What are Gramplets?

Ever since my first few moments using GRAMPS I was struck by two points:

  1. the main Views are great for seeing and moving about a family tree
  2. the Reports have a wealth of information

After using GRAMPS for a while, I began to wish that these two points could be merged. That is, I wanted Reports that acted like Views: I wanted to be able to click on items in a report to move about my data, and that these reports would change dynamically (without having to run the report again). Furthermore, I wanted to be able to click on summary data, such as “Individuals with Unknown Gender”, and see exactly who these individuals were.

One possible solution to this dilemma was to add more views to GRAMPS. I think most of the developers felt that we already have too many Views, and I didn’t wanted to suggest adding dozens more. Another possible solution was to add a new method of “printing” a report—one that would go to the screen and be clickable rather than go to a file or paper. I worked on the latter for a bit, but that was going to take a lot of work and restructure of all of the reports. And it didn’t solve all of the issues that I was thinking about. For example, you’d still have to “run” the report.

Almost a year ago today, I suggested to my GRAMPS developer-colleagues a new view that would contain tiny report/view hybrids. The working name for this view was “My Gramps” and I called the tiny views a “Gadget”. After a good discussion we decided on the more playful term “Gramplet”, which became the term for the view as well.

No one really understood how this view would be received, or how it fit into the rest of GRAMPS, including the Tools, Reports, and Quick Views. But Brian allowed the view in to see what people thought of it. The real usefulness wasn’t truly appreciated (at least not by me) until Benny pointed out that a detached Gramplet can be moved to the side of another View. This allows users to create their own View of sorts, by surrounding their screen with Gramplets. At that point, I (and others) began to see how Gramplets fit into Gramps.

Today, there are nearly 20 Gramplets, although some are purely experimental. I think the idea of a Gramplet also helps to better define the other parts of GRAMPS. Tools should be little programs that process data, reports are for printing, and Quick Views are lists tied to a particular object and don’t update with a change to the active person (or other object).

In my next post, I’ll introduce a couple of new gramplets for GRAMPS 3.1.

-Doug Blank

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