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The Contextual Family Tree (CFT) Visualization Design

Supplemental material for the paper:
Borges, J. (2019). A contextual family tree visualization design. Information Visualization.

See the Facebook page visualization designs for genealogy.

The Contextual Family Tree Design

A Contextual Family Tree is a new visualization design for family trees that represents individuals and their spouses with enhanced details about their families' context. In particular, the design aims to enhance the visual analysis of: the longevity of an individual and how it compares to his spouse; the size of nuclear families and the order in which the direct ancestors were born in comparison to their siblings; identify individuals that are repeated in the tree.

An example CFT for an hypothetical family

Below, we give an example of a Contextual Family Tree created to illustrate the main characteristics of the visualization design.



A complete description of the design definition is provided in the published paper.

In brief, James Smith and Mary Johnson are the root couple. Their boxes are temporally aligned revealing that he was older than his wife but died before her, in 1980. In fact, she is still alive at the time of the creation of the plot, a detail that is revealed by the absence of the label "d.". The double-ring symbol indicates that they married and the horizontal line that the wedding date is known.
They have three children, of whom only the elder one, the only male, have descendants. James is the second among three children while Mary is the sixth and youngest child.

Mary's parents were divorced (indicated by the crossed double-ring) although in an unknown date (indicated by the absence of an horizontal line). Their dates of death of are unknown (indicated by the dotted representation on the bottom edges of the boxes).

Their grandfather, Albert Smith, married twice. First, he married Nancy White from whom he had three children, two of them reached adulthood and had descendants. The youngest one is John Smith, the father of James Smith. Nancy died early and Albert married a second time, this time with Lisa Wilson, Mary Johnson's grandmother. They had two children that reached adulthood and the elder one is Mary's mother. In addition, James' mother and Mary's father are siblings as they both descend from Robert Johnson and Margaret Brown, who had children without being married (indicated by the absence of the double-ring).

Alternative representations

  1. Design with no indication of repeated spouses
  2. Design in which repeated spouses are indicated by dashed lines

Other examples created from GEDCOM files available on the web

  1. Plots built from the Royal92.ged (from webtreeprint) file that features the Kings and Queens of Europe, including Great Britain. Published back in 1992 by Denis R. Reid.

    1. The Contextual Family Tree for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Mountbatten

    2. The Contextual Family Tree for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
    3. The Contextual Family Tree for Juan Carlos I of Spain and his wife Sophia

  2. Plots built from the GeorgeWashingtonFamilyBig.ged that provides the data for a large for George Washington (from

    1. The Contextual Family Tree for the parents of the president George Washington

  3. Plots built from the Pres.ged file that provides a collection of the presidents of the US, with their ancestors and descendants (from
    1. The Contextual Family Tree for Bill Clinton

    2. The Contextual Family Tree for Richard Nixon

    3. The Contextual Family Tree for Prescott Bush, the father of George Herbert Walker Bush