Gramps and Windows

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Windows and GRAMPS


The following hints are based on experience using Windows XP and GRAMPS version 3.0.x. GRAMPS version 3.0.x runs well on a Windows PC.

Attention: Before trying something, make a backup of your data. All the following details are for information purposes only. Nobody guarantees anything at all!

Installing GRAMPS

Although it is unusual for a Windows user, it is necessary to install several parts to get a complete and working application - it's the way to install GRAMPS. If one follows the instructions of the documentation (Windows_installer) it should work without trouble.

Setting the working language for GRAMPS

GRAMPS looks during the start-up-phase for an environment variable (called LANG) to switch to a special language. It's better to use a ".CMD" or ".BAT" file to control this environment variable instead a permanent setting in the windows registry, to have the possibility to go back to the GRAMPS standard language (English) in the case you want to report about a problem or a bug.

One may use a ".CMD" file having this content:

  @rem it's to switch to GERMAN
  @rem following the discussion of [1] there was added the next line

Hints: You have to place the ".CMD" file into the same folder as the file "" or to set your environment variable PATH to include the path to the file "". At least in one case there was a problem using a line "phytonw.exe" in a ".CMD" file: The usage of the environment and STDIN, SDTOUT and STDERROR does not work properly. May be, there is any where a Phyton-Windows specialist who knows more about this topic or is able to solve the problem.

Setting the configuration path for GRAMPS

During the boot process of GRAMPS there is a check for an environment variable called GRAMPSHOME. Without this environment variable GRAMPS uses the default Windows path to handle (at the first time: to place) all configuration files there:

<system drive>\<userpath>\<application data>\gramps

For a German Windows it may look like this (if the system drive is 'C:' and the lock-in user name is 'Paul'):

C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen\Paul\Anwendungsdaten\gramps 

For an English Windows the example shoot look like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\Paul\Application Data\gramps

If the variable GRAMPSHOME is available, than GRAMPS uses the value to look for a directory 'gramps' inside to handle (at the first time: to place) all configuration files there. So, (together with the build-in setting for the storage place of the database files: Edit --> Preferences --> Database) it's a nice way to have the complete database including all family trees at one global place for backups or for a transfer from one PC to an other.

But be sure what you are doing! You may loose the link to the GRAMPS databases, if you play with this values without moving or copying related files already written by GRAMPS (e.g. your family trees or your configuration files!). There will be no problem if you change these settings without having any family tree (before editing any thing first time or before importing any file first time).

Here is an example for the related .CMD file command lines

@rem set the path for GRAMPS configuration files

Updating GRAMPS

Well, for Windows user it's the same unusual way to update GRAMPS as the way to install it. See the documentation for more information to get the newest Phyton files (Installation, see chapter 'Obtaining the source'). As usual in this community the update includes only the GRAMPS part of the software. But if one did run first all steps of the installation there should be no problems using the update.

At least up to version 3.0.2 you have also to compile and replace your language file. You have to compile a new .mo file based on the .po file using a POcompiler:

  1. Get your special .po file from the upgrade package (e.g. de.po for German) from the folder called "po"
  2. Get the tools from [2] (e.g. Translate-Toolkit-1.2.0-setup.exe as a complete setup for MS Windows; but may be, there is a later version).
  3. Use the compiler (e.g.: C:\Programme\translate-toolkit\pocompile.exe de.po
  4. Replace the old by the new one. It should be placed in "...\lang\de\LC_MESSAGES" (e.g. C:\Programme\gramps_prog)

Using external applications to open a media file (e.g. ".JPG" or ".PDF")

GRAMPS has some predefined MIME types for some file types (e.g. ".JPG", ".BMP" or ".PDF") and uses the MIME definitions of your Windows System, to select the external application accessing the media file. This is not the usual way of the Windows Explorer where only the file's extension defines the default application for the file (the method is usual called File Associations)! If GRAMPS knows the MIME type of a special file this MIME type will be shown in the column "Type" of the table "Media". But it may be, that this MIME type is an unknown or incomplete MIME type of your system. In this case one has to define the correct MIME type. It’s possible but really not easy. So, a better way would be, to find an application where the MIME definition for file type of your choice will be defined as a MIME type or to focus onto the build-in file types of GRAMPS.

There is a general limitation for GRAMPS using MIME definitions: GRAMPS is not able to handle MIME definitions where the command "OPEN" is defined by using the method DDE. Because e.g. PaintShopPro in version 6.0.0 is using DDE, it works not as image viewer for GRAMPS.

Comment (12.10.2008): Up to release 3.0.1 for file and folder names standard ASCII letters are allowed only (e.g. no 'Ü', 'Ä', .... on a German Windows)! This issue is fixed in the 3.0.2 release (see [3])


The new possibilities for archiving versions of a GRAMPS database is announced for GRAMPS version 3.0.2. There are some special hints to use the functionality:

  1. Get RCS for Windows from the internet: [4]
  2. Build the correct Windows Environment:
    1. GRAMPS needs to find the executables of RCS. That's why one should add the path to these files to the environment variable PATH. It's better only to change temporary the PATH variable by using a ".CMD" or ".BAT" file. And it's also better to place the "RCS-path" at the beginning of the value of the variable PATH. This is because other programs could use executable files having equal names as RCS executables. Known is CVS for Windows which uses it's own version of rlog.exe.
    2. RCS needs an environment variable (called TZ) for your time zone, e.g.: "TZ=CET-1" for Central European Time less one hour (that’s for instance for MUNICH).

So the complete “.CMD” may look like this:

  @rem it's to switch to GERMAN
  @rem following the discussion of [5] there was added the next line
  @rem RCS environment start
  @rem the time zone for RCS
  @rem set the path to RCS bin files for Windows
  SET PATH=C:\Programme\rcs\bin\win32;%PATH%
  @rem RCS environment end
  @rem set the path for GRAMPS configuration files