Is there a computer program that allows you to see a whole family tree, on screen, and expand, compact and shift, vertically and horizontally, just as you can in Google Earth?

  • 1
    Welcome to G&FH SE! It sounds like an interesting visualisation idea although I'm not sure that any such implementation would have much in common with Google Earth other than at a superficial level.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 7:54
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    Related question: genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/10402/…
    – Harry V.
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 9:37
  • Hmm, didn't see that. Should I delete my answer and perhaps move it to that linked question, so that this one can simply link there?
    – AndyW
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 14:57
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    The related question specifically talks about printing and this one specifically asks about display on a computer. I think that makes the Qs different enough that they should be kept separate.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 22:50

3 Answers 3


I've wondered about this before, so I had another look and found ZoomPast, a (newish?) project from Imperial College, London. I've only had a brief play with it so far, but may be the sort of thing you're looking for. There are some introductory videos on the site that show how the amount of detail presented varies "fractally" with zoom level. You can upload a Gedcom file or build a tree manually. It seems to be purely a visualisation package, and online only, so there's no research, analysis or offline working as far as I can see, and it doesn't link to trees on other sites so won't keep in sync. My 440 person Gedcom test file uploaded and processed in under a minute.

An example from my tree, with people I've mentioned in other questions, looks like this: Part of the Hill/Richardson line in ZoomPast As you zoom in and out, the family boxes expand to show individuals in more detail, and if you zoom fully in to a single person it shows a timeline of their life.

It seems quite an effective display tool. I'll probably use it to show family members different bits of the tree, flying in and out is fast and looks pretty cool.

It's also potentially useful for highlighting gaps in a tree, as they can show as voids in the display even when zoomed out a long way. For example, in the image above, near top centre, you can see that John Hill has parents in the grouping box, but his wife Hannah does not. Likewise you can see that William, to their right, has both parents in the tree but only one set of grandparents. (Another missing set are the parents of Elizabeth Crawley, as it happens).


It is not quite fractal, but with Kith & Kin you can zoom in and out and move around the tree area. See Tutorial - Using the Tree Area

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The disadvantage with the Tree Area is that you have to place the put the families in the area yourself rather than it dynamically drawing it as you zoom in and out, which can lead to some very messy looking trees.

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Although you can use Layers to reduce the clutter, e.g. show only your direct ancestors and families or other groups of families

Using layers to reduce clutter


Don't the MyHeritage and Ancestry sites already do this for you?

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In the MyHeritage screenshot above, notice the home button and left-right-up-down arrows at the bottom right, and the zoom slider above it.

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In the Ancestry screenshot above, notice the Plus, Minus and Slider buttons at the left.

  • Ancestry allows you to Zoom in and out but it keeps the same information on the page. So you are just making the individual boxes bigger or smaller. You aren't seeing less or more information. It does have an expand option to see more information on a particular individuals family but sometimes this is not exactly what you are wanting. Or you are wanting to see several individuals expanded information at once, which Ancestry doesn't allow. Commented Aug 27, 2016 at 18:24

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