Featuring GRAMPS Features! Is It Really A Genealogy Program for All?

I finally did an episode on GRAMPS on the Genealogy Software Showcase. My goal was to do a balanced demonstration for beginners, not a tutorial. I know people here feel strongly about it, so hopefully, you find it fair.


Ed Thompson is presenting Gramps on Genealogy Software Showcase. Ed does his baseline example of adding 3 generations by hand, seeing what basic options are supported for names, relationships, dates & places.

His takeaway? Gramps is easy to use… once you know how to use it.

That’s fair. The GUI elements to do a lot of basic things are not necessarily intuitive placed or represented. The beginner option (where the GUI elements have text labels and take up extra screen space) is not a default because it was added recently in response to a user request. But what seems to be the standard workflow begins to make sense… after a while.

… Then two years later, you find you’ve been doing everything the hard way! There are usually multiple ways of doing things and when you find the one that suits YOUR workflow, suddenly Gramps makes sense to you.

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From the thread started a couple days ago by Dale

Maybe we should list the sticking points and note how much each consumed in a 57 minute review:


  • [2:58-3:45] Not obvious how to get back to changing column layout (Maybe add item to Gramplet select pop-up menu?)
  • [36:45-38:55] needed a user prompt when no Gramplets are displayed [30:06-33:10] Played with Dashboard View’s Gramplet configurations, left the Dashboard View blank when sidetracked to the Places View find the PlacesCleanup Gramplet. He attributed the blank Dashboard to quirkiness.


  • [6:21-6:36] Expected to be able to Add objects via the Object summary Gramplets
  • [9:52-11:26] Couldn’t find his preferred date format (Just missed the option. The preferred format was there but maybe he was expecting to see “dd mmm yyyy” instead of “DAY MON YEAR”). He also questioned the need to restart Gramps for a Date format change.
  • [14:38-15:12] he found the Relationship view disorienting because the Active Person was at the top and among the Siblings (He thought felt ‘Siblings’ should be Children because of the inclusion of the Active Person’s Self & the Parents placed above … yet below the Active Person. I love that Gramps represents the Active Person among the siblings & in their birth order. It keeps me from forgetting to include them when listing all the sibs. Their omission from context in FindAGrave, WikiTree, MyHeritage, and other programs always costs time to compare birthdates & determine where the focal person fell in the birth order. Perhaps the display would have been less ambiguous if there had been an actual spouse & offspring. Then less clear again if the View had multiple spouses or a step/foster/adoptive parents in addition to biologicals.)
  • [19:45-21:52] Found it odd that an Event in the process of being added via the Person editor or Family editor did not list in Participants column prior to committing with the Editor’s OK. (Maybe some sort of ‘pending’ indicator would have helped?)
  • had trouble with a couple Gramplets
    • [36:15-39:32] installed the Person Overview addon & couldn’t find it in the interface because, although labeled with a Category name, it isn’t clear that the Gramplet registration NavType limits it to Person views, and the Gramplet is called “Overview” in the GUI, not “Person Overview” as it is listed in the Plugin Manager. Unfortunately, the Help button in the detached gramplet goes to the generic Gramplets documentation, it is not listed in the Add-ons list and there is no wiki page.
    • [39:28-48:15] Gramplet with fixed size (PlaceCleanup) on the Bottombar needed a vertical slider indicator of off-screen controls The layout was designed for the Sidebar rather than the Bottombar where he added it.
    • [45:07-46:55] Internally Searching the wiki for an add-on didn’t find it in the 1st attempt… even when knowing the (Place Cleanup) name. He resorted to using Google externally.


  • [18:07-21:52 and 28:09-29:27] Created a Marriage Event for a family, it showed them as main participants in the Events view but omitted that Event from the horizontal pedigree chart. It was also missing from the Family event. (Perhaps he did an Undo, canceled or used the Close gadget on the Edit Family dialog?) Eventually used the Share to re-attach the Marriage Event.


  • [5:14-5:45] Noted his accidental entry of surnames in the prefix field.
  • He invested over 2 weeks of preparation for this presentation while spending 1 week or less for others. (Noting that this presentation is strictly about adding 3 generations manually. This includes checking the flexibility in name, relationship, date & place entry.)
  • You can read Ed’s early questions (from July 2020) to the community as he planned this review.