Desktop gotchas

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The following are some desktop genealogy program quirks or gotchas that I have captured from the TNG user list emails or from personal observation in using some of the programs. Some suggested methods for handling in TNG are indicated.

Family Tree Maker (FTM)

Resequence IDs

Very old versions of Family Tree Maker (FTM16 and earlier) re-sequences the assigned record IDs when it goes from single digits to double digits to triple digits and so on. So an original ID of I1 will be come I01 when you add the 10th person to the FTM database and I001 when you add the 100th person, and I0001 when you add the 1000th person.

FTM 2008 and FTM 2009 use a 5 digit numbering scheme, I00001 is the first person ID number. Thusly, number changes won't take place with these versions until the database hits 100,000 names.

The resulting impact is that media record links will be broken in TNG when you import a new gedcom after the IDs passed through one of the above thresholds.

Export / Import Media Links

Some FTM users essentially ignore FTM/ media (including stories and citation media items that are generated when you do an Gedcom export), and load all of there media items using TNG.

But many other user do want their FTM/ media items to be exported from FTM and imported into TNG. If you fall into this category, it is important to be aware that the Gedcom exports only a few of your media records, and, in doing so, exports links to images that cannot be viewed if the ultimate user of your TNG site does not have an account.

Also, the FTM Gedcom export does not export the media items themselves; it only exports

  • Media paths and filenames in Media Object records, and
  • Media links in Source Records, Person records and their subordinate Events, and Family records and their subordinate events.

In order to transfer Media Items and Media Links from FTM/, you must

  1. Sync between and FTM (if you edit in
  2. Tell the FTM Gedcom export dialog to export media links,
  3. Tell the TNG Gedcom import dialog to import media links, and
  4. Upload all media files in your FTM media folder to your TNG media folder.

(Note that, unless you do an awful lot of editing of media records, you'll have to keep all of your photos, documents, histories, headstones, etc. in one TNG folder. You can still have TNG Collections (i.e. MediaTypes), but all of the files will be in one folder.)

FTM2014 and (no) Media Links

At one point, FTM2014 did not export media links, and it was necessary to convert your data to FTM2012, and then export your Gedcom from FTM2012. That is no longer true. The latest versions of FTM2012, FTM2014, and FTM2017 all export medialinks.

Import of Media Links to FTM

(Note: this section, which specifically mentions FTM2009 and FTM2010 may not be applicable to later versions of FTM.)

Import of media links is also not supported in FTM, which includes FTM2009 and FTM2010. Export of a GEDcom 5.5 version file will automatically deselect the option to include path names for media files.

If you have a large GEDcom file with a significant number of media attachments, it is possible to take an exported FTM file that contains media links and import this file into "The Master Genealogist" (TMG). This program has the capability to read the FTM proprietary formatted GEDcom file and not lose the media path information contained in the file. You can then export this file from TMG into another GEDcom 5.5 file that actually does contain path information that you require. Of course, you will have to set up TMG to have correct path information for media files that matches your TNG installation, etc. to make it work. I have done this procedure to recover an old FTM16 formatted file that contained a little over 1000 photos and wrote the file out to GEDcom 5.5 standard that matched my TNG site's /photos directory convention. After import of the GEDcom file, and FTP of the photos to the /photos directory on my TNG site, I was able to run the "create thumbnails" option under the media section for all photos that do not currently have thumbnails. This correctly populated each photo with it's appropriate thumbnail and saved me days of work.

The import process for TMG took almost a full night to run, but export was very quick. TMG is not a free product, but since this was a once only scenario, the downloaded trial version worked fine for me. I would have no hesitation on purchasing the full version just to have the "import FTM files" capabilities in case other relatives sent me additional files in the future.....

Place and Description joint field

(Note: this may apply to FTM2009 and FTM2010; it does not appear to apply to FTM2012 or later.)
FTM uses the Place and Description field in custom events for dual purposes. As a result, you an FTM Gedcom imported into TNG can have strange place names which are really occupation descriptions.

Dates and Placenames

Date and Placename values generated by hints are in a variety of formats (e.g. YMD vs ddMMMYYYY; full state names vs abbreviations; the word 'County' may or may not be used). In, the hint tool allows the user to retype the date and place values for each event it creates, but in FTM, it is quite difficult to go back to the edit screen for each event affected by a hint and correct the date or placename. Either way, dates and places can be quite inconsistent if the user is not especially diligent.

Estimated Dates and FTM do not support the date prefix 'Est'. does allows 'Est.' as a prefix, after it warns the user that the date contains an invalid month. But FTM actually always replaces 'Est' with 'Abt'.

FWIW, the meanings of 'Abt' and 'Est' are quite similar, and the difference is quite imprecise, but there is a subtle difference that makes 'Est' useful. 'Abt' is used when a source gives an approximate date, or when an approximate date is inferred from other information about the person or other contemporaneous information, and 'Est' is used when a date is calculated from more remote or disconnected information. For instance:

  • If a person is married in Holland in 1635, and reported living in New Amsterdam in 1640, that person's immigration date might be recorded as "Betw 1635 and 1640", or "Abt 1637" or "Abt 1638", etc. Still, to record such an date as "Est. 1637" is not at all unreasonable.
  • If a couple has a child in, say 1876, and one spouse is reported in the 1880 census as being married to someone else, AND there is good reason to believe that the other spouse has died, AND the fact of a marriage can be assumed, it is reasonable to give, say, 1878 as an approximate date of the spouse's death, and the approximate date of the second marriage.
  1. But when a birth date is calculated based on the birth date of a parent, child, or spouse, is it generally better to call it estimated than approximate.

1940 Census

In hints, the date of all U.S. censuses other than 1940 is reported as just the year, and people recording census information must look at the headings of individual census pages to determine an actual date. But, strangely, the 1940 census is alway reported as '1 Apr 1940', no matter what the individual census page says.

FTM Gedcom Issues

Gedcom files generated by FTM (at least through FTM2017) cannot be imported directly into TNG without significant loss of data. Problems include

  1. FTM Gedcom file frequently have Gedcom Event values, or "Descriptive Text", where TNG (and the Gedcom standard) do not support them,
  2. FTM and TNG use different Gedcom tags to indicate that an image is the default image for a person,
  3. FTM and associate images with Citations, and TNG cannot represent that relationship.
  4. FTM exports some records within OBJE (Media Object) records at the wrong Gedcom level and/or with the wrong tag.
  5. FTM allows a picture from the scrapbook to be displayed as the primary one for an individual. FTM saves this information in the GEDCOM but TNG doesn’t attach it to the individual.
  6. Only the Detail and Transcription fields of a Citation are exported to an FTM-generated Gedcom file. All other fields in a Citation record are lost.
(Click on the link to the right to show or hide more details about these problems, and how Gedcom converters can help.)
  1. In FTM and, all Facts or Events (except Name and Sex, which aren't really Facts or Events) have a "Description" field, which is routinely used to enter short notes for Birth, Death, Burial, Marriage and other events (e.g. 1 DEAT Died Intestate<code> or <code>MARR Her first, his third". But to Gedcom and TNG, the "Description" field is really only for values associated with events such as Occupation, Nationality, Education, Immigration, and the like (e.g. 1 OCCU Carpenter or EDUC Ph.D. Duke University. In fact, TNG's built-in events (i.e. the primary instances of Birth, Christening, Death, and Burial, plus LDS ordinances such as Baptism, Christening, Sealing, and Marriage Bann) cannot have descriptive values. Thus, using the examples above, a converter must save "Died Intestate" and "Her first, his third", and then generate a new NOTE tag after the BIRT or DEAT tag.
  2. FTM Gedcom files specify the default image for a person (or family) with a Gedcom record such as "1 _PHOTO @M707@, essentially saying that image #707 is the default for this person. But TNG specifies the default image for a person or family by simply flagging the primary image's record within the person or family, with the Gedcom record "2 _PRIM Y" (where the 2 in this record indicates that it is subordinate to an object record such as "1 OBJE @M707@" within the person or family).
    Fortunately, the FTM Gedcom's _PHOTO tag always precedes all OBJE records (within a person or family record), so a converter program just has to look for the "1 OBJE @M707@", and add the subordinate record "2 _PRIM Y" below it.
  3. When FTM associates an image with a Citation, a converter must save that relationship, and store an OBJE record at level 1, at the end of the Person or Family record.
  1. In Gedcom Media Object (OBJE) records, FTM places a TEXT tag (for the object description) and a DATE tag (for the date represented by the object) subordinate to the FILE tag that represents the Media Object's filename. But
    1. Those value are subordinate to the Media Object, but not to the filename,
    2. The TEXT tag should be a NOTE tag, and
    3. Neither Gedcom nor TNG support the notion of a "media object date" (even though it is a viable concept). For Media Objects, Gedcom and TNG only understand the concept of "Date changed".

    Therefore, converters must

    1. Change the level number of the TEXT and DATE records,
    2. Change the TEXT record to a NOTE record , and
    3. Change the DATE record to a CHAN record with a subordinate DATE record. (Even though this structure represents a different concept, it's the closest that Gedcom and TNG can get to what FTM is trying to do.
  2. The values of Citation 'Date', 'Other Information', and 'Web Address' fields that are missing from FTM Gedcom's cannot be reconciled by a Gedcom converter. The person doing or FTM data entry must make sure that all relevant data is entered into the Detail and Transcription fields.

Gedcom Converter Utilities

The first four of the five problems listed above are addressed by at least two programs that convert FTM-generated Gedcom files into Gedcom files that are compatible with TNG.

Steve Conner's FTM-to-TNG Converter

A converter that focuses specifically on the first five problems described above, and that runs only on Windows PC's, can be found on Steve Conner's web site. On Steve's converter page, a hyperlink labeled "Click HERE for a detailed explanation" loads a very helpful User's Guide.

The Gedcom Converter Mod

The Gedcom Converter mod installs a "Gedcom Converter" tab on the TNG Admin >> Import/Export screen. The Gedcom converter program can (optionally) address the first five problems listed above, and can make several other Gedcom data conversions:

  • It addresses mixed-format placenames - for the USA only - with a "normalization" process that consolidates duplicated place names (that is, one place represented by different formation) and makes sure that all (USA) placenames are expressed in same general format with regard to
    • How "USA" is expressed,
    • Whether state names are abbreviated or expressed as full names.
    • When and how the word "County" is attached to county names and locales such as "Long Island" that substitute for county names.
    • How to deal with funky town names such as "Magistrate District #10" that are reported in censuses,
    • Whether the delimiter between parts of a placename is comma-space, or just comma.
  • It can replace "Unknown" values for Birth and/or Death dates
  • It can suppress specified secondary events
  • It can change the 1940 census date of "1 Apr 1940" to just "1940", and
  • It provides a way to record estimated years in dates by reserving "Abt 1 Jan yyyy" to mean "Est yyyy".

(Note that several of these conversions are motivated by FTM 'gotchas', but all of them can be applied to any Gedcom file

Legacy Family Tree

Exporting GEDCOMs

When exporting a GEDCOM from Legacy, if you do not use the UTF-8 character set, you will need to change the character set from ANSEL to ANSI (this default is rumored to be due to change in a future Legacy update). If you use the UTF-8 character set, you will need to select UTF-8 as the character set.

Best practice is to export file for Legacy rather than GEDCOM 5.5.1 or other setting. This will allow you to check the boxes for "Convert formatting codes to HTML style" and "Make space strings in note fields web friendly". Both of these boxes should be checked to avoid some formatting errors that come through in TNG.

Note that if you check the latter box for "making space strings web friendly" you may not be pleased with the appearance of notes or anything within html.

Better option is to avoid this and if ness manually enter
(without the quotes) in the few places it may be needed. (Jay at 1FamilyTree)

Uses Name Custom Events

Legacy Family Tree does not export an ALIA tag when you have multiple names associated with an individual. Rather it exports another NAME tag record which is imported as a NAME custom event in TNG.

Creating Nickname Exports

There's an interesting feature in Legacy 6.0 (and possibly other genealogy programs) which will export nicknames into TNG's nickname field (first line on the Person page if there is a nickname).

The interesting point is that there is no nickname field in Legacy! It takes anything which is quotation marks within the First Name field and gives it a NICK tag. Thus John "Jack" Harwin produces Jack in the nickname field.

see for nickname Jack

Note: make sure that the NICK tag is not switched off when exporting from Legacy.

Above information was provided by John Barker on the TNG Community Forum How to create nickname exports in Legacy

Dates in Legacy

In order for an event to be ordered sensibly in TNG it needs to be in a format shown on the Dates page. Legacy is happy with date ranges in the form 1 Jan 1800-2 Mar 1805 (this is the format it will create if you enter two dates); TNG will diplay it but order it as though 1 Jan 1805.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF)

Reuses Deleted IDs

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) reuses deleted IDs. If you merge two records, the merge from record gets deleted, so when you add a new person, the deleted record ID (personID in TNG) gets reused.

The resulting impact to TNG is that if you have media assigned to the person you are merging with another person, you will need to manually re-assign the media records to the correct person.

Change Date is Blank for Families

Since the change date is blank on Family records, if you do not set the Import Settings option for If 'Change Date' is blank: to Leave As Is, all your Family records will show in the What's New Listing.

Family Historian (FH)

These notes are applicable to FH v4 & v5 and TNG v8 to v11

Custom Attributes

Custom attributes created in Family Historian (FH) are assigned an _ATTR tag which does not get imported into TNG. To get these Attributes into TNG the gedcom should be edited to alter the tag to EVEN (see 'Batch Processing of Gedcom Edits' below).

Firstname Used

FH uses a variety of tags for names, one of which it labels 'Given Name Used' ; this is assigned a level 2 proprietary tag (2 _USED), subsidiary to NAME that is also not imported into TNG. To get such names into TNG the tag level needs to be altered to 1 (see 'Batch Processing of Gedcom Edits' below). A custom event (1 _USED) will need to be created in TNG to accommodate this. Labeling this with a leading asterisk (*), '*Given Name Used' for example, will ensure that it is placed immediately after 'Nickname', at the top of the list in 'Other search Criteria' in the 'Advanced Search' dialogue.

Pre-Processing of Gedcom (FH v4)

Prior to import to TNG the above tag anomalies need to be addressed by appropriate search and replace of text in the gedcom file. This can be carried out using a text editor such as Notepad or Notepad++. However, a simpler, automated process is available by downloading the following zip file:

Unzip the file into the folder where you store your gedcom; a subfolder (./Export Gedcom) will be created, containing the following:

  • BCONV_UserGuide.rtf: This describes the functionality and use of the BCONV utility.
  • Export Instructions.txt: Describes sequence for creating the edited FH gedcom file for importing to TNG.
  • CONV-EXP.bat: Batch file for running BCONV with command line parameters.
  • CHNG-EXP.alt: The change instructions for BCONV (for changing the two tags described above).
  • BCONV.EXE: The change application.

Pre-Processing of Gedcom (FH v5)

Version 5 of FH supports Plug-ins. There is a plug-in available that will carry out the necessary tag changes and save a new file in the desired character set (ISO-8859-1 or UTF-8) ready for import to TNG. This plug-in is available for download from Export GEDCOM to TNG. The plug-in:

  • Converts _ATTR _USED _EMAIL _WEB _PHON tags to TNG valid tags.
  • Removes FH user-defined _VAR _UID _ROOT _LIST tags & FILE tag.
  • Optionally converts characters not in TNG default ISO-8859-1 set.
  • Optionally converts characters to TNG alternative UTF-8 with BOM.
  • Optionally converts date tags from Upper case to Title case.

An initial Tag Replacement table can easily be edited by users to alter the Tag replacements if required.

Alternative Name(s)

FH allows the entry of multiple Alternative Names (Forename & Family Name); some applications call this 'Also Known As'. FH assigns these to a NAME tag which can be assigned a label of your choice in Admin / Custom Events. Labeling it with a leading asterisk (*), '*Alternative Name' or '*AKA', for example, will ensure that it is placed immediately after 'Nickname', at the top of the list in 'Other search Criteria' in the 'Advanced Search' dialogue.

--Hiraeth 14:30, 23 April 2012 (UTC)

The Master Genealogist (TMG)

Importing Latitude and Longitude

The following TNG Community Forum entry provides a modification to gedimport_misc.php provided by Roy Schenk based on original code change provided by Rich Shaw to import the latitude and longitude information from TMG.

Heredis (2017)

How to publish on your TNG future website if you use Heredis? Anyone who wants to publish a personal website from Heredis 2017. For this, an indispensable software Ancestris (A real toolbox software)!



  1. Export your Heredis file to Gedom format in UTF-8. Menu: "File" => "Export" => "Gedcom"
  2. Choose the backup directory and the Gedcom file name (ex: export_heredis.ged)
  3. Load Ancestris v 0.10 and open it. Select Menu: "File" => "Import" => "Gedcom File". Ancestris takes care of everything, it will bring to standard 5.5 (or 5.5.1) your file
  4. Save your new file.
  5. Now, if you want to change the order of the Tag PLAC. Select from the Ancestris menu «Properties». Change the order to come to the one that suits you.(I suggest: Subdivision, Area Code, TownCounty, Region, Country). Check "Convert" and set the desired new order.
  6. Save and it's over!
  7. All you have to do is import your file into the Gedcom directory of TNG at your favorite host.
  8. Now run TNG, and start the procedure of importing your own Gedcom.

Your site is now online, you have to complete it with your latest research !!! Now that you have published your first TNG site, you will definitely want to update it .... This will be the subject of a new add.

Important to avoid display inconvenience in TNG or other Gedcom compliant publishing software.

  • Check the compliance of your source input in Heredis.
  • Back up your media files to your hard drive. This makes it possible to keep the links to your media more easily and especially facilitate their import into TNG and their updating by FTP.
  • Take care of the naming of your files to the Anglo-Saxon (No accent or special characters francophone). TNG seems to have difficulty interpreting the wording of French files even with a Gedcom import in UTF8.

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