William Henry Roll

Welcome to the new and improved Roll Family Windmill website! We have upgraded our authoring tools to design and create content and present it to you with style. We will be better able to maintain content and share information about the genealogy of the Roll and allied families.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them. --Laurence Binyon,"Ode of Remembrance"

I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers, and nothing but the string that binds them is mine own. --Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Documenting your family history is a lifelong pursuit, a task of pleasure and research that is never completely finished.

Not to know one's ancestors, is to be a tree without roots, a stream without a source. --Kung-fut-se

The wind whispers through the trees, recalling words and dreams and memories of those who left us long ago. --Unknown

St. Basil of Caesarea, born about 330 A.D., said, "A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love."


This website was created the old-fashioned way; it has been hand coded.

keep calm


I have upgraded my authoring tools to design and create content and present it to you with style. I will be better able to maintain content and share information about the genealogy of the Roll and allied families.


Composition: one letter at a time

BULLETIN. RootsWeb.com suffered an irretrievable data loss after a "hardware failure" an the end of March, 2016. Later, Ancestry.com revealed that it had also failed to make backups. What negligence! Another stain on Ancestry's reputation. Ancestry had promised to preserve Rootsweb forever. Rootsweb was back online after several weeks. When I tried to restore Windmill, it was not possible. Windmill's location, the subdomain "homepages," was exclusively for persons who had made financial contributions to the original Rootsweb project. Windmill is now located on a server at a commercial webhost.

The Old Roll Family Windmill

My first online presence with The Roll Family Windmill (Windmill) website was at America Online, which no longer offers web hosting. By about 1997 I discovered Rootsweb.com (Rootsweb) and moved the Windmill there. Rootsweb was and is a place to research, and also to display and store family history permanently for public viewing. When Ancestry.com acquired Rootsweb, they promised Rootsweb would remain free forever. Of course, absolutely nothing is forever, but I hope the Windmill will be there for a long time.

I originally wrote the Windmill in raw Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and JavaScript in a plain-text editor, Microsoft's Notepad. About 1997, NoteTab came to my attention, a freeware, multi-file, full-screen text editor for Microsoft Windows. The program's name refers to the fact that it was one of the earliest text editors capable of editing several open documents on different tabs. I'm still using NoteTab along with another more powerful web authoring tool which I discuss below.

The New Roll Family Windmill

For a number of years I haven't made updates to the Windmill, because it is too large to continue maintaining with a plain text editor. Beginning in 2013, I was free to spend time on the project, so I looked for an application that would make the task of composing and updating web pages easier.

Most web pages you see on your browser do not exist until you ask for them. The different elements of the page are thrown together from different files on the server and sent to you. It's much like ordering dinner at a classy restaurant. The chef does not put your dinner together until you order it. Server-side technologies such as PHP (a hypertext preprocessor) and ASP.NET (dynamic webpage creator) are the internet chefs.

The servers at Rootsweb are quite different, hosting only static web pages. So, Windmill is limited to client-side technologies such as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript.

In 2013 I discovered Microsoft Expression Web 4, a sophisticated WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor, which makes it much easier to maintain a large number of pages presenting a consistent format. A full understanding of Hypertext Markup Languages, Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript are still required to use Expression Web 4 for a Rootsweb website.

The Template for the Roll Family Windmill

The template used for the Roll Family Windmill is The Perfect 3 Column Liquid Layout (Percentage widths) by Matthew James Taylor, sometimes called The Holy Grail It uses no CSS hacks, is SEO friendly, has no images, and uses no JavaScript. In addition, it is cross-browser and iPhone compatible.

perfect 3 column liquid layout

The layout dimensions can be adjusted.

Software I used to Develop the Roll Family Windmill

Windows 10 operating system runs on the computers I use for web authoring.

Expression Web 4, described above, is available free of charge from Microsoft and is component of the discontinued Expression Studio. I use Expression Web 4 for general web authoring.

Note Tab Pro, a multi-file, full-screen text editor, can actually do some things Expression Web 4 can't, like alphabetizing lists. Because it is relatively simple, Note Tab Pro is useful for editing and manipulating HTML, CSS and JavaScript code, the three programming languages that can be used for web pages served at Rootsweb.

Corel PaintShop Photo Pro x7 (64-bit) is a raster and vector graphics editor I use to create and manipulate images.

WS_FTP Pro transfers files between my local computer and the remote server at Rootsweb.

XAMPP is a free and open source cross-platform web server solution stack package, consisting mainly of the Apache HTTP Server, MySQL database, and interpreters for scripts written in the PHP and Perl programming languages. This package is a wonderful way to test new features on my private network before uploading to The Roll Family Windmill.

HTML Validator, a Firefox browser extension, adds HTML validation to the page source display. Validation is done by Tidy and OpenSP. Using this is much easier than using Expression Web 4's buggy validator, for which there is no hope of repair.