Sunday, May 29, 2011

Charting Companion now available for OneGreatFamily

Progeny's Charting Companion is now available for the popular on-line OneGreatFamily genealogy site.

As OneGreatFamily's Website says:

OneGreatFamily is a cooperative effort between you and the rest of the world. It is an online genealogical service which allows everyone to combine their knowledge and data to build one huge, shared database. OneGreatFamily is more than a simple collection of different family trees. Using breakthrough technology, OneGreatFamily is actually linking all of the family trees together into one great family.

With the world working together on one database, each individual is able to leverage the effort and research of all OneGreatFamily users rather than wasting time duplicating research that others have already done.

With Charting Companion for OneGreatFamily, you can publish and share your research with these great-looking charts:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Charting Companion now available for

Progeny's Charting Companion is now available for the popular on-line genealogy site.

As's Website says:

Geni is solving the problem of genealogy by inviting the world to build the definitive online family tree. Using the basic free service at, users add and invite their relatives to join their family tree, which Geni compares to other trees. Matching trees are then merged into the single world family tree, which currently contains nearly 50 million living users and their ancestors. Pay services include enhanced research tools as well as keepsake products created from family tree data. Geni welcomes casual genealogists and experts who wish to discover new relatives and stay in touch with family.

With Charting Companion for Geni, you can publish and share your research with these great-looking charts:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How big can a PDF be?

The PDF technology used by Progeny can create a PDF file of unlimited size. (Well, almost unlimited: 231 pixels to be exact. At 600DPI, that's about 3,579,139 inches).

However, not all PDF readers are able to display large PDF files.

We recently did some tests, and have some interesting findings.

Here are the largest PDF files that can be read by some of the more popular PDF readers. It seems to be the overall surface area that is the limiting factor.

Adobe Reader Foxit Brava! Cool PDF
36" x 200" 36" x 259" 45" x 258" 45" x 258"
80" x 150" 80" x 150" 80" x 150" 80" x 150"
66" x 180" 66" x 182" 66" x 182" 66" x 182"

Do you have a favorite PDF reader that we can test? Send us your suggestions.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Custom Coloring for Charts

Progeny's Charting Companion includes a handy coloring feature that lets you assign a unique, custom color combination to any person in your family tree. Three colors each describe the text, background and border.

Border, text and background colors

Custom colors can be used to represent place of origin, medical condition, occupation, military history, etc.

You can explicitly assign individual color combinations to an individual by adding a "user-defined event" with the name of "COLOR". The description of the user-defined event consists of the names of the Background, Text and Border colors (aka. Fill, Text and Outline). The advantage of using an event is that the information is permanently stored, and does not have to be re-entered every time the chart is created.

The colors can be expressed as Red/Green/Blue (RGB) values, HTML Color Codes, or color names. Ex:

RGB255,0,0 0,0,0 0,255,0
HTML#FF0000 #000000 #00FF00
Color nameRed Black Green
Mixed255,0,0 Black #00FF00

Here is how to add a user-defined event in some of the popular genealogy programs.

Personal Ancestral File

PAF Companion will read PAF data directly and create a variety of charts.

To create a new event type, first define the event. Click on "Edit, Individual, Options, New Event/Attribute, New", and define the COLOR event. You only need to do this once.

Defining new event type in PAF

Next, add a COLOR event to an individual. Click on "Edit, Individual, Options, New Event/Attribute", scroll to "COLOR", click on "Select" and add the color description:

Adding a custom color to an individual

Family Tree Maker

Charting Companion for FTM will read FTM data directly and create a variety of charts.

Click on "Edit, Manage Facts, New" and define the COLOR event:

Defining a custom fact in Family Tree Maker

Next, select the individual, and click on "Edit Person", click on the '+' or press F4 (Add Fact):

Adding a color to an individual in FTM


Legacy Charting Companion will read Legacy data directly and create a variety of charts.

Click on "Edit, Name, Add":

Adding color event in Legacy

New FamilySearch

Charting Companion for FamilySearch will read FamilySearch data directly and create a variety of charts.

Click on "Details, Add Information", check "Other":

Adding color event in New FamilySearch - step 1

Click on "Continue", and define the colors:

Adding color event in New FamilySearch - step 2

What is Pedigree Collapse?

Pedigree Collapse, also known as Implexus, occurs when distant cousins inter-marry, and parts of your family tree are duplicated. Since the number of your ancestors doubles every generation, and there are more humans alive than any period history, it is inevitable that we share the same ancestors, and we are all in a sense distant cousins.

If you go back far enough up your family tree, you will find certain persons reappearing in different parts of the tree. When that happens, entire sections are repeated, and the pedigree "collapses".

A simple example is illustrated here, with first-cousins marrying.

Ancestor view: "Michael Smith" and "Priscilla Maher" are first cousins, they share the same grandparents.

Descendant View: "Abner Smith" and "Mehitabel Smith" are brother & sister, their children marry.

Progeny's Charting Companion gives you the option of showing every instance of the identical part of the tree, or only showing it once. This option is called "Cousin Smart", and is available for each of the twelve different genealogical charts that we offer.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

PDFs - are they all created equal?

Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format) is ubiquitous. There are many libraries available to create output in PDF format. But do they all produce equal results?

A peek under the hood tells an interesting story.

There are two types of image files: raster and vector.

Raster files are like a TV picture: lines upon lines, divided into dots (pixels). If you stand back far enough, the dots blend into a smooth picture.

A vector file is like "connect the dots": lines are drawn between specific points. Vector drawings are crisp and precise.

Raster files can be very large; vector files are compact.

Raster files are good for photographs and "continuous tone" images. Vector files are better suited for line drawings.

When it comes to Genealogy charts, the lines and fonts look better in vector format. Naturally, photos are best stored as raster. A good PDF library will support both raster and vector, using the most appropriate storage for each format.

If a Genealogy chart is stored entirely in raster format, as in the example at the left (taken from a popular genealogy program), the raster lines can only approximate diagonal lines and letters. The result is a coarse, "stair case" appearance.

In addition, pure raster PDFs are much larger, require more storage space, are slower to transmit, and slower to download from a Web page.

Vector PDFs, such as the one at the right generated by Progeny's Charting Companion, are crisp and sharp at any magnification. They are often hundreds of times smaller than raster files. You can take a vector chart to a local print shop for printing on a large-scale plotter or printer.

Why bother at all with raster for line art? It is simpler for a program to output raster. The less expensive (and more limited) PDF libraries will output raster because it is easier. This economy is achieved at the expense of quality.