Beta of "What's Next?" gramplet released to 5.2 addon list

Revised Gramplet now available in the 5.2 Addon Manager. (Thanks to @Nick-Hall for making it available.)

A lot of complaints have been voiced over the years about the steep learning curve and newbies bailing out after finding Gramps impossible to get started. The once complex installation is now fairly simple. But getting started with your 1st tree is still something like a brain-teaser puzzle. Easy, once you know the precise sequence of moves but frustrating if you can’t figure it out.

This might get novice user past the first big barrier-to-entry. It is layered on the What’s Next? built-in gramplet. While the original Gramplet was only useful once a Tree was started, this iteration adds tests for the most common “empty dataset” stumbling blocks and gives timely yet terse suggestions. And unlike intrusive pop-ups like the reviled Clippy, it is discreet enough to ignore unless needed.

Also the Configuration for the original content has been dialed down to a maximum of 10 suggestions within ±1 generation from the home person. So it is useful without being a resource hog for non-newbie users.

Please give it a try. The best use is to Undock it from the dashboard so follow the instructions in other views without testing your memory about the steps.

Add it to your Dashboard and restart Gramps 5.2 beta. (This would have to be a default Gramplet to be of ANY value to newbies.) Try it without a tree loaded. Pretend you’ve never seen Gramps before.

Like all tools, it still needs refinements. We already discovered some issues:

  • any external Help (https://) target URLs won’t work for undocked gramplets • Fixed PR#1605
  • multiple deletes are not triggering a refresh of the data • Fixed PR#576
  • edits to objects that do not create or delete an object do not trigger a refresh.
  • the prompts from the original layer can be obscure

Some other novice user features have been proposed and have 1st cuts:

Previous threads:

No comments?

Even saying that you hate it… and why… would be welcome. (I’ll start: the :no_entry: and :footprints: lean toward the ‘banal’ side.)

Never used the gramplet… the built-in version. Cannot see the need for an addon version. Already have many tasks mapped out in my next steps cleaning/documenting my database.

It is in Addon form only for testing. (Addons revision releases do not have to wait for new Installer builds.)

If it is deemed beneficial for helping novices past the first obstacles, the idea is to swap out the built-in. Then make it one of the default Dashboard gramplets instead of Top Surnames. (Because Top Surnames is confusing until there are a statistically significant number of people.)

I have created pull request #1605 to fix this. Please test and let me know if there are any problems.

The code was only treating a help_url starting with “http://” as a full URL. I have added “https://”.

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Worked nicely. Thanks! It opened the secure http URL.

Then, in pull 576 for addons source, the help_url has been changed from secure http URL to point at the “What’s Next?” built-in wiki location.

Another possible ‘lead them by the nose’ feature would be to put a suggestion at the bottom to either “Detach” the gramplet to use as a reference (since the user has to change views for some instructions). It is not immediately apparent that Gramplets are in a docking system.

Then detect the change in gramplet state is it becomes detached. And show a suggestion to ‘close’ an undocked Gramplet to redock it to the parent view.

It looks like there are signals to monitor and states to check which would allow the right message to be shown.

The suggestions would ONLY show for the novice hints:

  • when no tree is loaded
  • when no people exist in a loaded tree
  • when no Home Person is defined

Am I a novice when these conditions are true?

If those those conditions are true, Gramps is confusing for a Novice.

Parts of the contextual interface are not shown or are non-functional. So Gramps appears to be incomplete. And because Gramps has a unique approach to resolving these conditions (which requires learned responses rather than intuitive ones), explicit “Next Step” instruction is only needed by novices.

After resolving those, the remaining view where Gramps appears to be truly non-functional and obscure is: the Geography view. There are so many prerequisites and they are non-intuitive. For most Geography view modes, these prerequisites must be satisfied:

  • There must be internet access to the default map service or some cached map tiles
  • A Place must exist and have valid Coordinates to be ‘map-able’
  • An Event must exist and have a map-able Place (and a date, for animation)
  • A Person (or Family) must exist, be ‘active’ and have a map-able Events

If you start offline, the view is simply blank no matter what the user does. (Under 5.1.x, 2 view modes, the “…be able to meet” modes had text hints when prerequisites were not met. In 5.2, the 2 “all Places” modes now have such a hint. That leaves the 1st three without hints.) When online, map tiles appear but it appear to just be a scroll-able and zoom-able map.

The other views all have a “+” toolbar icon. That shows it is possible to create that type of object. The Edit Object dialogs that appear show what data the object might contain and how they might be interrelated.

The original What’s Next? gives hints about missing Families, events, places or dates. It doesn’t address sourcing. Considering that “Citations for all data” is a trigger topic for a lot of genealogists, that probably should be considered in a future version. (The Start with Genealogy linked from the Welcome! is hypersensitive about Sourcing. And the process outlined is … painful. The workflow is as artificial as RPN.)

Thank you for these explanations, but I (or any other non-novice user) am not a novice, will I still see this? Or may be some Don’t see this anymore button will disable it forever?

Once a tree is loaded and there is a home person, the messages are gone. If you set Gramps to reload the tree, you’ll probably even forget they exist. Even in the unlikely case that experienced users do leave the What’s Next? gramplet on their Dashboard.

(Although it is very likely that experienced users will change from the default set of Dashboard gramplets. Personally, I put the Session Log, Last Changes, a Collections Clipboard and a couple QuickViews on the Dashboard for normal editing sessions. I like the way Dashboard gramplets remember their undocked state on restart for use on a multiple monitor setup. It is nice that the dashboard undocked gramplets can be relabeled … but the internal border and label are redundant and screen-space wasters.)

It seems the original What’s Next? gramplet has a defect that will need to be fixed before being added to the default Dashboard.

The filtering options don’t seem to limit properly. So it probably looks at the whole tree… or at least, all those connected to the Home Person.

The updated version barely adds any overhead. And it isn’t any worse than the original. But the refresh impact should be minimized before the Gramplet goes wide.

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