New Year - New Fan Chart update!

+16 votes

Happy New Year everyone, and with it, some updates to the Fan Chart app.


* Wedding Dates are now an option to display (in Dates/Places menu) to complete the trifecta of B/M/D dates. (Sorry - not enough room to squeeze the Wedding Place - BUT - that info does show up on the Ancestor's pop-up card)

* DNA highlighting (Y-DNA, X chromosome, mtDNA) now includes options to show links to WikiTree DNA pages for ancestors or descendants.  Super powerful - thanks to Peter J. Roberts for suggesting this feature (and I'm sure he'll share a cool example of how to make effective use of this new feature)

* Also in the Colour Options menu is a NEW option -  Hilite DNA inheritance -  which highlights and identifies all ancestors who passed on their Y-DNA, mtDNA or X-chromosome to primary person


* Place names  - you can now include full place names for each event, for all inner rings, until the outer rings get too thin to hold them.  Fan Chart resizes itself to accommodate as much as possible.

* Checkboxes no longer "wipe out" dates/places - and a new popup allows you to customize how many checkboxes per cell

* Blank Chart fan chart creation much faster now

* More entries of relatives under New Fan menu


* With the additional feature, and wedding date being retrieved, there are times when the server is busy that the app seems slow and sluggish.  On good days, it's not noticeable until you get to 7 generations or larger ... but it can often take 90 seconds to load the 9th or 10th generation, and during testing I had it as long as 4m50s!  Yikes!  Please be patient.

* Also - sometimes related - if the initial 5 gen fan chart has missed some early grandparents - just re-generate it, and they should appear.

AS always ... please let me know of any issues / bugs / concerns - and - specific examples are always very helpful to help track things down!

 - Greg


in WikiTree Tech by Greg Clarke G2G6 Mach 6 (65.9k points)
Very cool app! First time i have ever seen my tree on a fan chart. Wow! I ran it out to 10 generations and noticed on Gen 9 and Gen 10 colors showed up on some of my ancestors. What do the colors mean?
Hi Loretta - glad you like it!

The colours indicate that this person is a "repeat" ancestor - ie - someone who shows up more than once in your tree.  Sometimes when you're that far out the repeats are in different generations - but - you should see the same person coloured the same in each spot in the tree.

If you don't like that feature, you can turn it off in the Fan Settings menu - it's called "Colourize Repeats"

 - Greg

Go, Greg, go!

I see that Peter posted separately with a YouTube video about using the app in conjunction with GEDmatch for X-chromosome comparisons.

Very nice addition to the Fan chart!
Is there a troubleshooting page for the fan app? I seem to run into generations missing randomly. They all appear fine in my family tree and tools page but then don't appear in the fan.

The color appears as if the person is there, but no name. (I adjusted the fan so that actual blanks appear as white)
Hi there Fr. Martin,

I have a Google Doc that I've linked to from the app - if you go to the Fan Help menu (right most) - choose Fan Chart Help Doc.  (The direct link is )

I'm planning on adding an FAQ section to it, with some Troubleshooting tips, and some Power User tips too.

Since it's a Google Doc, you can add comments, and I will respond to those comments directly, as well as use them to add content to the doc.

In the meantime, to answer your question, I've found lately that this has been happening to me from time to time.  There seems to be a timing issue if the server is really busy.  If it happens on the first load of the initial 5 generations, my recommendation is to just reload that profile.  (You can do that quickly by going to the History menu - and choosing the WikiTree ID from the drop down there).  I'm going to continue to investigate that to see if I can work around that issue.  

 - Greg
Awesome. Thanks!
A few words of gratitude and motivation.: I was truly flummoxed by the commenter below who didn't understand why anyone would want this..  It's such a tangible reflection of our work and seeing big new swaths of it get filled in sometimes after just a couple connections is such a great way to see the value of collaboration.  I have a manually filled-out version in my late Dad's hand printing from the 1990s (which will always be cherished, don't get me wrong), but what a pleasure to see this electronic version, with almost all the holes filled in, and reaching so much further back.  A lot of people uncover dark secrets, but I've had the opposite. We used to think we had 6 revolutionaries--I'm up to fifteen and counting.  We used to think we were descended from 3-4 filles du roi--well, turns out more like FIFTY-THREE, and though not many holes remain, still counting.  

My broad design suggestion is not to view this just as primarily a tool to track the progress of your research, but also its huge potential to act as beautiful wall art that gives families something to have in gather around and discuss.. Perhaps I'm spoiled by having mine virtually complete thanks to so much pre-work done by my mother, uncle, and great grandmother, as well as dozens of complete strangers out there. But in this esteemed crowd, I surely can't be the only one?  And there are still stubborn brick walls that stand as a beacon of my failure, for all to see.  But your option whether those empty cells should be white, which makes it such an apparent call to action, or in color,  which camouflages the gap a little, is brilliant and accommodates both priorities..

I'm going on too long, so let me just sneak in one more:  I suggest you make it mandatory to log into the Wikitree web server--there always seems to be something that eventually requires it, the biggest being having it know your default settings, and letting you see your private people. But waiting for the initial generations to build each time--God forbid you got further,  is taxing on both our patience and the server.  To speed this up, as a user, I would be fine downloading a cache to work with, as long as it's easy  to pull down a synch of the data.
Thanks Bernard for your kind words and encouragement.

Glad you found the new option to choose whether to make empty cells white, or remain coloured - I was wondering if others would find that useful (I did myself, hence my inclusion of that option).

One reason I don't force a login to WikiTree as the first act is that if you link to this with a direct URL, like from the Family Tree & Tools page, that would slow down the initial creation, and for some, discourage them completely from checking it out.  It is true that logging in DOES give you access to so much more - including the automatic customization of your own settings, and private profiles - so - I'm hoping people will use it - but for the novice users, I didn't want to impose that hurdle on their first experiences.

Your idea of having a cached version to work with, that would later get updated by a new synch with data, presumably at intervals of your own choosing, and not just every time you access the fan chart. .... that's very intriguing.  I'll have to think about that, and how it could be done .... hmmmm

Thanks for sharing your ideas Bernard!

 - Greg
I love the fan chart and use it a lot, thank you for this.

However, sometimes the links don't populate, there are blanks on the chart when in fact the ancestors are identified. Even then I refresh, they don't show. If I click on the last person in that branch and go to the profile I can see the rest of the branch but it doesn't populate in the fan chart. Is there some way to rectify this?  At the moment I am looking at the fan chart for Oelofse-277 where  ancestors of Pienaar-2055 don't populate. (others as well)
Hi there Annette,

I was able to produce the fan chart for Pienaar-2055, but couldn't do one for Oelosfse-277, since that person is a living individual, and I'm not on the trusted list.  

The current version of the Fan Chart does still sometimes suffer from timeouts when retrieving information from the database, but, my next version should eliminate that - so - if that's the cause, it will be fixed eventually.  If you try to create the fan chart at different times of the day - when you find one with less traffic, and it works, then we've found the issue. (It's better than it was, but I still get the odd person who has this issue).

BUT ... a more common reason for a branch to be missing is if the connecting person's profile is private, and the app can't get beyond that privacy restriction.  When you use the Fan Chart, do you LOGIN? If you click on the menu item to LOGIN TO WIKITREE, then when you generate a Fan Chart, all people who are on your trusted list will be available to you - and even if they are living, as long as you can edit their profile, you should be able to view them on a Fan Chart.  Try this - and see if that branch reappears for you? (I'd love this to be the solution!)

 - Greg

Thanks for your reply, Greg. A bit about our South African experience may be of interest to you to know why and how I use your fan chart. Our founding fathers settled in SA from 1652. There was a limited number of people so a lot of intermarrying between families. Today, we are about 10 generations further, but all who stem from those early settlers are related in many ways.  This is where your fan chart is very handy. It illustrates the descendancy of todays population from those founding fathers.   

The aforementioned problem of the chart not populating is not resolved but I am eagerly awaiting your new version, hoping it will resolve this issue. Thanks again for your efforts and contribution to our genealogical experience.

6 Answers

+4 votes
That is very useful. Thanks for the quick response.
by Loretta Corbin G2G6 Pilot (225k points)
+4 votes
This has definitely improved in appearance since the last time I tried it, but I still have no idea what this could be used for.  Why would you want one of these? (serious question)
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (210k points)
Thanks J. for acknowledging it has improved in appearance ... getting things to look nice is not always my forte - I often focus on features / content, and the result can get overcrowded with gaudy colours and not very appealing.

As for what you can use it for - lots of people like a Fan Chart as an alternative view for seeing all of their direct ancestors at a glance.  Others prefer the more traditional Pedigree chart, which goes up like a step ladder, either vertically, or sideways.  It's really a matter of personal preference.   A Fan Chart is often more compact, so you can see more at a glance - and - where there are holes (brick walls or just ancestors you haven't got to yet) - they stick out right away.

I've also added a Checkbox feature to this latest version, so I can print off a Fan Chart and use it as a tracking sheet for my research.

If it doesn't appeal - don't worry - there's lots of other formats that do.  One thing this format does not do is show extended family, siblings of direct ancestors etc.., so if that's the type of family tree you want - this isn't going to be for you.

Hope that helps.  Other users here might want to jump in and offer suggestions that I haven't thought of, or ways you use it.

+4 votes

I saved a copy of my 10 generations fan chart. Do you know if one can print a full size 10 gen fan chart at maybe Office Depot or Kinko's? I would love to put it on the wall by my desk as a quick reference of where to focus my attention.
by Loretta Corbin G2G6 Pilot (225k points)
Hi Loretta,

That’s excellent! Yes, there are places where you can do exactly that.  I’m in Canada and Staples offers that service and I’ve used it for this. You go online , upload the PDF file, choose options like the size and type of paper, I had it laminated too, and then pay online.  I suspect those big stores you mentioned must have similar options.

+2 votes
Hi Greg. As I answered in the November update, it is looking fantastic. Just really struggle to get it to load without failing, unfortunately. I see that you commented that it has something to do with demand on the system at the time. I wonder if it is worse here in Australia too. I'm not sure how you can resolve the issue, but I wonder if you could add a reset button, that would ask the app to do another search for missed information after loading, so at least it wouldn't have to continue from the start each time, and keep failing to load, or keep failing to load all the details. I guess on the bright side, the App must be really popular, because it is often busy.
by Ben Molesworth G2G6 Pilot (147k points)
Interesting idea there Ben.  I’ll add that to my list.  I really need to crack this nut so that the app is always reliable. Thank you for your patience and kind words about the app.

I'm just looking at it again. It already does this function. But let me explain. If you load the chart with absolute minimal details in the chart, and then add dates, add places, add marriage dates, add colors, it reloads the information for each detail, one at a time. If you have the fan chart, so it only loads minimal details, and then you have to turn the other details on, it seems to load better that way.
+2 votes
This is a really fantastic app. Thanks for making this!

I've come across a few quirks that I'd like to share with you:

- Sometimes part of the text (in the PDF) shifts a few millimeters, so that it goes over the boundary of the box.

- Sometimes the text (in the pdf) will contain the addition 'GPC:' and 'JT:' and sometimes both. I see this between first and last name and between name and date's. But only on the right side of the fan chart.

If you want to know more, please send a personal email.
by Rob Arzoni G2G5 (5.0k points)
Thanks Rob for alerting me to that !

(2) The GPC and JT were there just recently as I was doing some testing and tweaking to skooch the text back over the boundary!  Unfortunately, I left some of those traces in the program after my work .. thanks for pointing that out so I could clean up after myself!  (If you try now, you shouldn't see anymore of them).

(1) So ... related to that .. there was an issue where the right side was really misbehaving in terms of boundary line issues.  I think I've resolved that - but - if you can send me a specific scenario where it still needs to be shifted, that'd be great.  The Fan Chart adjusts its radius and arc/sector size based on how many parameters you are trying to display (and also how much info is in your relatives information).  You may want to send me a private message on WikiTree if we need to troubleshoot that more.

 - Greg

Thank you for you very nice app and your quick response and solving the problem.

Rob Arzoni

Love the app. I've come across the same issue with PDF generation. It occurs only in the 8th generation (I've tested on 8 and 9 generation charts), and only on the right side, and only when I have selected places to be displayed (any of the place options).
Forgot to include that the problem only appears in the "ang=90" fan, the one with the horizontal bottom.
Thanks Darrin for that!

I'm working on moving my standalone Fan Chart app into the Dynamic Tree view - and - I'm not quite finished, and some of those same placement issues are there (or in different forms) ... so it's a bit of a work in progress still.  Thanks for being specific though - that does help me zero in on the problems to fix !

 - Greg
Great! I printed an 8 generation ang=60 fan chart that I'll be showing to my sisters, parents, aunts, and uncles this weekend. It came out great! I can't wait to show them. Thank you for your work on this.
+1 vote
Wonderful tool, inspires me to put more of my tree into wikitree!

Minor suggestion though - the wedding dates are a great addition, but they tend to overlay the name text for the individual underneath when it's long or centred as that's top-aligned. It would be great if we could centre the wedge text vertically as well as horizontally. Apoligies if I'm missing something!

Another thing that woudl be nice is that it seems to default out to the last geneeration you have a full set of ancestors for - it would be nice to be able to just tell it to go out to a defined setting instead. I have some adoption in my tree, so the chart starts really small every time I regenerate it and I have to then click repeatedly to expand it back out again every time.
by Jamie Thompson G2G Rookie (230 points)

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