Multiple trees, same sources?

I want to start an additional tree (or trees) in my account for different lines of the family. It occurs to me that many of the same sources that I use in my existing tree are/will be used in the new tree. I have spent many months cleaning up and properly formatting the sources on my existing tree, and I’m wondering if there is a way to avoid having to repeat all that work for a new tree.

Is there, or could there be, a way to have multiple trees draw from the same pool of sources? This seems like the ideal scenario, since (at least in theory) it would cut down on the total database size of my account. Of course, I don’t know if RF’s database structure could even allow for this to be done. So as an alternative, could there be a way to download just the sources from an existing tree and re-upload them to a new tree?

Do you mean just the list of sources that shows up in the “Sources” list, or do you want also the list of “Evidences”, which could include media? Importing the “Sources” list into another tree wouldn’t be too difficult; importing the “Evidences” list into another tree is more complicated.

I was only thinking of importing the list of sources. “Evidences,” as I understand them, are just instances of a source applied to an event. If I’m correct about that, then importing Evidences into another tree would not be on my mind because my other trees don’t have all that many of the same people (and therefore, the same events) in them as my first tree. My additional trees do, however, cite a lot of the same sources to form their own Evidences.

The sources imported from the first RF tree would retain their exact appearance/format when they show up in the new tree, right? The whole point is to avoid having to repeat work.

Yes, they should retain the exact appearance/format, but it hasn’t been well tested. You’re opening up new territory here.

In the future I can make exporting just sources an option on GEDCOM export, but for now, here’s a work-around:

  1. Export the entire tree as a GEDCOM in tree settings.
  2. Wait for the email telling you the export is ready
  3. Open the GEDCOM in “Notepad” (not wordpad)
  4. Delete all lines from the first “0 @…@ INDI” line up to but not including the first “0 @…@ SOUR” line. The first “0 @…@ INDI” line should be around line 14. All of the “0 @…@ SOUR” lines should be at the end of the file. There might be “0 @…@ REPO” lines after the SOUR lines; you want to keep those as well.
  5. Do a “Save As” to save your GEDCOM under a different name. Keep the “.ged” extension.
  6. Upload your shortened GEDCOM to a new tree, and view the “Sources” content list to make sure that the sources came through ok.

Like I say, this is new territory. It should work, but it may not. If it doesn’t, email the GEDCOM you exported to me ( ) and I’ll take a look at it.

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Thanks Dallan. I’ll give it a shot sometime soon.

Well, the good news is that importing just the sources by the method you outlined above worked beautifully. So now I’ve got a brand new tree with nobody in it, but all my sources from my main tree.

The only problem is, the other tree(s) I wanted to start also need to come from GEDCOM imports… so we’re back to the how-to-combine-two-GEDCOMs problem. Typing in all the people in the new tree is a pretty tall order.

I guess my other option is just to import the GEDCOM for the new tree in the normal way, then fix its sources by having my main tree’s sources list open in another tab, and copying and pasting. Provided, that is, that Rootsfinder will let me have two of my trees open at once?

You can certainly have multiple trees open at once. If the trees are very large, it will be a bit faster to open one in one browser, say Chrome, and the other in another browser, say Firefox, but if your trees have fewer than 10,000 people, you won’t notice a difference if you have them both open in the same browser.

The reason to not allow people to re-import GEDCOMs into existing trees is to avoid the duplication issue. But what you are describing wouldn’t cause duplicates. I will put this on the roadmap for this later this Fall.

(I’m sorry; I thought I had replied to this last week, but apparently I hadn’t hit save.)

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On a related subject, I have noticed that my main tree seems to be loading really slowly these days… and perhaps especially so since I uploaded the other two trees. I don’t mean it’s slow when I have multiple trees open (which I usually don’t); it’s just slow to load each new tab all the time. It’s faster if I’m not opening a new tab, but usually I have to have a several tabs open to look at multiple individuals at once, plus the sources list, plus (sometimes) the media wall. Any suggestions? Does this just mean my tree is too big? Also, is there an easy way to see how many people are in my tree on Rootsfinder, or a way to see some other metric of how big a tree is?

You can find out how large your tree is by clicking on the Dashboard in the left-hand menu. The numbers of various items are listed on the right side.

Your tree should load pretty quickly if you have fewer than around 5,000 people, and it should handle up to around 70,000 people.

Can you do me a favor? If you’re using Chrome, open a RootsFinder tab, right-click on the page, select “Inspect”, then click on the Application tab, click on “Clear Storage” on the left-hand side, then scroll to the bottom and click “Clear site data”. Then refresh the browser tab. Does that make the site go faster?

Another thing you can try if you’re using Chrome is click on the three-vertical-dot menu in the upper right corner, then select More Tools, and Task Manager. This tells you how much memory each of your browser tabs is using. RootsFinder is pretty memory-hungry on large trees. How much memory are your RootsFinder tabs using?

Clearing the site data through the Inspect function initially loaded a profile page pretty fast, but then I realized I had to log back in to Rootsfinder. Once I’d logged back in, pages loaded pretty slow again, maybe a tiny bit faster than before, but still quite slow.

Here’s a screenshot of my Chrome Task Manager window while I was working on my tree with about my average number of tabs open:


490 MB isn’t out of the ordinary, especially for a tree with around 5-10,000 people.

The next things to try are:

  • Try loading the tree in a different browser, say Firefox, to see if that makes a difference. It shouldn’t, but maybe we’ll be surprised.

  • How much total memory do you have on your machine?

  • Press control-alt-delete to bring up the Task Manager, and while you’re working with your tree, watch the task manager to see what’s going on. Is there a lot of disk IO? Is most of your memory in use? Is there a lot of CPU usage? We need to figure out where the performance bottleneck is.