Interactive Kinship Calculator

Saturday, 25 Jul 2009 | by Mark Tucker

Standard Relationship Chart

Let’s say you just met someone who shares a common ancestor with you. How are you related? To determine this, its time to consult a relationship chart like the one shown below:

Relationship Chart

Interactive Kinship Calculator

Charts like this have been around for decades.  I wondered what a chart like this might look like updated for the Internet age.  What should an interactive relationship chart be able to do?  I thought it should at least let you specify the gender of  each person involved.  Adding names would make it more personal.  It should also include an easy way of specifying relationships.  After some thought and experimentation, I developed the interactive Kinship Calculator:

Kinship Calculator

In the picture shown above, Mark Tucker is the 2nd Great Grandson of Moses Tucker and Della May Tucker is Moses’ granddaughter.  So what relationship is Mark to Della May?  They are 1st cousins twice removed.

The chart shows the common ancestor at the top and two decendants below.  Each person is represented by an image (indicating gender) and a name.  To set the gender for an individual, double click the image to switch between male and female.  To set a person’s name, select the text and enter the name.  Each decendant’s image is also a slider that moves side to side. Simply position each descendant image under the number indicating how many generations they are from the common ancestor.  The text in the brown and green colored bands indicate the relationship between each decendant and the common ancestor.  The double-headed arrow on the far right shows the relationship between both decendants.

Silverlight Required

The Kinship Calculator was developed using a Microsoft technology called Silverlight.  It allows for the creation of Rich Internet Applications (RIA).  To run a Silverlight application, you will need to install Silverlight on your computer.  For most this is not a concern.  Silverlight is comparable to Adobe Flash in functionality and they both are competitors in the realm of RIAs.  Silverlight runs on both the Windows (XP, Vista) and Mac OS (10.4, 10.5) and various browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.  There is currently work underway to support computers running Linux and Windows Mobile 6.

Here is Microsoft’s official answer to the question: What is Silverlight?

Silverlight enables companies to design, develop, and deliver powerful applications and experiences for the web. It’s a browser plug-in that works with Mac OS, Windows, Linux, and devices. Best of all, it’s free, only 4MBs, and installs in ten seconds. 


Where can I find Kinship Calculator?

You can find Kinship Calculator at the following location:


Take it on the Road

Kinship Calculator was developed with Silverlight 3 which allows for installation of the application on your local computer.  It can then be used even when the computer does not have an Internet connection.  To install the application locally, use your mouse’s right button to click anywhere on the application.  You will see the following:

Install Kinship Calculator

When you click on the Install link, you get the Install Application screen that confirms installation and allows you to choose if you want a shortcut on the Start menu and/or the Desktop:

Install Application

After the application is installed, it will appear in a window separate from the browser. 

To access the application later, just select it from one of the shortcuts like this one from the Start menu:

Start Menu



I am interested in any feedback you have on the Kinship Calculator.  Try it out and let me know what you think.


  1. Brilliant idea, as usual Mark! The only problem I can see with people using this is having to download and use an application they are unfamiliar with with. Although you have clearly (and in plain English) explained all about that. I am going to try it out now and will let you know what I think about it.

    Comment by Sheri Fenley — 26 Jul 2009 @ 5:39 pm

  2. Mark, I found the chart you created to be a bit confusing. It seems to me that this would be most useful when a person was at a family gathering and it was on their iPhone or Blackberry. When someone asks how you are related, the program would quickly give you an answer. However, I’ve seen how easy it is for the tech-savvy genealogist to access their TMG program on a Blackberry. I’m not thinking that this would be very useful. As far as I know, all the genealogical software programs have relationship calculators. I think most people are using their programs, not the old-fashioned chart that you displayed.

    Comment by Rondina P. Muncy — 31 Jul 2009 @ 11:12 am

  3. Hi there,

    Is your calculator software available as a stand alone program. I am updating my web site and would like to include a relationship calculator, where a person could enter 2 names and then calculate their relationship.

    Thank you,

    Ian Bell

    Comment by Ian Bell — 28 Mar 2010 @ 4:58 pm

  4. I agree with the above posts regarding this calculator would be more useful as a web based application that could be accessed from a smart phone or iPad at a family gathering. Having to install software just to try something your not even sure about isn’t good.

    I can’t see why this couldn’t be a web based program. Login and go, done. Keep it simple.

    Comment by Steve v — 20 Dec 2010 @ 3:58 am

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