Appendix A. Frequently Asked Questions

This appendix contains the list of questions that frequently come up in mailing list discussions and forums. This list is by no means complete. If you would like to add questions/answers to this list, please email your suggestions to gramps-devel@lists.sf.net

What is GRAMPS?

GRAMPS is the Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Program System. In other words, it is a personal genealogy program letting you store, edit, and research genealogical data using the powers of your computer.

Where do I get it and how much does it cost?

GRAMPS can be downloaded from http://sf.net/projects/gramps at no charge. GRAMPS is an Open Source project covered by the GNU General Public License. You have full access to the source code and are allowed to distribute the program and source code freely.

Does it work with Windows (tm)?

No. GRAMPS uses the GTK and GNOME libraries. While the GTK libraries have been ported to Windows, the GNOME libraries have not. This, however, may change in the future.

Does it work with the Mac?

The Fink project has ported some older versions of GRAMPS to OSX (tm). The Mac OSX port is not directly supported by the GRAMPS project, primarily because none of the GRAMPS developers have access to Mac OSX and because OSX is not Free Software.

This version of GRAMPS (2.2.0) does not appear to have been ported by the Fink project. Please contact the Fink project for more information.

Some people have had success using the DarwinPorts instead of the Fink project.

Does it work with KDE?

Yes, as long as the required GNOME libraries are installed.

Do I really have to have GNOME installed?

Yes, but you do not have to be running the GNOME desktop.

What version of GNOME do I need?

This version of gramps requires GNOME 2.8.0 or higher. Previous versions in 1.0.x series required GNOME 2.0.

Is GRAMPS compatible with other genealogical software?

GRAMPS makes every effort to maintain compatibility with GEDCOM, the general standard of recording genealogical information. We have import and export filters that enable GRAMPS to read and write GEDCOM files.

It is important to understand that the GEDCOM standard is poorly implemented -- virtually every genealogical software has its own "flavor" of GEDCOM. As we learn about new flavor, the import/export filters can be created very quickly. However, finding out about the unknown flavors requires user feedback. Please feel free to inform us about any GEDCOM flavor not supported by GRAMPS, and we will do our best to support it!

Can GRAMPS read files created by other genealogy programs?

See above.

Can GRAMPS write files readable by other genealogy programs?

See above.

Can GRAMPS print a genealogical tree for my family?

Yes. Different people have different ideas of what a genealogical tree is. Some think of it as a chart going from the distant ancestor and listing all his/her descendants and their families. Others think it should be a chart going from the person back in time, listing the ancestors and their families. Yet other people think of a table, text report, etc.

GRAMPS can produce any of the above, and many more different charts and reports. Moreover, the plugin architecture enables users (you) to create their own plugins which could be new reports, charts, or research tools.

In what formats can GRAMPS output its reports?

Text reports are available in HTML, PDF, AbiWord, KWord, LaTeX, RTF, and OpenOffice formats. Graphical reports (charts and diagrams) are available in PostScript, PDF, SVG, OpenOffice, and GraphViz formats.

Is GRAMPS compatible with the Internet?

GRAMPS can store web addresses and direct your browser to them. It can import data that you download from the Internet. It can export data that you could send over the Internet. GRAMPS is familiar with the standard file formats widely used on the Internet (e.g. JPEG, PNG, and GIF images, MP3, OGG, and WAV sound files, QuickTime, MPEG, and AVI movie files, etc). Other than that, there is little that a genealogical program can do with the Internet.

Can I create custom reports/filters/whatever?

Yes. There are many levels of customization. One is creating or modifying the templates used for the reports. This gives you some control over the fonts, colors, and some layout of the reports. You can also use GRAMPS controls in the report dialogs to tell what contents should be used for a particular report. In addition to this, you have an ability to create your own filters -- this is useful in selecting people based on criteria set by you. You can combine these filters to create new, more complex filters. Finally, you have an option to create your own plugins. These may be new reports, research tools, import/export filters, etc. This assumes some knowledge of programming in Python.

What standards does GRAMPS support?

The nice thing about standards is that there never is a shortage of them. GRAMPS is tested to support the following flavors of GEDCOM: GEDCOM5.5, Brother's Keeper, Family Origins, Family Tree Maker, Ftree, GeneWeb, Legacy, Personal Ancestral File, Pro-Gen, Reunion, and Visual Genealogie.

What is the maximum database size (bytes) GRAMPS can handle?

GRAMPS has no hard limits on the size of a database that it can handle. Starting with this release, GRAMPS no longer loads all data into memory, which allows it to work with a much larger database than before. In reality, however, there are practical limits. The main limiting factors are the available memory on the system and the cache size used for BSDDB database access. With common memory sizes these days, GRAMPS should have no problem using databases with tens of thousands of people.

How many people can GRAMPS database handle?

We have found that on a typical system, GRAMPS tends to bog down after the database has around 150,000 people. Again, this is dependent on how much memory you have.

Why is GRAMPS running so slowly?

It does not anymore! Just try out the current version, 2.2.0.

My database is really big. Is there a way around loading all the data into memory?

Starting with this release, GRAMPS no longer loads all data into memory, which allows it to work with a much larger database than before.

I want to rerun the Startup dialog. How do I do this?

GRAMPS keeps a flag in the GNOME configuration database to indicate that the startup dialog has been run. To cause GRAMPS to rerun this, the flag needs to be reset. This can be done with the following command:

gconftool-2 -u /apps/gramps/behavior/startup

Why are non-Latin characters displayed as garbage in PDF/PS reports?

This is a limitation of the built-in fonts of PS and PDF formats. To print non-Latin text, use the Print... in the format selection menu of the report dialog. This will use the gnome-print backend, which supports PS and PDF creation, as well as direct printing.

If you only have Latin text, the PDF option will produce a smaller PDF compared to that created by gnome-print, simply because no font information will be embedded.

Why can I not add/remove/edit columns to the lists in People View and Family View?

Now you can! Just try out the current version, 2.2.0.

I would like to contribute to GRAMPS by writing my favorite report. How do I do that?

The easiest way to contribute to reports, filters, tools, etc. is to copy an existing GRAMPS report, filter, or tool. If you can create what you want by modifying existing code -- great! If your idea does not fit into the logic of any existing GRAMPS tool, the following page may provide some help in writing your own plugin from scratch.

If you need more help or would like to discuss your idea with us, please do not hesitate to contact us at gramps-devel@lists.sf.net

To test your work in progress, you may save your plugin under $HOME/.gramps/plugins directory and it should be found and imported on startup. The correctly written plugin will register itself with GRAMPS, create menu item, and so on.

If you are happy with your plugin and would like to contribute your code back to the GRAMPS project, you are very welcome to do so by contacting us at gramps-devel@lists.sf.net

I found a bug and I want it fixed right now! What do I do?

The best thing you can do is to fix the bug and send the patch to gramps-devel@lists.sf.net :-)

A good bug report would include:

  • Version of gramps you were using when you encountered the bug (available through HelpAbout menu item).

  • Language under which gramps was run (available by executing

    echo $LANG

    in your terminal).

  • Symptoms indicating that this is indeed a bug.

  • Any Traceback messages, error messages, warnings, etc, that showed up in your terminal or a in separate traceback window.

Most problems can be fixed quickly provided there is enough information. To ensure this, please follow up on your bug reports. In particular, if you file a bug report with the gramps bug tracker, PLEASE log in to bugs.gramps-project.org before filing (register your free account if you don't have one). Then we will have a way of contacting you should we need more information.

If the above explanations seem vague, please follow this link.

It is obvious that GRAMPS absolutely needs to become a (client-server/web-based/PHP/weblog/Javascript/C++/distributed/KDE/Motif/Tcl/Win32/C#/You-name-it) application. When is this going to happen?

The surest way to see it happen is to get it done by yourself. Since GRAMPS is free/open source, nobody prevents you from taking all of the code and continuing its development in whatever direction you see fit. In doing so, you may consider giving your new project another name to avoid confusion with the continuing GRAMPS development. If you would like the GRAMPS project to provide advice, expertise, filters, etc., we will gladly cooperate with your new project, to ensure compatibility or import/export options to your new format of a project.

If, however, you would like the GRAMPS project to adopt your strategy, you would need to convince GRAMPS developers that your strategy is good for GRAMPS and superior to the present development strategy.