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Charting Companion software - has anyone tried it?

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    Charting Companion software - has anyone tried it?

    I haven't kept up very well with the genealogy software program "Charting Companion," by Progeny Genealogy, but recently became aware that they introduced a Mac version in late 2020.

    Has anyone tried it? I'm actually not sure it could even be used with Reunion currently, as Reunion is not listed as one of the programs with which Charting Companion works: Family Tree Maker:
    FTM 2019: Plugin
    GEDCOM (all programs)
    For Apple macOS 10.12 (Sierra) through 12. (Monterey).
    (sorry, I can't get the above list to show up correctly, despite using bullets and indentation)

    But, the System Requirements page has a table showing that Charting Companion will work with "Any genealogy program that can export to GEDCOM," which is what I suppose the third bullet above means. That seems to indicate it could work with Reunion. The Windows version works with seven genealogy software programs.

    I'm also not sure how Charting Companion displays when used on a Mac, but suspect it doesn't have a Mac "feel" (see the images in the Apr. 24, 2020 post in the Progeny Genealogy blog). I tried the trial version of Charting Companion using CrossOver Mac in 2018, and don't recall being impressed with the way it looked or worked using that method.

    The charts for DNA Matrix, DNA Simulation, and DNA Matches, as well as for X-chromosome, mtDNA, and Y-DNA are interesting, though. I think that Reunion's charts look much better in general, and the charts produced by Charting Companion are not as nice as Reunion's. But I'm really just interested in the charts that Charting Companion can create that Reunion can't produce.

    The Progeny Genealogy FAQ says that their other programs, Genelines (timeline charts), Map My Family Tree, and 3D Family Tree don’t run directly on a Mac. You have to use Parallels Desktop, Apple Boot Camp, VMware Fusion, Wine, or CrossOver Mac to run those programs on a Mac (as you had to do with Charting Companion before it was available for Mac). But I don’t see the need for these other three programs, personally. Reunion has timelines, the 3D thing isn't appealing to me, and I'm not sure the Map program would be worth it.

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by kam; 21 September 2023, 07:55 AM.

    There is a free trial under 'Downloads'. Why don't you give if a whirl & let us know?
    Last edited by SGilbert; 27 July 2022, 05:58 PM.
    rMBP, 15", 2.8GHz i7, 16G RAM, Reunion 12.0, iPhone 12 Pro Max, ReunionTouch


      I have downloaded the free trial just today, will try to check it out tomorrow and report back.


        Kam How did your trial of Charting work out using Reunion?


          RWells, thanks for reminding me! I haven't visited the Reunion Talk forum for a while, and just saw your post. Last year I wasn't able to give the version 6 trial version the time I needed to really try it out. But I now have Charting Companion for Mac, version 8, working. I've been able to try it out over the last few days, preview a few charts and save to .pdf, so far. In trying CC out, my primary goal is to concentrate specifically on charts for DNA , since Reunion still doesn't offer such charts (none highlighting X-DNA,mitochondrial and Y-DNA paths). Some Charting Companion chart types also allow coloring by lineage, generation, and gender as well, and they have a few unique chart types that may be of interest to some.

          I'm going out of town next week, but if I can get the rest of my test charts done before I go (the DNA Matrix chart* has been a challenge for me), I will post my impressions/review this weekend. My trial period will be over while I'm gone. If I don't have time to write up a review before I go, I will post the first week in October. First overall impression is that Reunion has more extensive and intuitive editing controls for it's charts, but Charting Companion does have some good features, even if the chart controls are not as refined as Reunion's. The question for me is, specifically: are the DNA type charts (and maybe a few others) worth buying the program to use them?

          * The DNA Matrix chart is basically the "McGuire Method," if you've heard of that; that method is described in a guest post at Blaine Bettinger's blog: With Charting Companion, it is a variation of a descendant chart, using match lists of relatives who have done an autosomal test. DNA Matrix ideally will automate the process, if I can get it to work.
          Last edited by kam; 21 September 2023, 07:52 AM.


            Hang in there, folks, I made a detailed report but lost it before posting. I'll try to re-create it and post again.


              Okay, back to my impressions using the trial version of Charting Companion v. 8 for macOS. I will need to post this in two or three posts.

              I used the free "User Guide for Charting Companion 8" (Mac version, of course), and also got Customer Support help, as noted below.

              I'm not sure of the Reunion Talk forum's policy regarding posting links to other companies, so I will direct you to go to the Progeny Genealogy website, where you can choose the page for Charting Companion, and look at the example charts (Sample Chart Gallery, Family Tree Charts) shown there to visualize them in the lists below.

              Since this is a Reunion forum, we all use Reunion here. Charting Companion works with Reunion by using a .ged (GEDCOM) file produced from a Reunion family file, but for those who use Family Tree Maker, FTM 2019, or Roots Magic, my understanding is that it will work from within those programs as a tool.

              As mentioned above, I have been using the trial version to test the various charts. My main interest was to see how the charts which featured using DNA lines performed. I thought they might fill a gap in the chart offerings of Reunion, which currently does not really offer options to show any Y-DNA, mtDNA, or X-DNA paths in its charts. Personally, the only thing I have done in Reunion to make use of DNA results is to add a field for “Haplogroup” to the Family View for Couple. I then fill that field in for Y-DNA or mtDNA for each appropriate individual, based on the test results of a descendant tested who is in the same DNA line (let's put aside discussing the appropriateness of assigning haplogroups to ancestors when we can't always be 100% absolutely sure that no breaks have occurred earlier in a line).

              The way CC works is that you first select an ancestor, then choose the type of chart to make. The interface took me a bit of time to get used to, but is not really difficult to use. For some charts (Ancestor, Fan, Bowtie, Descendant and Hourglass), you can choose to display colors by generation, lineage, and gender. There are also options to add shadow, bevel, and gradient effects for boxes. There are some frame designs as well. Some of the chart types allow you to choose from a set of pre-made color palettes, or use your own color choices.

              Depicting DNA: Using the charts for Ancestor, Ancestor Fan, Bowtie, Descendant, Descendant Fan, Dandelion, and Hourglass, you can use the Color tab to specify coloring by the X-Chromosome lines (as well as lineage, generation, or gender). Also, for the Hourglass chart, you can choose separately for Ancestor and Descendant to use X-Chromosome, lineage, generation, or gender; for example, Ancestors could be sorted by generation, and Descendants could be sorted by X-Chromosome.
              The Descendant, DNA Matrix, and Outline Descendant charts also have Content tab choices for Male lines, Y chromosome DNA, and Mitochondrial DNA.
              Some Charting Companion definitions for their DNA features, as shown in the tables: Male line: This chart includes the male line of descendants including one generation of daughters, however, daughters' lines are not pursued.
              DNA - This chart includes only the males and their spouses, however, if creating a color chart, only the males appear in color.
              Mitochondrial DNA - This is a type of DNA that is carried by both the men and women but is only inherited from their mother. This chart will include only those in your direct maternal line, meaning the mother, her children, and since only the females can pass this on, the charts continue with the children of the daughters and so forth.
              X-Chromosome - who inherited X-chromosome from who.

              I'm showing the Charts and Reports in two tables, hoping that will make the comparisons easier to see for each type.
              Has DNA Feature? Charts:
              Charting Companion for macOS
              Has DNA Feature? My comments
              (see further comments after this table)
              Ancestor No Ancestor Yes: X chr. (also lineage, generation, and gender) Depicts the X chr. ancestors well. Easy to see through which ancestors the X did not come down. Lineage, generation, and gender all work in preview*, but see later comments for printing/saving as .pdf.
              Progeny Software says that their CC Ancestor chart is the only one that includes siblings. I don't seem to have tried that, but did see all siblings for an ancestor in an Hourglass chart test.
              Descendant No Descendant: also with DNA Matrix and DNA Simulation** (see notes below table) Yes: X chr., Y chr. DNA, and Mitochondrial DNA (also lineage, generation, gender, and
              male line);
              Choosing X chr. (for any chart that can display it) shows 4 types of color combinations for: Male X-chr., Female X-chr., Male no X-chr., and Female no X-chr. Helpful!
              I was able to use the bevel option for boxes without the problem I had for the Hourglass chart using bevel.
              Fan No Ancestor Fan - with full (360°), half (180°), or quarter (90°) circle options. Yes: X chr. (also lineage, generation, and gender) Previews looked okay for each variety, but when saved as .pdfs, gradient and bevel effects seemed to remove all color, so I used plain and had success.
              Relative (basically an Hourglass-style chart) No Hourglass Yes: X chr. (also lineage, generation, gender) Includes separate choices for ancestor or descendant to use X chr., lineage, or gender. I tried using the bevel and shadow options for the boxes with this chart. With just bevel, the right and bottom bevels came out white, against a white background. Using shadow emphasized the odd look of the white beveling. Rounded corner boxes did well, as did lineage coloring.
              Timeline No n/a n/a
              Cascading Pedigree No Pedigree Somehow I missed trying the Pedigree chart, but it seems like it would be similar to the Cascading Pedigree in Reunion.
              Bowtie No Bowtie Yes: X chr. (also lineage, generation, gender) It also seems to include separate choices for ancestor or descendant to use X chr., lineage, or gender. I tried one with X chromosome coloring for the ancestors, and generation coloring for the descendants, and it worked.
              n/a Kinship - this is really more like a report, vs. a chart, so see the Report table.
              n/a Trellis I had some trouble with this one. For some tests, the image in preview was so small that it was hard or impossible to see; yet when published as .pdf, the image was there, sometimes over more than one page. I don't think I would use this chart very often.
              n/a Dandelion Yes: options seem similar to the Hourglass, and include Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome options. I produced one try for the Dandelion chart, but didn't use options for DNA. Oops.
              n/a DNA Matrix This is basically the “McGuire Method” *** I had a lot of help from Mr. Clouthier of Progeny Genealogy for this chart. Ultimately, two things are necessary:
              1. The name of an individual who has DNA tested must match in the DNA matches .csv file to how it is shown in Reunion.
              2. You must create a field in Facts for Person Events, called "DNA Kit" (without quotes). Also, give this DNA Kit fact the unofficial GEDCOM tag "_DNA" (without quotes). For each person you use for the DNA Matrix chart, you need to put their name in this "DNA Kit" field as it appears in Reunion.
              The above two points were not mentioned in the Charting Companion Guide.
              After I did all that (I opted to change the names in the DNA matches files to match, rather than change them in Reunion - there were not too many), I was able to produce a DNA Matrix chart. The lines from parents to children did not connect for me, however.
              n/a Descendant Fan - with full (360°), half (180°), or quarter (90°) circle options. Yes: X chr. (also lineage, generation, and gender) This worked well using 5 generations. The resulting .pdf could be zoomed to view text more clearly. Options for lineage, generation gender, and X chromosome all worked well. The gradient also worked, unlike with the Ancestor fan, for whatever reason.

              * Previews - some charts appeared okay in the preview, but then looked bad in the .pdf. Certain choices for fan charts would cause loss of lines and color, and some pedigree type charts would show extraneous lines if the chart extended over more than a page or two. I'm not sure if it was my incompetence using the program, or the software's problem.
              ** DNA Simulation - this seems to me to be similar to the DNA Painter tool, "What Are the Odds (WATO)." Charting Companion explains how DNA Simulation can be used to graft a person (possibly an adoptee) onto an existing tree. WATO similarly also tries to determine how a person might fit into a tree, based on the amount of DNA shared.
              *** McGuire Method – see It is a method of producing a "McGuire Method" chart to display names, relationships, and shared DNA for test takers, and their relationships to each other.

              Note: the Charting Companion site also mentions a "DNA Matches" feature, which produces an .xlsx spreadsheet to organize your DNA matches. It seems to be a way to "cluster" your matches. This is found in a tab for the Descendant Chart, but my trial time ran out before I could try this feature out.

              Continued in next post
              Last edited by kam; 24 October 2023, 07:34 AM.


                Continuing from my last post:

                With Reunion charts, I find them to be extremely adaptable to create and modify, for positioning, coloring, text choices and manipulation, and other effects like shadow and gradients. Printing or saving as a .pdf file yields smooth lines and gradients, and a visually pleasing result. So, I am used to, and dare I say spoiled, by using Reunion.

                With Charting Companion charts, I find them somewhat less "attractive," due to several factors. The options to customize the charts are not as refined as those in Reunion. The curved lines in a fan chart, for example, are not smooth. Gradients for boxes seems not as smooth as those in Reunion, and the shadow option in Charting Companion is black, either on or off, with no options for individual box colors, line sizes, corners, shadow amount or color, or line colors. This is NOT to say there are no choices for line sizes, corners, etc., but there are fewer options for customization, say for one box or line.

                Controls are not as easy to use as in Reunion, and I saw no way to select a group of boxes to move them; when dragging a box, there was no way to know how many others would go with it. Lines were not selectable to move around if needed.

                Charting Companion does have other positive features, though, and I don't want to give the impression that it is an inferior product. It simply does not have the same level of customization for the user when fiddling with any charts made. There are many features for chart frames, box shapes, many color combinations to choose from for charts, or choose your own colors, and CC has options for making posters, good for family reunions. There are other features I probably didn't come across or know enough to use in my trial. I am considering buying CC to quickly produce charts for showing DNA lines and paths, and the unique charts only available in CC (such as Descendant Fan, DNA Matrix, and Kinship Report, for example) are also appealing.

                Note: I use a Magic Mouse, so with any slight movement of my finger, it would “zoom” the chart in or out on the page layout, and I needed to take care. There are separate zoom controls at the top of the screen, and a control to resize either the chart or page size to fit. You can increase the size to make posters, but I didn't try that.

                I didn't have time to compare reports, but will give an idea below of what's available in each program, as close equivalents to those in Reunion.
                Charting Companion for macOS
                Has DNA features?
                for Charting Companion reports only)
                My comments
                Family Group Sheet Family Group Record ("a fixed format (that is, LDS format) report similar to traditional Family Group documents" i.e., contains LDS events), Standard Family Group Record (a variable length report providing family information for an individual and his or her immediate family including spouse(s), parents, children and notes.) No Similar enough in each program, but with Reunion you get the Notes and Memos from the Family File added. CC doesn't display those, using the .ged file.
                Descendant Outline Descendant Yes: male line, Y chr. DNA, and Mitochondrial DNA Reunion's Descendant Report has choices to define layouts; the "Legal Outline" seems to be the d'Aboville System.
                CC gives you Style choices, but you can't define them. Naming formats include choices for: Bold, Print Child Number (prefix), and Generation number (superscript). The superscripts might be easy to overlook, and the Child Numbers are in a small circle. You can check another box to display generation numbers at the bottom of each page, with vertical lines going up to the top of the page. This is a useful visual to keep track of generations.
                Book Descendant Book No I did not try this one.
                n/a Kinship - although shown as a chart in Charting Companion, they describe it as
                "The Kinship Report prints, for a selected person, a list of all relatives together with their relationships. This is a great report to capture all the people (ancestors, descendants, and cousins) related to an individual you are researching."
                No The Kinship report shows a list of relatives in order by
                surname, with columns for a specified reference number, relationship, and common ancestor.

                A useful report for “at-a-glance” relationships.
                Last edited by kam; 14 October 2023, 12:01 PM.