Exploring Family Trees Website, Including Average DNA Percent Inheritance by Ancestor

Sometimes you just have to do something just because it’s fun.

That’s the website learnforeverlearn at this link, a free tool created by B. F. Lyon visualizations that allows you to view your family tree or pedigree chart in very novel ways.

Here’s what greets you.

learnforever splash

The “About This” link at the very top of the page shows the following:

learnforever about

In case you’re wondering, your Gedcom file never leaves your PC, so you don’t need to worry about security.

Getting Started

First, you’ll be prompted to upload a Gedcom file, a file generated by either your genealogy software like RootsMagic or a site like Ancestry. If you have a tree at Ancestry, you can download it into a Gedcom file format and save on your computer.

My own personal Gedcom file from my PC software was too large, so I downloaded a smaller file that I use on Ancestry. I’ve entered all of my ancestors at Ancestry through 12 generations, if known, and some of their children. I use my Ancestry file to focus on direct line ancestors and DNA matches, not as my primary tree.

The first thing you see after uploading your Gedcom file is that your pedigree chart is displayed in one tree. If you want to see examples before uploading your own, click here, or view mine below. You can click to see a larger image.

learnforever ancestors

What fun! If you’ve experienced pedigree collapse where you are descended from the same ancestral line multiple times, you’ll see that in this large pedigree map. I don’t have pedigree collapse, but you take a look at fun examples under “Sample Trees.”

If you want to see more detail, just scroll your mouse wheel for larger or smaller. If you get yourself lost, simply reset pan/zoom or reset to the root person.

You can’t “hurt” this application because you reload your file every time you want to use it, so you can always just start over.

Your options are at the top, but by mousing over anything on the page, you can generally learn a lot more. Every time I use this tool, I notice something I didn’t see previously.

learnforever toolbar

Let’s take a look at what you can do.

Who’s Who

I currently have 793 individuals in my tree. By clicking on the “Current Tree Details” at the top of the page, you can see the list of who is included.

learnforever tree detail

This is an easy way to see if you have any issues in your file. I quickly discovered that I have two people with typos in their birth dates because the years have 3 digits. How did that happen?

Validation Check

You can also run a data validation check.

learnforever data validation

What a valuable tool!

Hmmm, looks like I need to do some cleanup. Ahem!!

The X Chromosome

At the top right, you can click on “Highlight X DNA Contributions” which creates a view of the people who contributed or are candidates to contribute segments of their X chromosome to the home person. Remember that you can change the home (root) person to someone else in your tree, like maybe one of your parents, for example.

The X is important because it has unique inheritance properties that can be very helpful that I wrote about here.

learnforever x contributions

I moused over the various people and discovered that when you “land” on someone, you can view their information. In this case, my great-grandmother who, on average, contributed 12.5% of her DNA to me and 25% of her X chromosome.

learnforever ancestor contribution

I can then view Evaline’s ancestor or descendant tree, or a straight path to the root, which is me, by clicking the blue buttons.

learnforever ancestor tree


learnforever years

By scrolling your mouse up and down between people, you can see a horizontal black “line” that shows you a year. By following the line, you can see who in your tree was living during that year.

learnforever living years

Gosh this is fun!


By mousing over the green year bar at far right, you can see what was going on historically at that time, as well as in your own family.

learnforever history

I love this tool!


Under the options tab, at upper left, by toggling the flag icon, you can then view your tree by birth location.

learnforever options

I love this view.

learnforever flags

You can view the migration progression by just looking at your tree.

Scroll on down the options tab for more display possibilities.

Possible Immigrants

learnforever possible immigrants

Ancestor Information

learnforever statistics

In my case, the “number of children” information isn’t accurate because I have not fleshed out the families at Ancestry. I was only working primarily with my direct ancestors.

Unique Birthplaces

learnforever birthplaces

I’ve combined unique birthplaces with potential immigrants.

Ancestor Cone

learnforever ancestor cone

By mousing, you can see how many ancestors you had at a particular time and the total world population.

learnforever ancestors vs world population

Wow. In 1615, I had 16,384 ancestors? I need to get busy! I am never going to be finished!

Just when you think you can’t have any more fun…

You can read more about this tool and ways to use it in an article written by the author here.

Thank You

I don’t know B. F. Lyon who created this cool free website, but under the options tab, I found this:

Want more options/features? Let me know at bradflyon@gmail.com

Please drop Brad a note to say thank you or offer suggestions!



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26 thoughts on “Exploring Family Trees Website, Including Average DNA Percent Inheritance by Ancestor

  1. Playing around with this some. I’m a little cautious as my gedcom has a little over 5,000 people. I’m noticing some interesting things.

    1. I can see the endogamy more clearly. I have Quebecois ancestors. Endogamy happened a lot with them in the 1600s.

    2. My mom’s side is a lot more lopsided than dad’s. That’s fine as he goes back to Europe a lot earlier than my mom.

    3. It’s a good way to pick out errors.

    Checking out more as I follow along with this blog for instructions. Very cool. Weird thing is that I have over 5k and it lists 2300 or so. Must be just the direct ancestors. Cool. =D

    • FYI this is Brad thanks for checking it out. The number of ancestors is probably lower because some of those counts only include those people for whom a birth year is available or can be estimated.

  2. Oh, dear! I’ll be up until the wee hours! Good thing rain is forecast for tomorrow. I can play all day 😉 And all those people who are related in multiple ways! My spider web shows what I’ve been saying!

  3. Neat!!! Quite novel as you said!!
    I can’t wait to check out the X chr aspect.
    I’ve always done that manually or in a spreadsheet.

  4. My pedigree is the opposite of the conventional view: my paternal grandfather’s line is on the extreme right and my maternal grandmother’s line is on the extreme left. I am used to it being the opposite. Is there anything I can do to change the arrangement?

    • Yes! Mine, too, and it freaks me out! I even went to my tree to see if somehow all the sexes had been switched.

      • I got a reply from Brad. I imagine it would be like starting over so not a quick fix. His reply:

        Thanks for writing.

        Yes I’ve been alerted to this before. Sorry!

        It’s not an obvious one-liner, unfortunately, and it’s on my list of
        important TODOs to go through carefully.


  5. I don’t know if it is my tree software but my pedigree collapse (cousins germain) doesn’t show. The ancestor is just a dead end which doesn’t rejoin the tree higher up.

    Interesting stuff though and the tree picture is more friendly than FTM’s

  6. I like the X chromosome contribution tracking feature. However, instead of showing a descendant’s X origin, I would like to see how a particular ancestor’s X segments might have propagated through the tree.

  7. Roberta great tool thanks for sharing. The tree data validation tool is great. I was looking for such a tool but I have only seen it in My Heritage which did not have a way of saving the data to a report. With this site you can copy the results to clipboard and paste to Excel or Word.

  8. Roberta,
    Just wow, love that you found this tool and shared it because it couldn’t have come at a better time for me.
    Last Thursday night I finally discovered my Father’s biological father was through aid of photos, my Father’s sisters, my Brother’s Y DNA test-confirmed surname, any my recent Ancestry DNA test I was able to find through a slew of 2nd Cousins that were tied to sisters of biological Grandfather.
    Now with this tool and others you have talked about in other blog articles I am definitely going to pursue this with a vigor like no one has ever seen.
    Thanks so much for all you do for the Genealogy Community in helping people learn more about their history and how to make the connections.
    This discovery was a long time coming, I do regret that my Father never got to meet is biological Father but I can definitely give back to my Father’s memory that I can learn more about his past.
    Thanks again Roberta I am your biggest fan 😀


    Cindy Carrasco

      • Thanks Roberta you are the best and thanks again for all you do…your a Godsend…thanks again..I am definitely ready to start a new chapter on my Father’s biological journey 🙂


        Cindy Carrasco

  9. This was so much fun. TKU. What a treat. Loved the colorization link also. Your the best for sure.

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