The latest release is available now.

Version 3.1.0 of kiwitrees is ready for you to download and enjoy.

If you are a kiwitrees hosting client, then forget the download, your upgrade will happen automatically within 24 hours of you seeing this newsletter, if it hasn’t happened already! (Just remember that you might need to refresh your browser cache when you first visit a few of the restyled pages.)

As always it is a mix of bug fixes, improvements and some great new features. Below I have described just a few of the larger changes. You can see the full list on the latest changes page as well as some chatter about them on the kiwitrees support forum.

While on the kiwitrees site don’t forget to check out the FAQ page. I’m slowly adding detailed explanations for some of the key features of kiwitrees. You will increasingly see links from kiwitrees admin pages to these FAQs as well.

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Manage your sanity!

Sooner or later, we all get to the point where we realise there is a lot of data in our database that is just completely bonkers.

But how to find it? Well, after many requests I’m now starting to develop tools to help you. The “Sanity check” (Administration > Family tree tools > Sanity check) is the small beginning of a comprehensive set of tools designed to help you identify possible problem areas in your data.

Read more on it’s FAQ page.

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Customising your kiwitrees site

At the last update I removed some of the less well used themes. But I’m aware that the remaining set do not always entirely satisfy everyone’s preferences. It has always been possible to modify themes, or create your own. You could even customise seem of the standard texts in any language. These things were not impossible, but definitely required a reasonable understanding of computer languages. This put many people off the idea.

In this release two new features have been added to make this a lot easier:

• An easier way to customise themes, still require a little coding knowledge, but less than ever before, AND no chance of destroying your hard work when the next upgrade over-writes it. (see FAQ: Customising themes)

• A simple ‘no-coding required’ way to add custom translations for much of kiwitrees set of standard texts.(see FAQ: Custom translations)

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PHP versions

One of the smaller changes is to add, on the Administration Dashboard, a couple of warnings in case you have a potential problem with the version of PHP you are using. This is important not because kiwitrees might fail if you ignore it (it won’t), but because you might be exposing your valuable family history data to security risks.

The developers of PHP now operate a strict “end of life” policy for each version. They issue specific dates when they will stop providing any maintenance other than security for a version, then another date when even security fixes are stopped.

For example, for 5.3.x versions both standard and security maintenance stopped on 14 August 2014. (You will see a red warning about this in kiwitrees)

Maintenance for 5.4.x stopped on 14 September 2014, and security fixes will end on 14 September 2015.(You will see a green warning about this in kiwitrees until 14 September, when it will become red)

So if you see one of these warnings don’t panic, but do either upgrade your version of PHP, or talk to your web host about it, as soon as possible. You should soon be using at least PHP 5.5, and preferably 5.6.

Kiwitrees has been thoroughly tested on 5.5 and works fine. I want to do more testing on 5.6 but that appears to be OK on sites that are already using it.