The Network Diagram

Friday, April 17, 2020 by Fouke Boss

The Network Diagram is the central view in the Centurial cycle. Every action in Centurial, be it the addition of a new source or the analysis of evidence, eventually leads back to this versatile diagram.


The Network Diagram is the default view that is activated after opening a Centurial project. To activate the Network Diagram at any other time during your research, press either the button in the toolbar or Alt+N (N for Network) on your keyboard.

The Network Diagram is designed to present the family tree that is the result of the evidence you gathered in your research project, and your evaluation thereof. The diagram is always centred around a single person, the central person, and shows all partners, and several generations of ancestors and descendants of this person. The central person is shown in the centre of the diagram. In the example below, the diagram is centred (1) around Theodorus Van Gogh (1822-1885).

The name of the central person is displayed in the top left corner (2) of the diagram. The partners, both current and previous, are displayed directly above or below (3). To the left of the central person, several generations of ancestors (4) are displayed, starting with the parents. As each parent has exactly 2 biological parents, the ancestors are displayed in a symmetrical way, except when a person has additional (adoptive or foster) parents, which we will discuss later on.

As the number of children varies, the display of the descendants (5) to the right of the central person can be a little more irregular. As a rule of thumb, children are centred vertically around the central person, unless the central person has more than 1 partner, in which case the children are centred around the corresponding partner.

Person nodes

Each person is represented by a rectangle. The background colour indicates the gender of the person, blue for male, pink for female and yellow for intersex.

Inside the rectangle, some identifying information is shown:

  1. The full name of the person, containing the family name (in bold), the given names and the nickname (in parentheses).
  2. The date of birth.
  3. The date of death.
  4. The age of the person, either the current age (for living persons) or the age at death.

When you hover the mouse pointer over the person node, a tooltip is shown with some more detailed information:

  1. The full name is presented in full.
  2. The available conclusions on the birth date and place, indicated by the * icon.
  3. The conclusions on the date and place of death, if available, indicated by the † icon.


Partnerships are represented by the lines that connect the two partners and their offspring if any.

The tooltip of the partnership line displays the available evidence:

  1. The full names of the partners.
  2. The marriage date and place, indicated by the ⚭ icon.
  3. If applicable, the divorce date and place, indicated by the ┊ icon.

Selection and context menu

Each person and partnership in the Network Diagram can be selected by clicking it with the left mouse key. The selected item is marked with a green border around it. By clicking the selected item with the right mouse key, the context menu is shown.

The View Evidence option opens the corresponding Person View or Partnership View, which will display the available evidence and conclusions. The other options are discussed later on.


The Network Diagram is by no means a static diagram. By double-clicking a person, the diagram shifts its focus so that this person becomes the new central person. All other persons are animated into their new positions.

Centurial keeps track of your navigation history. By using the button in the toolbar, you can move the focus back to the previous central person. The button allows you to move forward through your navigation history.

By using the buttons in the toolbar, you can increase and decrease the number of ancestor ( and ) and descendant ( and ) generations.

When the diagram becomes too large for the available screen size, Centurial allows you to

  • zoom in and out by using the scroll wheel of the mouse, or by using the slider in the toolbar.
  • move the diagram around by placing the mouse pointer in between empty space of the diagram, keeping the left mouse key down, move the mouse pointer (with the diagram moving along), and finally releasing the mouse key.

Sometimes it is useful to hide the birth and death summary, like this:

Please use the button in the toolbar to achieve this.

Special cases

The Network Diagram is capable of handling some special cases, such as multiple biological parents, adoptive and foster children, and multiple occurrences of a single person in the family tree.

Multiple biological parents

Being evidence-based, Centurial helps the genealogist to collect all available evidence and allows the user to evaluate and judge the evidence afterwards. It might occur that during research, contradicting evidence is found on who the biological parent of a particular person is. In those cases, Centurial will display these biological parents as a pile of parents:

Once the user comes to a conclusion on who the actual parent is, Centurial will remove the pile and display only the proven parent.

Adoptive and foster children

Starting from version 1.15, Centurial is capable of handling adoptive and foster children. This leads to some special cases of displaying the family tree. If the focus of the Network Diagram is on one of the adoptive parents, the line to the adopted child is displayed as a dotted line:

If the Network Diagram is centred around the adoptive child, 2 couples of parents are shown (if the evidence is available, of course): the biological and the adoptive parents.

Multiple occurrences of a single person

Sometimes, a single person occurs multiple times in the same Network Diagram. There are several possible causes for this, including:

In these cases, Centurial will mark the multiple occurrences of the same person with the same index number. For example, if an older sister were to adopt one of her younger sisters:

Please note how Centurial selects both occurrences (as indicated by the green borders) of the single person if one of them is selected by the user.

The proband

The proband is the main person being studied in your research project. In version 1.13 this concept was introduced into Centurial. You can select the proband by using the Set the Proband option from the context menu on a person node. Every time you open your project, the Network Diagram initially centres around the proband.

Starting from Centurial v1.16, some new features regarding the proband will be introduced. First of all, the name of the proband is now displayed in the toolbar of the Network Diagram. A click on this button centres the diagram around the proband. It comes as no surprise that in the Vincent van Gogh example project we are using in this blog, the painter himself is the proband:

Also, both the person nodes and the person tooltips in the Network Diagram now contain additional information about the relationship between that person and the proband:

The small circle in the person rectangle indicates that the person is a direct ancestor or descendant of the proband, in this case, Vincent van Gogh. The tooltip contains 2 additional regels:

  • On the first line Centurial displays the kinship between the person and the proband. In this example, Elizabeth Huberta Vrijdag is the grandmother of Vincent van Gogh.
  • On the second line, the distance between the person and the proband is expressed in metrics:
    • The degree of relationship indicates the number of steps it takes to get from the person to the proband.
    • The relative generation of the person to the proband is displayed. Generation 0 represents the same generation as the proband, positive numbers represent a later generation while negative numbers represent an earlier generation.
    • For ancestors, the Ahnentafel number is calculated.

Personalizing the Network Diagram

The button in the toolbar opens the Settings dialog. In the Network Diagram tab, Centurial invites the user to customize the Network Diagram to her/his liking:

In this dialog, you'll find the following settings:

Setting Description
Full name format This setting allows the user to personalize the way person names are displayed in the diagram:
  • Van Gogh, V.W. (Vincent)
  • Van Gogh, Vincent Willem (Vincent)
  • V.W. (Vincent) Van Gogh
  • Vincent Willem (Vincent) Van Gogh
Gender of the Top Parent By default, Centurial displays male ancestors to the top. This is useful most of the time, as this corresponds to the way the male family names are passed on to children in Western societies. This setting allows you to focus more on the matrilines:
Show partners of the last generation This setting toggles whether the partners of the descendants of the last visible generation are visible or hidden, the latter being the default.
Show visual clues Visual clues were introduced in Centurial v1.15. They are small lines in the network diagram that indicate the presence of additional generations on either side (ancestors or descendants) of the Network Diagram: This setting allows you to hide these visual clues for ancestors and descendants separately.
Show indicators for direct relatives This setting allows you to display or hide the circle in the person nodes that indicate that the person is either the proband or a direct ancestor or descendant of the proband. Each of these can be toggled independently.


Lastly, the Network Diagram also plays a major role in correlation. Correlation is the process of matching a person in a source to a person in your research.

Auto Correlation

After having extracted all information from a new source in the Source View, the Centurial user hits the Auto Correlate button to start the process of automatic correlation. After the Auto Correlation algorithm is finished, the resulting correlation is displayed in the Network Diagram.

The person information from the freshly correlated source is represented by the smaller rectangles that are overlayed on top of the persons they are correlated to. By using drag-and-drop, the user is enabled to manually improve the correlation. Place the mouse pointer over a person information rectangle and keep the left mouse button pressed down. Move the mouse pointer to the person you want to correlate the information to (or move to the empty space between the persons to create an altogether new person) and let go of the mouse button. Centurial will then update the correlation accordingly.

Manual Correlation

If you find an incorrect correlation while you are navigating through your family tree in the Network Diagram, Centurial allows you to improve the correlation directly from the Network Diagram. In the example below, Theodorus van Gogh seems to be married to two different women, both named Anna Cornelia Carbentus:

To combine the evidence of both women, start by selecting the first Anna Cornelia by clicking with the left mouse key. Then select the second Anna Cornelia, while keeping the Control key on the keyboard pressed down. After this, both Anna Cornelia's are selected. Then use the right mouse key while the mouse pointer is over either Anna Cornelia to open the context menu, and select View Correlation. To the right of the Network Diagram, the Correlation Panel pops out. Then use this panel to improve the correlation by dragging the appropriate information and dropping it on the correct person. Much more information on correlation and the use of the Correlation Panel is available here.


The Network Diagram is a great way for browsing your results at any point during your research. It also makes a fine starting point for any next step you plan to do, be it the analysis of the evidence of some person or partnership or the manual improvement of a previous correlation.