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Berkeley COMPSCI 294 - Family Tree Visualization

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Family Tree VisualizationKerstin KellerUniversity of California, BerkeleyEmail: k [email protected] ReddyUniversity of California, BerkeleyEmail: [email protected] SachdevaUniversity of California, BerkeleyEmail: [email protected]—This paper discusses the layout of a family treethat emphasizes temporal data. The ancestors and descen-dants are laid out radially around a centered person. Thelayout also supports dynamic interaction with the familytree.I. INTRODUCTIONA. MotivationFamily trees are one of the most common ways totrace the genealogy of a certain person. Family trees haveexisted for a long time, and the interest in them has notwaned. Many people work on constructing their familytree as a common pastime or hobby. In addition, familytrees can be very useful in medical and anthropologicalstudies.B. ProblemsMany family trees fail to properly encode all thenecessary and useful information. There are very fewfamily trees that effectively visualize temporal data.Being able to easily see the differences in ages amongdifferent nodes is very useful in family trees. In ad-dition, encoding ages into a family tree also providesthe ability to extract more information, such as the ageranges within a single generation or among multiplegenerations. Unfortunately, there are not many ways todo so in a clean and effective manner.Another problem that family trees do not effectivelysolve is the issue of scalability and clutter. As a familytree gets bigger, visualizing it becomes a more difficulttask because the chances of clutter get higher. In addi-tion, easily searching for a node in family trees is alsodifficult because there is no easy path to follow unless auser has more information about that person.C. SolutionIn this paper, we discuss our solution to these prob-lems and how they are implemented in the visualization.First of all, the conical-shaped family tree layout helpsimmensely with the problems listed above. The familytree has ancestors above and descendents below a centralroot node. The root node is the center of the tree andthe upper and lower halves of the tree fan out from it.In addition, the family tree visualization has a circularaxis that highlights the age differences between certainnodes. The circular axis is centered on the root node,and allows the user to see which nodes are how far inage from the root node. Each ring in the circular axisrepresents a certain number of years from the root node.Finally, by implementing many interactive features inthis family tree, we have been able to effectively showtemporal data and reduce unnecessary clutter in thetree.II. RELATED WORKFamily trees have been a topic of interest for re-searchers. Various approaches for visualizing tree-likestructures have been researched.A. Research1) Tree Panel - A study on multiple views for treevisualization: In his paper, Soon Tee Teoh, talks aboutmultiple views for tree visualization [1]. The paperdiscusses Tree-panels, a tree visualization system thatprovides four simultaneous visualizations of a tree.These four layouts are:1) RINGS Layout2) Radial Tree Layout3) TreeMap Layout4) Hierarchical LayoutIn figure 1, the RINGS and hierarchical layouts can beseen [1]. The paper discusses results from user studiesconducted to get responses on effectiveness of the fourdifferent visualizations.2) Interactive Fan Charts: In [2], Draper and Riesenfeldtalk about interactive fan charts as a space-saving tech-nique for genealogical graph exploration. A fan chartis a radial structure where a person’s name is drawn inthe center of the graphic, surrounded by concentric ringscontaining the names of the person’s ancestors (see Fig-ure 2). Fan charts are a popular method for visualizingfamily trees, due perhaps in part to their aesthetic appealas well as their compact appearance relative to the morecommmon tree-based pedigree chart. We leverages thisidea of a radial layout in our implementation.B. Existing family tree softwareThere exists a number of commercial as well as freesoftware applications for generating family trees. The fo-cus of most of these trees is to allow users to dynamicallybuild a tree - by interactively adding nodes.Some examples include:Fig. 1: Horizontal Hierarchical Layout (left) and RINGSlayout (right) of an actual file directory tree. The sim-ilarity between the sub-directories is more obvious inRINGS, while the hieratchical layout uncovers many im-mediate files (leaves) in this directory that are obscuredin RINGS.Fig. 2: A sample fan chart.1) PAF Companion 5.4: PAF (Personal Ancestral File)helps users organize their family history records. It canproduce, either on screen or on paper, pedigree charts,family group records, and other reports to help users intheir search for missing ancestors [3].PAF Companion - Pros• The colors make it easy to identify nodes at differentlevels as the tree gets huge• Each node has a label with information• Birthyears convey some temporal informationPAF Companion - Cons• As can be seen in figure 3, this is a one-sided tree,showing only ancestors• The tree is a static image without much interaction• Temporal data cannot be easily compared or ana-lyzed2) MyHeritage.com: Their vision has been to make iteasier for people around the world to use the powerof the Internet to discover their heritage and strengthenFig. 3: PAF Companion 5.4Fig. 4: MyHeritage.comtheir bonds with family and friends [4].MyHeritage.com - Pros• The pink/blue colors help to identify gender• The labels contain qualitative information about thenodes• Presents some form of temporal information - birthand death yearsMyHeritage.com - Cons• Temporal data, even though present on each node,is not easily comparable across nodes• Scalability with the structure is hard3) GenoPro: GenoPro is a user-friendly comprehen-sive software that allows one to draw family trees andgenograms that can be shared with family. [5]GenoPro - Pros• The tree edges encode emotional aspects of relation-ships well• The labels contain birth informationFig. 5: GenoProFig. 6: Online Social Community Representation usingVizsterGenoPro - Cons• Temporal data, even though present on each node,is not easily comparable across nodes• The different symbols make the tree look confusing• Excessive use of color also contributes to the clut-tered look4) Vizster: Vizster is a tool built upon Prefuse that isaimed at visualizing online social networks [6]. Eventhough the structure of


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