Software & Fonts


SILKin is software designed to facilitate collection, analysis, and reporting of kinship terminologies. The program graphically displays genealogical structures and intelligently supports development of term definitions.


  • The SILKin user draws family tree charts onscreen to record genealogical data of persons interviewed.
  • There may be multiple charts (of unlimited size) for a culture/language, with links between charts. You may choose, for example, to draw each family on a separate chart. If someone from the Smith family marries a member of the Jones family, the marriage can be drawn with Mr. Jones and a link to Miss Smith.
  • If the culture being studied has kin terms that reflect adoptive relationships, you can create User Defined Properties (UDPs) for one or more types of adoption. Then those adoptive relationships can be drawn on your genealogical charts and factored into the definitions of kin terms.
  • If the kinship system recognizes non-genealogical factors (e.g. clans) that do not appear on a family tree chart, those too may be defined as UDPs. Once defined they can be part of the definition for a kin term.
  • Any person on any chart can be designated "Ego" and another person designated "Alter." On a Details Panel for Alter you may enter name, birth/death dates, and notes.
  • You also enter on the Details Panel the kin term of reference that Ego calls Alter, and the reciprocal term. If there is a separate system of terms of address, those may be entered also.
  • When you choose a different Ego, the Details Panel records the kin terms for that Ego/Alter pair. This allows a compact chart potentially to capture all the kin terms used by all the Ego/Alter pairs.
  • When the definition of a kin term is known to SILKin, that term can be entered automatically for every Ego/Alter pair that meets the definition.


  • Charts have several labeling options. You can label each person with names or initials. Or you can label them with their kin term of reference (or address) with respect to the current Ego. Or both.
  • Printing charts with labels may aid your analysis. You have limited control over font sizes and spacing of symbols on the charts.
  • After some data is gathered, you may request Suggestions from SILKin. It will compare the patterns in your data with known patterns in its Library of kinship systems. If one of your kin terms matches a Library pattern, it will tell you what language/culture you have matched and propose that definition.
  • SILKin will also be on the lookout for factors that may complicate your analysis:
  • synonyms and umbrella terms.
  • alternate spellings or typing errors
  • anomalies in the patterns
  • If you deduce a definition without SILKin's help, you may enter the definition directly into the software. Or you can edit and simplify definitions originated by you or SILKin.


  • All SILKin data is stored in an XML file that can be formatted in various ways for reporting. SIL has produced one formatter that transforms your data into a web page with analytics about the kinship system.
  • SILKin data can be exported via GEDCOM formats to many other genealogical software programs.


  • There is an extensive set of Help/Tutorial pages (under the Help menu) that should enable you to use the software without any formal training.
  • Some sample files are provided to illustrate SILKin's use.


Version 2.0 has all of the features requested by SIL field workers to date. But it has been used and tested by only a few people. It should be considered a 'Beta Test' release. We encourage you to download and use SILKin and to report bugs or problems to the developer via email: