How I spent my summer with GSoC 2018 as an intern at Free UK Genealogy

Sudaraka Jayathilaka
3 min readJul 25, 2018


Originally published on

I had one of the most awesome summer experiences with GSoC 2017 as an intern with Eclipse Organization. So I wanted to apply for GSoC 2018 too. While going through the list of selected organizations, I found this amazing organization which suddenly caught my eye.

In the description of Free UK Genealogy organization, it said

Free UK Genealogy provides free access to over 400 million records. The databases, search engines and user interfaces are largely designed and maintained by volunteers.

I had a brief knowledge about “Genealogy”. But I always wanted to dig deeper and know more about genealogy. So I read more about the organization and went through their list of projects. I selected the project which was on implementing a citation generator for their record database. I saw that, they work with Ruby on Rails, which is my favorite web framework. So I went ahead and applied for the project and gladly I got selected.


Free UK Genealogy is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation which is dedicated to provide free online access to family history records. It acts as the umbrella organization for FreeBMD, FreeREG and FreeCEN . My project was covering both FreeREG and FreeCEN.


FreeREG contains parish records and provides online access to those records. It provides a comprehensive search interface for the users


FreeCEN provides free online access to 19th Century UK and Scotland census records. Volunteers have been able to enable access to 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1891 census records through FreeCEN.

My Project

In the field of family history, records are kept in numerous formats. But when referring to family history data, it is vital to show the source of those data. Consider a scenario where a certain set of baptism records are stated, we need to show how we got hold of that information. This lets the readers to know about the original source of information. Since the citation formats used in this case, slightly differs from the citation formats used in academia, it requires a separate implementation of a citation generator. My project was aiming to fulfill that need.


My implementation basically had two different parts. One was the citation generator for FreeREG and the other was the citation generator for FreeCEN. Following diagram shows the basic setup of my implementation.

First I extracted all the fields I needed from the records stored in the database. Then I had to prepare the templates for each citation format.

FreeREG citation generator Implementation :

FreeCEN citation generator Implementation :

Here is a brief screen cast of my implementation at work

HELP !!!

This summer was indeed an adventurous one. But I couldn’t have done any of that without help from the lovely people from Free UK Genealogy. They were always ready to help me. Everyone treated me as one of their team members. I want to specially thank

Ben Brumfield, Pat Reynolds, Rich Pomfret, Scott Murray, Denise Colbert, Vinodhini Subbu & Kirk Dawson

for all the help in completing my project.