About the ZoomPast genealogy explorer

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What is ZoomPast

ZoomPast is a new website for exploring, building and sharing genealogies. The unique feature of ZoomPast is its use of a zooming user interface and innovative layout algorithms enable huge and complex genealogies to be explored with ease. The website was created jointly by James Rosindell and Kai Zhong, it was based on the www.OneZoom.org tree of life explorer. Thank you for your interest, we really hope you enjoy using ZoomPast. Please do send in your feedback to mail@zoompast.org. ZoomPast is a project based at Imperial College London and funded by a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) impact acceleration grant.

Main features

  • Unique way to visualise genealogies based on the popular OneZoom concept.
  • Your whole genealogy on one page with a zooming interface for intuitive exploration.
  • View your genealogy from the perspective of any person in it.
  • Relationships between people automatically labelled.
  • Upload and download Gedcom files or build your genealogy from scratch.
  • Store multiple genealogies online, with images, merge connected genealogies into one.
  • Built in social network and interfaces with other websites let's you share your genealogy with others or make it public.

Sustainability Plan

We're a 2 person university project at present which means that we are not for profit currently. We are exploring several options to support sustainability of the project. One of these would be via a grant - there are growing funds available for academics to produce work that is directly helpful to members of the public outside academia. ZoomPast is in this category as it's an application of my research on big data visualisation. Another possibility is to become commercial as a spin off from the university. Within this option we would consider two funding models - one would be to charge for certain services e.g. more storage space (the "Freemium" model) the other would be to license the technology to another company. We've only been public for a few months so it's too early to say which route we will go down. I can say that my personal motivation in this is to realise a vision and create something new that people will enjoy using now and in the future - so I take the sustainability question seriously. To reassure you in the short term, your data is safe because you can download it as Gedcom and view again in another software package so you won't loose your work even if we aren't sustained long term. Also, a logical view on this would be that if lots of people like and use what we've created, then it will be sustainable, if there aren't lots of people liking and using it then no one will mind very much if we aren't sustained. Our future is in your hands! I hope you will have a try of what we've done and send some feedback.

James Rosindell

Thanks and acknowledgements

  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for funding.
  • Imperial College for support and hosting services.
  • Paul Pruitt for Genealogy files and advice.
  • Sarah Bunney for curation work on genealogies and images
  • Tim Jones for his creative commons licensed textures
  • Martin Sayers and Hayley Dunning for introduction video and press releases
  • All the individual contributors to gedcom files and images on the family trees. These people are credited individually beside images and in the footer of trees.
  • Mike Tate and Jan Srnec for sending in so much helpful and expert feedback from the perspective of an expert user.
  • Else Churchill for her help and advice.