* Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

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arthurk
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Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by arthurk » 11 Dec 2019 16:12

I don't often work with diagrams and charts, but recently needed to produce a small and simple ancestor chart (single sheet of A4, top to bottom). It was a lot trickier than I expected.

The main problem was that it seemed impossible to drag boxes to exactly where I wanted them, and when I did get them more or less in the right place, the vertical lines joining them to their parents' marriage line turned into doglegs. It then took quite a few attempts to straighten them out, and often I found that straightening one put a dogleg in one of the others.

I did eventually find an option to straighten descendant branch lines where possible - though on looking through the forum afterwards I found a suggestion that this related to lines of descent rather than the black lines on the chart, so I don't know now whether ticking that box actually helped or hindered.

On the rare occasions when I've worked on charts in other programs I've found it useful to have a 'snap to grid' feature, so that individual elements can be moved around, but kept in line with each other. I don't remember dogleg lines being a problem in those programs, so either they weren't created (unless deliberately), or else snapping to a grid made them straighten automatically, rather than FH's reliance on doing it visually.

So what I'm now wondering is, have I missed something obvious that would have made it much easier for me? I've looked for other forum posts relating to this, but didn't see anything very recent, and none seemed to be pointing to an easy solution.

Or, is this something worth adding to the wish list? I think it probably breaks down to just two main points:
- allow full movement control of any chart element, in any direction
- snap to grid to facilitate alignment of elements and elimination of dogleg descent lines

And would it be better to wait to see if there are any changes in v.7, or add it to the wish list now in the hope that it might get included?

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Re: Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by tatewise » 11 Dec 2019 17:52

If you really are creating a simple Ancestor Diagram it should not be possible to get kinks, so try that.
Maybe you are creating an All Relatives Diagram that only shows an ancestor subtree, and can get complicated.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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Re: Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by arthurk » 11 Dec 2019 19:24

The type of diagram is really only incidental to the issue, but since you mention it, here's a snip from an Ancestor Chart from the sample project. This effect is easy to reproduce by enabling the Movement Control Box and simply clicking the white dot on a descent line and dragging it around.
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doglegs.jpg
doglegs.jpg (54.88 KiB) Viewed 1301 times

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Re: Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by tatewise » 11 Dec 2019 20:45

Ah right, that is because you've chosen Diagram > Options > General and unticked Use Fork Style for Lines....
If you tick that, which is the default, you will have no kinked lines, but there will be fewer movement options.

But generally you are correct that some extra features like snap to grid, etc, may be beneficial.

There are already two related Wish List items, both posted years ago, but they don't have many Votes:
Ref 256 Grid Lock on Diagrams that is like snap to grid.
Ref 523 Diagram Movement Control Box option to inhibit smart layout
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Re: Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by arthurk » 11 Dec 2019 22:03

I wondered about this, but found I could get the same effect when using Fork style.

(I tried this before writing my previous post but I can’t post a screenshot as I’m on a tablet at present.)

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Re: Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by tatewise » 11 Dec 2019 22:45

OK, you can get a kind of kink, but only one descendant line is affected at a time.
Apart from sliding sideways, all the rest stay put, and never automatically introduce kinks.
That is dramatically more manageable than with Fork Style, where all the other lines move around too.
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Re: Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by Jane » 12 Dec 2019 09:04

Are you simply trying to do a single line of descent rather than a full Ancestry up all lines?

If so you might get on better starting from a How Related diagram not showing siblings. Then use the Spouse "swap" movement option to get a more direct line
2019-12-12_090211.jpg
2019-12-12_090211.jpg (167.42 KiB) Viewed 1215 times
Of course, another option is you could simply add all the boxes you want manually and use the text box option to add the information for each person.
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Re: Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by arthurk » 12 Dec 2019 11:41

Jane wrote:
12 Dec 2019 09:04
Are you simply trying to do a single line of descent rather than a full Ancestry up all lines?

If so you might get on better starting from a How Related diagram not showing siblings. Then use the Spouse "swap" movement option to get a more direct line
It was mostly a single line, though in a couple of cases I wanted to include the spouse's parents as well. What you've produced looks the kind of thing that might have worked (subject to adding the in-laws manually), though if you're looking for an Ancestor chart it's not very intuitive to have to select something different.
Of course, another option is you could simply add all the boxes you want manually and use the text box option to add the information for each person.
In retrospect that might have worked just as well, though I did eventually get the chart I wanted, and this topic (for me) is about reflecting on the experience rather than getting help with an immediate problem.

I'm not quite sure how I managed to do it, but while playing around just now I created some interesting variations:
doublekink.jpg
doublekink.jpg (27.06 KiB) Viewed 1194 times
kink-aaagh.jpg
kink-aaagh.jpg (18.05 KiB) Viewed 1194 times
I think these could have resulted from switching to and from Fork style, and moving things in between. They're fun to create (!) but not when you're doing a serious chart.

So if kinks like this are inadvertently introduced, it would be nice to have a way to eliminate them automatically (snap to grid, or maybe edit the properties of the line) without having to drag and line things up manually, which is quite tricky to do.

Putting the problem another way, I'd really like to be able to move boxes and lines in such a way that kinked lines aren't created unless absolutely necessary: with the layout I've chosen, I think this would mean that descent lines could be attached to any point of a box's top edge or a marriage line, rather than just the mid-point as at present, and the kinks only introduced if the box and line were out of alignment to the extent that a vertical line was impossible.

Finally, about the Wish List. Is it better to vote for a very old item or to start a new one?

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Re: Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by tatewise » 12 Dec 2019 12:42

I agree that kinks are sometimes annoying and difficult to realign.
However, those double kinks only affect a minority of the lines.
Snap to grid would simplify the realignment process.

There is no point in starting a new Wish List entry on the same topic. It will only dilute whatever Votes there are.
If you check those existing entries, although they were added long ago, some Comments and Votes are quite recent.
However, the fact that they were added long ago and still have few Votes suggests a lack of user interest.
But if you add your Votes it will nudge them up the list a bit.
To add any clarity, you can add your own Comments.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

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Re: Charts - straight lines? Snap to grid?

Post by arthurk » 12 Dec 2019 13:25

Thank you - I've just voted, and on one of them added a comment which referred to this topic.

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