Most family history software packages presuppose a marriage-based or religious definition of ‘family’ which does not allow for an adequate description of the complex social groupings and genetic relationships that are in practice very common.

Many packages are constrained by their focus on the parenting of children, and of birth, marriage and death events. They make it difficult or impossible to represent meaningful descriptions of the extended social family, and to distinguish between households and groupings with biological ties.  It’s very common to find that a ‘family’ is expected to have two parents, of different sexes, and that children have to be displayed with their biological parents, even if they have never lived together as a nuclear household. Serious anthropological studies require far more flexibility.

HRE removes the family-based constraints on relationships, allowing the program to be used in much broader genealogical and anthropological contexts.