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Migrate your genealogy to Ancestris

Migrating to Ancestris simply consists in opening with Ancestris a Gedcom file created by another software.

The expressions « Migrate to Ancestris » and « Import a genealogy file to Ancestris » exactly mean the same thing. The slight difference : a migration assumes that this import is done only once for a user. Importing is an operation that a user would repeat several times.

A migration implies two difficulties:

  1. Let go the software you are currently using and learn another one
  2. Recover all your data during the transition process.

The first difficulty is not such a big issue, it's just a matter of getting used to Ancestris and its interface : 'What is the name of that action?', 'Where is that thing again ?', 'How do we do that?', and so on. It is pretty similar to chaging cars or moving house: a small period of adjustment is needed, and that is it!

However, the second difficulty may be much harder to manage.

Ancestris is here to make it easy for you.


General information for importing

Ancestris is able to read any file in Gedcom format (international standard for information exchange between genealogy software).

So transfering your data could be very easy if your existing software did its job perfectly.

However, many programs do not scrupulously comply with this Gedcom standard: they make specific choices in the way they organise their data, which makes it later difficult to convert it to the Gedcom format. This can result in data loss during  exchanges between genealogists.

That is why Ancestris chose to be 100 % Gedcom !

Two situations are possible:
  • In general, your existing software is able to export most of your data in Gedcom format and mainly in their expected data places, and other information located in proprietary places which are not accounted for in the Gedcom standard. Ancestris will read all the data without any problem and you will then have to check if everything is there and in expected places.
  • In the worse case scenario, your existing software will not be able to export some important data or even worse will not respect enough the Gedcom format which will generate reading errors later, preventing the file to be loaded. This is quite rare, but in this case, Ancestris will not be able to read the file, and you will have to fix the gedcom file manually. Then, you would potentially have to re-enter some of your data in Ancestris.

Most of the software we know fall into the first situation. And because we know how these software classify their information, we have built import mechanisms which put the data back to where the Gedcom standard expects it. Ancestris will recover all data read. You can later see 100% of this data. Nothing is hidden.

As a result, the migration to Ancestris is made of three steps.
  1. The export step. From your current software, export ALL your data in Gedcom format. This means the software has to convert the original data to the Gedcom standard, creating a file with the extension .ged. Any good genealogy software should be able to do this
  2. The import step. Just open the resulting Gedcom file with Ancestris. Ancestris will automatically detect what software created the file and apply some necessary corrections
  3. The check step. We can't correct everything, but will most certainly eliminate most of the issues. You will have to check if some anomalies remain, where the data has been placed and potentially make some fixes manually. If some data is missing from the original file, you will have to make sure you have not omitted some export settings. Otherwise, you will have no choice but to re-enter any missing information.


Import process

During the guided tour, you have seen the Bourbon genealogy. Let's close it and import your genealogy now.

To close bourbon.ged, click on the red cross on the toolbar.

We assume here than you have performed the first step, that is to export a Gedcom file frm your exiisting software.

Then, from the Welcome page, click on 'Migrate your genealogy to Ancestris' or, from the menu bar, click  'Open a genealogy'.

Ancestris then asks you for the name of the Gedcom file to import. Choose it and click Open.

A first message tells you that Ancestris has detected a Gedcom file from another software. In the message below, Ancestris didn't recognise the software, because I don't know yours, but Ancestris knows how to recognise the following software, listed in alphabetical order.

  • Ancestrologie
  • Family Tree Maker (FTM)
  • Genbox
  • Geneanet
  • Généatique
  • Gramps
  • Hérédis
  • Legacy Family Tree
  • Mac Family Tree
  • MyHeritage
  • RootsTrust
  • Other ("unknown, minimal conversion")

Ancestris will then explain you what is going to happen. Click Convert in order to fix known issues.



Now, the exported file is processed following the steps below. Ancestris tells you that your file has been transformed and renamed to preserve the original copy. The transformed file will then be opened in Ancestris.


It's done. Ancestris gives you another message with the result of the conversion. It also allows you to see the changes made. Click 'Yes' to see them, click 'No' to close this message box.

If you want to see the list of these modifications afterwards, you just have to open the Output window, via menu Windows/Output.

At the bottom of the page we listed a few anomalies found with the migration from certain software that we have not automatically corrected. Check your software's paragraph for more details if it exists.


How to control the migration

Once Ancestris opens the converted file, we will now perform some checks, including those reported at the bottom of the previous message, namely:

  1. Has all my original data been transferred to the new file?
  2. Were the multimedia files stored correctly?
  3. Are there any data or format anomalies detected by Ancestris that I need to correct?

Verification of the imported data

There are two ways of losing data during the import:

  1. Either the data wasn't transferred to the Gedcom file produced by your existing software,
  2. Or the data has been transferred, but it is not in the expected location in the Ancestris file.

Only you can perform these two checks visually.

The first control is to open your exported Gedcom file before conversion by Ancestris, with a text editor. Explore some entities and see if everything is there by visually checking with your original software.

The second control is to look at your new Ancestris file using the Gedcom editor. Take a look at entities likely to have very well known information, and see how it is organised and displayed. Since the same types of information were placed in the same places, this will give you an idea of the conversions made. Use the Output window to do this as well (menu Windows/Output).

Checking multimedia files

File names of the multimedia files used by your genealogy are referenced in 'FILE' lines of the Gedcom file.

If media files are not visible anymore but stil presetn on your disk, Ancestris will be able to link them back. To do this, go to  File/Properties menu to launch the wizard.

Please refer to the corresponding Media section of this tool for more help.

Checking for anomalies

Even after converting, it can happen that data still doesn't respect the Gedcom standard. It can be the case when data is invalid, wrongly placed or missing.

Since Ancestris does not delete anything from the original file, but does not complete missing data either, compliance with the Gedcom standard may remain imperfect.

More, the genealogical data itself may contain inconsistencies.

This check can be performed from the Menu / Tools / Validate Gedcom compliance and data consistency.

Each anomaly is listed and can be corrected. It is best to do it with the Gedcom editor, because it is the most transparent on the information contained in the Gedcom file.

See the use of this tool in the corresponding section.

Modifying or adding information

Once imported and the checks carried out, your genealogy is ready to be enriched. You can add other individuals or modify or add information.

To do this, choose an individual without parents from your family tree by clicking on it, and see how to create parents and siblings for him by referring to the previous page Create your genealogy.


Issues identified by other users after importing

Many software do not respect exactly the Gedcom standard. It is highly likely that you will notice some problems with the migration of your file.

For all software recognised by Ancestris, we already performed most appropriate conversions, and you should not encounter any difficulties, unless there have been changes since our work.

For others unknown issues, we welcome your opinion. We will write them down below for the benefit of other users, while waiting to be able to make the corresponding conversion developments if possible.

We can only fix problems reported by users. Participate enhancing Ancestris reporting issues to us on the discussion list.


Migrating from

The files generated by the site don't have information relative to the submitter/researcher. Such indication is mandatory to comply with the standard.

Ancestris's solution: create the information from the menu File/Properties and update the author.


Migrating from LifeLines

With the default settings, LifeLines doesn't export information relative to the submitter/researcher. Such indication is mandatory to comply with the standard.

Ancestris's solution: create the information from the menu File/Properties and update the author.


Migrating from Family Tree Builder

Family Tree Builder (FTB) generates several proprietary tags that clogg the file, rendering it less clear.

Ancestris's solution: remove the useless tags from the Menu / Edit / Delete.