Tree Merging and Gedcom Importing

Posted January 21, 2007 by Geni | 29 Comments

Many users have requested the ability to merge trees and import a Gedcom file. It is our intention to offer both these features. However, our timeframe is 2-3 months. Why so long? Tree merging requires us to give you the tools necessary to resolve conflicts and eliminate redundancies in trees; also greater privacy controls will accompany large trees.

Gedcom imports will follow afterwards as a special case of tree merging, where we give you the ability to merge a Gedcom tree with your existing Geni tree.

In the meantime, what should family members do when they have started multiple trees? You can work separately, expecting to unite the trees down the road. Or you can decide to work on just one tree for now, joining the other tree with a different email address.

Please know that we are working as fast as we can to keep up with growing traffic, fix the issues you’ve identified with the site, and layer on new and exciting features.


  • Kenny

    I can see how privacy can be an issue. You might not care if your immediate family has your phone number and current address (you may even prefer it to be shared), but you may be less likely to share than info with your 5th cousin twice removed. :)
    One way that you could accomplish this is with privacy tags and address books. So, you can keep an address book (with email addresses) and have people labeled as being able to view private info or not, and then certain fields can either be defaulted to “private fields” or you could allow people to designate which fields they’d like to add a privacy tag to.
    Great job so far!

  • Michael

    Outstanding work! You certainly have your work cut out for you. This is a formidable task you have taken on.
    Please consider allowing the display of common names in the family tree.
    I have several people in my family who would scarcely be know by their legal name. Please give it consideration.
    Also, I have three adopted children. One adopted with my first wife. And two I have adopted with my present wife, they are both biologically hers. Please consider making provision for this as well.
    Thanks and good luck!

  • Noel Bush

    It would be very nice to have the choice to display the tree using maiden names, since this is a typical way to see family trees.

  • Tim Kelly

    Hey there,
    The ability to import and merge will be very helpful.
    Initially (phase 1)could one of features be that you can upload a gedcom file to start the family tree in Geni?
    Otherwise I’ll just wait till the import feature is implemented.

  • Tim Kelly

    Also, can we have the ability to export to gedcom format?

  • Andrew

    I want to second the request for displaying maiden names as the default method. I also got this request from a family member who I added to my tree.

  • RLH

    I’d like to second the ability to display “common” names (I’d also suggest that the chosen display name be used in Profile dialogs such as referring to “Firstname’s” spouse). There are several scenarios to consider: common names (Robert -> Bob), true nicknames (I had an Uncle who went by Pink), and those folks who just use the middle name instead of the first name. You already have a place to enter nicknames and middle names, the key is just having a simple way to select what to display.

  • Bastian

    I’d also like a lot to see a possibility to merge trees together. In the end, the idea of Geni is that “everyone’s related” – and how can you find out about unknown family relations if the program doesn’t identify same persons in different trees? However this should not happen automatically, but always require the original tree’s creator’s OK and choice (in case of contradictory informations), otherwise some jokers could just ‘spam’ the trees with virtual family members. But I can imagine what a big job it is to program such a merge function!
    In my opinion it would be great if under the name there could be a space for the life dates. It would make it much easier to navigate inside the tree since you’d always know in which generation you are. And it’s just cool to see at once in which time a person lived!
    One last thing, the Height in the personal infos should also be able to be switched to metric values. I have no idea how many feet I’m tall.
    (Finally: sorry for my English, i hope you can get what I’m trying to tell.)

  • David Gómez-Rosado

    I will second Tim’s request… If you put Gedcom import as Pri 1, many of us can recycle the work already done right away (I feel lazy about retyping 600 entries in my family tree)… In any case: I have been waiting for years for a service like yours. I do hope this becomes a very successful enterprise for you guys! (BTW… Don’t forget about Gedcom EXPORT… Once I switch to your service I expect this to be my number one source for genealogical info).

  • Dion Almaer

    A minor feature.
    By default the view shows ‘living’ as selected. This is great for the recent part of the tree, but it would be nice if the tree was smart enough to know that if you go back 5 generations it would be pretty amazing to still be living ;)

  • Kenny

    Yes. If you had some logic that said if birthdate is older than 120 years or if generation from last living generation is more than 3 generations then it defaults to “not living”

  • Don Seiler

    What about simply letting a user delete their account so they can just start over in another tree? This is the case I find myself in.

  • Reid Hochstedler

    Will the subject of intermarriage be addressed? Will it be possible to merge people already in a tree?

  • eylon

    A great feature would be if we could see the connection between every two people on the tree. In a big tree you can find some surprises you didn’t expect…

  • Obie Fernandez

    Just want to add my vote for making common names officially supported by the software. As a workaround, what I’ve done in my tree is to put the common name in quotes after the legal first name: [Firstname "Nickname"]
    Also, I think there are many cases such as with my parents and my two children, where an email address is shared, and it would be nice for Geni to recognize that it’s okay to use the same email for close relatives.

  • Brad

    Is there a way to delete your account? I’d like to merge trees with a relative who already has an account created. I don’t know how many people she’s added already, but I’ve got a lot. If she doesn’t have many people added, it would be nice if she could delete her account, and then I would be allowed to send her an e-mail to link her in to my tree. But I don’t see an option anywhere to delete one’s account.
    Also, reading the one post about an easy way to view generational data made me think that a time-line view of the tree would be neat. With birthdates entered, you could select a degree of relation and map out who was born when in a linear fashion. Just a thought.

  • ancey jean

    In my family, i have two branches by two brothers. About five generations later, on man”xx” of one branch married a woman”yy” , and had 3 children.
    In the other branch of my family, a woman”yy” married a man, and is the same as the first branch “xx”.
    Must i rewrite the husband, or wife in both branches, and rewrite the chidren also, and the rest of the family which is the same a this moment for both branches, or is the system able to link and merge automaticaly the both branches

  • Joe Friend

    You all are doing a great job. I love the service. Please don’t forget that robust and full featured export is critical. I know that to some this may be at odds with your potential business model, but it is a critical feature. Having the ability to do full export will allow me to trust that no matter what happens with your service I can get my data out if needed. Hopefully that will never be needed, but it is a huge safety valve that allows me to use your service without worries. FWIW, I’m happy to pay for that feature.

  • Antonio Oscar Oliveira

    I’m using this tool for two days and it´s amazing how it has been growing.
    In my family tree – the interconnection of relatives – is a must. I have two brothers married with two sisters, inter-cousin marriage…
    I humbly suggest the creation of “hidden” code number associated to each member, that we could use to call a different branch.
    Meanwhile, congratulations!

  • Matthew Uyesugi

    I’ve seen comments requesting the ability to export information to a Gedcom tree, but it would be nice to be able to print the information or export to a simple database/spreadsheet for ease of viewing.
    In fact, this would make offline editing and manipulating quite easy.

  • ancey jean

    There is a lot of people ask questions about the different problems and bugs, but a very few answers.
    I don’t understand why is so difficult to modify the fields in a database, and so difficult to delete a member of a family ??????

  • Jose R. Otero

    Congratulations on a great service! I agree with the importance of being able to merge trees. I also think it is critical to allow users to link relatives that can be linked from different parts of the tree (everyone’s related, right?). The tree I’m in is up to 1,530 people and new users are starting to duplicate people not realizing that they have been added by others, stragers to them, who are also related to their relatives. Maybe the system could flag potential duplicate new entries and ask the person entering that name whether that person is the same as another person with the same name who’s already on the tree. I hope that makes sense.
    Finally, I agree with the importance being able to fully export and save the information on the tree, as discussed already by other users in this blog. Thanks!

  • K Walsh

    I am wondering if there is a way to print these genealogys as report, pedigrees, ancestors, decendants, lists, etc? Im am new to this online genealogy. I am still trying to learn how to navigate this site. In one day, I already have over 160 names, and 10 generations. So if there is a way to print, please advise. Also is there a way to setup the List in alphabetical order? Thanks. K. in Illinois

  • wenzi

    I second the Gedcom export.

  • Yvonne S.

    Sorry, but I haven’t taken the time to read all the comments but it seems to me that if we will be allowed to upload Gedcoms the format on your program will have to be changed to make maiden names the default or there will be major problems since that is the format for Gedcoms. Even if uploading info is a while away I still would like to see the format changed ASAP–for us who have been entering data for 20 years or more your format is somewhat of a pain. Otherwise I think this is a great way to connect the dots.

  • CB Du Rietz

    Feels really good to work this app. But I agree on the GEDCOM issues: both importing and exporting would be great.
    Actually, I consider an export function being the most important, since that give you some kind of certainty, just like Joe Friend is saying. It would definitely not be at odds with your business, but rather add trust. I even guess it would probably be one of the things people would feel comfortable with paying for.

  • david sutherland

    (1) Yes — keep the system OPEN — allow GEDCOM EXPORTS TOO. If you give us freedom we will want to stay — paradoxical, eh?
    (2) I also second the need to control privacy issues — each person should be allow to control amounts of private data and distance (generationally up/down and across) it can travel.

  • Michael Wing-King

    Congratulations on a great site. I would really like to be able to print off our tree, as it has grown quite large, and I would like to preserve it for posterity on some sort of optical media.

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