Simple Family Tree Documentation


The plugin is free and no registration is needed.

No “Pro” or commercial version is available.

No warranty is given or implied.


The plugin does not use or set cookies.

The plugin does not “phone home”, or anywhere else, so confidentiality of data or otherwise is up to the webmaster and their server operator.

To keep a tree private, set a password on chart pages.

Site administrators or users with “manage options” capability will be able to view and edit the person data through the Dashboard interface.

Person data and relationships can be deleted from the database by using the Delete tool in
Dashboard > Simple Family Tree > Tools before deleting the plugin.


Partnerships between relations are not supported, for example, cousin/cousin, brother/sister or uncle/niece. The family tree won’t draw.

To get round this limitation, the relevant person entry would need to be duplicated for their different roles.

Circular Trees

A circular tree will occur if, for example, a person’s grandmother is set as their child, or there is a cousin marriage. This will result in an error message or a corrupted tree. The fixes are:

  • Enter persons one or two at a time, then check the tree for corruption. If it is corrupt, check the recently entered relationships;
  • Check the relationships on the Dashboard > Simple Familiy Tree > List Persons page;
  • Use the “Audit” tool at: Dashboard > Simple Family Tree > Tools to look for parents who are younger than their children. Birth dates must be entered for this to work;
  • Families will sometimes reuse forenames from one generation to the next, so family tree members can have the same names. This can make it difficult to set the correct person in a relationship. If so, you can assign a name suffix, for example:
    elder, senior or junior. Suffixes can be turned off for display when all the relationships have been setup.


Go to Dashboard > Simple Family Tree > Add Person and setup the persons who will be in the tree.

Person edit pages support one featured image. This would normally be a picture of the person. The picture can be shown or not shown on the tree as determined in the settings.

The Occupation field is optional. To show the occupation field in person boxes, ensure “Show occupation field” is checked in Dashboard > Simple Family Tree > Settings; Person Box Layout tab. Ensure person boxes have enough height to show anything that’s going in the occupation field. For a person with multiple occupations, the Person notes can be used.

Any person notes will appear on the relevant biography page.


Persons can be put into categories. This is useful if there are multiple unrelated trees in the person list. On person edit pages, check the “Restrict choice of relatives to the same categories as this person” check box to limit the candidates in the add-relative drop downs. This will reduce mistakes.

Default Person Image

To use a custom default person image, you can use a PHP code snippet to change it:

add_filter( 'sft_default_person_image', 'custom_default_person_image' );
function custom_default_person_image() {
  // replace with your image url here:
  return '';

The code goes in functions.php for your child theme or you can use a code snippets plugin.

Focus Person

The tree is drawn from the perspective of a focus person.

The default focus person is the first person in the persons list. This person will have the lowest numbered post ID.

Alternatively, to specify a focus person, use the shortcode with a ref_nr parameter, for example:
[simple_family_tree ref_nr="HTRB"]
The person whose ref_nr is HTRB will be the initial focus person. Ref Nos. can be entered on the relevant person edit page. You can use your own or the plugin will generate a unique 4 character reference number for you. Ref Nos. must be unique.

The plugin does not rely on post IDs, since these can vary between installs or after export/import.

Persons who are not related to the focus person will not be visible.

Family trees can grow quickly to the point where its not possible to show everyone in the tree at the same time. The plugin shows only a proportion of the tree from the perspective of the focus person.

Viewers can click another person-box to refocus the tree.

All family tree software operates in a similar manner, though the size of the tree visible at one time can be bigger in commercial applications.

Multiple Partners

The tree shows only one partner at a time. Persons with more than one partner show a cycle icon allowing the viewer to toggle through partners.

Multiple Families

The Person list can hold persons from multiple unrelated families. However, a chart can show only one family at a time.

For multiple unrelated families, a separate page is needed for each family. Use the shortcode parameter “ref_nr” to identify the initial focus person in the family:
[simple_family_tree ref_nr="GTDF"]

Edit Link

The person boxes can show an “Edit Icon”. Whether they do or not can be set at:
Dashboard > Simple Family Tree > Settings – “Person Box Layout” tab.

The edit icon will only show for logged-in users with administrative capability. Clicking the edit icon brings up the relevant admin person record in a new browser tab.

Resize Icon

The resize icon is in the top right hand corner of the chart. Click to expand the chart to the size of the browser’s viewport. Click again to restore.

Centre Tree Icon

The centre tree icon is also in the top right hand corner of the chart. If the chart moves about too much, or it gets lost off screen, click the icon to re-centre the chart on the last focus person.

Same Gender Partnerships

The plugin supports same gender relationships and doesn’t use the terms husband and wife.

Male partners are drawn to the left and female parters to the right. In a same gender relationship, the order of the partners is arbitrary.

The plugin supports export of the family members list to the GedCom format. GedCom does use the terms husband and wife. GedCom supports same gender partnerships except partners of the same gender are assigned arbitrarily to be either the husband or the wife. A GedCom husband is not necessarily male and a GedCom wife not necessarily female.

Third Gender

Some persons do not identify as either male or female. The plugin’s “Not Set” gender can be used to cover this possibility.


Clicking the person icon in the bottom left corner of a person box opens a new page with that person’s details and data.


Extensive styling options are available at Dashboard > Simple Family Tree > Settings.

All charts on the site will use the same style settings.


Export and Import via GedCom files are available from the Tools menu. The plugin will only import and export the data which it can use, and this is only a fraction of the data that may be contained in a GedCom file. Accordingly, the import and subsequent export of a GedCom is likely to lose data.

Person featured Image export via GedCom is not supported by GedCom standard. The best it can do is export a link to the image. Over time, the links may break, or the source install may be deleted or be behind a password. To get round this, the plugin supports the export and subsequent import of images in Simple Family Tree format.

The exported images will be in a zip file. Each image filename starts with a unique identifier so it can be assigned to the correct person on subsequent import. The relevant GedCom must be imported to the target install first.

Importing of zip files is subject to the server’s PHP max_upload_size parameter. Large zips will need to be unzipped and regrouped into smaller zips.

Organisation Charts

To make an organisation chart, use the surname field for the department name. The Occupation field could be used for the manager’s name. Forename, middle names and dates are not applicable so leave them blank. Set “Gender not set” for all entries.

Sample Data

To get a feel for the plugin before entering all your data, try the sample data in the plugin’s “Sample” directory. There’s a GedCom file for the UK Royal Family, and the settings to go with it. Images are from Wikipedia. There’s also a GedCom for a sample organisational chart.


Printing of charts is not supported by the plugin. Who prints nowadays? Prints become out-of-date as soon as a person is added or edited.

If you must have a print, do a screen grab and import the image into an image processor.


Charts should work on a mobile if the site’s theme is mobile-friendly. However, charts need space and viewing on a mobile would need lots of scrolling and is likely to be tedious.


The plugin is only available in English but its translation-ready and a .po file is available for anyone who would like to provide a translation.


Update the plugin in the normal way through the update link in the list of plugins page.

Deleting the Plugin

After deactivating or deleting the plugin, the person records, relationships and plugin settings will remain in the database but will not be accessible. If the plugin is reactivated or reinstalled, they will be accessible again.

If deletion of the person records is required, this can be done using the tool at:
Dashboard > Simple Family Tree > Tools > Delete all Persons and relationships
before the plugin is deactivated.

Deleting a person record automatically deletes any of their relationships.

Last update: 13/03/22