History of the site
Stirnet Limited has been trading since May 1992. Its Founder & Chief Executive is Peter Charles Barns-Graham (‘PCBG’). Stirnet set up its first web site in about 1995 to report on its activities but put little effort into it and so the site attracted little attention.
In June 1997, PCBG’s father (Patrick Allan Barns-Graham, ‘PABG’) died. Being one of his father’s executors, PCBG took on responsibility for settling one of his father’s requests which was to use a sum of money set aside in PABG’s will to prepare a record on the family’s history (a project which PABG had only just started when he became ill and was unable to continue). As the sum was not enough to cover the costs of hiring a professional researcher to carry out all of the work, PCBG decided to do the work himself. He produced a book on his family which he called “FAMILIAL BUT UNFAMILIAR ROOTS”. As part of his preparation for the book, PCBG carried out a lot of research into the family’s ancestors. With the excellent start provided by his father and grandmother, who had pulled together a significant database of information that covered many of the first few generations of ancestors going back, PCBG soon developed a very large genealogical database. In April 2002 he decided to share that database with others through Stirnet’s web site. The positive response he received suggested that it would be worthwhile for Stirnet Limited to offer its services to people who needed help with their own family history research and record-making.
In September 2002, PCBG decided to extend Stirnet’s activities to include a wide range of services on family history research & related issues, initially under the banner STIRNET GENEALOGY. The main elements of these services were the provision of a FAMILIES DATABASE of genealogical data and a library of articles that was initially called FAMILY HISTORIES. This decision brought with it the need to turn the site into a commercially viable venture. It was realised that a lack of capital would hold back development along traditional marketing-focused lines so the decision was made to take a long-term approach, not trying to obtain income from the site until FAMILIES DATABASE had been built up and become a contender for being viewed as one of the best of its type on the Internet. Efforts were therefore focused on developing FAMILIES DATABASE, leaving FAMILY HISTORIES to be developed at a later date.
The site evolved over the next few years.
- information on Stirnet’s entrepreneurial & consultancy work moved on 01.04.05;
- STIRNET HORIZONS was moved on 16.09.05. [Some now in STIRNET HISTORIES.]
– 02.09.05: release of a facility for site visitors to make donations.
– 06.06.06: establishment of www.Stirnet.Net to provide web ‘minisite’ development & hosting facilities for those who wish to share information about their families with others but don’t want a major web site themselves, providing a step towards the development of STIRNET PORTAL. [Stirnet.net is no longer in use although the idea may be resurrected in due course.]
– 01.09.06: commencement of the selling of CDs of the site.
By 2009 we thought that the site had obtained a basic structure which should be stable for some years. There were some technical issues with the way that some browsers (particularly Internet Explorer) handled our Families Database (because it was displayed within an ‘iFrame wrapper’), and there were 2 operational matters which should have worked automatically but which we had to deal with manually, but such issues were controllable and the site prospered. In 2010, after finding that some people were breaching our copyrights, we tightened our controls to stop people from direct copying & pasting data from the Families Database (programming done by Andrew Spode Miller). We came to the end of 2010 with the site appearing to be in reasonable ‘good health’. However, in early 2011 ‘disaster struck’. Google changed its search engine and the site changed from being highly invisible on the Internet to being almost invisible. [Fortunately, Yahoo & Bing still worked OK, and people who knew us from before the change continued to visit us, so we just managed to survive - but it was tight.] After some research we decided that the problem with Google’s search engine was that it did not like our use of the iFrame wrapper so we restrucured the site so that it no longer used such a wrapper. ['Techies' may like to know that that involved changing the Families Database from being in htm format to php format.] As we had to redo the whole database, we took the opportunity to change the Content Management System also so as to enable greater flexibility with the non-database parts of the site (in particular, making it easier for people to contribute ideas to draft articles). [Many thanks to Robert Barns-Graham for his work on this.] We released Our New Site on 23.05.11. Unfortunately, Google’s search engine still did not find the site as well as it used to. Steps to correct this were taken in 2012, with some success, but then we found that certain of the Internet Browsers made changes which made them display our new site badly. [See here for brief comments on this.] This was a frustrating time! Nevertheless, we could see a way through the problems albeit needing yet another restructuring of the site (target: 2013).
See Plans for the site for information on how we intend to develop the site’s content over the next few years.
Appendix L referred to a computer disk (“Unfamiliar Familials”) to be provided to family members separately from the book, to be updated from time to time, and to include many photos and other matters not included in the book. PCBG will now contain that information on a family web site.