Tips for a successful v14 upgrade

With the impending release of TNG 14, 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.

  • 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 “13” (like 13.0.1 or 13.1.2) counts as “13.x”. You will see links for several different upgrades on the v14 downloads page. Be sure to get the one most appropriate for your currently installed version. If you install the wrong upgrade, you will likely notice errors when you’re done.
  • Install the upgrade, not the full version. When you get to the v14 downloads page, the first links near the top will be for brand new TNG users. What you want is a little further down in the Updates section. Look for the upgrade most appropriate for your currently installed version, then look next to the download link for the name of the file that will include the upgrade instructions. Note: A new version of the full version “readme.html” file will also be included with your upgrade, but you can ignore that since you’re upgrading. If you accidentally open that file, 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.
  • 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) and your database tables. 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 www.mysite.com and you’re upgrading from 13.0.1, open your web browser and go to http://www.mysite.com/readme13x-14x.html from there. If you continue with the local copy you opened immediately after downloading, some of the later steps won’t work.
  • Update your template. For most people, this should be simple. If you’ve never tinkered with the HTML or PHP in your template files, just upload the entire “templates” folder from the upgrade and that’s it. If you have made any customizations (not the Template Settings or the mytngstyle.css style sheets) and you want to keep those, then you’ll probably want to merge your changes into the latest files instead of just uploading those new files. Some of the new features may not work unless you’re using the latest template files.
  • Watch for the twist. Large upgrades usually include a step to update your database table structures, but a lot of people miss it and then wonder why things are broken. This time the database update step directs you to visit the TNG Admin menu on your site, where you’ll be given the next steps. If you skip those, you’ll be reminded again each time you visit the admin area. Don’t forget to click the final link to delete the upgrade files when you’re done (the upgrade page will still show until that happens).
  • 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.

TNG 14: Feature Preview

TNG 14 is almost here! This major upgrade includes more than 100 enhancements, fixes and new features. Here’s a quick summary of the most significant changes:

  • Import: The inner workings of the GEDCOM import have been improved to make the process much more robust. Unresponsiveness issues have been addressed, and “resume” operations should be seamless. Also, support has been added for some GEDCOM 7.0 features. Media included with a zipped GEDCOM file can now be extracted at the time of import.
  • Admin Home Redesign: The look and feel of the Admin home page has been modernized. Menu items are larger, and excess text has been removed. The redundant left-side menu has been removed, and rotating banner images display at the top. The number of mods installed is also now visible on the Admin home page.
  • Connections: The Relationship tab has been supplemented by an advanced relationship/connection search, powered by the Connections mod (by Michal Jarocinski). This will allow you to quickly find more connections between two individuals, including those that include one or more marriages/pairings along the way.
  • Style Upgrades: The size and font of most form fields has been increased to 14px. Rounded corners and extra padding have been added to most tables, and a drop shadow has been added on some tables. These and other elements combine for a softer, more modern look and feel for all pages, both public and admin.
  • Media: Several here too, including: 1) Image tags may now point to places, families, sources, repos and citations (in addition to people). The tree selection defaults to either the tree assigned to the image or the one used for already existing media links. 2) Image tags can also be just a label (any text or name), which can optionally point to any URL. 3) DOC and DOCX files can now be viewed inline instead of being automatically downloaded (based on Michel Kirsch’s “Office Viewer” mod).
  • Search: The submit button on the Advanced Search page is now fixed so you never have to scroll to find it. Most search fields have also been widened, and the “Other events” list starts off as collapsed, but the form remembers ones you have used before and sorts those at the top.
  • Descendant Tables: Jim Graham’s Table of Descendants mod has been incorporated. Visitors will see a “Tables” option on the Descendants tab. Click through to see a tabular list of all descendants for a particular individual. Choose any row to instantly list all individuals from that generation.
  • Charts: Zoom and drag functions have been added to several more charts. Also, birth and death years are now displayed on the fan chart.
  • Report Generator: The report builder interface has been redesigned to be more modern, easier to use, and more functional on mobile. The Custom SQL box has also been enlarged.
  • Backups: Backups can now be created as SQL files (the old method will still be supported). They can also be downloaded with a download icon. Backups may also include DROP and CREATE table directives. A restore operation may be made to drop all existing records or not.
  • Additional Genders: Other gender choices can now be entered on the Admin/People pages.
  • Alternate Birth Events: A list of acceptable “alternate birth event types” can now be maintained in the settings, and users may choose the alternate birth event for each individual from the Edit Person page.
  • Mod Manager: Many improvements, including 1) The source code has been restructured to improve the Mod Manager internal structure. New diagnostic error prefix is included on messages in Mod List. 2) Michel Kirsch’s “Analyze only install mods” mod has been incorporated. 3) A fixed-position header now applies to all screens and includes the table column header line.
  • PHP Compatibility: Pro-active changes will make sure TNG remains compatible with the latest versions of PHP and MySQL.

You will be able to get the upgrade at a discount by going back to your previous downloads page after the release is officially announced. If you’ve lost the URL or access info, send me a message at darrin@lythgoes.net and I’ll send it to you again. If you purchased TNG 13 or the v13 upgrade at any time in the six months prior to the upgrade release date, you’ll be eligible to get the upgrade for free. Information on that will be sent out in the next few days to those who are eligible.

TNG 13: Feature Preview

TNG 13 is just around the corner! This major upgrade includes more than 100 enhancements, fixes and new features. Here’s a quick summary of the most significant changes:

  • New Templates: Two new templates have been added, and more third-party templates are also available for purchase at Genealogy Web Templates. One of the two was contributed by Marsha at GWT.
  • Media Enhancements: Many improvements and small changes have been made to the way TNG handles photos and other media. These include a more advanced method of image tagging, being able to embed PDFs and text files in the public pages, and the ability to geocode individual headstones within a cemetery.
  • New and Improved Charts: A vertical descendants chart provides a different way to look at your data, and some of existing charts now allow dragging to easily manipulate the display.
  • Admin Usability Upgrades: TNG’s admin area now has improved sorting and save options. Event listings are more streamlined, and the old HTML frameset environment has been replaced with a more robust infrastructure that preserves the original functionality.
  • PHP Compatibility: Pro-active changes will make sure TNG remains compatible with the latest versions of PHP and MySQL.

You will be able to get the upgrade at a discount by going back to your previous downloads page after the release is officially announced. If you’ve lost the URL or access info, send me a message at darrin@lythgoes.net and I’ll send it to you again. If you purchased TNG 12 or the v12 upgrade at any time in the six months prior to the upgrade release date, you’ll be eligible to get the upgrade for free. Information on that will be sent out to those affected.

TNG wins users choice award for 2018, tenth year in a row

gensoftreviews2018For the tenth year in a row, TNG is a winner of the GenSoftReviews Users Choice Award! Thanks to all who contributed!

Awards are presented to all programs achieving a 4.00 or more star rating
based on 10 or more total user reviews, with at least one review in the qualifying year. TNG has 158 total reviews (10 in 2018), and has an average rating of 4.83 stars. That’s good enough for 5th best among 287 different programs that received at least one review!

More information on the awards can be found at GenSoftReviews (full rankings at http://www.gensoftreviews.com/rankings.php). All GenSoftReviews for TNG are posted at http://www.gensoftreviews.com/?p=825.

TNG wins award for top-rated genealogy software in 2016!

gensoftreviews2016For the eighth year in a row, TNG is a winner of the GenSoftReviews Users Choice Award! TNG is one of only six programs to do that. Thanks to all of you for all the wonderful reviews!

Awards are presented to all programs achieving a 4.00 or more star rating
based on 10 or more total user reviews with at least one review in the qualifying year. TNG had 136 total reviews in 2016 and received an average rating of 4.87 stars. That was ninth best among more than 250 different programs that received at least one review. Most of the programs ranked above TNG had fewer than 20 reviews.

More information on the awards can be found at GenSoftReviews (full rankings at http://www.gensoftreviews.com/rankings.php). A press release on the subject can be found at GeneaPress.

All GenSoftReviews for TNG are posted at http://www.gensoftreviews.com/?p=825.

Moving your TNG site to a new host

A lot of people have asked me lately how they’d go about moving their TNG site to a new site without losing any data. In a nutshell, my buddy from SERPNinja recommends you do the following:

1. Back up your TNG data, either with TNG (under Admin/Utilities) or with phpMyAdmin (on your site control panel or “cPanel”; recommended for larger sites). The TNG backup creates a series of .bak files in the “backups” folder on your site. If you use phpMyAdmin, you should end up with a large .sql file on your computer.

2. Download all the TNG files and folders from your old site. If you used TNG to do the backup, the backup files will be included here.

3. Upload all the same files to your new site.

4. Use the “Express” option on the readme.html page on your new site to install TNG again. You might need to create a new MySQL database, and the installation will ask you for the connection info. After creating the TNG tables, you can skip the rest of the installation.

5. Now restore your data on the new site. If you backed up with TNG, restore the data from Admin/Utilities. If from phpMyAdmin, go there on your new site and import the .sql file you created earlier.

That’s it. Now you should be up and running on the new site with all the same data, including user accounts.

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 three 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.

2c. A third option is to insert a brand new record in the tng_users table. Create a record with full admin rights (all “allow” fields set to “1” and the “gedcom” field left blank), also with the password_type field set to “none” (the word “none”, no quotes), then log in with that account. Once you’re in, reset the password on your old account and then delete this 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.

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.

Map of TNG Users

tngmapTwo TNG users from Germany, Olaf Teige and Martin Pannier, have started putting together a map of TNG users. As you can imagine, it’s heavily weighted toward people from their neighborhood at the moment. It would be great to see who else is out there. If you’d like to add yourself to the map, please send an email to tngmap@teige.de and include your location (city, state/province and country), along with your name and site URL. Let’s see how many pins we can get!

New “TNG Colouring Book”

a25ReklamThere’s a new TNG template-editing tool (just released today) that you might want to check out. It’s called the “TNG Colouring Book”, and the link is http://xerxx.se/tcb/.

It’s written by TNG user Erik Hoppe, and basically it allows you to more easily customize the color scheme of your TNG template. You select a template, then click on the area of the screen that you want to customize. A small legend area on the right shows you what area(s) you’ve selected (you can also select an area with the radio buttons under the legend).

Once you have an area selected, use the controls along the bottom to change the colors or just tinker with the RGB values. When you’ve got something, you can use the Test features to see how it looks on a real page, and when you’re happy with the result, click “Make CSS” and it will spit out the code for you to paste in your template’s mytngstyle.css file (specific instructions are included at the top of the code).

Very cool, if you ask me. It’s also free, although if you’re able to make good use of this tool, Erik would appreciate any donation you can throw his way.

Go take a look! Thanks Erik!