Microsoft sample showcases new technology, innovation in genealogy software

Thursday, 19 Jul 2007 | by Mark Tucker

What started out as a sample application to showcase the latest UI technology from Microsoft called Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) resulted in a sample to the genealogy community of innovation.

At the beginning of this year, the company I work for hired Vertigo Software to do a prototype application using WPF.  Part of the portfolio that Vertigo shared with us during the pre-hiring phase was an end-to-end reference sample that they did for Microsoft. The exciting thing about this sample is that it is a genealogy application. Family.Show version 1 was released in April in preparation for the MIX 07 conference and version 2 was released in July.

Family.Show application

This is not a full-fledged application and it wasn’t designed by experts in the genealogy community. But don’t dismiss it too quickly. This sample shows the imagination and innovation that can come when user interaction experts, software developers, and graphics designers work together. I especially like the different visualizations used in the application and will talk about them specifically in a future post.

Here is the feature list published by Vertigo:

  • Quickly build your family tree
  • Add photos easily via drag-and-drop
  • Create advanced family tree visualizations with pan and zoom support
  • See what your family tree looked like years ago using the Time Explorer
  • Tell your family members’ story using rich editing and formatting controls
  • Mine your family data with statistical filtering and sorting
  • Import and export family trees to GEDCOM 5.5, a standard genealogy format
  • Change the look of the entire application by choosing a different skin

Some limitations of the application are:

  • Supports single birth, marriage, and death events
  • No other events supported
  • Doesn’t support approximate dates (Abt. 1815, Bet. Jan 1707/08 – Jan 1708/09, Bef. 1931)


  • For those who want to see screen shots/videos or who want to install it, go to the Vertigo Family.Show site.
  • For software developers who want access to the source code, go to the CodePlex site.


  1. [...] July, I introduced the Family.Show genealogy sample application.  One of the first things that you [...]

    Pingback by ThinkGenealogy » Innovations in Family.Show: Family Tree Diagram — 6 Aug 2007 @ 10:47 pm

  2. This technology is just the key component to further genealogy research. Please when you have time visit my blog to learn more about genealogy methods and success stories.

    Comment by Raymond Nwambuonwo — 14 Dec 2007 @ 4:32 pm

  3. This Family.Show software from MS looks like it has the UI that I have been waiting for. Can someone please put it into a decent frontend package so I can use it for my data?

    Comment by Martin J Clarke — 31 Mar 2008 @ 10:55 am

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