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Branches icon.gif Branches

What is a Branch?

From TNG Help Screen

A Branch is a set of individuals within a tree that all share a common label. This label enables TNG to allow access to these labeled individuals based on user permissions. In other words, logged in users who are assigned to a particular Branch will have extra rights only for the people and families in that Branch. An individual in the database may belong to more than one Branch. Users may only be assigned to a single Branch at most, but this restriction can be circumvented by creating a "dummy" Branch whose label is actually a substring of more than one other label. For example, a user assigned to the "smith" Branch would have rights to both the "blacksmith" and "smithson" Branches because both names contain the word "smith".


  • A branch defines a sub-set of individuals in a tree.
  • A tree can have more than one branch, and individuals in a tree can belong to more than one branch (branches can overlap).
  • Branches are used in conjunction with user permissions. When permissions are set a for particular user, the user's special rights (add, edit, delete, see living) will apply only to the individuals in that branch.
  • However, all persons in that tree, whether there are branches or not, are visible to everyone who has appropriate permissions to view that tree or until they are assigned to a branch

Why use branches?

The most common use is for privacy purposes. Branches allow your users to view information of living individuals only if they are related to them in the tree. They will not have any extra capability to see living individuals they are not related to.

Note - In most websites, deceased individuals are viewable to all users by default and this does not change with branches. However, when setting up your branches, you may still may want to include them so that your users with editorial privileges are able to edit their information.

But you can also configure them to have editing rights, download GEDCOMs etc for their own ancestors.


The basic process is that once your branches are set up (See "How to Add a Branch" below), uses are then assigned to a branch during the registration process which will then restrict their special access to that branch. Their User privileges (also assigned during the registration process) then apply to their assigned branch.


  • Branches provide privacy by restricting users from viewing (living)information not on their assigned branch.
  • Users see more relevant information because information of living people that are not related, is filtered from viewing


Branches can be high maintenance...

  • Branches require a high degree of awareness on the part of the administrator to know when new individuals and families are being added to the tree, so that the branches can be updated
  • Having too many branches makes it difficult to determine which branches need to be updated when individuals and families are added to the tree.
  • Updating branches is a manual process although it only takes a minute to update any individual branch.
  • Having too many branches can make it a long process to update all your branches. (60 branches may take an hour)

Branch Configurations and Considerations


  • a "Top Down" branch configuration allows you to configure a branch from a common ancestor or ancestors and down through their descendants.
  • a "Custom User " branch configuration allows you to custom configure a branch based on a individual user and up to all their ancestors, down to all their descendants.
  • a "Specific" branch can used to isolate a group of individuals to be viewed by specific users... for example a branch that isn't connected to the main tree
  • a "Combined" branch allows you to combine any of the above configurations


With the updating of branches currently being a manual process, having less branches is easier to maintain. Any more than a dozen branches would probably be to complex to administer and therefore having separate trees may be the better option.

  • If you plan on having only a handful of users to your site, then the "custom user" configuration may be your preferred option
  • If you are just researching your Mothers and Fathers sides of the family, then a 2x "Top Down" parent branch configurations may work best for you.
  • If you are just researching your 4 grandparents lineages, then a 4x "Top Down" grandparent branches and 2x "Top Down" parent configuration may work best for you.
  • If your site covers a multitude of families that aren't directly connected to each other, then you can decide whether to include them in one of your (main) branches or to give them their own branch. This would in many cases depend on how many users belong to any new branch because it would be a lot of work to maintain a branch for only one or two people.

How to Add a Branch

To add a new branch you first have to go to Admin and then select the Branches function.

See Branches - Add / Edit for additional information that shows an example of how to create a branch ID that spans 2 different branches in the tree, the father's and mother's branch.

Admin Branches


TNG version: 8.0

In TNG V8, the Branches listing displays the counts for number of persons and families to whom this branch label has been assigned.

TNG V8 branches.jpg


TNG version: 10.0

In TNG V10, the Admin Branches listing displays the Starting Person used to assign the branch labels.

TNGv10 Admin Branch List.jpg

TNG V10, adds a Branches listing display to the Info pull down menu.

Related links