Novice with Family History web app idea, seeking some direction

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ajbradford
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Novice with Family History web app idea, seeking some direction

#1

Post by ajbradford »

Good morning all,

I'm looking for advice. I have a web app idea and I'm firmly committed to eventually developing it. But I have little experience and I'm honestly overwhelmed by the impending learning curve and breadth of technologies. I would love any feedback on what technologies I should invest time in learning.

The idea in short is an interactive genealogical map on a webpage. Imagine a map with many pins scattered throughout, each one representing the current location of each household in your extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents). On each pin is a small picture of the household. You click and hold a "<" button above the map and the map begins to scroll back in time, moving the pins back through life events, births, marriages, deaths, until there's only four pins left - one for each of your grandparents. Using a sliding bar, you then control your movement forward in time to track where your grandparents were born, moved to, married, had children, etc., allowing you to visualize the family's growth. You can click on a pin, which causes a summary of that individual's life events to appear beside the map. You can zoom in and out of the map to see more detail just like you would with Google Maps.

One way to imagine this concept is the Map available in Family Search. When you're looking at an individual in your family history, you can click Time Line and select Map and it will show you all life events for that person on a map. My idea is like that except with many people at once and one event at a time.

In the future, it would be nice to have a way for various users to login or provide a code to access their map, and to be able to input data within the web app, or even to sync with Family Search - but for now, I just want to put in my family history data alone using any means available. My grandparents are getting older and my family is growing more and more apart geographically and I'm feeling some heavenly pressure to urgently create this to help our family turn our hearts toward each other. But eventually I would like anyone to benefit from it.

I'm very comfortable with Google Sheets and have learned Java, C++ and C. I attempted to make this project with Google Sheets and Awesome Table but ran into limitations. Same with Google Sheets and Tableau. To make something that really works it looks like I'll need to learn a DBMS, frontend and backend stuff, Javascript, HTML, CSS. I'd love any confirmation from those with experience that I'm looking at this the right way and maybe some suggestions about how you would tackle this project efficiently as I manage an intense work/school schedule and don't have a ton of free time.

Thank you!
davesudweeks
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Re: Novice with Family History web app idea, seeking some direction

#2

Post by davesudweeks »

I wonder if anyone at the BYU Family History Technology Lab might have some suggestions...
https://familytech.byu.edu/index.html

You might also reach out to the FamilySearch Community:
https://community.familysearch.org/en
russellhltn
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Re: Novice with Family History web app idea, seeking some direction

#3

Post by russellhltn »

You might also check the FamilySearch Solutions Gallery to make sure someone else hasn't already done something similar. In particular, you may want to look at "Map My Cousins" and "RootsMapper".
Have you searched the Help Center? Try doing a Google search and adding "site:churchofjesuschrist.org/help" to the search criteria.

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sbradshaw
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Re: Novice with Family History web app idea, seeking some direction

#4

Post by sbradshaw »

As a starting place for web development, you'll want to learn how to create a simple HTML page. You can then add in a little bit of JavaScript to make it interactive, and some CSS to make it look nice. Databases and backend code aren't strictly necessary to get a minimum viable product for what you're describing, so I would recommend not worrying about those until you're comfortable with HTML, basic JavaScript, and basic CSS. A simple HTML file on your computer can be opened directly in a web browser without needing to set up a server. Names, dates, and places of your family members can be put into JavaScript objects for your JavaScript code to reference.

Here's a sample of how to use the Google Maps API to display a pin on a map:
https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/javascript/examples/marker-simple
Samuel Bradshaw • If you desire to serve God, you are called to the work.
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pete.arnett
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Re: Novice with Family History web app idea, seeking some direction

#5

Post by pete.arnett »

suggest you try https://www.familysearch.org/developers/

"App Access Considerations
FamilySearch has created a technical platform to facilitate the development of more innovative and collaborative software products that leverage genealogical data and technical services. While it is important for FamilySearch to support industry innovation, FamilySearch has limited resources and must carefully consider third-party offerings that may impact those resources."
ajbradford
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Re: Novice with Family History web app idea, seeking some direction

#6

Post by ajbradford »

Thank you all for the suggestions! I've never heard of the BYU Family History Technology Lab - I'm pretty impressed by what they've put together!
I may not be able to integrate this idea very easily with Family Search since, at least how I'm imagining it, it would require a lot of information about living people. But maybe one day I'll end up making use of the Family Search developer tools.
I'm going to start by learning some HTML, Javascript and CSS and see where that gets me. Thank you again for the help. Happy Conference weekend!
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