LifeLines - Basic Description

LifeLines is a genealogical software system for UNIX and related systems. It was written by Tom Wetmore,, and is archived at There is an open source LifeLines project at SourceForge.

LifeLines stores persons, families and other records in databases. Databases and records can grow to any size, with few restrictions on their contents. LifeLines automatically supports lineage-linking between persons and families, and lets you set up your own inter-record linking schemes.

There are no meaningful restrictions on the length or format of names, dates and places in a LifeLines database. There are no restrictions on the number or kind of events or other items of information that can be recorded. Free-format and structured information to any level of detail may be included. There are no limits on the number or length of notes that may be kept in the records.

LifeLines provides all operations needed to maintain genealogical databases. Adding, changing and deleting records are supported. All lineage-linking operations are available. Children may be added, removed and swapped in families. A person may have any number of spouses; families may have any number of children. Relationships between persons can be easily added, modified and deleted. LifeLines supports a merge operation which allows two persons or two family records to be merged into one.

The LifeLines user interface is multi-screen. Each screen provides a logical group of operations. For example, one screen lets you browse through lists of persons; another provides all operations needed to maintain persons in the database; another provides a pedigree browser. LifeLines provides name searching capabilities that eliminate any need to memorize or use internal key values.

LifeLines supports GEDCOM; it imports and exports GEDCOM data. LifeLines records are stored and edited in GEDCOM format. LifeLines does not enforce any specific GEDCOM standard; it can handle data in any GEDCOM form, and allows you to extend the standards for your own needs.

LifeLines has a unique approach to report generation. LifeLines has no built-in reports. Instead all reports are generated using report programs that are written in a report programming language. Programs have been written for all standard genealogical report types, including Register format, Henry format, pedigree charts, tiny tafels, ahnentafel tables, descendancy charts, indices, lists, and so on. The report programming language can also be used as a database query and general computation mechanism, letting you extract and process any kind of inforamtion from the database.

Because of its flexibility and programmability, LifeLines is frequently used for genealogy applications on the World Wide Web. It is the database server, genealogical engine, and HTML file generator for many of the Internet sites that provide genealogical data. LifeLines provides the databases, genealogical engine, and report generator for the GenServ system.

For More Information

Tom Wetmore | | LifeLines | Barton Street Software