Adding multimedia files (MM) to your family tree is a very nice feature, which makes your family history come alive.
From the more scholarly perspective, MM can be used as documentation. You can provide scans of sources, pictures of tombstones, or audio of interviews with informants, etc.
There are many formats of multimedia. Although webtrees can handle most of them, there are some general things to consider.
- Formats Pictures can be edited and saved in many formats. The most common formats are .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, etc. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, mostly regarding file size and accuracy. Generally, .jpg images are considered to be the most efficient in terms of storage space. This is because a .jpg file uses lossy compression to reduce the file size. For photos on a webpage, this is usually more than adequate. Diagrams and line drawings, however, are best rendered in .png format. The .png format is also lossless, and can use transparency.
- Image size All images store measurement information in two different ways: pixel dimensions and resolution. A pixel (‘picture element’) is the smallest building block of a digital image, and it corresponds to the dots on the screen. Thus, how big an image will appear on the screen, depends on your screen resolution. Most modern computer screens have 1024×768 pixels or more, but not all of this space is available for viewing pictures. If your pictures are mainly for viewing on screen, going much beyond this size is likely to be a waste, since you will either not be able to see the whole picture on the screen, or the picture will be resized down in your browser.
- Resolution The resolution of a picture is usually measured in “dpi” (dots/inch), but this is relevant only for printed pictures. When considering pictures shown on screen, the only correct way is to use total dots or pixels. When printed, the picture could have a resolution of 150-300 dpi or more, depending on the printer, whereas screen resolutions are rarely better than 50 pixels per inch. If your picture will never be printed, you can safely lower its resolution (and consequently its file size) without affecting picture quality. If, however, a low-resolution picture is printed with too great a magnification, its quality will suffer; it will have a grainy — pixelated — appearance. So if you consider printing your pictures, you should use a resolution of 150 dpi or more. Otherwise, 72 dpi is usually enough.
- Color depth For every pixel in an image, a color value is stored (.jpg images store averages of areas of pixels instead, which is how the file size can be reduced). The accuracy of this color information can vary from from pure black and white (two colors) to “true colors” (millions of color nuances). The more accurate the colors, the the bigger the size of the files.
- File size Taken together, the listed parameters determine the file size of the picture. If the same original picture was used to create each of the formats, the viewed image will appear to be the same size no matter which format is used. However, the image files will vary considerably in size. The larger the original image in terms of pixel size and color depth, the larger will be the resultant file’s size.
Why is it important to keep the file size small?
- Download time. If you have large files, the user — including yourself — will have to wait long for the page to download from the server. Not everybody is blessed with a cable connection, broadband or DSL.
- Your webspace is limited. The larger your files, and the more large files there are, the more web space you need on the server. The more space you need, the higher your costs.
- Bandwidth. The more data your server has to send to the user’s browser, the more you have to pay. You may have a hosting plan where this is not an issue for you. It is nonetheless a good thing to reduce the amount of unneccessary data that is sent back and forth across the Internet. If a 20Kb file is enough, why use a 1Mb one?
Uploading and managing media
There are several ways to upload media throughout your site, provided you have editing rights.
In the user area
The most common way in day-to-day usage is to use the “Add a new Multimedia object” link in the list of available extras at the bottom of all the editing windows for facts, events, sources, etc., or on the “Media” tab of the Individual page.
The procedure is mostly self-explanatory: In the popup window you can select a file from your computer to upload (for other possibilities, see #Remote media). If you wish, you can also upload a custom thumbnail image (if not, one will be generated automatically); a different file name, and a title for the image. You can also specify if this image should be used as the main image for the person with which it is associated.
These additional settings are optional. However, it is recommended that you at least set a title; otherwise, the file name will be used.
In the administration area
From the media management screen (Administration –> Media) you can select “Add a new media item”, and both upload an item and link it to an individual at the same time.
If you have several media items to upload, you can use the Upload media screen (Administration –> Upload media). This allows up to 5 items to be uploaded at one time. These will then each need to be linked to an individual, family, event or other record after the upload is complete.
If you have a large number of media items to upload, you should contact the site administrator to discuss the best ways.
Managing your media files
In the user area you can edit the details of single files. More systematic edits of several files are more conveniently done from the Media page in the Administration area.
After applying filtering (alternatively displaying all), you will get a list of the images and other media files on the site. Next to each image in the Media list you will find a number of editing options. Which options are shown, depends on the current status of the Media file in question.
- Edit Here you can change the title of the Media object or rename the file. If the Media object is not yet linked to a person, family, or source in the currently active database, you can also establish this link here. You can also change the file’s location within the directory structure where your media fies reside. When necessary, webtrees will automatically create the required subdirectories or any missing thumbnails.
- Edit raw GEDCOM record This option is only available when the administrator has enabled it. You should be very careful when you use this option.
- Delete file This option lets you erase all knowledge of the Media file from the current database. Other databases will not be affected. If the Media file is not mentioned in any other database, the file and its associated thumbnail will be deleted.
- Remove object This option lets you erase all knowledge of the Media file from the current database. Other databases will not be affected. The Media file and its associated thumbnail will not be deleted.
- Remove links This option lets you remove all links to the media object from the current database. The file will not be deleted, and the Media object by which this file is known to the current database will be retained. Other databases will not be affected.
- Set link This option lets you establish links between the media file and persons, families, or sources of the current database. When necessary, webtrees will also create the Media object by which the Media file is known to the database.
- Create thumbnail When you select this option, webtrees will create the missing thumbnail.
Associating existing media with people or sources
Each media item should be associated with one or more person, family, or source records in your database.
To establish such a link, you can enter or search for the ID of the person, family, or source at the same time as you create the media item. But you can also establish the link later through editing options on the Manage MultiMedia page, or by adding media items through the Add Media link available on the Individual, Family, or Source Details pages.
When this option is selected, the MultiMedia Objects will search not only the directory selected from the Filter list but all its subdirectories as well. When this option is not selected, only the selected directory is searched.
The titles of all media objects found are then examined to determine whether they contain the text entered in the Filter. The result of these two actions determines the multimedia objects to be listed.
The Media Viewer can show the name of the Media file being viewed. This option determines whether that file name is shown to users or not.
You may want to hide the file name for security reasons.
webtrees uses thumbnails for previews of images, and on a person’s Individual page or in charts. By default, thumbnails are generated automatically, but you can choose to generate your own thumbnails.
In every new Media subdirectory you create, webtrees will also create a thumbs subdirectory with an identical directory structure as the directory itself.
When you upload an image or another kind of media file, there are a number of options related to thumbnails.
- Automatic or manual? For the most common image formats (JPEG, PNG, GIF), webtrees can generate thumbnails automatically.
You may instead wish to generate your own thumbnail manually. For many formats, this will be the only option. For example, you can provide a still image from a video, or a photograph of the person who made an audio recording.
Thumbnails are stored in a parallel directory structure in the media directory, where they receive the same name as the main image.
- Highlighted image? You can choose which media file should be used as the main image of a person, displayed on the Individual page and in charts. If available, the thumbnail will be used.
You can use this setting to show or hide the slideshow controls of the Random Media block.
These controls allow the user to jump to another random object or to play through randomly selected media like a slideshow. The slideshow changes the contents of the block without preloading information from the server and without reloading the entire page.
You can restrict what the Random Media block is permitted to show according to the format and type of media item. When a given checkbox is checked, the Random Media block is allowed to display media items of that format or type.
Format or Type codes that exist in your database but are not in these checkbox lists are assumed to have the corresponding checkbox checked. For example, if your database contains Media objects of format pdf, the Random Media block is always permitted to display them. Similarly, if your database contains Media objects of type special, the Random Media block is always permitted to display them.
This option lets you determine the type of media to show.
When you select Persons, only media associated with persons will be shown. Usually, this would be a person’s photograph. When you select Events, only media associated with facts or events will be shown. This might be an image of a certificate. When you select ALL, this block will show all types of media.
Media that are added to your site are stored in a directory or directory tree on your server. Media files are stored behind the “Media Firewall“, in a server directory that is not accessible from the Internet.
You can choose to use a single directory for all media files, or specify a directory structure with subdirectories.
Leave the file name field blank to keep the original name of the file you have uploaded from your local computer.
The media file you are uploading can be, and probably should be, named differently on the server than it is on your local computer. This is so because often the local file name has meaning to you but is much less meaningful to others visiting this site. Consider also the possibility that you and someone else both try to upload different files called “granny.jpg”.
The path to a readable and writable directory where webtrees should store media files (include the trailing “/”). webtrees does not require this directory’s name to be “media”. You can choose any name you like.
Even though the Media Firewall feature lets you store media files in an area of the server’s file space that is not accessible from the Internet, the directory named here must still exist and must be readable from the Internet and writable by webtrees. For more information, please refer to the Media Firewall configuration options in the Multimedia section of the GEDCOM configuration page.
Multimedia files don’t have to be stored on the server. Instead of using the file selector in the Media file to upload field, you can enter a valid URL to a file at a remote location, e.g. http://niceandfreepics.org/old-man.jpg. Note that unless you also specify a thumbnail, the same disadvantages that were discussed under Thumbnails above will apply: the full image from the remote server will be requested in charts and wherever the image is displayed, resulting in slow page loading.
Another disadvantage is that if the file is removed from the remote server, it will obviously also disappear from your site.
NB:’ You should make sure that you have the rights to use the picture!
In the Multimedia tab of the GEDCOM settings, you can choose whether or not to preserve remote links. When a multimedia link is found starting with for example http://, ftp://, mms:// the link will not be altered when set to Yes. For example, http://www.myfamily.com/photo/dad.jpg will stay http://www.myfamily.com/photo/dad.jpg. When set to No, the link will be handled as a standard reference and the media depth will be used. For example: http://www.myfamily.com/photo/dad.jpg will be changed to ./media/dad.jpg.
This does not affect how the image itself is displayed, only the address to which the image links. Thus, when the page is shown, the file http://www.myfamily.com/photo/dad.jpg will be fetched from the remote location, but clicking on the link will take you to ./media/dad.jpg. This is probably a useful option only if http://www.myfamily.com is the address to your webtrees installation your own server and the photo directory is linked to the media directory; otherwise, the link will be dead.
If the Media Firewall is enabled, should copies of watermarked full size images be stored on the server in addition to the same images without watermarks?
When set to Yes, full-sized watermarked images will be produced more quickly at the expense of higher server disk space requirements.
Exporting and downloading media
The Media Viewer can show a link which, when clicked, will download the Media file to the local PC.
You may want to hide the download link for security reasons.
This option determines whether folder names in the FILE specification of media objects should be separated by forward slashes or by backslashes. Your choice depends on the requirements of the receiving operating system.
The choice Forward slashes : / is appropriate for most operating systems other than Microsoft Windows. The choice Backslashes : \ should be used when the destination program is running on a Microsoft Windows system.
Media paths that are actually URLs will not be changed.
If you have created media objects in webtrees, and have edited your gedcom off-line using a program that deletes media objects, then check this box to merge the current media objects with the new GEDCOM.
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