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This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

I am not familiar with genealogy software. You might like to play with some existing tools before tackling this project. Basically you create a ram-resident tree of objects, representing a family tree. You have Person objects. They have fields for name, sex, date of birth, date of death, city and links to parents, spouses and children (array or ArrayList of references). There are probably other fields you will want such as a reference to where you discovered the data, or notes about the person, perhaps even a photo. You manipulate this tree purely in RAM (Random Access Memory). You save and restore it with serialization.

If you had a very large tree, you might consider using a persistent object database like ObjectStore.

What can do you with this data?

  1. You could let the user navigate around it, showing one person at a time, letting him click links to view the related parents, spouses or children.
  2. You could print a giant chart centering any one individual, showing his ancestors fanning out above and descendants fanning out below.
  3. You could display this chart, allowing the user to scroll over it.
  4. You could find individuals by name, birth date, city.

To be useful, you will need to import data from other sources and also export it for other programs. You might even do this interactively and online. It would be simpler to implement this as an application, but it could also work as an Applet in conjunction with a servlet that saved and filed away the various family trees on the server.

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