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Distributing Your Multimedia Genealogy on Removable Media

Ancestral Quest provides superb multimedia capabilities—you can link photos, scanned documents, audio clips, video clips, and other objects (such as documents you have created with your word-processor) to individuals in your database. You can combine these into choreographed slide shows with background audio and create interactive scrapbooks. What you may not know, is that you can easily store all of your data onto removable media (CD, DVD, flash memory/thumb drive) so it can be duplicated and shared with family members. Also, by including the free Ancestral Quest Basics program on the removable media, your relatives can enjoy the fruits of your labor without incurring the costs of purchasing a genealogy program.

To make this feature work smoothly for you, you will want to follow a few guidelines:

  1. Create a folder/directory underneath your data directory for storing your multimedia objects. For example, if your data is stored in My Documents\Genealogy, you may want to create the subdirectory, My Documents\Genealogy\Scrapbook and put all of your multimedia objects in that directory.
  2. As you link photos, audio clips, etc., to the individuals in your database, make sure that the path name for the object is a relative path name. For example, if a photo has the full path and filename of c:\Users\MyName\Documents\Genealogy\Scrapbook\My Photo.jpg, you should change this to just Scrapbook\My Photo.jpg. This tells AQ how to find the file relative to the current database folder. The reason for this, is that once you copy all of this data to removable media, you won't know what drive letter will be assigned to the CD/DVD/flash memory drive that is placed into a family member's computer. If the path to scrapbook items make use of full pathnames, they will likely not match the path on someone else's computer. If you are using AQ for Windows, relative paths will be created when you add new multimedia objects. If you are using AQ for Mac, you will have to manually delete the unwanted portion of the full path name for each new multimedia object added.

Once you have all of your data ready, you'll want to make a "Distributable Image" folder on your hard drive that will contain the contents for your removable media device along with the AQ Basics program. This article can not cover all of the steps necessary to create all types of removable media items—you may need to get advice from someone at a disc duplication shop (places that can create small quantities of CDs or DVDs for you). Here are some items to keep in mind as you make final preparations:

  1. Go into the Alphabetic browse one last time to make sure your alpha file is current. (On the menu bar, click Search > Individual Search... then within the top center Sort section of the screen that appears, click the radio button to select Alpha, then click the OK button.)
  2. Go into the Individual Merge screen (on the menu bar, select Tools > Merge > Individuals...). Next, select the Enable Intelligent Matching checkbox, and then click the Next Match button to make sure your database's merge file is current. You can then Close the Individual merge screen.
  3. For Windows users, download the Complete Installer for Ancestral Quest Basics, AQ14c.exe and for Macintosh users, download the Ancestral Quest Basics for Mac installer, AQ14Mac.dmg, and place a copy of the appropriate installer into your Distributable Image folder (you can include both). The recipient of the removable media can run the appropriate installer for their computer to install a copy of AQ Basics on their machine for use in viewing your data.
  4. Copy your multimedia folder along with all of your database files (including the .aqalpha, .aqsort, .aqmrg, and any other files whose extensions are .aq????) to the Distributable Image folder. In Windows, you will use File (Windows) Explorer, and on a Mac, you will use the Finder.
  5. Now you will create your distributable media. Copy all the contents of your Distributable Image folder to the removable drive or burn them to disc (CD or DVD) using your disc burning software.
  6. Test your distributable media device (CD, DVD or flash media drive) to make sure it all works as expected. Make adjustments if you found you missed something and try it again.
  7. Reproduce the final distributable media and send your hard work to grateful family members.

Note: Because the Ancestral Quest program is constantly being updated by Incline Software, if it has been a while since you placed the installer files into the Distributable Image folder, you will want to re-download the files, again, before creating your distributable media items.