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buspar 2007 | August | ThinkGenealogy
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Innovations in Family.Show: Age Graph

Tuesday, 28 Aug 2007 | by Mark Tucker

The Family.Show genealogy sample application includes an Age Graph that shows the number of people in the database for different age ranges.

 Age Distribution

In the sample data included for the Windsor family the number for each range was:

  • 0-19: 3
  • 20-39: 13
  • 40-64: 17
  • 65+: 16

The graph doesn’t include the additonal 32 individuals that didn’t have a birth and/or death date.  I am not certain why the ages were grouped as they were.

This graph also acts as a filter for the people list.  Clicking on each bar shows those individuals in that age range.

It is interesting how they chose to include both statistics and navigation in the same control.

Family Tree Maker 2008 is ready for future, built with Microsoft technology

Saturday, 18 Aug 2007 | by Mark Tucker

Family Tree Maker 2008 was released this week as completely redesigned software built with Microsoft technologies.  The redesign starts at the user interface but doesn’t stop there.  This version of Family Tree Maker is built on Microsoft’s .NET Framework and uses the Composite UI Application Block(CAB) and the Smart Client Software Factory(SCSF) .  I am familiar with these technologies as I use them daily as part of my responsibilites as a Senior Software Architect building a client framework for application teams within my company.

A few weeks ago when I installed Family Tree Maker 2008 RC1, imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was built with the same frameworks that I use at work.  I can run the software and understand how it is composed at the same time.  I find myself thinking, this is the Shell, and these are Workspaces and the SmartParts. 

The following CAB terms are useful for this discussion:

  • Shell – the main window of the application that contains menus, toolbars, and Workspaces
  • Workspace – a user interface container that holds SmartParts
  • SmartPart – a section of the user interface devoted to a specific task
  • Module – a deployable unit of code that can contain SmartParts or business logic; the Shell loads one or more Modules

ftm-cab.jpg

Some of the benefits of building an application with CAB/SCSF are:
(more…)

Innovations in Family.Show: Surname Cloud

Thursday, 16 Aug 2007 | by Mark Tucker

Included in the list of innovations found in the Family.Show genealogy sample application is the surname cloud.  Similar to the tag cloud that you find in many web application today (Flickr, LibraryThing, Technorati, etc.), the surname cloud lists the last names of all people in your database.  This surname cloud lists names alphabetically with those surnames appearing more frequently appearing in a larger font size.

surnamecloud.jpg

When you click on a name in the surname cloud, then the person list is filtered to only show those that have that last name.

I have yet to see a surname cloud in any other genealogy software.

Family Pursuit in Beta Testing

Saturday, 11 Aug 2007 | by Mark Tucker

This last week Family Pursuit Beta 1.0 was launched and I am excited to be among the testers.  This web-based genealogy application promises tools to organize your research and collaborate with others. 

 Family Pursuit Beta 1.0

The user interface is clean and consistent.  A tutorial explains the application and there are help links available on every page.  I was interested in how the company would fulfill their promise to “enable genealogy enthusiasts to involve family members who have never engaged in family history work. ”  After spending a few hours using the beta, I think Family Pursuit, LC is on a path of innovation for genealogy software.  Those more experienced with family history now have tools available to mentor beginners in the research process and work collaboratively toward a common goal.

It is early in the beta process and not all features are available.  Overall, I like what I have seen so far and will share more details as the beta testing continues.

Evidence Arrived!

Thursday, 9 Aug 2007 | by Mark Tucker

I just received my copy of Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills and I am so excited!  I look forward to studying it in detail.  I am very interested in how its contents can be applied to genealogy software.  What if this book were used as a requirements document for software?  If the knowledge and best practices from this book were coded into a genealogy application, then genealogists and family historians from beginners to professionals would speak the same language.  What if all genealogy software encoded these same best practices and they became a standard feature just like the pedigree chart?  That would be some real innovation. 

The book can be purchased from Genealogical Publishing Company.

Innovations in Family.Show: Family Tree Diagram

Monday, 6 Aug 2007 | by Mark Tucker

In July, I introduced the Family.Show genealogy sample application.  One of the first things that you notice when you start Family.Show is that it doesn’t look like other genealogy applications.  The black gradient background and rollovers show that a graphic designer has been at work here.  After creating or opening a file you notice the main window with its clear graphics and animation.  Selecting a person on the family tree marks them as the active person and the diagram updates to show spouses, children, siblings, parents as well as additional ancestors and descendants.

Family.Show Family Tree diagram

The selected person is marked with a star and includes name, birth year, death year, and age.  Any spouse is marked blue and is joined with a solid green line that shows the marriage year.  If the couple is divorced then the line is dashed and includes the divorce date.  This image shows that Charles and Diana were married in 1981 and divorced in 1992 with Charles’ marriage to Camilla occuring in 2005. 

 fshow2.jpg

 I like how this family tree contains a lot of information but is still easy to understand.  If the person is deceased, then the figure is outlined instead of solid.  If a person has one or more children entered then an arc with small figures indicates this.  Following the lines from a person shows ancestors and descendants.  All direct-line ancestors and descendents are shown in red while siblings and collateral lines show in yellow.  You can move the diagram around with the mouse and use the zoom slider in the bottom right to change the diagram’s size. 

One of the most innovative features is the Time Explorer. This simple slider controls the year that the diagram uses to show the family tree.  Moving the slider changes the age of people and dims marriages and births that haven’t yet occurred.

fshow3.jpg fshow4.jpg

These are the main features of the family tree included in Family.Show.  There are still more innovations in the application to explore.

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