More TNG Tutorials

A few months back I highlighted a few of Jim Benedict’s TNG “how to” articles (specifically the ones relating to GEDCOM imports & exports). Now I’m going to mention a few more that spotlight the new features in TNG 11. Even if you’ve had version 11 for a while now, these posts may help you get to know these features a little better. Thanks Jim!

TNG v.11: TNG and DNA Tests
Managing DNA results, and linking your test results to the people in your trees.

TNG v.11: Admin menu now shows category totals
A better way to keep track of all your totals (people, families, media, etc.).

TNG v.11: Heat Maps
A thematic method of visualizing the global locations of your surnames and places.

TNG v.11: Fan Charts
A colorful new way to display your ancestral tree, with your family roots laid out in ever widening arches.

TNG v.11: Data validation
Using TNG to spot possible problems in your data.

Once again, you can see all of Jim’s posts at

A Few TNG Tutorials

If you’ve seen the TNG Facebook page , you may have also seen Jim Benedict posting a lot of helpful “how to” articles on various TNG-related topics. You can see them all on his site at, but I’d like to spotlight some of them here as well. Today I’m going to highlight all of the ones relating to “Trees” (as defined in TNG) and the importing and exporting of GEDCOM files:

How to import a GEDCOM
Getting all your family data into TNG, including an explanation of the Import screen options.

Exporting a GEDCOM to TNG
A few words on the process of preparing your data for import, along with some useful tools.

Adding and deleting Trees
A “Tree” in TNG is a container for your GEDCOM data. Here Jim talks about creating and editing these containers.

Trees and GEDCOM downloads
How to allow or prevent users from downloading GEDCOM files from the trees on your site.

How importing a GEDCOM is different from uploading
Examining the different parts of the import process.


Forgot your TNG login? Here’s what you can do:

If you’ve forgotten your TNG admin login, here are a few things you can try to regain access to your site:

1. Go to the TNG login page (either on the public side or the admin side) and use the form there to ask TNG to email you your username or (if you know that already) a new password (your password is encrypted in the database, so it can’t send you that). The message should arrive within a minute or two. If you don’t see it, that could mean that you never entered an email address, or your address has changed since you set up your account, or maybe that your host is not allowing TNG to send email. In any case, if the mail doesn’t arrive, you’ll need to try something else.

2. Log in to your site control panel (not part of TNG) and find a tool there called phpMyAdmin (ask your provider to point you to it if you don’t see it right away). Launch that tool, then find your database on the left side and click on it to select it. Once the tables appear, click on the tng_users table to display all of your user accounts. At this point you have two choices:

2a. Delete all of the records in the tng_users table. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to enter the TNG admin menu without a login (so do it quick and recreate your accounts).

2b. Alternately, you could edit your account record, take note of the username, then change the password_type field to “none” (no quotes). Next, edit the password field and change it to something you’ll remember, then log into TNG with that password. Now your password will *not* be encrypted in the database. If that doesn’t bother you, you can leave it as it is. If it does, then go in TNG to Admin/Users and create a new admin account for yourself and delete the old one.

3. If you can’t find phpMyAdmin or can’t figure out how to use it, you can ask me to do it for you. If you do that, know that I will need access to your site control panel, so you can save us a step by sending me that login to begin with.

Tips for a Successful Upgrade

TipsForUpgradeWith TNG 10 being released today (Feb. 12, 2014), I thought I’d take a minute to go over some of the things to watch out for while you’re upgrading your site. All of these apply no matter which version you’re installing.

  • Install the upgrade, not the full version. When you get to the v10 downloads page, the first link near the top will be for brand new TNG users. What you want is a little further down in the Updates section. Also take note that a new version of the full version readme.html file will be included with your upgrade, but the installation instructions for the upgrade will be in a different file. The name of that file will be listed next to the download link. For example, if you’re coming from version 9, the file will be called readme9x-1000.html or readme922-1000.html. If you accidentally open readme.html, it should warn you that you’re about to install the full version. If you see that, go back! Installing the full version on top of an existing install will cause you to lose your data and your customizations.

  • Make sure you choose the right upgrade. Before you begin, go to your TNG Admin menu and look at the top of the screen. It should say there what your current version is. Anything that starts with “9” (like 9.0.1 or 9.1.1) counts as “9.x”. You will see links for several different upgrades on the v10 downloads page. Be sure to get the one most appropriate for your currently installed version. If you have v8 but you install the upgrade for users with 9.x, you will likely notice errors when you’re done.

  • Don’t forget the backup. At the top of the instructions, you’re advised to back up your key files (mainly the configuration files, like config.php, pedconfig.php, etc., but also any others that you may have customized). If you do make a mistake at some point, having a backup can save you a lot of headaches. Once the upgrade is finished and everything is running smoothly, back up your tables again.

  • Remember to view the upgrade readme from your browser, not your home computer. One of the first steps is to upload the files to your site. After that, you need to load the instructions again from your site. In other words, if your site is and you’re upgrading from 9.0.1, open your web browser and go to from there. If you continue with the local copy you opened immediately after downloading, some of the later steps won’t work.

  • Don’t skip any steps. A lot of people think they just have to upload the files, but there’s a little more to it than that. The step most people still skip is the one relating to database structure changes (if you see a bunch of database query errors after installing the upgrade, this is probably what you did). There’s usually just a simple link you have to click. Doing that will open another page that runs through a list of database updates. Depending on the version you had previously, some of the items may say “Failed or done previously”. Don’t be alarmed if you see some of those.

  • Update your template. OK, this step can be a little confusing. Prior to TNG 8.1, templates were installed by uploading the template files directly into the main TNG folder, overwriting the existing files with the same names. Since 8.1, however, the template files have all been moved to a folder called “templates”. If you’ve been around since before 8.1 and want to keep your old template, there are a few extra hoops to jump through, and those are explained in the instructions.

    Also, if any of you have tinkered with your template files (not the Template Settings or the mytngstyle.css style sheets) and you want to keep those customizations, then you’ll probably want to merge your changes in with the latest files. Some of the new features won’t work unless you’re using the latest template files.

    For most people, however, this should be simple. Just upload the entire “templates” folder from the upgrade and that’s it.

  • Clear your browser cache. Once you’re done, go into your browser settings or preferences and clear the cache (or “temporary Internet files”). Until you do that, your browser might decide to hang on to some of the old pages, and that could present a conflict. Some features might not work. The instructions for clearing the cache vary from one browser to another, so do a Google search on this if you’re not sure how to do it.

If you still have issues and you think you may have botched the instructions, feel free to ask for help from me or the user list (tngusers2). If you think you might have found a program bug, please contact me directly (

Despite the possible pitfalls described here, the upgrade process should be fairly easy. If you’re still sure you won’t be able to do the upgrade yourself, there are other options though. Simply Hosting no longer does upgrades, but I can do it for an extra $15, and others could be hired as well. I might be swamped at first if too many people request this, so please be patient.

WordPress Hints

Thinking of integrating TNG into your WordPress installation? The advantage of that is that users who need to log into both environments only have to do it once. Anyway, if you need some hints on how to do it, you might try one of these resources:

Kloosterman-websiteHow I made my TNG-WP site
Cees Kloosterman discusses how he went about the integration. According to Cees, the great advantage of his method is that you are not restricted to the one sidebar theme layout. Any theme design (1, 2, no sidebars, menu anywhere) will work.

Using TNG and WordPress with the tng-wordpress-plugin
A very thorough approach by Roger Moffat, detailed on the TNG Wiki. In fact, scroll down a bit to see a full write-up on Roger’s site right here on this blog.

Anyone know of any others? Please post them in the comments here.

Tutorial: Basic Customization of Template 8

TNG comes with eleven templates included with the software. Template 8 is a popular one that is a good example of how easy it is to make the template your own. Here’s one example of how a TNG user has customized the template:

Template Adapted

This diagram shows the many things that can be customized in this template:

Template 8 Customization

We will go through each of these and how you can adjust them:

TemplateChoiceFirst, you log in as the administrator, and click into the Administration area. Choose “Settings” on the left side of the Admin Area, and then you’ll see the option of “Template Settings”, you’ll click on that. Then you will see a place where you can choose the template you want to work with from the drop down menu. We’re working with template 8 today. Once you’ve done that, you’ll see this screen, which I’ve numbered to match the example above so that you can see which item adjusts which area of the template. Scroll down for details on how to adjust each area:

Template 8 Settings 1

#1 Header Image – this needs to be one image. In the template, several different photos were combined into one file for the header. If you have a photo editing program, you can combine several images in a similar way, or you could just use one image. A wide image that is not very tall works best. For this template, the header image needs to be 778 X 73 pixels.

#2 Welcome Paragraph – This is a place where you can use whatever text you would like to welcome users to your site. It’s a good place to introduce yourself, briefly summarize your research, or invite users to register on the site. The photo that accompanies the welcome paragraph will be a random image selected from the public images on your site and will change every time you load the page. You can use HTML in this area to add links, additional images, or other features. The “Create Copy In” is where you can create other versions of your welcome page in other languages. You can have as many versions as you have languages enabled. If you don’t speak other languages, you can just skip this and your welcome paragraph will always display in the language you use for the first version.

#3 Latest News This is an area where you can update it with any information you would like. It is something you would go in and write, kind of like a miniature blog. We recommend removing old entries so it doesn’t get too long and unwieldy.

#4-6 Name of your site – this is a title where the default is three words strung together with the middle word in a different color. You can change the wording to read anything you would like. If you only want two words, leave one box empty.

#7 Subtitle of your site – this goes underneath the name of your site, and you can make it say anything you want. We recommend a short and memorable tag line.

Scroll down farther and you’ll see the rest of the template options:

Template 2 options 8

#8 (and 11) Mom’s Side Label – This is the text that will display in the left sidebar. It could say “Mom’s Side” or you can change it to say a specific surname, the first name of the wife in the couple running the site, whatever works for you and your situation. Again, there is a “Create Copy In” area where you can make copies of this custom text for any different languages you want to use.

#9 (and 12) Mom’s Side Person ID – this is the ID of the person you want this particular link to go to when the link is clicked. Clicking this link will take the person to a pedigree chart beginning with this person.

#10 (and 13) Mom’s side tree ID – Enter the tree ID here. (You can find the tree ID by looking in the Admin area under “Trees”.) Some people have their whole site in one tree, some have set up multiple trees. Make sure you use the right tree.

# 11-13 are the same as the last three, but with the other side of the family.

#14-15 Side Names – These are subtitles for the different sides. You can use them however you want, but the most common use is to list the two most common surnames in that side. You can just leave these blank if you don’t want subtitles.

Last but certainly not least, do not forget to press the SAVE button before leaving the page!

Featured User: Roger Moffat and WordPress Integration

Today’s featured user is Roger Moffat, who maintains a clean and user-friendly WordPress site with TNG integration using the free TNG WordPress Plug-in. Roger is a long-time TNG user who is always a friendly smiling face when he stops by our booth at the conferences where we are exhibiting our product. You can view Roger’s Site at His home page is a traditional blog, where he occasionally shares about his life, his own genealogy, and important things to know in the genealogy world.
If you click on the tab at the top that says “genealogy” you will find his TNG work:


Roger has made a few tweaks to the software as it is running on his site. For example, he has the social media sharing buttons visible by default, while the software as-is has the buttons accessible through the small “Share” button for those who want to use them. The TNG WordPress Plug-in uses a dark blue color by default, and Roger has edited the CSS style sheet to get a lighter blue color to match the theme he is using for the rest of his site.

DownloadsRoger also offers several “mods” he has written to add functionality to TNG, available for free download, with the option of donating to Roger for his time in creating them. You can find these under the “downloads” tab.

Being the helpful kind of guy he is, Roger has written an excellent tutorial on the TNG Wiki on how to use the WordPress Plug-In. It can be a tricky process, so make sure that you read through the entire tutorial first, and then carefully complete the steps in the correct order.

Thank you, Roger, for being such a helpful and friendly member of the TNG community!

The “Share” feature

Did you know you could share your TNG pages in Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or Google+, right from your site? The feature is turned off by default, so I’m sure that more than a few of you are unaware of it. To turn it on, go to Admin/Setup/General Settings/Site Design & Definition, then set “Show Share Link” to Yes. Now you should see a “Share” link near the top of every page in the public area. Click that link and a row of popular social media buttons will fly out, allowing you to share the current page on one or more of them. The “Share” link also changes to “Hide”, so click it again to conceal the buttons.


Backing up your work in TNG

Every now and then, someone tells me that they made a mistake during a GEDCOM import, or that they installed the full version instead of the upgrade, or that something else happened to cause them to lose their data. When that happens, the first thing I ask is always, “Did you have a backup?”

More often than not, however, there is no backup. In fact, I’m surprised at the number of people who have never backed up their data. Even if you never make any mistakes with your data, there’s always the chance that something out of your control could happen, and without a backup, you could lose months or years of work.

The easiest way to do a backup is to log into your TNG Admin area and go into the Utilities section. From there you can back up all the tables at once, or you can do them one at a time. Either way, you should see a date there indicating the last time you did a backup (if you don’t see a date, you’ve never done one!).


While you’re there, it’s also a good idea to back up the table structure (the second tab). If for some reason an upgrade adds a new field in the wrong order or fails to delete an obsolete field, or if a mod you installed is responsible for something like that, then the layout of your backup files might not match the default table structure. If this has happened to you, and if you ever move your site to a new host and try to restore your backups there, you could have a problem. Having a backup of the table structure could save you there.

Once you’ve backed up a table, a file with the extension “.bak” is created in the backups folder on your site. For a little extra insurance, use an FTP program or an online file manager to download those .bak files to your computer for safe keeping.

There are other ways to back up your data, and some might be better than the one I just described, depending on your situation. For example, if your database becomes extremely large (we’re talking more than 100,000 names), then TNG’s built-in backup utility might time out on you. You can read more on these other methods on the TNG Wiki.

Whichever methods you use, make it a point to do backups regularly. If you install an upgrade, do another backup immediately afterward, as a backup done before the upgrade may no longer work completely if the upgrade altered the table structure.

Restoring a backup

Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to restore a backup you made within TNG, just go back to the Admin/Utilities page. As with backups, you can restore all the tables, or any subset you require.

Upgrading TNG

In this video, Darrin walks you through the process of upgrading TNG from version 7 to version 9. If you have another version you are upgrading from, the steps might be slightly different. 7 to 9 is a little tricky, and upgrades from 8 or 9.0 should be easier. If you are a new user doing a fresh install, you’ll want to follow this video tutorial instead.

TNG upgrade from v7 to v9 from Darrin Lythgoe on Vimeo.