Novice Onboarding Gramplet

A concept for novice/teens to start a basic printable family tree in 5mins, zero learning curve and minimal input.

If there is no database an onboarding gramplet could display a basic family tree input and pedigree chart including print button.

Once the gramplet is printed/submitted a database is automatically created and named.

Some new users build from the pedigree category so ‘show unknown people’ could be default or new options added to the right-click menu: children > add child & parents > add parent.

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This effectively bypasses every Gramps concept, so it doesn’t help learning how to use gramps, it merely defers it.

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But… is the purpose of Gramps about learning the Gramps way… or doing genealogy?

One of the best things about Gramps is the diversity of methods & approaches for getting data into our Tree framework. I use ENTIRELY different data entry methods for single person, a census household, stitching in a cousin, processing an obituary, transcribing a family from a book or from a standardized (well, standardized for that particular group) genealogy form.

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I think @bugbear is saying, and I agree, that after the new user uses this onboarding gramplet, the new user will still be left with “Now what do I do?”.

Maybe if @bjpcorp can give us a beta version of the gramplet, it can be tested to see where it takes a new user.

That might be a gateway question that is easily answered. It is far less of a barrier-to-entry question than our current “why the hell can’t I figure out how to put in my immediate family & see a simple chart?” Which is where almost every user (those new to genealogy software, not an experienced genealogists converting from another tool) starts.

Correct, its a hook designed for new users to bypass the technicalities of genealogy software and defer the learning curve. If new users can start a basic tree, as easily as filling out a social media profile, they will then invest more time in learning to use Gramps. Once the onboarding Gramplet is complete, the What’s Next gramplet can guide the user what to do next.

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I don’t know python, writing a gramplet would fry my brain. Html, css and some php is the extent of my coding knowledge. Although I’ve not seen a gramplet that writes to the database that I could hack.

I agree something this simple really is needed for new users.

I’d love a simple way for new users to start with Gramps, so they aren’t overwhelmed with everything, but I’m unsure how this could be achieved best.

BTW there is also a pull request from @SNoiraud which allows to add a starter (placeholder) population when creating a new tree.

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I think the trouble is that “new users” come in endless varieties!

Some would like a hand-holding wizard. Some would detest that.

Some would like printed documentation to have beside them as they learn. Others want hyper-linked documentation.

Yet others want a video tutorial.

A lot of people really want a mentor looking over their shoulder. That’s difficult to automate!

Even the basic premise of this thread–that new users want to input a few immediate family members and print a tree–is somewhat suspect. If that is what they want, how did they end up with Gramps? My impression is that there is no genealogical society recommending Gramps to new members.

It would be very interesting to know where new Gramps users actually come from. It seems to me that most are dissatisfied with another software package. They want to know how Gramps works in comparison to what they’re used to. Which is an entirely different problem.

Gramps is remarkably flexible and powerful. I could make a case that the project should lean into that! It may be a bit more complex to learn but it does so much more than your old software!

FWIW,

Craig

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Yes, there are a few. It is often not the first choice offered to members, but I have seen a few. On the other hand, the publishers of the two paying majors here in France often equip these societies for free with their software, suddenly they advertise it.

I regulary advertise for it on social networks, not just saying to try it but showing too what I can do with it, I see some of who read my posts trying it.

Yes often but not always, sometimes they are new genealogists.

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I don’t think I’m a typical Gramps user. I started using Gramps about 9 years ago when I restarted my research after a ~15 year break. I tried it since there are not a lot of alternatives for Linux users. I loaded my Gedcom, and off I went!

I don’t remember any specific problems learning how to use Gramps, however, I wished I had learned about the clipboard much sooner.

I agree with BugBear when he said “This effectively bypasses every Gramps concept, so it doesn’t help learning how to use gramps, it merely defers it.”

What could be done to help a user from square one? I think about how some games work. Not through a plugin (which would have to be preinstalled), but rather, to start, have a popup with an animated arrow showing what to click to add the first person, then a popup with animated arrow showing what to click to add parents, then the same for children. This can get involved since the user would then still have to get up to speed on places, sources, and citations too.

I suppose one question is this: How much effort should be put into making Gramps easier for the casual user, who may well be satisfied with a less powerful application? The general consensus seems to be that Gramps has a steep learning curve, but is very powerful. That brands Gramps as a tool for more serious genealogists.

So perhaps our efforts should be geared more towards pushing the boundaries of what a genealogy program can do, making it more appealing to the serious user.

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very interesting discussion!
I started using Gramps about 2 years ago when it was discussed in a Linux-related podcast. To be frank, before that, I was even uninterested in the topic of genealogy, but the podcast host did a great job peaking my interest in both the field and the software!
However, as it was said in the podcast that the learning curve is steep, I knew what to expect, and personally I started with a video tutorial on YouTube, which didn’t just show how the software works, but also some best practices, like how you should start with adding the sources, etc.
So in my opinion, an interactive tour of the interface (maybe with a dummy database?) would be better in helping the users wet their feet, than giving them some simplified UI to start that they’ll have to kind of “fix” after they learned about the advanced functionality of the software.

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I like the tooltip tutorial idea, it would be useful for a new user to learn about some of the inputs possible for a person and also how to use Gramps.

An installed interactive tour of the interface would be a huge resource suck.

If we go that direction, it should be hosted where it doesn’t atrophy. Passing through the GitHub bottleneck doesn’t seem like the right approach. But instead, it should be something that can evolve rapidly without tying up programmers. This going to take at least at dozen or more cycles with newbies to evolve into something worthwhile. A coded evolution would take at least as many years to evolve.

The Project has tried several approaches in software. They have only made progress in fits & starts. Then they stall out for months or years at a time.

There is a set of Augmentative and Alternative Communication tools used in Speech Pathology called “Core Boards” or “Communication Boards”. These use touch pad positions to communicate a basic (core) concept when normal speech is not an option. The normal Core Board is NOT electronic… simply printed and laminated. (Although tablet computer based Core Board apps are slowly becoming available.)

I was thinking that a Relationships Core Concept board might be an alternative method for interrelate a Blended Family.

The idea is similar to what is available in the Charts right now for adding Parents to a Pedigree. Only instead of merely having 2 relationships available, the majority of the relationships within 2 degrees of separation from the Active Person would be available. So a click on one position would open a person for editing with certain relationships defined relative to the Active Person.

I’ve tossed together a prototype (inspired by FamilyTree.com’s Blended Family Tree printable form) of the concept board, the hotspots & the relationships using the Photo Tagging feature and a dummy tree of 34 inter-related people.

Ideally, you would not only be able to click to create a new person but also drag’n’drop an existing person into a position. (Which means this would need to remain a “Gramplet” rather than a “View”.)

And, if it proves intuitive and useful, perhaps it could also be converted to a Chart that lists the people in those positions of a blended family. (Each box could contain a list of multiple people.) Then a switch might be added for the view that swaps the behavior of a click on the hotlinked name between Navigating and opening an Edit Person Dialog. (Perhaps with the Edit Family Dialog when clicking a connecting line.)

Note that Associate and Distant Cousin buttons are included for generating a person without immediate family ties that instead would create a reciprocal Association to the Active Person. The Distant Cousin would create a 3-way Association between 2 cousins and their common Ancestor. Likewise if a grandparent was added without a known parent, a reciprocal Grandparent/Grandchild Association could be added as a Placeholder until the Family Relationship is made explicit.

The Stepchildren of the Active Person might prove complicated too. Depending on whether the Active person is Male or Female, the spouse genders swap. Likewise, the Stepchild/Birth relationships would have to swap between Father & Mother.

There was a fair amount of effort needed to create the PhotoTagging and related dummy tree people. I have to figure out how to make that .gpkg file available. (Zip’d and attached to 0012523: Relationships Core Concept Board - Gramps - Bugtracker – Free Genealogy Software )

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Thinking back to when I was a new user, I assumed that I could figure it out. I didn’t need to read all the help sections. What a mistake. I ended up wasting a lot of time.
I just didn’t have a strong understanding of how to enter genealogy information. Since that realization I have spent many hours reading the documentation. I will admit, some is still complex for my brain, but I feel confident to move forward and start trying some of the features that I have ignored so far.

The question is, how do you get a newbie like myself to read the tutorial before data is input (incorrectly).

I really like the concept of Serge’s placeholder population. But the path to its creation still too subtle. It also needs feedback from more users. The First Time button only exists in the Manage Family Trees dialog if (and ONLY if) the Database folder doesn’t have any Database files yet. (You can help test by changing the Family Tree Database path: temporarily. But there is a “Delete” bug. So please don’t use that feature’s “Load a gedcom/gramps file?” until that is addressed.)

For experienced users, the First Time button is pretty noticeable. But for newbies, it is just one more unfamiliar button in an unfamiliar dialog.

The users transferring in from another program will be looking for an “Import” and they will cancel the Manage Family Trees dialog then search the GUI & File Menu for an “Import”. But there isn’t a “File” menu and the “Family Trees” doesn’t even show a dimmed “Import” menu item. (That menu item appears only after a Tree is loaded.)

So now, they are confused. There are no Toolbar icons or menu items that encourage them to get started. And only the Dashboard & Geography View shows ANYTHING interesting.

In the middle of the “Welcome to Gramps!” Gramplet of the default Dashboard configuration, there is a suggested next step. (But it is after the “Who makes Gramps?” section. So most people will have have already stopped reading that text.)

Getting Started

The first thing you must do is to create a new Family Tree. To create a new Family Tree (sometimes called ‘database’) select “Family Trees” from the menu, pick “Manage Family Trees”, press “New” and name your Family Tree. For more details, please read the information at the links above

(That’s too many steps in the Getting Started and it is missing the click the Load Family Tree button step. Not to mention that the required button is dimmed until you press Enter to commit the name change.)

Let’s assume they DID notice the First Time button and clicked it.
Novice
They have another hurdle. After the import (or the the Placeholder tree) is store in the new Tree, they have to realize that the “Load Family Tree” is the right next step.

So the newbie has to do exactly the right things (at the right time) to get to data they can explore. Newbies ALWAYS make mistakes. So that is a formula for failure.

And if they just created a blank new Tree and loaded it, they are still stranded in a “What the h*** do I do now?” newbie zone.

Now, realizing that the Toolbar is context sensitive. Couldn’t the Toolbar change context if no database is Loaded and a “WARNING .Db: database is closed” is received in the log? Perhaps the background color could be RED and have several “macro” toolbar buttons to ALL Views?

The macro buttons would mitigate the “WARNING .Db: database is closed” condition. Mitigation options might include:

  • Import (which creates a default-named blank tree and opens the “Import Family Tree” dialog)
  • Start a new Family (which creates a default-named blank tree and opens a “New Family” dialog)
  • Restore from Backup (which creates a default-named blank tree and opens the “Import Family Tree” dialog. But additionally is preset to the Backup folder set in Preferences and uses a filter set to “.gpkg”)
  • 2 additional options might be to Import the example.gramps (with no potentially distracting file selection or confirmation dialogs) and push them toward some wiki tutorial exercises. Serge’s placeholder would also be a possibility (although it would be more appropriate in the “New Tree with no records” context.) Both would have to create a default-named blank tree and Load that tree.

These toolbar buttons would address the new user issues related to no Tree loaded.

The other major situation is basic starting point for a blank tree. That’s a whole different animal.

When I started I knew some names and relationships but no details, I found it difficult researching my tree, learning the geography, genealogy and how to use Gramps at once.

I’m more of a visual learner, my tree was built mainly via the pedigree view, now I’m adding details and publishing dynamic web reports I’m still learning but am more confident.

Newbies shouldn’t need a tutorial or documentation to input data, ideally it would be stupid simple and intuitive to figure out basics.

It would be interesting to create some user flow charts to visualise processes.

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Is there an open source Python test automation recording & playback tool we could leverage?

This would also need a new storage concept for downloading & sharing recorded scripts without tying up developers. (We will eventually need something like that anyway for sharing Custom Filters, Forms, WebConnect filters, Book designs, Themes, View configurations, etc.)