Broad Search mod

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Broad Search mod
Summary Allows quick search for a name using nicknames, aliases, married names
Mod Updated 02 Oct 2020
Download link Broad Search mod
TNG 11.1
TNG 12.0
TNG 13.0
Download stats Statistics
Author(s) Chris Moss
Homepage Broad Search mod (This page)
Mod Support contact author
Contact Developer contact author
Latest Mod
Min TNG V 11.1.0
Max TNG V 13.0
Files modified
search.php, genlib.php, cust_text.php (supported languages), index.php (all templates), topmenu.php (some templates), templatestyle.css (template 4),
Related Mods

Broad Search mod adds an option button to the quick search which generalises the search to include:

  1. the married name of women
  2. nicknames
  3. the contents of NAME events (can be changed)
  4. the contents of ALIA events (can be changed)

This mod is an alternative to and generalisation of Married Name in Search Mod and is incompatible with it. So you need to decide which one to use and uninstall the other before installing this module.

An extra column marked "Other name" in the results indicates the alternative string that has been used in the search. Because nicknames and aliases can include both first and last names, in some cases the string can be duplicated in this column.

Customisation is provided for all templates. It is also possible to set up the broad search as the default.

Caution: in earlier versions with large databases (>10,000 individuals) this mod could increase MySQL execution time for searches that could lead to MySQL execution time quotas being exceeded but v4 largely solved this problem.


The quick search box with the broad search box ticked.

Broad search dropdown box.png

Here is an example of a search for Elizabeth Sarah. Of the five results only one person was born with the surname Sarah. For the others it was a married name.

Broad search Elizabeth Sarah.png

A search for "William Sarra" shows a change of name from Sarah to Sarra. One of these was defined using ALIA and the other NAME.

Broad search William Sarra.png

This search for "Lizzie" shows that the name was more common on the birth certificate than you might expect, and only once is a nickname.

Broad search Lizzie.png


Unzip the file and put the .cfg file in the mods directory and install with the mod manager in the normal way.

Caution This mod involves a number of changes to template files such as index.php which people often change more than any other file in the TNG system. It's possible that this will cause the Mod Manager to say the mod cannot be installed. If this is the case I'll try and help if you can send me a copy of the file concerned (such as templateX/index.php).

Note For the dropdown search, this mod assumes that the setting in 'Admin > General Settings > Site Design and Definition > Search link destination' is set to "Quick Search" not to "Advanced Search". Otherwise you will only be able to use this functionality from the front page.

The quick search will search all trees unless the "Default Tree" is set in 'Admin >> Configuration >> General Settings >> Site Design and Definition'.


The behaviour of the mod can be changed in several ways by clicking on "Installed [Options]" then the "Edit options" button in the mod list.

  1. If you use events other than NAME and ALIA to record alternative names (e.g. AKA) then you can substitute one or the other of these. Change the name in the one of the first two boxes and click the Update button corresponding to it.
  2. If you want to make broad search the default method for quick searches, then you can set this up. In this case the box will appear with a tick but the user can untick it if the broad search is not wanted. You need to customise the particular template you are using. Templates vary, having a dropdown search box on pages other than the front page, but they may a menu on the front page or the top menu or both. You can choose which of these boxes are ticked.
    1. To set the default for the dropdown menu, put "checked" in the box for the dropdown search menu (variable $checked0) and click the Update button.
    2. To set the box on the front page, put "checked" in the box for the templateX/index.php file corresponding to your template and click the Update button.
    3. If there is a topmenu for your template then put "checked" in the box for the templateX/topmenu.php file and click the Update button.
If you subsequently decide you don't want these set, then remove the "checked" entry and click the corresponding Update button(s).

Broad search options.png

Revision History

Version Date Contents 9 Sep 2021 updated for TNG 13 including eliminating warnings, so more future-proof 02 Oct 2020 updated for TNG 13 by Ron Krzmarzick 19 Jul 2018 template 7 top menu option didn't show. Thanks Gershon., 4b 9 Feb 2018 corrections for bugs in search query 27 Dec 2017 More efficient search, particularly first name or last name only 7 Nov 2017 Optimise search, use variable names for tables 20 Jun 2017 make XHTML 1.0 compliant and correct search for ids and searches with quotes 12 Jan 2017 correct version number 11 Jan 2017 adjust for TNG v11.1 and regularise tick boxes 15 Dec 2016 make searches in large databases efficient 12 Dec 2016 correct continuation search pages & syntax error in translations 11 Dec 2016 correct numbering for multiple solutions and minimise conflict with Married Name in Search Mod

TNG User sites using this mod

If you download and install this mod, please add your TNG sites to the table below.

URL User Note Mod-Version/TNG-Version User-language
Family tree of Marcin & Emilia Senderski Marcin Senderski Template 15; only home page is public EN, PL
Moss Family Tree Chris Moss Template 5 11.0.0 EN, FR, DE
Roots & Relatives Remembered Ron Krzmarzick Public & Private See Here EN,DE,CS
Wortelboer genealogy Bernard Wortelboer Template 12 11.0.2 NL, EN
Our Roy and Boucher Family Ken Roy I no longer user this mod since it causes excessive MySQL utilization on my multi-tree sites. Will revert back to using the Married Name in Search Mod n/a / 11.1.1 FR, EN
Chamberlain & Eidenbenz Genealogy Graham Chamberlain Template 8 Modified to enable broad search in home-page custom search box / 11.0.2 EN,FR,DE,ES,NL
Ennever/Enever Family History Barry Ennever Customised template 4 / TNGV13.0 English
The Cole / Tanner Family Tree David Cole Public/Private see here EN, DE, FR, ES, NL
Teresa's Tree Teresa Goatham Public site EN
Journeys in Genealogy Patrick Thrush Public WordPress/TNG bundle English
Woking Family Tree Project Pete Smee Public/Private English