November 2020 update for Fan Chart app

+21 votes

After a bit of a hiatus while working on other projects, I have returned to add a few new features to the Fan Chart app - most recently updated on 20 November, 2020. 

Here is an outline of the   NEW features as of November 2020:

  • Login to WikiTree !!!!

    • This feature now WORKS properly, 

  • Separation of Fan Settings menu into 3 distinct menus

    • Fan Settings 

      • Includes new options to choose Font (Arial  / Courier / Times New Roman)

    • Names

      • Includes new formatting options for names  (Bold / Larger font size)

    • Dates/Places

      • Includes new formatting options for dates (Italics / Larger font size)

      • Includes option to format dates in different styles
        (1987-08-28 / 08 Aug 1987 / Aug 28,1987 / or year only : 1987 )

      • Adds two other display options

        • Birth Date & Place 

        • Death Date & Place 

      • Options to display Places as any combo of Town / Region / Country

  • In Colour Options menu

    • Added the ability to Colour by Region (province or state) 

      • Gives the long requested option to create fan charts midway between Colour by Country and Colour by Town

  • In New Fan menu

    • IF you are logged into WikiTree (or are viewing a Fan Chart for someone with a Public profile), there are now links to quickly generate the Fan Chart for the Primary Person’s Spouse / Children / Siblings

  • In Other Views menu

    • A link to the BioCheck app by Kay Knight as been added (Will run a BioCheck based on the Number of Generations currently being displayed in the Fan Chart)

  • Print  / Save as PDF option

    • Now includes the ability to select a Font (Arial / Courier / Times) - default will be the current font displayed in the Fan Chart, but you can change this option independently for the PDF printout

    • NOTE:  Not all new display / format features added to the Fan Chart have been incorporated into the PDF generator yet - please give me a week or so to make those changes


    • There seems to be a bug that makes Safari “rush through” the data-gathering process when creating the initial Fan Chart.  This results in empty cells in the early generations.  I will squash this bug shortly - but - if this happens to you - you can either

      • Use a different browser (Chrome / Firefox / Opera seem to work ok) - I need someone to test on Microsoft Edge

      • If you are stuck using Safari, if you go up and down generations, that process sometimes “jiggles” the memory, and forces the Fan Chart to re-look for missing info (but alas - if it’s parents or grandparents that have gone AWOL, you may be out of luck - yikes!)

If you have any questions, suggestions, or bug reports about the app, please let me know!

in WikiTree Tech by Greg Clarke G2G6 Mach 3 (35.8k points)

In case this is your first time checking out the Fan Chart app - you can get to it from your Family Tree & Tools page, or go to it directly from this link:

UPDATE:  Safari users should now be able to see all of their ancestors.  (Issue was primarily with ancestors who had accented letters in their names / location data.  If you find an ancestor whose Fan Chart is not displayed properly in Safari, and that's the issue - please let me know.  There may be other accents I've overlooked and need to add to the conversion table)

UPDATE 2:  New feature just added:  Under the Fan Settings area - you now have the option to Show Photo which will display the photo from the WikiTree profile of the Primary Person in the Fan Chart (central person).  Spacing algorithm could use some work ... so ... stay tuned while I tweak that a little. ... and ... yes ... before you ask, I do plan shortly to add the ability to show the photos for all ancestors who have them attached (at least those ancestors in the initial 5 generation chart - after that we run out of space quickly)

UPDATE 3:  New New feature just added! Under the previous Show Photo menu item, is one very similar, Show Photos, note the plural there!  

When this is turned on, any ancestors who have profile pics (up to great-great-grandparents in a circle chart), will have them displayed.  Currently, it only shows photos when the name in the Fan or Circle Chart is "horizontal" (looking out from the centre perspective).  Rationale: that's because that gives it the most room in the cell.   Once the names go perpendicular (along the spokes), I turn off the picture option.  


 - Greg

This is awesome! Thank you!

UPDATE 4:   Some aesthetic improvements and attention to details, along with a few extra options. 

  • Using fonts Arial or Times now centres text properly - looks much nicer.  Courier still nice too.
  • WikiTree ID and Ahnentafel number appear in top right of cell, for all cells (except the primary) - also use smaller font size to visually distinguish
  • Name Highlights have been revisited and given some love - size now adjusts to fit the text much better.  Looks very sharp when used in conjunction with Show Photos - check out that combo - it's like mini ID cards for your ancestors!
  • Speaking of photos - added logic for another ring of photos.  If any of the ancestors in the initial Fan Chart (Primary to great-great-grandparents) have photos attached to their profiles, they will show up (only went to great-grands before)
  • Added an option that was previously requested, and now possible once font issues and alignment have been worked out:  FAN SETTINGS --> CENTRE OUTER RINGS.  Previously they were always left aligned - now you have a choice.
  • Also for those outside rings, a new option for displaying dates:  DATES/PLACES --> SQUEEZE PLACE NAMES.  If this is enabled, then the full place names selected will be displayed, and the font size / spacing adjusted if needed.  If unchecked, then the font will not change, and the places will be clipped so they don't overrun (for e.g., the Country might be left off, if the Town or Region are too lengthy)
NOTE:  The PDF creator has not yet been updated to take advantage of all of these new tweaks, but it will shortly.
Geez, Greg, you just don't stop! The fan chart app is amazing and just keeps getting better.

Thanks Chris!  Well ... it's a combination of insomnia and obsessiveness (and avoiding other things ...) ... BUT ... I think this latest update (this morning) IS going to be the last tweaks I make to the app for a bit (until my next virtual choir video is edited ...).  

What changes this morning you ask?  WELL .. 

  • After successfully getting the photos working up to the 5 gen fan chart ... I thought ... the code just about writes itself to extend that to the next set of outer rings ... (well ... it didn't QUITE write itself, but with minor changes).  SO .. now, your Fan Chart with the Show Photos turned on will show them up to the 8th generation (or 9th gen in Full Circle Chart mode).  The outermost rings at gen 10 and 11 are just too tiny to display more than a smudge, so, just like place names at that level, I've had to leave them off.
  • AND ...  this last bit is an Early Christmas or Seasonal Holiday present to you!  It's something I've used myself, and thought it might be helpful for others.


    What this new option does is it replaces the Dates and/or Places data with 10 checkboxes (2 rows of 5 in the cells where there is room, or 1 row of 10).

    Why, you ask?  Well - for me - this turns my Fan Chart into a graphic organizer, and a quick, easy, efficient way to record my progress in my genealogy work, all on one handy printout.    What I do is use the leftmost checkboxes to represent the Birth / Marriage / Death dates and locations, and I check them off for each ancestor that has it complete and sourced in WikiTree.   Then, that still leaves me with 4 other checkboxes that I can designate for other tasks.  I use one to indicate that I've included all the siblings of an ancestor.  I use another to indicate that I've synced this ancestor's data on my tree.   

    To keep it legible, I use a 5 gen Fan Chart with checkboxes, then for those ancestors that I'm working on beyond that,  I create the 5 gen Fan Chart for those great-great-grandparents.  However, you could go whole hog, produce an 11 gen Fan Chart with checkboxes (and once I've update the PDF creator to include that option ... sorry ... not done that yet) ... send it off to a professional printer, laminate it ... and BOOM ... instant wall organizer and tracker for your den.
Enjoy!  Now ... I've really got to stop Fan Charting ... and get back to some of my other work ... 
  - Greg
PDF creator update:  Photos will now appear in PDFs up to 9th generation, as per the Fan Chart app display.  

Note:  Centering outer rings, and adjusting fonts to avoid spillage into neighbouring cells not yet implemented .. next on my to-do list.

UPDATE 5: PDF Creator for Fan Chart has now been updated - it now incorporates all the new changes made since this most recent Fan Chart update .... mostly.  There are a few tweaks that still need to be made for spacing in a few combinations (mostly at the 9+ generation level with lots of options turned on) .... and ... the Checkboxes decided to misbehave just as I published this update!

BONUS feature:  Thanks to Jody in Houston who requested this, there is one more option now under the Dates/Places menu --> Both Dates and Places which expands the date information to 4 lines in the chart (birth date / birth place / death date / death place).  Because of room, the place is only 1 of Town / Region / Country - if you have multiple place options checked off, it picks the first one it finds, in that order. As a result of this, the PDF created with this option is larger in size than the reported size in the About dialog box ... another calculation and tweak needed.


It has been great watching this continue to improve.  Something that I'd love would be a user preference to note ancestors by category, preferably with an icon versus any more color shading, or offer both.  My use case is to note all the ancestors who were revolutionaries (13), civil war vets (5), and filles du roi (53).  The criteria used in the Ancestor Explorer App would be perfect. Perhaps an integration?  Thanks for your hard work on this.  You will surely be treated to an endless stream of enhancement requests!
HI there Bernard,

Thanks for the suggestion.  I have on my Trello board that I use to track my WikiTree apps that exact option as one of a future updates I'd like to add ... however .. I've shied (shyed?) away from it to this point because of the complexity that I suspect would be involved.  However, I will reach out to the developer of the Ancestor Explorer app and see if we can find a way to collaborate, because that would indeed be cool.  Filles du roi are certainly a category that I have ancestors from - no American revolutionaries that I know of though .... but, ideally, I'd be able to tap into the same categories that Chase uses for his app.

Stay tuned though ... there is an update coming later this week ...

 - Greg


5 Answers

+6 votes
Thanks Greg, excited about the ability to generate for family! Great work!
by Jonathan Crawford G2G6 Pilot (121k points)
+3 votes
Hello Greg, Thank you for your many contributions. I especially like the fan charts for finding ancestors many centuries ago. What would help is to indicate on the fringes (the 11th generation back) which one of these ancestors also has a fan chart that can be traced at least 11 generations back. I am trying to find the oldest ancestor in my tree. So far I have identified one named "Rhun" in the year 4 CE, but I am not sure if he is the oldest one. My current methodology involves quite a bit of trial and error, so an indication of which ancestors have well documented ancestry would be a significant help.
by Marion Ceruti G2G6 Pilot (156k points)
Hi Marion,

That's an interesting question.  Every generation you go back the time it takes to retrieve the information from the WikiTree database grows exponentially (by a power of 2) ... so ... this request, at the 11th generation would be 2^11 queries! It might be an interesting side app to create though.  

At this point, the best I can suggest is that when you are at those edge ancestors in the 11th ring, if you click on their names you'll see the Ancestor Popup card appear, and at the bottom of each card is a Fan Chart icon which will automatically generate THEIR specific fan chart.  If you do this you can explore one after the other in relatively quick succession. (Keep the original fan chart open in one window so you can keep going back to it to find the next ancestor to popup and chart)

Hope that helps.

 - Greg
Hello Greg, thank you for your reply and for your great expertise.

Through usage, I got the idea that the fan charts quit after 11 generations is because to go back even 12 generations, the font to identify next oldest generation would not be legible because the print would have to be too small.

Your suggestion as to how to proceed is exactly what I have been doing. The problem is, with so many ancestors being available at the 11th generation level, iterated multiple times, it becomes a hit-and-miss needle-in-a-haystack effort as to which ancestor at the 11th level has the richest family tree going back another 11 generations, and so forth. This cannot be done rapidly when you have multiple ancestors at the11th of the 11th of the 11th generation, etc., going back around 74 generations. Yes, you can conduct a systematic search, but it is hit and miss without knowing which ancestors will have nested fan charts that go back the farthest.

Even an indicator of a "1" or a "0" on the outside of each ancestor in a fan chart would help to save time, where

1 = "at least 11 more generations beyond this one" and

0 = "this ancestry does not go back to 11 generations, i.e. 10 or fewer"

This would at least help to flag the dead ends.

Having a background in computer science, I am aware that a computer can be programmed to follow each possible pathway that goes back the farthest in time, and to report the number of generations beyond the 11th on the outside of the fan chart, using a systematic algorithm. Once written, this search can be made relatively rapidly compared to what a human could do. I do not know how to modify the existing program to insert the algorithm, so I cannot advise about that, but these kinds of branching searches in networks should not pose any particular problem for an appropriately powerful computer.

This is a problem related to graph theory and social-network analysis, which may be of interest to academia. It seems to me that about a decade ago, there was interest in this area at the University of California at Irvine, under contract to DARPA. The software may already exist, the problem being to find it without search for the needle in the haystack.

I understand that we are all volunteers here on WikiTree and that you probably don't have time to devote to software modification and testing at this level, but it would be a great help and I, for one, would greatly appreciate it.
+1 vote
I was just using this helpful tool again today!  Onmy chart, I wanted to see only birth year and county.  It shows those data for up through 8 generations only.  The coloration is correct beyond that but doesn't show the info.  I used to be able to see them on the chart all the way back.
by Cindy Cooper G2G6 Pilot (185k points)
Hi there Cindy!

An EXCELLENT catch - and obvious oversight in my programming when adding the new feature to show Birth (or Death) Date + Location !  Glad you caught it.

I have now updated the app so that at the outermost rings, it will display Lifespan once again like it used to, if you choose the Lifespan or Exact dates option - but if you choose the Birth Date&Location or Death Date&Location option, it will show that full date, formatted in the method you choose (see there are now 4 options for custom date formatting).  Alas, in those outermost rings, not enough room for Locations as well - though - if you colour code the fan chart, that information is available visually.

While making this work, I also tweaked the middle rings so that the WikiTree ID and Ahnentafel #s are displayed in the top right of the cell to allow for more room for dates & locations in the cell proper.   

I'm wondering if the top right should be the standard location for the Ahnentafel #s for all cells ... there's kind of a nice clean look to that (and it appeals to me aesthetically as a math teacher ...). Your thoughts?

 - Greg
Hi, Greg, right now my fan chart is half and half on the Ahrentafel #.  I like the ones where it is in the upper right of the box.  The older generations have it nex to the years and they disappear that way.  Also they bounce around depending on the length of information, whereas a right justified would always be in the same place.
HI again Cindy,

Yes ... it does look lop-sided .. I've made it consistent now.  The WikiTree ID and the Ahnentafel # consistently go to the top right (and I reduced the font, so they stand out as auxiliary info), whereas the central info for Name + Date/Location stands alone now, a bit more uncluttered.

I also notice (sigh ...) that if you stick with the default "Show Name Highlights" that these highlights don't expand now as needed when you add in locations, especially all 3 options.  More logic to add ...

AND ... yes ... I'll have to update the PDF creator to take into account the new placement for the WikiTree ID and Ahn. # - but - I think that will have to wait for another day.

A programmer's job is never done ...

 - Greg
+1 vote
Love the app Greg, thanks.  Having a problem today.  The chart is only generating some not all ancestors.  I tried refreshing a couple of times and got some more, but still not all.  Using Chrome but it sounds like the safari issue you described?

Funny thing, it colours the boxes yellow where there is a DNA confirmation, but not the name?
by Veronica Williams G2G6 Pilot (148k points)
Hmmm ... there is definitely a timing issue ... and yesterday, while I was working on a new app (surprise!) - I think I may have just stumbled across a solution to it.  I'll have to test it out to see if what I did for this new (Surnames Generator) app will work for the Fan Chart - so - that's going to be a few days or so trying it, testing it out to make sure I don't break anything (worse), before implementing it ... but... I'm hopeful.

In the meantime, the only thing I can suggest is to try again - maybe when the server isn't quite as busy ????

Let me know how it's working out for you.

 - Greg

Sadly, still happening this morning.

I'm on a Mac?
Hmmm ... so am I ... OK ... I may have to speed up the testing process to get this working for you.

 - Greg
+1 vote
Wow. Just looked at the fan chart again. Not sure when the last updates were done, the so much has changed, it looks spectaculor. Really fantastic job!!!
by Ben Molesworth G2G6 Pilot (132k points)
Thanks Ben!

- Greg

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