Diagram Options Dialog: Boxes Tab


The purpose of this tab is to allow you to tightly control the appearance of boxes, by specifying box features: e.g. the box background colour, the thickness, colour and solidity of the box frame (if you want a frame), the shape of the box, and so on. Typically, however, you won’t want all boxes to look the same. You might, for example, want boxes for males to look different from boxes for females (e.g. have a different shape, or background colour or both). Or you might want there to be differences which have to do with the type of box (e.g. use one background colour for ancestor boxes, and another for descendant boxes, etc). Or you might want box features to be dependent on record flags. Or you might want some complex combination of all of these.

The Boxes tab allows you to tightly control the appearance of box features. And it allows you to associate these box features with different conditions in a way that is both powerful and flexible.


The list in the top half of this tab is a list of Conditions. The tabbed-list in the bottom is a list of Features associated with whichever Condition is selected in the top half.

The Condition list always contains at least one condition: the Default condition. You cannot delete this condition.

Conditions are always shown in order of priority, highest first. You can change the priority order of conditions using the Move Up and Move Down arrow buttons, but the Default condition must always come last, with lowest priority.

Click on the Add Condition button to add a new condition. The possible types of condition are:

Box Type The 5 different box types are Ancestor, Descendant, Spouse, Remarriage and Proxy. See Box Types for an explanation of how they are all used in Family Historian diagrams.

When you add a box type condition, you can treat Root and Proxy-spouse (that is a spouse box attached to a Proxy box) as if they were separate box types if you wish.

When you add a condition for Box Type, you will also be able to specify if you wish to

  • Set a different fill colour for each box type
  • Set a different line colour for each box type
  • Set defaults for Proxy boxes

The defaults for Proxy boxes are no fill, no shadow, and a dotted frame round the box (line).

Depending on which options you pick, Family Historian will create default features associated with each box type, for you. This is just a matter of convenience, to help you get started. You can change all aspects of the features.

If you unchecked all of the 3 listed options, Family Historian would create the Box Type condition, but each box type would initially have no features associated with it.

Notice that when you select a Box Type condition, there will be one tab for each box type in the Features list below. To choose features for the Root box type, select the Root tab. To choose features for the Ancestor box type, select the Ancestor tab. And so on.

Sex The 3 possible sex types are Male, Female, and Unknown Sex. When you add a Sex condition, Family Historian will ask you if you wish it to set text colours for each of the 3 sexes. Again, this is just a convenience to get you started. If you choose No, Family Historian will create the Sex condition but initially there would be no features associated with it.

Notice that when you select a Sex condition, there will be one tab for each sex type in the Features list below. To choose features for Males, select the Male tab. To choose features for Females, select the Female tab. And so on.

Generation A common requirement is to give different boxes different colours, depending on which generation they belong to. Family Historian lets you specify features for up to 10 generations. After 10 generations, the features will repeat (i.e. the 11th generation has the same features as the 1st, and so on). When you add a Generation condition, Family Historian lets you choose how many generations you wish to distinguish, and also lets you optionally specify if you want default fill and line colours to be allocated to each of these generations. If you choose not to, Family Historian will create all the required condtion, butthere will be no box features initially associated with each generation.

Notice that when you select a Generation condition, there will be one tab for each generation number. To choose features for the first generation, select the Gen. 1 tab. To choose features for the second generation, select the Gen. 2 tab. And so on.

Record Flag

Family Historian allows you to create as many record flags as you want, and associate them with as many Individual records as you want. When you add a Record Flag condition, you have to specify which record flag you want to create a condition for. Then Family Historian displays the Box Features dialog to let you choose which features you want to associate with this condition. Family Historian does not attempt to associate default box features with record flag conditions.

If you wish to have multiple Record Flag conditions, click on Add Condition repeatedly to add as many Record Flag conditions as you wish. Even if you have added conditions for several record flags, there will only be one Record Flag condition mentioned in the Conditions list. This is because all record flag conditions are deemed to have the same priority.

Notice that when you select Record Flag in the Condition list, there will be one tab in the Features list for each record flag that you have added. To choose features for each record flag, select its tab.


The features associated with the currently selected condition, are displayed in tabs in the Feature list. If there are no features associated with a given condition value (e.g. with the male sex) the feature list will be empty for that tab.

To add or edit features, click on the Edit Features button when viewing the required tab (or just double-click anywhere on the Feature list). This will bring up the Box Features dialog, to let you select features to be associated with the condition.

Although you can select individual features in the Features List, there is no need to do so - indeed doing so has no effect.

Priorities and Flag Conflicts

What happens if you specify conflicting features for different conditions? Suppose, for example, you specified that males should have a red shadow, and that spouse boxes should have a green shadow. What happens when you have spouse box for a man? The answer is that it depends on the priority of the respective conditions. If the sex condition had higher priority than the box type condition, the box would get a red shadow. If the box type condition had higher priority, the box would get a green shadow.

If a feature is not associated with any other condition, the Default condition, with lowest priority, will be used.

As we have seen, however, record flag conditions always have the same priority. What if these conflict? Suppose the red shadow was associated with one record flag, and the green shadow was associated with another record flag, and a given record had both? What colour would its box’s shadow be?

Where Family Historian detects that there is a possibility of conflict with the features associated with different record flag conditions, it will create a special feature set called <flag conflicts> to cover these cases. This will appear as an extra tab in the Features list for the Record Flag condition. If 2 or more record flags have conflicting features, and one box matches both record flags, the features specified in the <flag conflicts> set will be used. So, for example, you could specify a purple shadow in the <flag conflicts> set, and the box which had both record flags would get that.


A big advantage of using Icons, over all other features, is that unlike all other features you cannot get a conflict with Icons. For example, you might associate Icon A with one record flag and icon B with another, but there is no conflict if a particular record has both flags. It will simply get both icons. There is no limit to the number of icons that can be displayed with any given box.

All other features can result in conflicts. Each box can have only one background colour, and one shadow colour, etc. So the possibility of conflict does arise in these cases.


If you click on the Presets button, a drop-down menu appears with a list of Presets. These are complete sets of conditions and associated features, to choose from. If you choose one of the presets, the current conditions (and their associated feature sets) will be removed and replaced with the preset version. To view the Preset you have selected, click Apply to apply it to the current diagram.

The available presets are:

Classic (Box Types)

This is very close to the standard look for Version 2 of Family Historian. Box colouring depends on Box Type. Ancestors boxes are green, descendant boxes are yellow, spouse boxes are brown, proxy boxes are transparent, and the root box is white.

Boxes are rectangular and have no shadow. Names are coloured by sex (purple for males and red for females).

Box Types - Ornate Similar to the Classic preset, except that boxes have beveled corners and shadows.
Box Types - Ornate 2 Identical to Box Types - Ornate except that spouse boxes are de-emphasized by being given transparent backgrounds.
Generations - Basic Uses generation colouring. Boxes are rectangular and do not have shadows.
Generations - Ornate Same as Generations - Basic except that boxes have beveled corners and shadows.
No Box Text and pictures are displayed with no box around them.
Minimalist White rectangular boxes with black frames.

The CHM file was converted to HTML by chm2web software.