of format and style of the publication. The primary advantage of database programs is the power to implement major format changes with minimal conversion efforts. Until the introduction of ROOTS IV, no genealogy program could generate a reasonable output report (Register Report) and adequately support source documentation. The choice between free-form programs (desktop publishing and word processing programs) and robust genealogy database programs (The Master Genealogist and others) still remains a choice of tradeoffs. Neither technology is vastly superior to the other but there are many more people using genealogy programs than word processing and desktop publishing programs. However, a significant number of serious genealogists who actually publish their research in paper based publications, still compile their family histories using word processing and desktop publishing programs.

Useful summaries included - In addition to surname and geographical indices, there were several introductory sections added that make this publication easier for the reader to locate individuals being sought. Previous paper based publications by this author included three such summaries: Table of Contents; an Introductory section briefly describing the surnames and the geographies covered; a Pedigree Chart of the lines covered. Additional introductory sections were included and are unique to the multi-book publication. The multi-book publication includes several Smith, Jones, Hall and Campbell lines that intermarried into the author's lines. Researchers of these lines would have a difficult time determining which lines are included and the scope of descendants included. Locating the progenitors of various lines is difficult with a traditional surname index. Around 50 surnames of the top 100 surnames covered were included in the unique introductory section. Each progenitor of a line includes the most genealogical significant information concerning this individual and estimates the number of descendants documented in this publication. Another unique introductory section in the multi-book publication is an article which analyzes surname distributions. Also, the indices of each book were consolidated into one very large index and a three level index was added to minimize time in locating individuals.

Selection criteria for surname index - As this publication has grown in size, the need for improvements in the index became very apparent. Because of limitations in Ventura Publisher's hypertext links generated in the indices, the electronic version currently requires one line per individual which greatly expands the size of the index by more than three times. With over 58,000 individuals contained in the publication, additional information is needed to distinguish individuals with common surnames and surnames that are extensively covered in these publications. Adding birthdates and birthplaces when known has greatly enhanced the index and made it much easier to find the correct person the first time. However, this increased functionality will add 30 to 60 pages to each paper based version of the nine books included in this electronic publication. This is one example where enhancements for electronic versions (that have no real space limitation) create real space problems for the paper based versions. Unlike genealogical programs that allow selection of different index characteristics for different media, adding birthdates and birthplaces to index tags in Ventura Publisher results in this information becoming part of the content of the publication which must exist in each of the media publications. With paper based publications, there is pressure to minimize the size of the index to reduce printing costs. With multi-book electronic versions, space for text is not an issue and adding information to the index greatly enhances the usability of the index. It has been decided that married names would not be added as they greatly add to the size of the paper based publications (10 to 20 percent) but add minimal usability to the index. Adding genealogically significant information to the index (such as marriage dates and death dates when birth dates and birthplaces are not known), provides much greater functionality to the index than married names (which would rarely be used). Another major index criteria was to have no duplicate entries for the same individual as these entries are almost always only a few pages apart and this provides minimal improvements in usability of the index. This author believes that too many entries for the same individual is actually a detriment to the functionality of the surname index as it makes harder to locate significant information about an individual included in the index.

Selection criteria for geographical index - As this publication has grown in size, this author has struggled with the inclusion of any geographical index. For paper based publications, a geographic index could easily double the size of the index if all geographic events were recorded. Since electronic publications have no real space limitations like their paper based counterparts, it became obvious that some form of geographical index should be added. This author has several thousand families located in the United States census records and these event records cover the most genealogically significant time frame 1790 to 1930. Only counties were used even when cities were known for consistency of the geographical index. These events were added and provide a very good exposure to the geographies covered in this publication. Future updates to the geographical index may include additional events (deeds, tax lists, marriage, births and other events that are significant which would supplement coverage where census records are not available).

Ventura Publisher has limited hypertext links - The ability to generate relatively simple hypertext links is a major functional limitation of Ventura Publisher. Version 5 of Ventura Publisher had no hypertext links other than those produced by the generation of indices and table of contents. The surname and geographic indices produce highly functional hypertext enabled index entries. The table of contents generation was not used as it dramatically affects the content of the publication which was considered not to be desirable. This author chose not to include any text in the cross reference text of the tag as this would put much more content into Ventura tags which was considered to be undesirable. The Acrobat hypertext link and HTML hypertext link are two different Ventura Publisher constructs. There is no generic hypertext link that produces both Acrobat hypgertext links and HTML hypertext links. Because of the lack of common hypertext links, this author uses minimal hypertext links which is a major limitation. For any new version of this publication, any hypertext links must be manually added over and over again. Another limitation is the lack to have hypertext links across multiple publications. In order to create an index across all nine family histories, all chapters have to be included in one very large publication. Hopefully, future versions of Ventura Publisher will provide dramatic improvements in hypertext link functionality and that current limitations and problems will be minimized or eliminated.

Wish list for View Functionality - Many desktop publishing programs allow the same text to become part of different sections of a publication. This allows the same information to be presented in different views. This family history publication is organized by surname lines and uses the Henry numbering system that based on this kind of arrangement of a publication. This publication has heavy concentrations of coverage in several geographies: Scott County, Virginia; Jackson County, Alabama; Bulloch County, Georgia. These counties have extensive coverage that could include over 100 pages but are currently spread over hundreds of pages in several books within this publication which is organized by family line only. It would be very nice to have both unique geographical and chronological views of the same text within this publication. These views would allow researchers to quickly filter out geographies that are of little interest or limit research to a geography of interest. A chronological view would allow the researcher locate all information contained in this publication that covers individuals born prior to 1800.

Technology behind the scenes of this publication

This electronic publication is primarily based on economical technology that could be used by many other genealogists. The primary software used is Corel Ventura Publisher and Adobe Acrobat. Corel Ventura Publisher Version 10 has a street price of around $630 and the upgrade from Version 8 is available for $200. Adobe Acrobat Version 6 (Standard Edition) has a street price of $220 and an upgrade from Adobe Acrobat Version 5 is available for $90. Older versions of Ventura Publisher have been advertised at greatly reduced prices but have limited availability. HTML files can be directly generated using the Publish as HTML feature of Ventura Publisher. Acrobat files are created by generating a very large postscript output file and then using Acrobat Distiller to create a Portable Document File (PDF) also known as an Acrobat file.

This publication currently uses Adobe Acrobat Distiller Version 4.05 and Adobe Acrobat 4.05. I am currently converting to Acrobat Version 5 and Acrobat Version 6 has just recenlty shipped. These publications require Version 4.0 or higher of the Acrobat Reader program. The Acrobat Reader program is available for free from many web sites. The Adobe Acrobat product includes several programs: 1) The Reader program which allows anyone who receives an Adobe Acrobat Portable Document File (PDF) file to view and print the contents of any file generated by the Adobe Acrobat family of products. This Adobe Reader product will be distributed with the CD-ROM version of this electronic publication. This program is licensed software that is free of charge. The reader program can be copied and used by others as long as the terms and conditions of the license are not violated. 2) A Windows printer driver program that allows many Windows based programs to generate Adobe Acrobat files. These drivers were not used as Acrobat Distiller program is required by Corel Ventura Publisher for maximum functionality. 3) The Adobe Acrobat Distiller program takes postscript files generated by desktop publishing software and converts them to Adobe Acrobat files. This is the primary program used in developing this electronic publication. 4) Adobe Acrobat itself allows limited modification of Adobe Acrobat files and is currently being used to add hypertext links that Corel Ventura Publisher is unable to automatically generate. Every time Corel Ventura Publisher generates an updated version of the publication, these links must be manually added again (a laborious repetitive task that will hopefully be minimized by future improvements in Corel Ventura Publisher). 5) Adobe Acrobat Catalog which provides a full function every word search-retrieval build program. This program was not used because distribution of the reader program (with search) requires distribution royalties for CD-ROM publication and Internet publication (web server must have this program). The publication fee for CD-ROM is currently $500 per publication where newer versions of the same publication incur no additional charges.

Desktop publishing packages are highly recommended as they have far superior interactive features directly built into the package when compared to their word processing counterparts. Direct addition of PDF commands within DTP files could have added missing hypertext links not available with the Corel Ventura Publisher. These commands would only affect the Acrobat versions of this publication and would have no affect on the HTML versions being generated by Ventura Publisher. Embedding these media specific commands was avoided to allow maximum flexibility for printed copy, CD-ROM versions and Internet versions. A good image manipulation program is also required for scanning images, but most scanners include bundled software that are quite adequate.

Although software costs for developing this electronic publication will probably be around $1,000, additional hardware may be required as well. Any individual or genealogical organization which publishes a collection of family histories would obviously need much more disk storage than individual genealogists would require separately. Images require large quantities of storage and CD-ROMs hold 650 MB of information and images. Additionally, a CD-ROM recording drive should be used to produce a prototype of the CD-ROM and is a highly desirable hardware option for any individual or organization responsible for the final CD-ROM publication. A high resolution scanner, a high resolution laser printer and high resolution display are other desirable components for a publisher of similar electronic publications. Fortunately, these items can be purchased for around another $1,000. Ventura Publisher requires a minimum of 512 KB RAM and depending on the size of your publication, could require 1 GB or even 2 GB of RAM. Many of the personal computers being sold today may no longer need some of these upgrades. Additionally, only a minimal upgrade in display resolution would be allowed in such a modest hardware budget. Adding or upgrading such items may require reasonably new personal computer. Building a 20 MB (text only) Acrobat PDF file required 20 hours on a 25/75 MHz 486 and was reduced to 40 minutes with a 166 MHz Pentium 1 class personal computer. Currently, it takes around ten minutes to produce the 30 MB Acrobat file using a 733 MHz Pentium 4 processor but also requires 0.75 GB of RAM to function.