Open main menu

Gramps β

GEPS 030: New Visualization Techniques

The purpose of this GEPS is to discuss new visualization techniques for possible inclusion in Gramps.



Descendant Fan Chart View - full circle

Gramps 5.x offers four graphical visualizations of genealogical data as views:

Some Addons:

A number of graphical and GraphViz based reports for printout:

As well as a graphical default gramplets:

In the last few years papers have been published describing new visualization techniques.



Family trees are presented in the form of a grid.

Quilts allow the visualization of large genealogies up to several thousand individuals, by using a diagonally-filled matrix, where rows are individuals and columns are nuclear families.

A video, demonstration software, and a paper describing the technique can be found on the Aviz (Analysis and VIsualiZation) website.

Status: See Feature request "4649: GeneaQuilts visualization integration"

See also:

Quilt view (Gramps 4.2.1 Windows 7)



This is a type of timeline tree.

TimeNets, enable analysis of families over time, by prioritize temporal relationships, in addition to the family structure. Individuals are represented using timelines that converge and diverge to indicate marriage and divorce; directional edges connect parents and children.

Note: Wilfried Trabold pointed this out on the gramps-users mailing list in December 2010. Gerald Britton[1] was in a side-discussion with the authors to explore the possibility of working together to include this in Gramps.

Status: Not known.

Dual Trees

Dual Trees

This is a method of combining graphs in a single display.

  • Bi-directional top-down node-link diagrams
  • Used for navigating genealogical graphs (family “trees”)

Status: Unexplored.

The Gene-Tree

The gene-tree (Cranefoot)

A structured, space-efficient technique for pedigree visualization (to display ancestral trees), using colors and symbols. This type of tree is often used for medical usage.

Status: Unexplored.

See also:

The Contextual Family Tree

A contextual family tree visualization design
by José Borges (José Luís Cabral de Moura Borges)
INESC TEC, Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal

Contextual Family Tree - 5 generations for Charles II of Spain (annotated version)

a new visualization design for family trees that represents individuals and their spouses with enhanced details about their families' context -- incorporating contextual representation of timeline data (only comparable within each couple), birth order, infant mortality, adolescent child loss, sibling offspring & diagramming pedigree collapse.

The design also represents the marriage status

  • married: double-ring (the horizontal line indicates that the respective date is known)
  • divorced: crossed double-ring (the horizontal line indicates that the respective date is known)
  • not married: no symbol (if there is no double-ring symbol, then it means that there is no indication of a marriage)

Multiple marriages are represented with the small dashes at the outside border of the box of each spouse. If the small dash is above the marriage line, then it means that the other marriage took place before.


The H-Tree

The H-tree

A structured, space-efficient technique for pedigree visualization (to display ancestral trees).

The H-tree based layout can be used to display ancestral trees. This layout increases the number of displayable generations, via a symmetrically arranged structure, provides the the user with an overview that allows them to understand and navigate through the data.

Status: See 6389 for a working trial for Gramps 3.4.2 windows portable and Gramps 4.1.1(with minor file changes)

See HtreePedigreeView - support page for Gramps addon

H-tree example (5 generation(31 people shown)

The Genealogy program Gene first called this type of chart the Ancestor Grid. eg: A different type of ancestor tree drawing, the "Ancestor Grid", connects generations alternately left-right and up-down, so that ancestors are spread in a grid around their common descendant. The horizontal or vertical style determines which direction is used first. The tree structure of these drawings is less clear than in the "Ancestors" tree but the grid can sometimes fit more names in the given space. Unlike the other tree drawings, when the ancestor grid runs out of room to add more generations it simply cuts the tree off, without adding any ellipses. Below we show a horizontal ancestor grid. Gene 4.3 User Guide:4.3. Ancestor trees and grids, Copyright 1995-2000 David and Diana Eppstein. At least as far back as [2]Added to Gene v4.0 in June 1994, Improved tree drawings including more font sizes, more styles, new ancestor grid layout, menu to switch layout type within the tree dialog, and ability to save PICT files. Sample out of Ancestor Grid

Sample Ancestor Grid (H-tree) output From Gene

Implement the charting method used in Gene program

Gene: The example is a descendant chart, but other charts are also part of Gene, see here. This is the most space efficient method I have seen - it has the clearest charts with the least amount of white space. Implementing it may rely on getting information from David Eppstein, though there is quite a lot on his website about his research on graph drawing techniques. I have tried to contact him to see whether he would share the code of his algorithms, but he has never replied - perhaps someone who has academic contacts could try to connect with him again.


The figure below shows an example of a Descendants charts that can be produced from the shareware Gene program (which runs on the 'classic' Mac OS). The original output is designed (in this case) for A4 landscape printing, so the whole chart fits across the page, and would probably cover two pages downwards. (The print mechanism cleverly prints right to the top and bottom of the printable area, so there is no wasted space, and the bottom of the print is not lost over the unprintable area). The application can produce ancestor or descendant charts. There are option for the amount of information shown for the people, and the page layout can either be landscape or portrait.

This chart is noteworthy because the application very cleverly lays out the chart so that it is very compact but still shows each generation on the same level. I have not seen such a compact and clear layout in any other application.

The chart is of the British royal family starting from King George V; the GEDCOM is available on the net as royal92.ged



Feature Requests

  • 702: Vertical Descendant Charts
  • 815: I would like to have a graphical view of relationships
  • 864: Family Wheel - input UI
  • 1373: Want a complete graphical view, like in Kith and Kin
  • 2218: Medical genetics
  • 2266: Different modes in Pedigree view
  • 2611: Alternative Genealogy Graphs - Original idea for Fan Chart, Dual Trees, and other ideas
  • 2668: Vertical graphical descendencies
  • 3590: Relationships domain
  • 4169: To generate a numbering class for mapping individuals according to start person (temp snapshot) and for generating Pedigrees, Charts, Gramplets, Tools with duplicated ancestors match support.
  • 4564: Ancestor Medical Record
  • 4649: GeneaQuilts visualization integration
  • 5329: Please offer relationship graph with timeline
  • 6048: Descendants View, a "reverse" Pedigree
  • 6486: When first cousins marry