Sunday, August 29, 2010



What Is Box.Net

Box.Net (hereafter called, Box) is a file storage and collaboration application available on the Internet. Box offers free of charge 1Gb of file storage space (1024 Megabytes). For $9.95 per month you can upgrade to 5Gb with a yearly price of $99.95 if you pay for a year in advance. They also offer a further upgrade to 15 Gb for $15.00 a month.

An account holder can use the storage space to store files that are only available to himself. Or he can choose to share files for collaboration with others. Files can be shared at the file level and at the folder level. Different collaborators can be assigned different levels of access.

The Box account holder can share the URL of a single file via Email or via a web link. For example I host two PDF documents for the Wichita High School - East, Class of '57. The URLs are shared in the links section of the Class of '57 Group on Facebook. Anyone with access to the Group can view the two documents without further action on my part.

I can also invite people to collaborate at the file or folder level. Collaboration rights grant access to a file or folder without further action by the Box account holder.

While Box can be used to backup files on a remote computer it isn't designed as a backup facility. There are other services that do a better job if that's what you need.


To become a collaborator a person must agree that they want to be granted access to my box and they must provide the account holder (me) with the Email address they will use to sign-on..

After receiving an invitation, when the collaborator visits the site for the first time, they provide Box with a password to associate with the Email address. The password doesn't have to be the password used with the Email account itself. The Box account holder (me) doesn't have access to the password.

There are two types of collaborators: Viewers and Editors. As the words imply, the viewer can look at the files in the account while the editor can make modifications. I anticipate that most of the access I grant will be to Viewers.

Documents I Might Share

Some of the file extensions I might upload to the Box.
  • TXT - text files
  • HTM - HTML webpages that you can view with your browser
  • CSV - Comma Separated Value files
  • PDF - Adobe Acrobat - Portable Document Files
  • GED - the GEDCOM genealogy data communication format

Over the years I have created genealogy reports in the PDF format using the following programs
  • Descend
  • PAFAbility
  • Ahentafel
  • RootsMagic
  • FastPDF Builder
  • Google Docs

Why Use Box.Net

Box.Net fills several needs that have come to mind since the days when I had a genealogy website on AOL.
  • Box allows me to control who has access to my work
  • Gaining access is relatively easy
  • Random Internet surfers don't have access
  • By controlling access I show respect for the privacy of others
  • I can host documents in support of the Class of '57 and other friends.


Another genealogy friend and I tested the Box together. My role was as account administrator and her role was to act as one of my clients. Our mutual goal was to determine whether Box would serve my needs and whether it would be easy for users to become collaborators. We reported in the affirmative to both questions.

Quality Of My Reports

The reports I make available were produced over a long period of time. As a result the formats are not always as polished as I would like. Unfortunately because of numerous computer problems I am not able to produce every report again using the newer software tools. Therefore, "What you see, is what you get." I hope you can accept a few hanging indents and so on.

I started out doing genealogy with the LDS program Personal Ancestral File (PAF) and stopped with the DOS version 2.31. This version leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to printed output. I used auxiliary report programs Descend and PAFAbility to get around these report short-comings. The report output from these programs didn't lend itself to perfect conversion to the PDF format.

PAF 2.31 didn't handle breaks between paragraphs properly in the Note field. The paragraphs would run together in printed reports. To work around this issue I learned to put a period (.) in position one of any line that I wanted to be blank. In many of my older reports you will see those periods on the page. This sometimes results in odd word wrap issues. You'll notice this whenever a word or couple of words appear by themselves on a line. All of the text is there, it just doesn't have a polished professional look. I regret this.

I also used a free PDF program to prepare some of the reports. This program printed an ad for the program at the end of the reports. There are better ways to create a PDF report now without ads.

Some of my genealogy files have been converted from PAF and moved to the very nice RootsMagic genealogy program. The PDF output from this program is outstanding. You'll notice the difference between the older reports and the newer reports immediately.


Box sends Notifications to your Email box whenever I add or modify a file in a folder where you are granted access. This may prove annoying.

Both of us have some control over this.

I noticed a check-off box where I can turn off notification, on a one-time basis, as I am posting something new.

Individual users can set their notification preferences. If you need help with this we can learn the steps together.

Google Group and Site

Months ago I established a genealogy Group and a genealogy Site on Google. Access to both was by membership only. Neither proved popular. As time permits I'll probably move the documents from both sites to the Box and then shutdown the Google applications.

The Google Site contains about fifty PDF genealogy reports that I can move to Box without the need for any modification. As time, and interest, permit I'll work on this task. Some of the reports that are available now came from this source.

Invitations To The Box

To gain access to the Box I must know who you are. That is to say I must know your name, your Email address, where your genealogy interests lie and we must have established some kind of a genealogy exchange. Put blunty, if you aren't willing to share information about yourself and where you fit into your family tree save us both some time and frustration, don't bother to contact me.

I will determine whether to:
  • Send you the URL for a file
  • Grant you access to a low-level folder
  • Grant you access to a higher level folder
  • Post a URL to a blog or social networking site

Comments and Observations

If you decide to request access to my Box and then use it please don't hesitate to provide me with feedback. This would be very helpful as I learn to use the application to share more of my genealogy information.


Mr. Dickie
26/Aug/2010 10:03

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