Announcing Family.Show v3 – Our WPF Reference Application

It’s been a little while in coming, but I’m delighted to announce that we’ve shipped the latest release of Family.Show, our reference application for WPF development. Family.Show started a couple of years ago, when WPF was in its infancy and a few of us were looking for ways to showcase the power of the platform as a way for developers to build beautiful Windows applications. We approached our friends at Vertigo Software with a request to partner with us in building a WPF sample that would be both a beautiful application in its own right as well as a great learning tool for aspiring WPF developers. After experimenting with a few scenarios, we picked genealogy: not only is it one of the most popular hobbies out there, but it’s also a category of application that closely models a number of (rather more boring) enterprise scenarios.

image Fast forward to 2009, and it’s been really fun to see how Family.Show has been used as an application. We’ve been approached by authors who use it to track the characters in their fiction novel, it’s been featured in genealogy magazines, and it’s been downloaded many thousands of times by developers all across the world. Since it’s licensed under our most permissive license, you’re welcome to reuse any or all of the code for your own purposes or to take concepts and build them into your own application.

In this third major release, we knew it was time to refresh some of the code to take advantage of the new innovations in the latest releases of WPF (for example, data validation, LINQ, and so on). We’ve also been reading through the feature requests on the Codeplex site and have implemented a number of suggestions to make it an even better tool for general purpose genealogy purposes. (For example, you can now marry your cousin!) We’ve done a lot of work to refactor the code: componentizing several of the controls to make them more easily reusable in other applications. Lastly, we thought it would be great to create a hands-on lab that made it possible for developers to start to experiment with Family.Show and learn WPF using the application.

We’ve put all this together into a new release that we’ve packaged up on Codeplex. Check it out and let us know what you think!

We’re not done – we’re actively working on the v4 release, which will come out relatively quickly and take further advantage of .NET 3.5 SP1. We’re working with a few interested developers from outside Microsoft who are also interested in extending Family.Show – if you have a patch you’d like to submit, we’d warmly encourage you to do so.

Check out Family.Show on Codeplex or indeed on Vertigo’s website, where they have a ClickOnce version of the application ready to go (requires .NET 3.5 or later).

Comments (17)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Is there a gallery type of website where you can see a variety of really well-designed (e.g. good looking + functional) WPF apps?

  2. Anonymous says:


    Any thoughts on making this fit the MVVM pattern?

  3. Anonymous says:

    How about a Silverlight version, or a shared codebase that works on both?

    Thx for the updates.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Will it use MVVM desing pattern?

  5. Tim Sneath says:

    Refactoring the application to an MVVM design pattern is something we’re actively considering for the next version: it’s been exciting to see the growth of MVVM as a model for building applications like this and we think the transition of this codebase might make for an interesting "case study".

    As far as the Silverlight version, it’s not in our short-term plans, but it’s definitely a possibility. Maybe after we’ve moved to MVVM 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    Have you thought about using Prism v2 for the next release so you could create a WPF/Silverlight version?


  7. Anonymous says:

    Tim Sneath noted in his blog today that Microsoft and Vertigo has released version 3.0 of their reference

  8. Anonymous says:

    I don’t seem to be able to use the ClickOnce version – the log says that the remote server returned an error: (401) Unauthorized.

    Is this because we use a proxy server that requires authentication and the ClickOnce mechanism isn’t passing my credentials? If so, is there a configuration change I can make to get this to work?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for submitting this cool story – Trackback from DotNetShoutout

  10. Anonymous says:

    One of the more fun and compelling sample applications for WPF, which I demoed this morning at the MSDN

  11. Anonymous says:

    Is there a website to find neat WPF applications? Like the Silverlight Showcase for Silverlight?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Tim’s blogged about a cool WPF reference application released onto CodePlex by Microsoft and Vertigo.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Why would one bother creating this application in WPF at all. Would it make more sense to just go straight to Silverlight?

  14. Ann_developer says:

    Agree! Really cool blog and interesting article! I’d like to share some of my favorite articles with all of you. Here’s direct link

    Enjoy reading!

  15. Anonymous says:


    In v4, please try to add the following functionalities:

    1. UNICODE compatible, even though GEDCOM isn’t.

    2. Show and print all trees/reports/charts.

    3. Separate the date field into individual fields.  Sometimes the year is known, or the month, but not the rest.  Add an approximate value that allows for an ending range maybe?

    4. Different calendars for different religions and languages.

    5. Individual language field.  If a non-English person marries an English-speaking person, their names should be in their own language.

    6. Online collaboration.  It doesn’t have to be web-based (desirable), but P2P would be nice.

    Any other features that the CodePlex forums mention.


  16. Anonymous says:

    Any news on version 4? I've being working with the source code, and added a few new things which I found useful, including adpotion/fostering support, bug fixes, merge, basic html reporting, export of parts of trees, plus many many bug fixes.

    I'd really like to see the ability to print trees/reports/charts.  

    It would also be useful to support maps of peoples place of birth etc.  This could easily be implemented with the Microsoft Virtual Earth Interactive SDK.  

    A full help file would also be useful.

    One big omission from version 3 is the ability to cite sources of information and to use partial dates such as ABT 1936 etc, rather than having to use exact dates.

    Anyways, a great program, would be wonderful to see what is done with version 4.

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