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Blog: #family-sheets

It took me a while to get around to this, but I’ve finally posted the code for tabular pedigrees, family pedigrees, and family sheets (which includes ancestor line charts and family sparklines).

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Projects — Prints 2.6

We’ll group the projects together today.

Family pedigrees

An old-yet-new chart type: family pedigrees.


As you can see, it’s a little different from the initial design. This modern incarnation admittedly isn’t as pretty in some ways, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to lay out programmatically.

New things: It shows which child the line comes through, I added the lifespan right after each parent’s name, and I added indicators for the children showing how many kids they had (the dot) and how many marriages (the slash, though if they were married only once and had children, I left the marriage indicator off).

It also supports four generations, admittedly with less space and smaller type:


I tried it without the table borders, by the way. While it was more readable than I expected, it felt a little too loose and unmoored.

The input uses ArchieML and currently looks like this:


family: 1.1
marriage: 30 Dec 1829 in Polanco
father: José Antonio Fuentevilla Fuentevilla // 1809-1878
mother: Manuela Gándara Cobo // 1811-1879
  name: ? // 1830-1831

  name: Josefa // 1832-1834

  name: Francisca Maria // 1835-1843

  name: Maria Remedios // 1838-1898
  children: 6

  name: Maria Luisa // 1841-1916
  marriages: 1

  name: Manuel // 1845-

  name: < Maria Isabel // 1848-1928
  children: 9

  name: Maria Dolores // 1853-1853

  name: José Maria // 1858-1858

# --------------------------------------

family: 2.1
marriage: 29 Feb 1808 in Polanco
father: José Fuentevilla Piñera // 1779-1855
mother: Vicenta Manuela Fuentevilla Ruiz // 1787-1828
  name: < José Antonio // 1809-1878
  children: 9



Right now the family numbering is table-based (column, row), but eventually I think I probably want to make it hierarchical (somehow) so it’s easier to know which cell to put things in.

Timeline charts

Another new chart of sorts: timelines. I’ve been sorting through my Cuban lines and realized I needed some way to map out everybody so I could see the bigger picture.


The input is an ArchieML file that just lists events with dates and optional places:

title: Cuba timeline


event: Antonio Sánchez Rodríguez Díaz marries Ana Josefa Muñoz y Martínez Machado, possibly in El Calvario
daterange: 1790s-1800s

event: Agustin Sánchez Muñoz marries Ana Josefa Montoro, who then dies before 7 Feb 1835
daterange: 1790s-1830s

event: Rafaela Crispina Sánchez Muñoz born to Antonio Sánchez Rodríguez Díaz and Ana Josefa Muñoz y Martínez Machado
date: 1805 Oct 25
place: Matanzas City

event: Domingo Sánchez Muñoz born to Antonio Sánchez Rodríguez Díaz and Ana Josefa Muñoz y Martínez Machado
date: 1807 May 12
place: Matanzas City

event: Antonia Crispina Vargas Hernández is born to José Vargas and Gertrudis Hernández
daterange: 1800s
place: Güira de Melena, Mayabeque


If the date is a range, it’s italicized to show that it’s broader than a specific date.

(I originally was just going to use Google Docs for this, by the way, and made an initial prototype there. Having to do all the formatting manually got old, though, so I scripted it. Now I can just focus on the content.)

Family sheets update

I’ve got almost all the family sheet functionality ported to Node/JavaScript and cleaned up. (The sparklines code now uses tracks and markers in a way that is much more extensible and easier to work with.) In the process, I also revised the resolution (before, it just keyed off the year, but now it uses the month and day if present as well, so spacing is more accurate), added dotted-line support for date ranges (for birth and death), and added a marker for divorce (a skinny X):


Still have a number of bugs to fix, but it’s getting close.

Tabular pedigrees update

I ported the tabular pedigrees to Node/JavaScript and added support for seven-generation charts:


Comparison to the six-generation chart:


The shaded cells, by the way, indicate that I haven’t yet verified those people. Basically a TODO comment for myself.

Can’t wait till Chrome supports border stroke widths smaller than 1pt.

Quick links

Last and sort of least, I’m slowly putting together a page with quick links to the various Torre de’ Passeri civil registration scans on FamilySearch, to save myself some time. Planning to do this for the other localities I do research in as well.

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I’ve been doing a lot of genealogy lately, and as part of that I’ve been refining the family sheets I mentioned last time:


Ancestor line chart

The main new thing is the ancestor line chart in the upper right, showing where the family is on my line in relation to me, with fathers on the left and mothers on the right. (So this family is my mother’s mother’s mother’s father’s father’s parents.) Each person’s initial is in the circle.

For collateral lines, it looks like this:


If the family sheet were for Agustin’s grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the collateral line would extend further downward (with each collateral line generation lining up with its parallel main line generation).

The syntax for both ancestor line charts:

line: -T -J -A A- E- LF

line: -T J- A- -I -M -J PA > A-

I went through a whole bunch of iterations on the syntax before landing on this, which I really like. It’s concise and reads easily to me, and it also happens to be very, very easy to parse.

Family sparklines

I’ve changed the family sparklines to show whether children are sons (hollow diamonds) or daughters (filled circles), and the marriages are now slightly thicker and longer vertical lines. (So in the second screenshot, you can see that Agustin married three times. And yes, he had a couple children when he was in his sixties!)

Though these don’t show it, I’ve also added support for twins and other multiple births.

Next up, I’m planning to add dotted lines for date ranges (“died between X and Y”) and markers for divorce and for the death of a spouse. Also working toward making this month-level granular instead of just year-level. (Right now, if someone is born in January of one year and their next sibling is born December of the next year, the sparklines make it look like they’re only one year apart even though in reality they’re almost two apart.)

Other changes

The layout has changed a bit, mostly to give more horizontal room for the sparklines, and to set the husband and wife side by side (which saves vertical space and also creates a spatial analogue to the ancestor line chart).

I’m no longer manually (and laboriously) loading these in the browser to export the PDFs. Instead, I call Chrome in headless mode as part of my script:

/Applications/Google Chrome.app/Contents/MacOS/Google Chrome \
  --headless \
  --disable-gpu \
  --print-to-pdf \
  --print-to-pdf-no-header \

Last (and also least), I’ve switched the font from EB Garamond to Clifford Pro. Mmm.

The code

Right now the code is a bit of a mess. Now that the prototype has served its purpose, I’m about to rearchitect it all and port it to Node, possibly Bun, possibly with ArchieML. (It’s currently Python with Jinja2 and YAML. For years I’ve used Python for writing almost all my command-line tools, but lately I find that I’d rather write JavaScript. Time for an ecosystem shift.)

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Family sheets

As part of my quest to start saving my genealogical research on paper, I built a small system for generating family sheet PDFs. (Kind of like my family group record redesigns.)

It takes input like this:

    name: José Antonio Fuentevilla Fuentevilla
      date: 13 Apr 1809
      place: Polanco, Santander, Spain
      date: 23 Dec 1878
      place: Polanco, Santander, Spain
      father: José Fuentevilla Piñera
      mother: Vicenta Manuela Fuentevilla Ruiz
      link: SE-0013

    name: Manuela Gándara Cobo
      date: about 1811
      place: Setién, Marina de Cudeyo, Santander, Spain
      date: 30 Nov 1879
      place: Polanco, Santander, Spain
      father: José Gandara Valdecilla
      mother: Josefa Cobo Palacio

    date: 30 Dec 1829
    place: Polanco, Santander, Spain

    - name: "[unnamed infant]"
        date: about 1830
        place: Polanco, Santander, Spain
        date: 14 Jan 1831
        place: Polanco, Santander, Spain

    - name: Josefa Fuentevilla Gandara
        date: 31 Jul 1832
        place: Polanco, Santander, Spain
        date: 5 Aug 1834
        place: Polanco, Santander, Spain


And then generates an HTML page which I can then load in a browser and print to get this:


I’m using a page-naming scheme that helps me know which side of my family it’s on. The numbering is in order of creation. The family sparklines show an overview of the family. There’s a notes section (not shown) where I include notes on the family and what research we still need to do. The age calculations are primitive but get the idea across.

It takes a bit of time to copy things out of FamilySearch and keep it up to date, but I’m finding that these sheets help me see what work I still need to do. And it’s nice having something material and persistent so I’m not always on a screen.

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