Launching OneFamily, a social network for Families and a family discovery tool

I don’t have any fallback if FlexBox is not supported. Due to auto-update feature of FireFox, Chrome and Opera, I am hoping it will not be a big issue. Most of the users should be on latest build. I have decided not to support IE. Too much work for a browser with miniscule market share.

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Your welcome. I think the mobile/social route is interesting…and have no meaningful recommendations about how far to pursue the ‘ancestry’ route. There are plenty of me too offerings…all very good. Ancestry has very deep pockets. Others have what might be great tech, but not market position. For instance this job posting i came across today:

Against such resources, what to do? Well, ‘don’t compete…differentiate’ is my mantra :slight_smile: , by addressing the real needs of your current users -> rather than second guessing the market
(I learnt this lesson this new year, hand delivering flyers in central london (cant get more targeted marketing than that)… getting zero response where i was sure there was demand.

Now monetising the silver surfers… thats a whole other art!

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It is terrific to see that the overall atmosphere on the forum has improved. And one of the reason is that people keep on announcing great new apps! Thank you @warpdrive for the announcement and your replies. Good luck with the app!

Could you please elaborate a bit more about the encryption method/package you have used to store the encrypted data in the database? I’ve been examining the topic and so far ended up with mylar which I still need to try out. Did you use anything else for that?


I have outsourced the MongoDB to Atlas. Here is a blog that I followed to set it up.

You will notice that in the screenshot at step 3.3, there is an option - “Use encrypted storage volumes”. Just check the box and the data is secured.

After the set-up, I wanted to know more about what “encrypted storage volumes” meant so I contacted support. They use AWS for MongoDB hosting and the encryption is actually AWS feature. They sent me two links to read. Here they are -

  1. Amazon EBS encryption now available
  2. Amazon EBS Encryption
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@pal, thanks for affirming my belief in "differentiate’’. It means a lot to me. Based on user feedbacks, I was getting torn in prioritising my next features. I think I should stick to my plans. Copying Ancestry or MyHeritage at this stage will do no good (nor do I have the money for that). Eventually, those features would come based on market demand but, you are right, not now. Another “Me too” project wouldn’t survive.

@warpdrive Just thinking about this all weekend and I came across this! Looks pretty solid and it’s last commit (as of 30 jan 17) was 44 minutes ago! Might be worth a look!

@optymystyc07, thanks for the suggestion. I read the guide and it uses react-router 4. I am still on react-router 3.x. There is a massive change between 3.x and 4.0. Considering other things I have on my plate, I will need at least a few weeks before I can upgrade my react router and try ssr-server.

But it does look promising. Thanks for sharing the info.

this is really cool! I’ve been thinking about using a product like this myself recently since there’s no way I’ll ever remember all of my family heritage. I’ve got a couple suggestions:

  1. Add the ability to back up/download the data to two formats, one as data (.csv or similar) and another as visual (.pdf or similar). I hope your company succeeds, but it would be so awful to spend 5 years with your family building this great historical record then your company gets bought out or goes under and all of that data and effort is lost.
  2. Able to import data from places that automatically search and aggregate this type of data, such as or Automatically populating as much data as possible would be ideal

I would suggest introducting monthly subscription plan.
And to make it substuntiated - invent a feature that will make users engaged with the app - at least once a month.
For an app to be successful nowadays - it needs to make users emotionally attached. There is even a speacial term for this (like a light form of addiction or smth); I’ve forgotten the exact wording but it’s the thing that makes people return to FB or instagram every day - that kinda thing.

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Indeed, a ‘Hook’ (

From this point there might be benefit in combining data from Full Story (free plan:, with fuller feedback from a suggestion box (a la
The data will surface what people are doing on site, whats working best for them and building on that (all the while removing user frictions/pain points of course).

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btw,I meant to ask before…I might be able to help out a bit with RN… (UX/Dux) whats your plan? urgency/timeline/stack etc…

May I suggest you incorporate every possible public domain family tree you can find. As your web of connections grows, their will be ever more numerous opportunities for people to seek out the rich and famous public figures they can claim to be “family”. Kind of like this girl did.


Good link. I wonder what she did to find that genealogy. If I knew, I would love to do that for Trump to get some free publicity. :slight_smile:

These are cool suggestions. I got a similar feedback through the “Help” widget I have on my website from a user. He had 1500 people in his family tree and he wondered if he could upload them at my website. I asked him what format would he like - spreadsheet or json. He said - Gedcom of course.

The poor stupid me didn’t know what Gedcom is so I googled. So apparently, gedcom is a json-like (but not json) standard for family tree data. One can move one’s data from say, to MyHeritage or vice versa using that standard.

I plan to provide that feature - download and upload in Gedcom. All new APIs use Json so it will be a good idea to add json format too for download and upload.

Regarding the PDF print, it may be a little harder because of the size of Family map. I already have more than hundred people in my family map and they are all from my wife’s side. I haven’t started to add my side yet (busy developing the website). Also, my wife has only added up to her grandfather. So, the family map (different concept than family tree) can get big pretty soon. And it’s not vertical like a family tree. It fans out. So, I don’t know yet how to print it on PDF or paper.

Looking at my own family map (albeit still just the wife’s side) has been a discovery and a sublime experience. I have discovered so many in-law-cousins that I would have never known about. My eight year old daughter has her own account and she plays around discovering her extended family. One of my inspirations for the website was that my daughter shouldn’t forget her roots. I am a first generation immigrant. I don’t want her to forget where we come from and to forget the family we left behind. She won’t but I was more worried about her grandkids. It’s the third generation that gets disconnected.

Keep the feedback coming. I am an accidental entrepreneur who made this website for personal needs. I have never used any of the genealogy websites (and I want to keep it this way for the next few months so as to keep my ideas independent of their influence). But I am learning a lot from user’s feedbacks.


@avalanche1 and @pal, Love your feedback. Hooked is a great book. A friend of mine gifted it to me when I launched the website. I have read only the first chapter until now and already learnt a lot. Need to finish the book soon.

I have a few ideas for the “Hook”. I have been reluctant until now to share it but now I think what the heck. I have been inspired by all the feedbacks and I can only benefit by your responses. So, here it is.

FB like posts and sharing (feature already implemented) was added to drive daily use. Having said that, it’s not being used much because the sharing has moved to mobile. Until I have a mobile app, it’s not going to get used much.

Future Features:

  1. Chat app like FB messenger but with the simplicity of Whatsapp.

  2. “Daily Diary” - a feature on the website and an independent mobile app (though you need to sign up at first). We can encourage users to write a diary every day. It will be private to the user by default. Mobile app will be independent of main OneFamily app because if an app has too many features, non-core features don’t get used much. That’s why FB spun off Messenger from main FB app. Hundreds of Evernote features never get used.

  3. “Family Calendar” - website feature and an independent mobile app - A calendar that automatically syncs with the calendar of your immediate family. Family life can be pretty busy and managing everybody’s schedule is difficult. Kids have so many activities. This app can also have Family-to-do list.

  4. “Family Help Fund” - Something like GoFundMe but for families. Say, a person is going to college but is short of money. He has 100 people in his family map (a small family map, I must say). Everybody contributes $100 and voila, now you have $10,000 for college.

  5. “Upload pics with full resolution” - feature with a price - Currently, you can create photo albums but they are not full resolution and can’t be used to print more than a postcard size picture. The differentiation from other such services like Dropbox, google photos - is that you and your descendants will know where to find family pictures and videos. People in your family map will have view and download access to your albums. This way, you will never lose old pics in an attic.This feature will also guarantee that your photos will survive for at least next 1000 years, even in the face of natural calamities. (This is not my guarantee but Amazon S3 and Glacier’s )

Please think of it as survey and let me know in replies which idea may work and which is just plain ridiculous. @pal, think of this as me doing a survey at Trafalgar Square. :slight_smile:

@pal, thanks for the link. I am using hotjar which has similar services to fullstory but a lot cheaper. I have been very happy with the service. It let me know at which steps users are getting confused and I redesigned the UI based on that.

Kissmetrics blog is good. I think I will add that feature to the website.

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@pal, Thanks for the offer. Going by the analytics, it’s pretty urgent to have a mobile app. Almost 50% of the visitors are arriving on mobile phones. And I am probably losing most of them. I am getting 80-100 sign-ups every day from my limited spend on AdWords.

I looked into React Native (my first choice) but it doesn’t support SVG yet. The Family Map (core feature of my website) is built of SVG elements. Maybe RN’s webview can work but that needs to be tested.

I added Meteor’s cordova integration and the resulting iOS and Android app is not bad (not the best experience though). I am going to launch cordova based apps soon. My goal remains to move to RN to give users the best experience and have iOS and Android specific design. But I may have to wait until RN supports SVG.

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Perhaps Swift is the answer for you (Snowflake, SwiftSVG etc) - or reconceptualise as a mapping app.
(and retargeting lost sign ups)

1st 3 features are nice. I dont know how to monetize off them, though.
4th is plain Great.
5 is scrooge - I wouldn’t’ve signed up.

Could you disclose your adwords budget?
What key words bring in most traffic?
I would love for my app to hav a 100 signups \ day :slight_smile:

Thanks for the feedback. Hey, if you (and others) don’t sign-up for 5th, then how do I create a sustainable business model. :slight_smile: I was thinking of $5/month for that service.

Having said that, I won’t be introducing any paid service for at least a year or two. I need to have a good user base first.

Currently, I am spending $30/day on AdWords. It get used pretty quickly, within a few hours. My main key words with high CTR (3.75) are “ancestors”, “Family” and “Grandparents”.

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