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#1 alansogd

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 03:18 PM

This is alansogd, developer behind the MyRootsMagic accounts and Publish Online system. There have been a lot of questions about the difference between the RM6 and RM7 sites, and the press release for RM7 was not very clear about the changes. I'd like to take a few minutes to explain the new system, and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

The new accounts have been redesigned from scratch. In RM6, you would have a separate account for each tree you uploaded. Now, the accounts are general "MyRootsMagic" online accounts, of which site management are a subsection. You can manage up to 10 sites under a single account, with a total account limit of 100MB. I'd like to see this limit increased, but we are monitoring the new system for a few months to determine the costs before any decisions will be made.

 

The new accounts can also store your RootsMagic product keys for products other than RM7, with download links to each product. This is only a convenience and isn't necessary, as right now only RM7 keys affect the functionality of your account (by unlocking Publish Online). MyRootsMagic accounts may expand in the future to provide other online services in the future, and are designed to be flexible enough to do so.

 

The sites in RM7 have changed significantly from RM6, though they appear similar. The old sites were designed to be usable with no server configuration -- all dynamic features were done by Javascript in the browser. This means the old sites could be run from a dropbox folder, or a CD, and be easily set up on any host. There were some limitations to this approach, though:

 

1) The sites could not be easily indexed by Google or other search engines, because it was the browser's role to stitch together the content.

2) The sites could not be password protected, because all content was always available to the browser.

3) The sites generated tens of thousands of files for individuals, families, media records, and name indices, so the browser could request just the individual files it needed to display the current page. This gave some sites very long upload times.

4) Any change to a site required a re-upload, since all data was generated by RootsMagic.

 

The RM6 sites are by no means bad. Though they could be a bit unwieldy, they were specifically designed to be as easy to set up as possible. The RM7 sites require a more complex server setup, and because of this are only available through RootsMagic's own hosting.

 

The new sites generate the page on the server before sending it to the browser. RootsMagic only needs to upload an RM database file and a media folder. This opens up a lot of potential not possible with RM6 sites. These sites can be indexed by Google, and can be password protected. Updates are much quicker, as RootsMagic only needs to upload a single file instead of thousands. In many cases, changes can be made from the site settings panel without requiring a re-upload at all.

 

The new sites are also capable of much more advanced search queries on the Name Index page, like "John Smith's children". This was not possible with RM6 sites, which were limited to last-name-only searches because of the way the data had to be structured.

 

Because these sites were remade in an entirely new language (from Javascript to PHP), my goal for RM7's release was to try to make sure every feature available in the old sites would still be available on the new ones. Now that I've gotten there (or pretty close, at least) I hope to continue to improve them and am happy to hear your suggestions or comments.



#2 TomH

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 04:08 PM

Does this mean that my .rmgc file is uploaded to the server?


Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#3 alansogd

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 04:14 PM

It is, but it is not in a directory that is accessible by the client. There is a PHP script that queries the .rmgc file directly when producing pages.



#4 anzenketh

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 04:21 PM

It would be wonderful if there was some sort of administrative section that we could access that would allow us to make changes. Then it would be wonderful if we could sync out databases online and offline. 

 

This would be useful in situation to where we can not plug in a USB Drive. However this is a small use case so I don't expect it to happen any time soon. 



#5 TomH

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 04:31 PM

What are the implications for privacy if my database is stored on your server, is queried by PHP, the results of which are indexed by search engines? How secure is it from being accessed by anyone other than me?

 

Does this imply that I need to have an intermediate database to which I transfer only non-private data and use that to maintain a website on MyRootsMagic.com? Is that even possible, let alone convenient?


Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#6 alansogd

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 05:15 PM

@Tom

Privatized information can't be accessed. It never leaves the server. The PHP results are filtered based on the privacy settings you have selected. Neither Google nor any user can access information that the privacy settings do not permit. In addition, no staff member other than myself has access to RMGC files or privatized sites, nor will they be given access without consent from the site owner when troubleshooting issues.

 

@anzenketh

I think this would be a great feature, but modifying the database and providing synchronization support adds an extra layer of complexity that we're still not sure is worth the trouble. I can't say one way or another whether we will decide to do this, but if we do, it won't be soon.



#7 Don Newcomb

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 06:16 PM

I am completely appalled by by the Publish Online feature. Users will have no idea that they are uploading their entire database, including all living people, to RootsMagic's servers. This is a huge violation of my standards for handling sensitive information about living people. Making people select names to a separate database to upload for publication in order to protect the privacy of living people both adds a completely unnecessary step and assumes that most users will know enough to take the step. I don't trust Ancestry with data about living people, what makes you thing I'd trust RootsMagic?

This is a very, very dangerous feature.

#8 alansogd

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 06:23 PM

I disagree. There is no more inherent danger here than saving a backup of your database in Dropbox or in your Gmail account. If you set your privacy settings, other people cannot access sensitive information, in the same way that you can expect strangers to be unable to access files in your Dropbox folder that are not marked as public.



#9 Stan Mitchell

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 06:47 PM

How will the PHP pages generated from our RM database get indexed by search engines? It would seem that page addresses would change after updates to the database.

 

Also, is it possible to have consistent URLs to specific persons in a pedigree chart or family group?



#10 alansogd

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 06:51 PM

Page addresses won't change after updates. The addresses are based off the ID numbers of the individuals and families, and those stay the same within your RootsMagic file.



#11 Don Newcomb

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 07:43 PM

OK but I don't upload my data to Dropbox or Gmail for exactly those reasons.

#12 alansogd

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 08:10 PM

If you are uncomfortable having your data saved in the cloud by any service, then you should just use the RM6 sites.



#13 TomH

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 09:26 PM

There is no more inherent danger here than saving a backup of your database in Dropbox or in your Gmail account.

Slightly reassuring. Dropbox has gained some notoriety for its lapses and breaches in security. Recently, 5 million Gmail accounts were hacked. People, including system administrators, are flawed humans. Mistakes are made; greed motivates...

 

The intermediate, privatized database seems to be the safest way to use Publish Online now but I don't see that it is very practical. To preserve record numbers from version to version requires an export to GEDCOM and an import to a new database each time because Preserve Record Numbers is disabled if the importing database is not empty. Then you would have to set up the account all over in the new database and maybe the relationship with the online database and the local database is now broken. Haven't tried it; don't know.


Tom user of RM7550 FTM2017 Ancestry.ca FamilySearch.org FindMyPast.com
SQLite_Tools_For_Roots_Magic_in_PR_Celti wiki, exploiting the database in special ways >>> RMtrix-tiny.png app, a bundle of RootsMagic utilities.


#14 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 10:06 PM

I really can't explain why, but the analogy between Dropbox and RootsMagic's Publish Online servers just doesn't feel apt to me. Notwithstanding the Dropbox breach, I think I trust Dropbox with data about living people a lot more than I trust RootsMagic's Publish Online servers with data about living people. I'm trying to understand why I have this "feeling", and to be both logical and intellectually honest about it. I'm not totally succeeding so far. Logically, alansogood's argument is pretty sound. I just don't buy it just yet.  :)

 

Maybe it's because Publish Online is serving out Web pages that it creates on the fly and that could be coming anywhere from within my .rmgc file without my knowledge or explicit consent. For the most part, I use Dropbox in such a way that it doesn't really serve out Web pages at all, even to me. It only serves out Web pages when I specifically tell it to share a particular file or set of files. And then it only serves them out if I forward a URL provided to me by Dropbox to some trusted colleague. I will make a copy of just which files I want to share, and send the URL only to those files to the colleague. Upon receiving word that the files have been downloaded by my colleague, I can then take the files down. And the files that I might be sharing with trusted colleagues in this fashion will be static files that I can see, not something dynamic that's being created on the fly. This just seems very different than the kinds of controls that RM7's Publish Online has.

 

I use RM's static HTML pages rather than the RM6 Publish Online. That's primarily because I like the way they look so much better than Publish Online and because they are way less clicky. But the static HTML pages also make it easy to see exactly what everybody else is going to see, and I can make sure that nothing private is out there. The reason I can see the pages so well is precisely because they are so static. Sadly, the static HTML pages have been deprecated. The suggestion to use RM6's Publish Online if you don't like RM7's Publish Online would seem to suffer from the same problem in the long run that (if I understand correctly) RM6's Publish Online facility has also been deprecated.

 

I'm going to have to think about this a whole lot more, and I will probably change my mind several times before it is all done. But in a way, the privacy issue isn't even the primary issue for me with RM7's Publish Online. I can't get past the fact yet that RM7's Publish Online pages have to go on Rootsmagic's servers and can't be stored on a local hard disk or a on CD to share with a cousin or on my own personal Web site.

 

Jerry

 



#15 mckate

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Posted 02 December 2014 - 11:20 PM

Thank you so much for making it easier for Google to index my tree! I also appreciate the improved search and the ability to put links in the menu to the left.



#16 Brian Lummis

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 04:19 AM

As a TMG user thinking of moving to RM, the Publish Online "feature" is quite a negative for me. I have been used to publishing my data to my own domain name where I am completely in charge of what is published and how it is used. I have always had a worry about placing my data on so called public sites where the owner of those sites can then harvest the information and sell it on. The only benefit that I would get is the free hosting, which I could possibly get elsewhere, although I prefer to pay a small amout for hosting to keep my data as secure as possible.



#17 Trebor22

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 06:12 AM

I too have concerns over privacy, I simply would not upload private details to the web about others without their permission and that's simply not practical with my family history database!

I have RM6 (and was thinking about upgrade to 7), my website is an important part or my research, I have made lots of contacts via it and added greatly to what I know about my family but of course private data must be protected!

I am interested to know if there is an option to use the old type sites, will this remain in future editions of RM?

Given there may be problems with transfering data in the form of gedcoms (topic of a recent post of mine) it raises the question of how easy it might be to transfer data from RM to an alternative programme to create a website without private data - all seems to be getting rather complicated for no obvious reason, perhaps an alternative / safer 'fix' could be found for  indexing by search engines?

If I read Jerry's comment correctly RM7 also has no HTML option, I use this method to share info with relatives on a CD and interested to know why this option has been dropped?

Bob



#18 Jerry Bryan

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 07:08 AM

HTML web pages and RM6-style Publish Online are deprecated. That's not the same thing as saying the features are no longer there. Both the HTML Web page option and the RM6-style publish options are still there.

 

"Deprecated" means they are no longer being enhanced and they are subject to being withdrawn at some point in the future. "Deprecated" also often means that features are no longer being supported with bug fixes. RM itself would have to speak further as to what they mean by "deprecated" in the case of these two features.

 

Jerry



#19 gerwally

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 07:54 AM

I for one am happy that Roots Magic has made it possible for Google to index their website.  If others don't want their site indexed, they just need to make it password protected.  If you privatize living people, then you should not have any concerns about uploading your database to Roots Magic's website.  I understand security breaches can happen but I am more concerned about someone stealing my credit card than accessing living people through the Roots Magic website.  I would like to see research notes added to sources when the database is uploaded to the Roots Magic website and more than 100 MB of storage space or the ability to purchase additional space. 

 

The ability for Google to index the Roots Magic website was one of the enhancements wished for by myself and others so the developers of Roots Magic are listening.  I am sure future updates and upgrades will address some of the enhancements wished for by others even though it may not seem so at this time.



#20 alansogd

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Posted 03 December 2014 - 07:58 AM

I have never said anything about the RM6 sites being deprecated. I don't think an official statement was ever made about them. I intend to keep updating them unless I am told to do otherwise, so that people who want to use their own hosting are able to.

 

The older HTML sites are deprecated, which means they will not be getting any new features or receiving bug fixes. There are no plans to remove this feature. Newer features (WebTags, for instance) were not added to the old HTML sites, but were added to the RM6 sites.

 

As for the RM7 sites, I'm surprised at the backlash. Sensitive information is available from the web all the time. People send emails, save pictures, and do their banking online with expectations of security. Sometimes bad things happen and servers get hacked, but so do home computers. That's the risk of being connected to the internet. We've tested and will continue to test the privacy and security features of the websites. I will continue to assert that the risk is minimal, but if you personally feel like the risk is too great, the RM6 sites and HTML sites are still available.