VISUAL GENEALOGY HELP
By TMW Co, El Cajon, Cal Copyright 1988,91,92,93
VISUAL GENEALOGY provides insight into an individuals'
genealogy from three different viewpoints - his ancestors, his
descendants and/or his personal data.
These views may be displayed one at a time or all at once;
switching back and forth with the touch of a key. This revision
of VISUAL GENEALOGY (5.0) includes a built in mechanism for
creating or updating Genealogy files, converting files to and
from GEDCOM format and provisions to print any of these
viewpoints or to write them to a file for further formatting or
< Press Down Arrow or Page Down to Scroll >
1. WHAT YOU SEE - - An Overview
2. HOW IT WORKS
3. WINDOW HANDLING
4. THE MENUS
5. PROGRAM CAPACITY
6. GENEALOGY DATA FILE FORMAT
1. WHAT YOU SEE: An Overview:
The look and feel of this program is very much like that of
a Macintosh computer or of a Windows application. It uses only
the character mode of your computer and therefore does not need
any graphic display capability.
Each of the viewpoints is in a window of its own.
A mouse will make the program a little easier to use because
you can point to the choice you want on the various menus.
Everything that can be done with the mouse can also be done with
The actual display of genealogical data should be self
evident - spouses are indented by one space, and generations are
indented by about 8 spaces. You can scroll through all the data
available, even if it doesn't all fit on the screen at one time.
You use the mouse and the scroll bars at the edge of the window
or you use the computer directional arrow keys to move up or down
(or sideways, for that matter).
The appearance of the data in each of the windows can be
further tailored by using the settings menu. Here you can choose
how many generations to show, whether to show the identifying
numbers or not, or whether to show all the information on each
individual or just his name and key dates.
A list of all the people in your data file is also
available. You can easily choose which of these people to make
the new "Main" person.
The GEDCOM file format is popular for exchanging
genealogical data. Visual Genealogy allows direct reading and
writing GEDCOM files.
2. HOW IT WORKS:
Start the program by entering:
The program tries to load a genealogy data file when it
first starts up. Unless you ask for a different file name, he
tries to load whatever file is called MASTER.GEN. Ask for your
file by starting the program:
The sample file that comes with VISUAL GENEALOGY is named
MASTER.GEN. When it has served its purpose, rename it to get it
out of the way.
You may make up your own data files and name them xxx.GEN.
If you prefer to deal in GEDCOM format, name them xxx.GED. The
file being used may be changed as often as you like. The program
tries to initially display ancestor data about person number 1 or
the first person he finds in the file.
Menu selection: Note the Main Menu choices available across
the top line of the display. Any of these may be chosen by
pointing at it with a mouse (and pushing the mouse button) or by
using the ALT key and the highlighted key in the menu name. For
example: The genealogy data file to be used is selected from the
IN FILE menu. Notice that the I in INFILE is a different color.
You may select the IN FILE menu item by using the keys ALT-I or
by picking the words IN FILE with the mouse.
Once a Main Menu is picked, further choices on the menu are
pulled down and shown. Again, each choice has a different letter
highlighted. There are three ways to select a choice:
- Strike the highlighted key E.g. C for CHANGE
- Pick a selection with the mouse. The selection is
actualy done by releasing the Mouse button.
- Use up or down arrows to move highlight - then use CR
The ESC key dismisses the menu without a selection.
Similarly for the other Main Menus.
A CR or ESC will dismiss an information message box, as will
picking the little square Close symbol in the upper left hand
Main Person: The Ancestor, Descendant and Personal Data
windows show file data from the point of view of the selected
Main Person. Clicking on a person's name with the mouse (in
either the Ancestor or the Descendant or the List Everybody
window) makes that person the new Main Person, and all open
displays change to his or her viewpoint. Similarly, choosing
NewPerson from the Person menu leads to a display box where you
enter the number of the next Main Person.
Hot keys: Certain keys lead directly to a menu choice
without going through the top menu. E.g. F2 (Function key number
2) will immediately bring up the box allowing you to specify a
new person to focus on. Just enter the new person's number and
hit return. Often used keys are shown in the Status line at the
bottom of the screen. Here are all of the "hot keys":
F1 Help (this file)
F2 Choose a new person
F3 Close the currently selected window
F4 Tile the open windows
F5 Zoom the current window either larger or smaller
F6 Move your attention to the next window
F7 Open an Ancestor window (if not already open)
F8 Open a Descendants window
F9 Open a Personal data window
F10 Move to the top Menu line for keyboard choice
Alt X Quit. Return to DOS.
3. WINDOW HANDLING:
One window at a time is "in focus". Its' border is
distinctive. Change focus to another window by clicking anywhere
in the new window. Or, using the keyboard, F6 will change the
focus to the next window.
When more than one window is open, the Settings menu allows
you to choose to "Tile" them. The open windows then share the
available display space. The chosen / focused individual window
(with the highlighted border) may be Zoomed to full screen size
and back again with F5 or by double clicking on the top border.
Similarly, "Cascade" lines up the open windows in a stack
with just enough of the back ones showing to allow selection.
Use Alt (window number) or pick the visible border with the mouse
to bring attention to a particular window. The window number is
in the right side of the top border.
The focused Window may be moved by dragging the top border
or by using Alt-F5 and the directional keys.
The size and shape of the focused window may be changed by
dragging the distinct area in the lower right border corner to
wherever you want it. Similarly, Alt-Shift-F5 toggles on the use
of the directional keys to do the same thing. CR toggles it back
Scrolling up and down or side to side is controlled by
clicking the arrows at the end of the scroll bars at the right
and bottom side of the focused window. Each click moves one line
or one character in the chosen direction. The directional keys
also move the screen display one line or one character.
You can scroll a long ways quickly by dragging the square
symbol in the scroll bar with the mouse. You can go from the top
to the bottom or the middle of the data very easily. Clicking in
the scroll bar between the square symbol and the arrow will
scroll by a page in that direction just as will the Page Up and
the Page Down keys.
4. THE MENUS
The top layer of menus are:
In File - Data file selection and handling
Person - Who to show, change data
Window - Open, close, change windows and display
Print - Printer handling.
Out File - Output selected data to files.
IN FILE MENU - - -
Pick Genealogy data File. Clears the deck and reads in
the chosen file. Use this if you didn't specify the file you
wanted while starting the program and want something different
than MASTER.GEN. The convention is to use .GEN as the extent of
Genealogy data files and .GED as the extent for GEDCOM files.
Write Genealogy data File. If you have changed any of
the genealogy data, don't forget to WRITE OUT THE CHANGED DATA
Start a New Genealogy File. Clears the deck, clears
the windows and prepares for a new data file. The first person
who you add will be the first data into the data area.
Change Directory. As it implies, if you are in a
different directory from your genealogy data, use this. The
dialog allows selecting the desired drive and the desired
directory. Double click on Drives and wait while he figures out
which drives are legitimate and shows you. Double click on the
drive you want, etc.
Edit a File. SAVE YOUR DATA FILE CHANGES before
calling for the Editor. This is a small editor that allows
creating note files or even editing the genealogy data file
without leaving the program.
The Editor is a small, fast 64K editor for use in Turbo
Vision applications. It features mouse support, undo, clipboard
cut, copy and paste, autoindent and overwrite modes, WordStar
key bindings, and search and replace.
This Editor edits the contents of a file, which it stores in
memory. The file appears in a window designed to hold either
then main Editor file or the clipboard. The window will change
its title to display the file name being edited and will use the
same scroll bars as the main program. There is also a line and
column counter in the lower left corner of the edit window.
Use the File menu to Open an existing file or to create a
Open File - - -
Read the file from disk and check for errors.
New File - - -
Get ready for a New, so far Untitled, file.
Save File - - -
Saves the file to disk. Returns an error if the save failed
or was canceled. A .BAK backup file is created. Will call
SaveAs if the editor data is "Untitled."
SaveAs - - -
Saves the editor data with a different name. The name is
derived from a dialog.
The actual text editing commands are similar to familiar
Wordstar keys - Control S (^S) for character left, ^D for
character right, etc...
The only exceptions to Wordstar usage are the block
commands. Since the Editor does not use persistent blocks, the
block commands are simulated by copying the information to and
from the clipboard. For example, ^K^B will begin selecting text.
^K^K will copy the text to the clipboard. ^K^C will paste the
contents from the clipboard to the editor. This simulates, quite
closely, the keystrokes to do the same thing using WordStar
Block selection can be started by holding down the shift key
with any of the cursor movement commands instead of using the ^K
In the Editor you may also Change Directories, temporarily
Shell to DOS and use a calculator that you will find under the
Return from the Editor. (or Alt-X) Returns to the top
of the main program. SAVE THE EDITED DATA before returning to
the main program if you expect to see it again.
PERSON MENU - - -
Current Person. Shows who the main person is, which
file is being used, how many people there are in the file and how
many lines of data are available for each of his three main
person windows (ancestor, descendant and personal data).
Show a New Person. Brings up a small dialog box to
allow selection of the next person to be the Main person. A new
Main person may also be selected by clicking on his or her name
in the open window display.
Change person Data. Here is where to change or add
data about the current Main person. A form is presented and you
step through the many blanks with the TAB key or by picking the
desired blank with the mouse. Shift TAB to step backwards. In
each blank window you may change or add or delete information.
Some information can come in bunches, like children, spouses
or divorces, so if the Main Person has any of these, click the
appropriate buttons and a subsequent dialog will allow editing of
Generally, you refer to other people by number. If the
number has already been assigned, use it; sometimes you may just
enter N and the program will determine the next available number
to use. You can always move the dialog boxes aside to check the
information in the underlying windows.
Whenever any data about a person is changed, all of his data
is checked. If he is the father of Somebody, then the Somebodys'
data is checked to see that he points to his or her father. If
an Inconsistency is found, you will be asked to confirm that
Somebodys' record should be corrected to be consistent with that
of the main person being edited.
Add a New Person. Exactly the same kind of editing is
done here for a new person.
Delete a Person. You have to confirm that you really
want to delete all reference to a person. Each of the links in
other persons records that point to the deleted person will also
WINDOW MENU - - -
Open Ancestors. This window starts with the Main
Person at the top and his parents indented a generation below,
the father first, then the mother. For each of the parents (and
everybody else, for that matter), their parents are indented once
for each generation. The generations are immediately obvious.
Sometimes a mother and a father are separated by a lot of people
(the ancestors of the father) so you may want to change the
number of generations being shown. (See Settings, below).
Click on a person to make him or her the new Main Person.
Open Descendants. This window also starts with the
Main Person at the top. His (or her) spouses are indented by one
space and then each of the children of that spouse are listed,
with their spouses and children, etc. Again, each generation is
indented by about 8 characters.
Click on any person to make him or her the new Main Person.
Open Personal. The available data for the Main Person
is shown. Spouses, birth and death dates, children, divorces,
notes, occupation and data from the persons' special note file.
List Everybody. An alphabetical listing of all the
people in the data file with their number.
Click on a person to make him or her the new Main Person.
Close. Close the chosen window. Can also use the F3
function key hot key as listed above.
Settings. Opens a dialog that allows you to chose the
format of the Ancestor and Descendant windows and the
- How many generations to show, from two generations to All
- To show each persons number or not. Not showing the
numbers cleans up printed output for showing to the outside
- Whether or not to show all the data that is known about
each person in the Ancestor and Descendant windows; instead of
just his name and birth and death dates.
Tile. Splits the available screen space among the open
windows. You can also use the F4 hot key. I find that the most
valuable format for me is to have the following three windows
open and tiled: Ancestor, Descendant Personal Data.
Cascade. Stacks the open windows. Enough shows of the
window underneath to allow selection by mouse or window number.
PRINT MENU - - -
Personal. Prints the contents of any of these three
Page Eject. Guess what this does.
Settings. Allows choice of some print formats.
If you are Epson compatible, and a lot of printers are, you
may use large type for persons names in printed output to make a
page of material easier to absorb. You may offset the printed
data from the left margin to make binding easier or you may
specify the desired line length before text wraps onto the next
line. Similarly, you may specify double spaced printing or not.
OUT FILE MENU - - -
Personal. Writes the contents of any of these three
windows to an output file.
Open Output File. Opens an existing file to append
more data to the end of it.
Pick New Output File.
Save File and close.
Exit. The way out of the program. Did you save your
5. PROGRAM CAPACITY:
The program can handle as many individuals as memory allows.
Available memory is shown in the lower right corner of the
screen. Each of the views of an individual is limited to 1000
lines, a limit that will seldom be reached.
The program is overlayed which means that is can operate in
something less than the full memory of your computer. The less
memory available, the slower it runs. The built in Editor can
handle files up to 64K bytes long.
The data and display formats allow for single line Comments
and for longer Note files for each individual. These Note files
may be created with the Editor and their display is controlled by
the Settings in the Window menu.
6. GENEALOGY DATA FILE FORMAT:
All manner of data is stored in these Genealogy files.
Included are connections between people, dates, places and facts.
Understanding the internals of the file formats is not necessary
for creating and using Genealogy files.
The data is stored in pure ASCII character form so that it
may be read and / or changed with any word processing editor.
GEDCOM file format specifications are available from the LDS
Church in Salt Lake City. Generally speaking, the GEDCOM format
files are twice the size of the same data in the native format of
The following describes the native file format. All the
data about an individual is kept in one or more records (lines)
in the genealogy file. All of the records for an individual start
with the same number - the individual's Record Identifying Number
(RIN). RINs start each record and may be arbitrarily assigned.
Records may be any practical length, but are generally limited to
80 columns for convenient display.
Particular major groups of information about the individual
are separated by a major delimiter character ("\") and start with
an alphabetic letter. The letter tells you what the associated
information is about.
2017 Schlatter Jacob\ B18591201/Freinsheim Reinbairern Germany\
2017 P2300/2301\ M2018/18820827/St. Petri Church Brooklyn NY\
2017 CCame to U.S 8/23/1881 on SS Wisconsin\
2017 S2451/2452/2453\ E19220207/Evergreen Cemetery\
2018 Schlatter Juliana /Wiegand/\
2018 B18571129/Freinsheim Reinbaiern Germany\ P2320/2321\
2018 M2017/18820827/St. Petri Church Brooklyn NY\
2018 CCame to U.S. 8/20/1881 on SS Werder\
2018 S2451/2452/2453\ E19540121/Evergreen Cemetery\
Certain letters are used to describe connections between
people, by listing their serial numbers. When the connection is
to more than one person, the persons serial numbers are separated
by the minor delimiter character "/".
P - Parents e.g. P200/201\
C - Children e.g. Jacob and Juliana had three sons
and many daughters
M - Spouses XM - Male XF - Female
R - A Relationship short of marriage
Dates are important in Geneology data. Dates are kept as
year-month-day (yyyymmdd), and are sometimes separated from other
pieces of data by the "/" character. Data elements that include
B - Birthday e.g. B19300512 is May 12, 1930
E - Date died or expired. (D was originally used for
M - Marriage date (Follows the number of who was
married) e.g. M34/19520602/New York NY\
U - Untied (Can't use D for Divorced since we used it
The locations where things happened are also tracked,
generally being similarly separated from other elements by the
Miscellaneous data can also be tracked:
A - Current address
C - Comments (Note how Jacob came to the US)
O - Occupation
N - Note files e.g. Nfname
NOTE files are particularly important. N can be followed by
any file name, but the usual convention is to make a file name by
using an "n", the individuals number and the file extent ".not" .
e.g. The entry "Nn2018.NOT" points to file N2018.NOT which
is anything you want to keep track of about individual number
2018. Note files may be displayed along with other data about
the person. They are files of pure ASCII records, each record of
which will be wrapped at 79 characters if longer than that.
Genealogy files and note files should be prepared with
"non-document " mode of a Word Processor or editor.
GEDCOM format files take longer to read and write because of
the need to convert to the internal format of Visual Genealogy.
VISUAL GENEALOGY was written in Turbo Pascal using Turbo
Vision techniques from Borland International.
We will appreciate hearing any thoughts or comments you have
about this program:
TMW Co - 1361 Eastside Rd, El Cajon, Cal - 92020-1420