Second Site News #039

5 May 2009

In this issue:

Second Site Version 3 Released

This is a major new release with many new features and a variety of other enhancements.

  • Enhancements to the Main Page make it easy to add Pictures, Calendars, Maps, links to specific people, and other content to the Main Page.
  • There are new DNA features which make Second Site a great choice for presenting DNA evidence.
  • There's a new Slideshow feature for showing a sequence of images.
  • Terry Reigel has written an article that describes the new People Section properties. See Controlling Who Is Included.
    The People Section has been re-implemented to make it easier to manage who is included in the site and what details are shown for living people.

    One of the features in the new People Section is the ability to show more details for excluded deceased people than for excluded living people. You can also control whether or not the primary image appears for living people who are included on the site.

    When Second Site 3 reads an SDF file written by Second Site 2, it converts the old settings to the new settings.

    Due to some inconsistencies in how Second Site 2 interpreted its filters (Show Excluded Parents, etc.), and some new options in Second Site 3, you should review the People Section properties to make sure they are set properly for you.

  • Second Site now includes an HTML Editor so you can key content in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get window.
  • Terry Reigel has written an article that describes the publishing process and how to use the new Publish command. See Publishing Your Site.
    For Family History Hosting customers, Second Site now includes a Publish command to upload your site in one step.
  • Multiple charts can now be placed on a single page, and charts can be mixed with other content. See the Content Items and Page Items article on this page for more details.
  • A new Search by Name facility is available for entering TMG IDs by selecting a person's name from a list; click the icon next to the properties that accept TMG IDs to open the "Search by Name" window.
  • The new Family Section Note feature is similar to the NarrativeChildren event in TMG's Journal report.
  • You can use a special shortcut to make the Custom Pages for a site and skip making the person pages, etc. User who create sites with many Custom Pages will appreciate the ability to quickly make a site with only those pages so they can review the recent changes. See the Make Site command for details.

Second Site 3 will read an SDF file created by Second Site 2, so it is very easy to upgrade.

Some new features are described briefly in this newsletter. For a complete list of changes and enhancements, see the Change Log.

Upgrading to Second Site 3

Upgrading is easy! Install the new version and then open your Second Site 2 SDF file with Second Site 3.

Recent Purchases

Customers who purchased the full version of Second Site 2 on or after February 1, 2009 may upgrade for free before 1 June 2009. Contact me for details. Do not purchase the upgrade or the full program: if you purchase either you will be charged a handling fee equal to the upgrade fee.

Customers who recently purchased the upgrade to Second Site 2 are not eligible for a discount; they should purchase the Second Site 3 Upgrade.

If you purchased prior to February 1, even by only a day or two, you do not qualify for the free upgrade. I know it can be frustrating to miss a cutoff date by a small margin, but there are always customers who are just outside the cutoff date no matter when that date is. Second Site is updated fairly frequently, and most of the updates are free. I am confident that the longer you have Second Site, the more you will think it's a good value.

Main Page Enhancements

One of the subtle changes in this release is the conversion of the Main Page from a Link User Item to a Custom Page User Item. With the merge of Custom Pages and SubPages, this change allows users to add Content Items to the main page of the site. Adding Pictures, Calendars, Maps, lists of other pages, etc., is now much easier than before.

In previous versions, the content for the main page was specified using either the Site.Main Page Content property or the Layouts.Main Page.Extra Content property. Those properties share the same value so changing either property changed the main page content.

The weak spot in the Second Site 2 method was that Content Items such as Pictures, Calendars, Maps, etc., could not be added to the Main Page. Users were free to add content, but only via hand-coded HTML or HTML pasted from other sources.

By converting the Main Page to a Custom Page, users can still add content via hand-coded HTML, but they can also add content via Content Items. For example, to add a picture to the Main Page, click the Main Page item in the list of User Items to select it. Then choose Add > Content Item > Picture. Set the picture properties in the Edit Picture window and you're done.

By converting the Main Page to a Custom Page, there are now three ways to edit the main page text. That's an odd side-effect of the conversion; like Second Site 2 before it, I didn't want to remove the old ways of adding text to the main page because they're frequently used and some users might prefer the old methods.

Terry Reigel has written an article that describes using Content Items to construct your main page. See Second Site - Adding Page Content.

DNA-Related Features

DNA Project managers will be excited to learn that Second Site 3 includes two new features for presenting DNA evidence on your site:

The DNA Overlay Chart is a ground-breaking feature that presents DNA evidence in a descendant chart format where lines of descent are arranged in rows and columns. The goal is to review DNA evidence within a tree structure supported by traditional genealogical evidence. In addition to the typical name and lifespan information, the chart includes a "DNA summary" box that displays DNA-derived or user-specified content and the chart also supports a popup "detail panel" to show DNA signatures and other information.

You can see an example of a DNA Overlay Chart on the Second Site demonstration site.

The DNA Grid User Item displays Y-DNA test results from TMG's DNA Log in a "marker grid" format. Second Site 3 includes grouping features, automatic detection of marker values that vary across tests and across groups of tests, test lab format conversions, and many more capabilities.

You can see example output of the DNA Grid User Item on the Second Site demonstration site.

The DNA features in Second Site 3 were inspired by requests from professional genealogists, and the designs were reviewed by an advisory panel of DNA project managers.


Second Site 3 includes a new Slideshow User Item that shows a series of pictures in sequence, and may include controls to pause and resume the show, or jump to a specific image.

See the help page to see a demonstration of the animation effects and other features in the Slideshow User Item.

HTML Editor

The new HTML Editor is a dedicated window for editing HTML in a WYSIWYG environment. You can use the HTML Editor with any text property that allows blocks of HTML content: press [F7] with the text cursor in the field you want to edit.

For text fields that can contain HTML, the HTML Editor replaces the Text Editor. Users who want to edit HTML directly can hold down the shift key and click [F7] to open the Text Editor rather than the HTML Editor. You can also set a user preference to always use the Text Editor; see the File > Preferences > Set Default Editor command.

The HTML Editor does not mimic the exact style of text on your site. For technical reasons, it uses generic CSS styles rather than the styles associated with your site's Theme. The editor does show the general structure of the content, including headings, paragraphs, bold and italic text, lists, tables, etc.

For more information, see the HTML Editor help page.

SubPages Merged with Custom Pages

In Second Site 2, there was significant overlap between the Custom Page User Item and the SubPage User Item. Both could be used to add custom content to the site. The SubPage User Item had the unique ability to allow other User Items to be nested beneath it, and thus it could be used to create lists of other pages or to create complex pages from Content Items.

Given that a SubPage could do everything a Custom Page could do, it didn't make sense to keep both User Item types and so in Second Site 3 the Custom Page User Item and SubPage User Item have been merged under the name Custom Page User Item.

When Second Site 3 reads an SDF file from Second Site 2, it converts SubPage User Items to the new Custom Page User Item type.

Content Items and Page Items

In Second Site 2, certain User Item types could only be used on SubPages, including Calendars, Headings, Maps, and Pictures. Those User Item types were called SubPage Items to remind users where they were valid.

In Second Site 3, the SubPage User Item has been merged with the Custom Page User Item, and SubPage Items are now called Content Items. The concept is the same: some User Item types must be placed on a Custom Page because they create a portion of a page rather than a whole page. This is not a limitation: multiple Content Items can be placed on a page, and that allows users to build content-rich pages.

You can read more about using Content Items in Second Site News #038 and on the help page for the Custom Page User Item.

Second Site 3 also uses a new term to describe User Item types that create a whole page: Page Items. Examples of Page Items include Custom Pages and Custom Indexes.

When a Page Item is placed at the top-level of the User Items list, the Page Item creates a page and adds a menu entry that links to that page. When a Page Item is placed on a Custom Page, the Page Item creates a page and adds a link to that page on the Custom Page.

Charts can now be Page Items or Content Items.

To allow charts to be placed on the same page as other content, some chart types now have an Item Class property with options Content Item and Page Item.

If you set Item Class to Page Item, which is the default, the chart will be on its own page and that will produce the same output as Second Site 2.

If you set Item Class to Content Item, the chart must be placed on a Custom Page, and the chart will appear on that page. This means you can now combine a chart with other content on the same page, including other charts, pictures, headings, or any other Content Item. One obvious use is to combine a DNA Overlay Chart and one or more DNA Grid User Items so you can show a DNA chart and the associated test results on the same page.

This new feature is intended for use with small charts. Putting large charts with many, many boxes on a Custom Page is possible, but not a good idea. The width of the chart will expand the width of the page, and that will interfere with viewing the other content on the page.

If you put a wide chart on a Custom Page, you should change the Page Set property for the Custom Chart to Chart Pages.

Family Section Note

Second Site's new Family Section Note capability is similar to the NarrativeChildren event used by TMG's Journal report. You can use a custom event to describe special circumstances related to a couple and their family or to describe the state of your research into the family. The note appears at the start of the Family Section the couple.

You can use the Family Section Note facility to describe these common situations:

  • No known children ... when you believe further research is needed to verify that a couple had no children
  • Some children are not shown ... when you deliberately hide or omit certain children
  • Insufficient research on the couple's children... when you are not confident that your research has uncovered all the couple's children
  • etc.

Due to the differences between TMG's Journal Report and the various Formats provided by TMG, you may not want to use TMG's NarrativeChildren event in Second Site. For that reason, Second Site allows you to choose either its designated event ("FamilySectionNote") or TMG's designated event ("NarrativeChildren").

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will Second Site 3 read an SDF file written by Second Site 2?
A: Yes. Properties and settings that have been changed in Second Site 3 are converted automatically.

The opposite is not true: do not use Second Site 2 to open an SDF file written by Second Site 3.

Q: Will my custom Theme, Format, etc., still work in Second Site 3?
A: Custom Themes should work without any modifications.

Custom Formats will work, but please be aware that the Format.FamilySectionNote feature will not work properly unless you update your Custom Format.

Whenever Formats change in a new release of Second Site, it's a good idea to recreate your Custom Format by copying the original Second Site Format and re-applying the changes you made to customize it.

Q: I just bought Second Site 2. Do I have to pay for the upgrade?
A: See the Recent Purchases section above.

Special Note for GeoCities Users

GeoCities users should be aware that Yahoo! has decided to close GeoCities later this year. If you are considering where to move your site, please consider Family History Hosting (FHH). As a Second Site user, you'll enjoy some special features that make it easy to upload sites created by Second Site 3.

See or for details about the Yahoo! decision.

In Appreciation

Thanks, as always, to the Second Site beta testers who devoted their time and effort to testing this release. There were more than 10 interim releases and the beta testers had to install them, learn the new features and test them, and test the old features to make sure they weren't broken as part of development.

Special thanks to

  • Terry Reigel, who wrote multiple articles on using Second Site 3 for his Terry's TMG Tips web site,
  • Lorna Henderson, who bore the brunt of testing the DNA related features,
  • Alvy Ray Smith and Robert Charles Anderson, who provided the inspiration for the DNA Overlay Chart,
  • ... and the members of the Second Site DNA advisory group, a mailing list of Second Site users with a special interest in DNA projects who provided feedback on the DNA features in Second Site 3.


Second Site 3 is dedicated to my sister Ann-Marie. I have been targeting a May release since I began working on this version, and her birthday is in May. That gave me a reason to think about her—and all she has done for me—every time I sat down to work on Second Site 3. Thanks, sis!


Second Site is available via download only. See the Downloads page.


For purchasing information, see the Purchases page.

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