Fan chart

There are loads of ways of look at family tree information. The vast majority of them are quite simplistic – a single name connecting, horizontally or vertically, to two others, which each connect to two more, and so on until the text overlaps and blurs into a thatch of lines and illegibility.

Descendants chart
Interactive chart of Louis Laurent Duhaut dit Jasmin (1731)

Webtrees, the software we use for our family tree site, has a reasonably nice version of this which avoids some of the illegibility issue. Take Louis Laurent Duhaut dit Jasmin (1731); if you click on the Interactive Tree tab and you will suddenly see several generations of (large-familied) descendents. Or, that is, you will see some of several generations, because it is probably too wide a graph to show the entire thing so you get to see a ‘portal view’, and you can move this portal around using your mouse. This could be improved, perhaps with a minified navigation view as other genealogy softwares have done, but even as it is the tool helps you see a very large span of data quickly, and you can manually move through the the many layers. Maybe not elegantly, but you can do it.

Six generation fan chart
Fan chart for Elizabeth ‘Eliza’ Cartier (1847)

But if you want something which is a bit more dense, but will more-simply show an individual’s pedigree for quite a number of generations, it is hard to beat the Fan Chart. One of Louis Laurent Duhaut’s descendents is Elizabeth Cartier (1847) (Yes, this is the generation who were labeled ‘Kirkey’ once in the USA.) On her genealogy entry page you can hover the mouse cursor over the Charts button to see a list of charts, and select the Fan chart, and voilà! there is a nice, quick, neat display of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Increase the generations and click the view button and it will add more layers to the fan, but even at 5 generations you will see some of the names crowding out of their cells, and the font is a too small, too chunky to be readily legible.

A nicer 6 generation fan chart
A nicer output from a new fan chart module for Webtrees – Ancestral fan chart by magicsunday.

Well, yesterday I found a beta module to replace the Fan Chart module, called Ancestral fan chart. And yes, even though it is bleading edge I installed it, and you can check it out under the chart button. This does not do anything new, it just makes it prettier than it was. And it is, Magicsunday‘s module is pretty clearly a big improvement in appearance. Hopefully it is at least as secure and private as previous code so it may quickly be integrated into the Webtrees project and made available to many more genealogy sites.