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Author Topic: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?  (Read 23543 times)

Nod5

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make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« on: December 15, 2008, 04:42:33 PM »
I have mapped some of my family's history. So far I have it all in a plain textfile, well ordered for a human reader (I use FM FMF FMFF and so on, and some common abbreviations). But there are some irregularities and the data is not yet in a "machine readable" database format.

I want to go from there to a nice family tree image in Microsoft Visio.

Each person should have his/her own box with some recurring details (name, year born/deceased, age, a miniphoto if available, and some other details). The boxes should be linked by lines that mark parent/child relations. The most recent generation should be at the bottom and each preceding generation should be "stacked" on top so to say. In general, I want the standard family tree looks and contents.

I have two alternative ways to reach that goal:

1. Make the tree manually in Visio: make some basic, standard shapes for the boxes, copy a lot of them onto the drawing board and then copy and paste in data from my notes to each shape and draw relation lines.

2. Convert the data into some database (simple like an excel or calc sheet or perhaps some complex application). And then, somehow, autogenerate the visio family tree from it. The manual work in Visio would only/mostly consist in polishing the looks (more around boxes to make the tree fit better and look better, add some special, one of a kind relations, add colors, and so on)

The tree will all in all include 50-100 individuals. Maybe less if needed to make it more manageable and printable.

My question: does anyone think I should go for alternative 2? If so, do you already have positive experience from working through that automation process (for a family tree or something sufficiently similar) with Visio? Or do you have advice on how to go about doing it? What database format is best to use? I would prefer to just use an excel/calc sheet as database, if that is possible in this case. But is it?

Ok, lot's of sub-questions. But feel to also just let me know your hunch on the main question (do 1 or 2?) without going into details. Any feedback is appreciated  :Thmbsup:

My hunch at the moment is that 1 would take less objective time. But I resent doing this type of thing manually if I have a feeling that it could've been automated so I'm still undecided which is the best alternative all things considered. I have not yet done much searching on Visio guides but will do so later on. But there are so many choices, and possible complications, whenever it comes to databases so I'm thinking that it might be a good thing to throw out some questions early on.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2008, 04:49:03 PM by Nod5 »

sword

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2008, 03:04:33 PM »
How to do your option two:
http://www.freedownl...t_software_software/

www.boxesandarrows.com/view/automating_diagrams_with_visio

...process that relies on text files exported from Excel and uses Visio to transform
those text files into diagrams...Visio 2002 has native Excel support...Better yet: use
the built-in outlining features of word...can insert an Excel spreadsheet into a Visio doc
as a table, and link it...LazySitemapGenerator uses both Excel formulas and a single
macro to produce a worksheet than can exported from Excel and imported into Visio...

http://forum.us.mind...pic.php?f=1&t=16

http://flow-chart-so...are.suggestsoft.com/ ( ...export to Visio...)

http://flow-chart-so...oma.suggestsoft.com/

My preferences: genealogy applications; organization charts; outlines; tables; Visio

Deozaan

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2008, 03:18:49 PM »
This isn't Visio, but I use http://www.geni.com/

Geni Family Tree.jpg

Sorry the screen shot is so small and blurry... It contains personal info. :)

It has more than what the screenshot shows. It allows you to enter all sorts of information about your family tree, and if you enter in the e-mail address of your family members, they can sign up and add what they know. My family tree at Geni has 134 blood relatives in it and I'm connected to 392 people total due to other relations. Of all those people, I only added 39 myself.

« Last Edit: December 29, 2008, 03:25:50 PM by Deozaan »

Nod5

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2009, 04:34:13 PM »
I was very late with my reply to the above... And to make things worse, I posted it in the wrong thread! http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=14100.0 And to make things worst, I didn't notice the mistake until just now. :D Here it is, in the right place, at last:

Thanks for the replies. Though I already picked the manual path (   ) and completed a tree the day before christmas. It took a fair amount of time to say the least so I'm still very interested in more programmatic ways to do this in the future.

@Deozaan: I've testdriven Geni and it seems excellent for collaborative work. But last time I looked at it I couldn't find any easy way to print the tree in a compact way (i.e. cram as much of the information as possible into one or a few sheets of paper). Has there been improvements in that regard? Or are there any third party apps to export to and then print from? I'm asking since my older relatives will want to see my tree and they are not keen on (to say the least) to access it through a computer.

@sword: thanks! Lots of things for me to look into in those links. The second one seems dated though (some of the comments on that page claim that the advice does not work in Visio 2003 so I suspect it will not work in Visio 2007 either).

4wd

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2009, 06:42:50 PM »
You could try the free Personal Ancestral File - reports are able to be customised to a degree, you can add media, and all the standard family tree stuff, (it's what my wife uses).

And once the data is in there you always have the option to export as a GEDCOMw file to another database, online site, (eg. Genes Reunited) or create your own website using a free GEDCOM to HTML converter, (eg. PAF above, check here or use the excellent phpGedView if you have access to a decent server).

If you like you can use phpGedView as your family tree program, you can run it stand-alone on your PC and enter all your data in.  It uses MySQL database, (or variants), so should be able to be read by anything else that can read MySQL, (don't quote me on this, I'm not database literate :) ).

If you want a simple program that allows entering/displaying of basic family tree data and notes, then it doesn't get much simpler than Simple Family Tree - good if you just want to put the executable and the database on an autorun CD and then send to relatives.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2009, 07:04:19 PM by 4wd »

tomos

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2009, 03:38:28 AM »
@4wd, do you know how does Personal Ancestral File do with regard to printing out a tree?
Tom

4wd

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2009, 10:19:42 PM »
@4wd, do you know how does Personal Ancestral File do with regard to printing out a tree?

Attached are samples of the main types and they each have their own options to change how they look.  The easiest way would be to just download the software and grab the sample GEDCOM files at the Simple Family Tree site, import them and then have a play.

Pedigree chart
capture_01102009_145005.jpgmake family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?

Family Group Record
capture_01102009_145022.jpgmake family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?

Ancestors
capture_01102009_145049.jpgmake family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?

Book (in Ahnentafelw format)
capture_01102009_145229.jpgmake family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?

Individual Summary
capture_01102009_145307.jpgmake family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?

Ancestor Chart (including photo, set at 7 generations per page and going back 4, if you have more than will fit on one page it will print them so you can just tape them together in a big wall chart)
capture_01102009_150313.jpgmake family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?

Pedigree (including photo this time)
capture_01102009_151022.jpgmake family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?

I also forgot, PAF can export to HTML effectively creating a complete website of your genealogy.

If it's all about how good an output looks though, then Family Tree Maker is probably better suited for presentation - however, it's not free.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2009, 10:27:59 PM by 4wd »

tomos

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2009, 06:27:09 AM »
thanks a lot for that in depth answer 4wd :Thmbsup:

my brother transferred a huge amount of family info + images to word and powerpoint, this looks more suitable - as it's free it means it would be easier to pass *all* the info on to other relatives who might want to continue research themselves
Tom

tomos

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2009, 12:50:07 PM »
Attached are samples of the main types and they each have their own options to change how they look.  The easiest way would be to just download the software and grab the sample GEDCOM files at the Simple Family Tree site, import them and then have a play.

@4wd
- do you mean I can use the files from "Simple Family Tree" programme in the "Personal Ancestral File" programme ??
- sounds versatile!
(just double checking as I passing on the info, thanks!!)
Tom

4wd

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2009, 08:54:45 PM »
Attached are samples of the main types and they each have their own options to change how they look.  The easiest way would be to just download the software and grab the sample GEDCOM files at the Simple Family Tree site, import them and then have a play.

@4wd
- do you mean I can use the files from "Simple Family Tree" programme in the "Personal Ancestral File" programme ??
- sounds versatile!
(just double checking as I passing on the info, thanks!!)

Simple Family Tree and virtually all other family tree programs have the ability to either directly read, (as in SFT's case), or import/export the data as GEDCOM files.

GEDCOM files are nothing more than a text file with various fields for the data and was specifically designed, (by the creators of PAF), as a means of genealogical data interchange.

In PAF just go File->Import, it'll prompt you to create a new PAF database, give it a name and enter some basic info, (preparer's name, etc, etc), then select the xxxxx.GED file.

It'll start importing individuals and present you either with it's standard view or a log of any errors encountered, (which it will for "The Kings of Europe.ged" file off the SFT site but it will still display the basic tree).

From there you can edit entries, print reports, etc to get a feel for it - it's a pretty easy program to get around in without having to resort to the docs.

tomos

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2009, 04:57:21 AM »
From there you can edit entries, print reports, etc to get a feel for it - it's a pretty easy program to get around in without having to resort to the docs.

thanks again for all your help 4wd :up:
Tom

sword

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2009, 06:17:33 PM »
I found it necessary to keep simple charts about family groups away from the process of entering information. I think you would find MS Publisher or WordPerfect easier to use than MS Word for charting. Horizontal charts with each generation on a separate level are fine for small numbers of people but vertical formats, where each newer generation is indented and on a new line, is better for anything over three or four hundred. 
It might save you a lot of time to try to see if you have any distant cousins who have done work on your family. See the Rootsweb Surname List or Ancestry - WorldConnect or the LDS Family History Centers or a local genealogy society in your area. The folks at the LDS were the most help in my early efforts. A good numbering and file system is worthwhile.

raybeere

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2009, 10:47:52 PM »
I just spotted this thread. As a former professional genealogist, I have to make several points here. First, you will nearly always regret it if you fail to use software designed for genealogy to save a family tree. There are programs that print nice charts, there are programs that do a lot of neat stuff. Mostly commercial, but worth it. When you have to change something, you'll regret it if you've set up your own kludgy solution. You might as well try to maintain a 10,000 record plus database in a word processor.

It is also very easy to forget to cite your sources. You need to note exactly where each bit of information came from. Why? Three reasons. First, if you don't know where it came from, you can't judge how reliable it really is. Second, when some bit of conflicting information comes up, and you aren't sure if you copied a date wrong, or whatever, you - or someone else later - is sure to want to be able to find whatever you did, and they'll curse you if they have to hunt all over for it. Third, when you - or someone else later - suspects that you didn't notice all the clues, and there might be the answer to that question you've never been able to answer - they're going to want to find the source you used. If you are enough of a novice at genealogy to be using anything other than a genealogy program - you did miss clues. (No insult intended: this is like saying, if you're still using Dreamweaver to design a web site, you're not going to teach HTML to a guy who uses Notepad++ for his site.)

Finally: GEDCOM. This is not clearly understood. There is a standard for data exchange, but it is flawed. Very flawed. No program can import all data from another program without messing some things up. Some programs can't import their own exported data without messing things up. I know. I've tested them... Find a program you will be happy using - take the time to do your research. You really don't want to have to migrate all that data - even with GEDCOM, you're looking at weeks of manually fixing all the little errors in the new file. My personal favourite is The Master Genealogist (TMG). It is slightly pricey, but highly customisable. Some don't like it due to a steep learning curve, but I think folks on DC can handle it. :) Then again, if your preferences run differently, I've heard good things about GenBox. Stay away from the 'consumer' titles - they are all junk. Just a few years ago, I had at least six genealogy programs on my machine at once, in case a client used this or that format, and tested them all. There was another fairly good option at one time, but it is no longer available. >:(

David1904

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2009, 02:02:54 AM »
I also use The Master Genealogist. It is comprehensive and feature laden - in fact I don't use anywhere near all its capability. I will one day when I have more time …
Another program it might be worth looking at is GenoPro. For the money it has a lot of features and seems to handle importing GEDCOM files quite well. It is good for a visual browse around a list of people most of whom are confirmed as "in your tree" plus a host of others who might be - but as yet you haven't nailed down the precise connections. I once realised there was a connection with another family through one of my paternal great grandmothers family when I had actually been looking for a connection through a paternal great grandfather.
The program can be found here GenoPro

David

Nod5

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2009, 02:15:57 PM »
This is great! :) Informed answers just keep coming in this thread. :Thmbsup:

@raybeere: ok, I hear you. I WILL move to some sort of database software. I guess it is my general hesitance towards becoming locked into this or that format that has stopped me so far (and the fact that there seems to be a lot not so good genealogy programs around too). But given at least partial interoperability through GEDCOM then that shouldn't be such a big worry. I have cleaned up my large .txt file by now so that some of it will probably also be possible to autoimport (I'ts only a matter of getting some thorny regexp stuff just right). I don't have time to do it now but I'll make an attempt later this spring.

I have been very careful with sources. Here in Sweden the church records for almost every part of the country are available through online subscription services that have high resolution color photos of every page, usually dating back to somewhere around the year 1700. It is amazingly convenient. Maybe something similar is available in other countries? Anyway, I've written down exact references and have also screenshots of the actual church book pages. One thing I've learned the hard way is the importance of taking notes of what you DON'T find i.e. what texts you have searched and found no matches in.

@4WD: the screenshots from Personal Ancestral File looks impressive! Great with many output formats. That said, the Pedigree chart has the same drawback that most examples of such chart/tree outputs from tools like these that I've seen: it is too spaced. I want to cram as much as possible of the tree onto one sheet of paper. In my manual, Visio made tree I could squeeze in 11 generations on one sheet of paper (I've trimmed away a lot of people on the "sides" to make that fit).

So, in the end I will probably BOTH keep that manual tree manually updated AND migrate the data into some real genealogy software database. The manual "main tree" won't have so many details anyway and so it will not need updating so often. Just name and date of birth/death/marriage and lines to mark relations. Please keep the discussion on pros and cons of various software solutions flowing!
« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 02:20:39 PM by Nod5 »

raybeere

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Re: make family tree in Visio - manually or automated via db?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2009, 06:48:03 PM »
That said, the Pedigree chart has the same drawback that most examples of such chart/tree outputs from tools like these that I've seen: it is too spaced. I want to cram as much as possible of the tree onto one sheet of paper. In my manual, Visio made tree I could squeeze in 11 generations on one sheet of paper (I've trimmed away a lot of people on the "sides" to make that fit).

So, in the end I will probably BOTH keep that manual tree manually updated AND migrate the data into some real genealogy software database. The manual "main tree" won't have so many details anyway and so it will not need updating so often. Just name and date of birth/death/marriage and lines to mark relations. Please keep the discussion on pros and cons of various software solutions flowing!

I'm not sure exactly what you're trying to do, so I can't say for certain this will work - but The Master Genealogist allows you to choose which details to print on a chart - and the charting tool allows you to manually tweak the output before you print it. I never tried GenBox, but I've heard it has similar features. I do suggest, before you shell out for a particular title, that you look over the sites, check screenshots, poke around the user forums, and ask questions. As far as PAF, since it's free, you can download it, put just a couple of names in, and play around to see what you think of it. But there is at least a chance you can do everything you want in one program.