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The Publish Section contains properties that apply to sites that are published on the web. Several of the properties apply to most published sites. The remaining properties apply to Family History Hosting customers only.

All Sites

Canonical Base URL

If you publish a site online, and the site is not private, you should enter the base URL for the site in the Canonical Base URL property. The Canonical Base URL will not directly affect the operation of the site, but will affect how some search engines index the pages of the site.

GedSite appends the subfolder and filename of each page to the Canonical Base URL to form the preferred URL for the page, and inserts the preferred URL into the HTML for the page as a "canonical" URL. That URL is not visible on the page, but search engines retrieve the canonical URL when they add the page to their indexes. When the page appears in search results, Google and other search engines will use the canonical URL.

Example 1: Your site is published to "example.com"
Set Canonical Base URL to: https://www.example.com
A page filename is: search.htm
The resulting preferred URL is: https://www.example.com/up/search.htm
Example 2: Your site is published to "example.com/genealogy"
Set Canonical Base URL to: https://www.example.com/genealogy
A page filename is: search.htm
The resulting preferred URL is: https://www.example.com/genealogy/up/search.htm

In both examples above, the Canonical Base URL uses the https: protocol. If your domain does not support HTTPS, use the http: protocol.

Technical Details

The primary reason to specify a canonical URL is to instruct search engines which version of a URL is the preferred version when a single page is accessible via two (or more) URLs.

There are several reasons why a single page might be available via multiple URLs. As an example, here are several ways to see the homepage for Bezansons.com:

  • https://www.bezansons.com
  • https://www.bezansons.com/index.htm
  • http://www.bezansons.com
  • http://www.bezansons.com/index.htm
  • https://bezansons.com
  • https://bezansons.com/index.htm
  • http://bezansons.com
  • http://bezansons.com/index.htm

In the list above, the URLs are all aliases; there is a single document, but the web server recognizes multiple URLs to request it.

If the "index.htm" page for Bezansons.com specifies a canonical URL, Google (and other search engines) will consider all the URLs above as references to the same document. When other sites link to any of the URLs that lead to the document, those links will be counted towards the canonical URL, and that improves the placement of the document in search results. When the document appears in search results, Google will use the canonical URL.

Other Examples

In addition to the URL aliases shown above, there are other reasons why the same document might appear via different URLs. It is beyond the scope of this help page to describe those reasons. Using the Canonical Base URL property should be useful in most, if not all, examples where a site's content is available via different URLs. However, it is up to the user to ensure that the Canonical Base URL will actually lead to the same document.. If you publish the same content on two different servers, but you allow the two versions to get out of sync, the Canonical Base URL will not be correct and may lead to confusing search results.

Use Shared Libraries

The Use Shared Libraries checkbox determines whether the generated site will use shared JavaScript libraries in place of libraries stored in the Output (-o) folder.

If Use Shared Libraries is checked, the generated site will use JavaScript libraries that are stored on a high-speed, high-availability content distribution network provided by Google for frequently used JavaScript libraries such as the jQuery library used by GedSite. Using shared libraries will reduce the load on the server where you host your site and will help your pages load as quickly as possible.

If you do not have an active Internet connection when browsing a local copy of your site on your own PC, you should uncheck the Use Shared Libraries checkbox. However, when you build a version of the site that you intend to upload to a web hosting service, Use Shared Libraries should be checked.

Making a site that will be uploaded to a web server Checked
Making a site that will be distributed via removable media Unchecked
Making a site for use on your PC and you have an active Internet connection Checked
Making a site for use on your PC and you do not have an active Internet connection Unchecked

Add JSON-LD Metadata

When Add JSON-LD Metadata is checked, GedSite adds JSON-LD metadata to the page, writing a Person record for each person on the page. This metadata may be used by search engines or other tools.

ORA, the Online Repository Assistant, uses the metadata to influence its Control Panel contents. This capability is mostly intended to allow ORA users to use its Search Targets facility when visiting sites created with GedSite.

screenshot of ORA Control Panel on website made with GedSite showing Search Target buttons

Family History Hosting

The following properties are used by the Family History Hosting > Publish command to automate the publishing process for Family History Hosting customers.

The Publish command removes the guesswork from maintaining the public version of your site. It keeps track of which files need to be replaced, and avoids transferring large images that have not changed. It compresses HTML files into one or more ZIP files, and transfers the ZIP files in order to reduce FTP overhead. The result is a faster, more reliable upload process that is easier to use than manual methods.

Family History Hosting customers receive an email message that indicates how to set the properties below. Please refer to that message when setting these properties.


The FHH ID indicates the Family History Hosting server where your web site files reside. This value will be a number.

Upload Method

The Upload Method property controls which method GedSite will use to upload the main HTML files for the web site. The default is Compressed Archive, a method where GedSite compresses the files and uploads them via ZIP files. This reduces the communication overhead but requires special support on the server.

Do not use the File by File method unless directed to by Family History Hosting support staff.

FTP Server

The FTP Server is the host name used for the FTP (file transfer) processing. The FTP Server's host name is "ftp." followed by your domain name. So, for example, if your domain was "example.com", enter "ftp.example.com" in the FTP Server property.

User Name

Enter the Control Panel ("cPanel") User Name that was assigned to you when you signed up for the Family History Hosting service.


Enter the Control Panel ("cPanel") Password that was assigned to you when you signed up for the Family History Hosting service. If you have changed the password, enter the current value.

The password is not displayed in GedSite, but the password is stored in "plain text" (human readable) in the GedSite file. If you do not want to enter the password, leave it blank. GedSite will prompt you for the password when it needs it.


If the current GedSite file defines the contents for a subfolder on your site, enter the name of that folder.

Do not enter "www" or "public_html" to indicate the main folder. The main folder is not a subfolder: leave the SubFolder property empty to update the main folder.

Usage Notes

GedSite optimizes the upload process by:

  1. Uploading a compressed archive of files in several subfolders that GedSite knows contain mostly HTML files.
  2. Uploading only changed files in other subfolders.

To get the most out of these optimization steps, make sure that most if not all of the images used on the site are stored in subfolders. Store images used with the Image User Item in a subfolder of the Input folder.

When GedSite uploads a file that is in a non-HTML subfolder of the Output folder, it records the file date and file size in an "upload status" file. During all subsequent uploads, GedSite compares the file size and file date of the current version of the file to the last version that it uploaded. If either value has changed, or if GedSite has not uploaded the file before, it will upload the file. Otherwise, it skips the file because the current version is already on the server.

The upload status file is stored in the same folder as the GedSite file, and it has the same name except for the suffix "-files". If your GedSite file is "MySite.gsfile", the upload status file is "MySite-files.xml".

If you rename the GedSite file, or move it, you'll break the connection between the upload status file and the GedSite file, and GedSite won't know if the file has been uploaded before, or what version of the file was uploaded. That will trigger a re-upload of all the files.