GEDCOM Viewer: Running the Application

To launch GEDCOM Viewer, click on its icon, just as for any other Android application. If this is the first time you have run the application, it will ask you to agree to the Software License Agreement and then it will offer to try to obtain a demo license key. Your device must have Internet access, either via cellular provider or by WiFi, in order to be able to contact the license server. It is necessary to obtain the license key before you can go on to use the application.

GEDCOM Selection Screen

Once you have obtained a license key, the GEDCOM Selection screen is the "top-level" screen for the application. This screen displays a list of the GEDCOM files that are available on your device. If no GEDCOM files could be found, a message will be displayed to this effect. In this case, you can use the Load demo item on the options menu to load a demonstration GEDCOM onto the external storage medium. Once the application has displayed the list of GEDCOM files, you can access one of these files by clicking on its entry in the list. The first time you access a GEDCOM file it will be "mapped"; that is, the contents are scanned and a compact index or "map file" is saved to external storage. The next time you access the GEDCOM file, the map file will be loaded initially and it will not be necessary to scan the entire GEDCOM, so access will be faster.

The map file cache is managed automatically by the application in a private folder on the external storage medium and you don't normally have to worry about them. If you load a lot of GEDCOM files, eventually the default capacity of the map cache will be reached and map files that have not been used for awhile will be deleted to make space for new ones. The limit on the amount of space that can be consumed by the map file cache is configurable via the Settings item in the options menu on this screen. Once the map file has been created, there will be an additional short delay while hierarchical indexes of persons and surnames are built. Generally, once the map file is created and/or loaded and the index is built, it will not be necessary for it to be done again during the same session. However, if the system gets low on memory then GEDCOM Viewer will try to help out by removing maps and indexes that are not being used. If that occurs, then the next time, a GEDCOM is accessed, the map will have to be reloaded and the index rebuilt. A green dot displayed next to the GEDCOM file name indicates that a map and index are already loaded and access to that GEDCOM will be immediate. An orange or yellow dot indicates that some reloading or rebuilding is necessary. If no dot is displayed, then that means no map or index is available and both will have to be rebuilt in order to access that GEDCOM.

The options menu on this screen includes the following items:


This item enters the options settings screen, where you can change the values of options that affect the behavior of the application.

Clear cache

This item erases the contents of the map file cache. Normally the files in the cache are managed automatically, but if you are extremely short on space and want to clean the cache quickly, or if there is some persistent problem with one or more of the cache files, then you can use this item.

Load demo

This item extracts a demonstration GEDCOM from the application package and saves it on the external storage medium where it can be accessed by the application.


Choosing this item causes this documentation to be displayed.


Choosing this item terminates the current GEDCOM Viewer session and returns to the system home screen.

GEDCOM Viewer Screen

Once you have selected a GEDCOM file, the map has been loaded, and the index built, you will reach the GEDCOM Viewer screen. This screen provides a number of different views of the information in the GEDCOM file:

In addition, there are a few other views that display information about notes and source information in the GEDCOM. Depending on which view is currently showing, the options menu will contain various navigation items:

Forward, Back

Moves forward or backward in the browsing history. The Back item has the same effect as pressing the "back" key on the device.

Father, Mother, Husband, Wife

When viewing a individual, Father and Mother can be used to navigate to that person's father or mother. The Husband and Wife items do a similar thing when viewing a family.

Ancestors, Descendants

When you are viewing an individual, choosing Ancestors will take you to a chart of the ancestors of that individual. Similarly, choosing Descendants will take you to a chart of that individual's descendants. The size of the charts can be configured via options settings, but it is best to be conservative until you get an idea of whether it is possible to construct much larger charts without taxing the capabilities of your particular device.

Up, Previous, Next

These are used to navigate through the hierarchical indexes. Each index is organized as a set of "nodes", each of which exists at a particular "level". At the highest level is the "root" node, which conceptually covers all the entries in the index. By selecting one of the items in the root node, you move to a node at the next lower level, which covers only a subset of the entries. If you keep moving to lower and lower levels, you will eventually reach the specific information you are interested in. While viewing an index node, the Up item takes you to the next higher-level of the index, and the Previous and Next items take you to the previous or next node at the same level of the index.

Persons, Surnames

Take you to the root node of the hierarchical persons or surnames index.


This item takes you back to the home view for the GEDCOM you are viewing.


This item takes you back to the GEDCOM selector screen, where you can select a different GEDCOM to view, or access the options settings screen.

Options Settings Screen

This screen displays a list of the configurable options supported by the application. Clicking on one of the options pops up a dialog that allows you to change the current value. Type the desired value into the text field and click on Accept to change the value. Click on Default to reset this option to its default setting. Clicking on Cancel returns you to the list of options without making a change.

Help Screen

This screen implements a simple browser that allows you to peruse this documentation.