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Cygnus editor

The Cygnus editor is one of the three main editors of Ancestris.


The philosophy of the Cygnus editor comes from the need for simplicity of use.

The simplicity of being able to manipulate individuals and everything that relates to them, at a glance

Without worrying about how information is stored behind the scenes,

All other information, families, sources, notes, etc. are ultimately only complementary information relating to the life of the individual. For instance, the individuals' marriage should be listed with the other events. This is what Cygnus does.

The advantage is to see almost everything at a glance, like a bird watching the earth from the sky.

Did you know that? Its name comes from the large and brilliant constellation of the Swan. With its stars mainly arranged according to a large cross, it is represented as a bird spreading its wings.

Cygnus efficiently does a lot of work for you behind the scenes. Creating a spouse, for example, takes just one click, whereas it requires more steps with the other two editors.

The compromise is that only the most important genealogical information can be edited with this editor, but still covers 80% of users' needs.

There is a solution for everyone, and Ancestris users often choose to use two main editors: Cygnus + Gedcom, or Aries + Gedcom. Some prefer to use only the Gedcom editor. Here is a comparison of the 3 editors if you still had to make a choice.

Cygnus Gedcom Aries
Focus The individual and his close environment The Gedcom standard

Completeness of

Ease of use ++ +++ +
Ergonomics +++ + +++
Coverage of needs 80% 100% 100%
Data transparency + +++ ++
Efficiency +++ + +
Editable Gedcom entities Many All All
Compliance with Gedcom standard 100% 100% 100%

Description and Usage

Cygnus displays the individual in the upper part of the window with the Title bar, his family nucleus just below, and the details of his/her life in the lower part, with the associated life events.

Title bar

The title bar displays the name of the selected individual and some buttons.


Hovering over a button displays a tooltip.

Pin Button

Freezes the editor on this individual even if another entity is selected in Ancestris.

Cursor Button

Keeps the focus on the editor when changing entities.

A mouse selection of an individual in the entity table or in the tree, for example, normally causes the focus on the Cygnus Editor to be lost.

If you want to keep the focus on the editor, this button brings the focus back to the first name of the individual and positions the cursor there.

Warning sign

When the warning sign icon appears, it means the information included in the individual data includes an invalid piece of data or an invalid value.. Press the icon to display the source of the invalidity.

Anomalies are detected according to criteria defined in the Ancestris preferences, Extension selection, Validation tab.

Create a new individual Button

Creates a new individual and places him/her in the editor.

Delete this individual Button

Deletes the individual displayed with a confirmation request.

Contextual menu

Right-clicking on this title bar displays the context menu.

Separation bar

The separation bar shown in yellow below can be moved with the mouse. It allows you to adjust the respective sizes allocated to the family nucleus and to life events.


The position of the separation bar is set for each genealogy.

Family nucleus

Above the separation bar is the individual's family nucleus.


Photo frame

This frame displays all the photos and other media (video, soundtrack, etc.) of the individual and of his or her life events.

The photos displayed at each moment are those of the event selected in the life events section.

Media included in the sources are not displayed here, but in the Source photo frame.

The media displayed for a photo is the photo itself. For other media (sounds, videos, documents), the media displayed is the corresponding media icon.

A horizontal scroll bar allows you to scroll through the photos of a given event.

You can specify a short description for each photo.

There are 3 buttons in the photo frame.

  • The button EditeurCygnus_Etoile.png sets the preferred photo to be displayed by default for the individual, in all Ancestris views, in particular the Dynamic tree view.
  • The button EditeurCygnus_Ajouter.png adds a photo, which will be placed in the selected life event.
  • The button EditeurCygnus_Supprimer.png deletes the displayed photo

Several actions are possible regarding the displayed media.

  • A single left click changes the media, whatever it is
  • Right-clicking displays the media in your computer's media viewer.
    • If it's a photo, the photo will be displayed in large size in your image viewer.
    • If it is a video or a soundtrack, it is played in your default media player.
  • When the media is a photo
    • Drag and drop with the mouse to crop the photo
    • The mousewheel allows you to zoom in and out.
    • A Ctrl+Click save the photo cropping

The choice of a photo is made by clicking on the image.

The Media viewer appears to only display medias of individuals and families, with specific buttons at the bottom.


The Choose this media button associates it with the individual and closes the window.

The Look for media files button is used to get a file from your computer, not yet used in the genealogy.

The Look for Internet files button is used to get a file from the Internet, not yet used in the genealogy.

Description of the individual

This panel section is used to edit the name and gender of the individual.

First and last names are edited with two drop-down menus.

  • The Firstname drop-down menu selects a firstname among those already used in the genealogy.
  • The Lastname drop-down menu selects a lastname from those already used in the genealogy.

The button EditeurCygnus_Noms.png  specifies the other elements of the individual's name via another panel that appears.


The radio buttons en-cygnus-sex.png set the gender of the individual.

The checkbox en-cygnus-private.png marks this individual as private. For more details on this subject, see the Privacy page in the Preferences.

Above the first and last names is indicated the identification number of the individual and the Sosa number when it is generated.

Around this description are arranged 6 relationships buttons for the parents of the individual, brothers and sisters, spouse and children.

These Relationship buttons have multiple functions.

  • A left click on the button will not have the same result depending on whether the related individual already exists or not yet.
    • If the individual already exists, it is selected and the editor will navigate to this individual and display it.
    • If the individual does not exist, it is created.
  • A right-click on the button displays a menu with the choices that seem most relevant to that individual and for the corresponding relationship. These choices are arranged in four categories:
    • Navigation to the related individuals, if there are several brothers, sisters, spouse or children
    • Creation of the related individual in the genealogy and creation of the relationship with him/her
    • Creation of the relationship if the individual already exists
    • Detachment of the relationship if the relationship already exists

Family Tree

This tree structure presents:

  • in yellow, the selected individual,
  • his/her parents at the upper level
  • his/her siblings at the same level in the chronological order of births
  • his/her spouse(s) are listed below
  • and the corresponding children at the lower level


A double-click on any of the individuals selects it.

Life events

This part of the Cygnus editor details the events of an individual's life.

A vertical separation bar delimits the list of events and the media of the associated sources on the left, and the details of these events on the right. It can be moved and its position is memorized from one time to another for each genealogy.


List of events

We distinguish the General event from the others.

  • It is a particular event that allows you not to define a particular event precisely.
  • It can associate notes and sources to the individual to characterize the whole of his life, without attaching them to a particular moment of life.

All other events are those that the Gedcom standard allows to define. They are numerous (birth, marriage, profession, residence, death, burial, etc.).

All events are listed in a single lifeline, including unions. You can therefore create a baptism event and a wedding event in the same place and in the same way.

Indeed, unlike the other two editors, Cygnus being focused on the individual, there is no distinction to edit all events, whether they are the individual entity events or the family entity events.

The list displays the default events in chronological order, using event logic when a date is not indicated (i.e. a death occurs after a birth).

The list can be sorted by clicking on the column header, in ascending order with one click, or descending order with a second click.

The width of the columns can be adjusted with the mouse.

Selecting an event displays its details on the right hand side, and its associated photos in the photo frame at the top of the editor, and source documents in the source media frame at the bottom left of the editor.

Buttons for creating or selecting events

A set of 10 buttons manage the most common events more efficiently.


  • The first 10 buttons on the left are the most common events used in genealogy.
    • The first is that of birth. A click on this button creates the birth event if it does not already exist, and selects the birth event otherwise
    • The one underneath is that of the occupation. As there can be several occupations for the same individual, a click on the button displays a drop-down menu asking if you want to create an occupation or offers you to select one of the existing occupations. When there are none, it creates it.
    • The last of these 10 buttons, the button with the flag, is a button that displays all other possible events in a list. It is up to you to choose the one you want to create
  • The top right button replaces the event by another one while keeping all the information in the event. For instance, you can change a birth event to a christening event without having to delete the event, create the new one, and enter everything again.
  • The bottom right button deletes the selected event. The General event cannot be deleted

Details of an event

For each selected event, the right hand part of the panel allows you to enter the same information, except for the General event which does not need some of it. All this information is aligned to the Gedcom standard tags.

The image below shows the detail of an event such as Occupation.


Event description

It is a dropdown list of already defined descriptions, in case the description can be reused.

The field name is the name the the tag. In the image above, this is "Occupation".

This field is only visible for events where a description is allowed by the Gedcom norm, and actually needed.

For instance, a diploma, an occupation need a description. Birth, Death do not need any.

Type of  event

It is a dropdown list of already defined types of the selected event, in case the description can be reused.

The type is a way to classify the event. It is optional to fill it in.

This field is always visible for all events.

Date and time

See the dates page for more details.

Below the date is displayed the day of the week if it is dated, and the age of the person at the time of the event except for the day of birth.


The drop-down menu allows you to choose an existing place from the ones known in the genealogy. The first characters entered display a filtered list of places containing these characters. If the place does not already exist or if you want to modify it, click on the place button next to it. See the description of places or the Place Editor for more details.


It is possible to enter one or more notes, specific or shared. See the difference in the Shared Information page.


Cygnus can recognize, display and edit both shared and specific notes, but will only create shared notes.

The mouse wheel is used to scroll through the note text if it requires more lines than there is room to display. The right scrollbar allows you to do the same. It appears when all the lines cannot be displayed.

By pressing the <Ctrl> key and using the mouse wheel, you can scroll through the notes. The other scrollbar on the right allows you to do the same thing. 

Hovering the right scrollbar with the mouse displays the rank of the displayed note in relation to the total number of notes attached to the event.

The first 3 buttons allow you to create, change and delete a note.

The last button allows you to enter the note in a large window in which it is possible to enlarge the font size.

The creation and change of a note opens the note selection window:


The right part lists all the known notes of the genealogy. They are of three origins.

  • In black, the notes used in the genealogy and contained in Note Entities (shared notes)
  • In blue, the notes used in the genealogy and contained in Notes specific to certain entities.
  • In red, unused notes.

It is possible to enter one or more sources, specific or shared. See the difference in the Shared Information page.

For example, here is a source of the baptismal certificate of Louis XIV.


The information for the sources is as follows:

  • The name of the source
  • A text that is generally used to present a transcription of the source text. Indeed, it is better to make the effort once to decipher a handwritten text that is difficult to read, rather than to do it every time you need it.
  • The name of the repository where the source can be found
  • Media associated with the same source (on the left)

Sources work on the same principle as notes in terms of :

  • the 4 buttons
  • scroll buttons
  • the use of the mouse

Clicking on the source buttons displays the source selection window:


The photo frame of the source of an event works on the same principle as the photo frame of the individual.

Clicking on the image helps you choose which image you want to associate with a source.

The Media viewer is shown. It only displays media files of sources, with specific buttons at the bottom.


The Repository field allows you to choose the repository from which the source is taken with the button on the right. EditeurCygnus_bouton_dépôt.png.


This window contains all the information of the repositories already created or that you would like to create when editing the current individual.


This is where we enter other individuals in relation to an event, such as witnesses at a wedding or the godparents of a baptized person.


The relationship field is actually a drop-down menu that lists all the relationships currently entered for the selected event.

It is possible to select one of them and then click on the button  EditeurCygnus_bouton_relation_sélection.png to navigate to the corresponding individual.

The button EditeurCygnus_bouton_relation_choisir.png allows you to manage individuals in relation to the selected event. Clicking on this button brings up the following window:


In the upper part, this window allows you to add, modify or delete relationships.

For each relationship in the list of relationships that appears, it is possible to define the event to which you wish to associate a relationship, the type of relationship (witness, declarer, etc.), the name of the relationship, its sex and occupation.

In the lower part, it displays, for information only, the events of other individuals for which the selected individual is himself or herself associated.

Time stamp of last modification of the entity

The last information visible in the Cygnus Editor is the last modification date of the information.


This date is updated automatically at each update.

Synchronization with other views

As we have seen, in Ancestris, at every moment an entity is selected.

When this entity is an individual, this one appears as the main person in the Cygnus editor.

When this entity is not an individual (a family, a note, etc.), the Cygnus Editor displays the individual related to this entity. You can then edit the selected entity as per the various screens described in this page.

The selected entity will be related to the event automatically selected in Cygnus.

Example: if a family is selected in the Entities table, Cygnus will display the husband, select the spouse in the family tree in Cygnus, and select the marriage event.