Relationship Graph intertwined lines

Hi Grampers,

After not doing it for a long time decided to at least print some graphs to see how the overall picture looks like and to show for some of my family what is done so far as everyone is nosy.

I have got only about 500 individuals and on two A1 sheets, it looks already messy to follow the lines.

I have tried two portrait facing A1 side by side, and two one on the other and seems there is one branch that is overcrowded and just impossible to trace the relationships.

Any tips or techniques? Or maybe to use any other Gramp to display the overall picture in the readable format of the family tree?

Thank you.

Well the more people you are trying to display and the more connected they are (e.g. pedigree collapse) the harder it gets to generate a good result. Often the best solution is to generate graph from subgroups instead of showing all of them in one tree.
Doing the tree sideways e.g. left to right instead of top to bottom can sometimes help.

What kind of graph are you trying to create (ancestor tree, decentant tree, hourglass graph or relationship graph of all relatives to a person, etc.)?

I’m trying Reports>> Graphs>> Relationship Graph…>> Report Option >> Filter: Entire Database.

I have good results when choosing when I chose Connection lines: Stright option in Graphviz Layout.

The problem I have spotted now is that Gramps doesn’t format font size properly even there is an option to choose font size but this doesn’t work. I don’t know what to do, as the font size is unreadable when printed on paper.

The relationship graph and other similar graphs try to fit the graph onto the specified paper size. When the graph is too large, the overall image is shrunk down until it fits. This means that fonts also get shrunk down. The font size option will only seem to work when the graph fits on the paper without shrinking.

When dealing with large graphs, you have two options.

  1. If you intend to print them on actual paper, you should split the graph into multiple sheets, either horizontally, or vertically or both. The Graphviz layout tab (for PDF Ghostscript) has the number of horizontal (or vertical) pages setting for this. The resulting pages have a small overlap so that they can then be cut (with scissors) and taped together to make a large complete graph.

  2. Since most people look at these graphs on a computer, I generally use an artificially large custom page size. Up to 199x199 inches is supported. And print to PDF (Ghostscript). The user then has to use the pdf view zoom controls to get in close enough to read a section of the graph.

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We have sort of the same conversation gramps mailing list about shrunk fonts. I would like to copy/paste the last mail I’ve sent with some positive results I’ve got when playing with settings.

I spend some more time playing with. Simply cels and the text inside got squeezed when there isn’t enough paper footage on the given paper size and page count. To get normal-looking font size and some info in cels with my family tree of nearly 500 individuals on portrait positioned A1 size paper I need about 15 sheets of A1 in one row. If I decrease the page count to 9 sheets I can spot some minor font reduction. So, you have to give much more pages initially and then reduce gradually when you see still good results with fewer pages.

The option in “Graphviz Options” >> Aspect ratio: [Fill the given area] is not good in my case when I use the “Note” option to add some text. Even though the note has its personal note font size option, but it got squeezed with the tree, and font size is overridden down. So it’s better to use “Graphviz Options” >> Aspect ratio: [Expand uniformly] and play with “Graphviz Options” >> Rank spacing.

So far my options for 500 person family tree in Reports >> Graphs >> Relationship Graph…

Paper option: A1, Portrait

Report Options: Descendants ← Ancestors, Use rounded corners, Use hexagons,

Include: Show all family nodes, include thumbnail images of people

Graph Style: Show family nodes

Graphviz Layout: Font/family - TrueType/FreeSans, Size - 14, Direction - vertical (down), number of horizontal pages - 11, verical pages - 1, Piping direction - bottom/left, Connecting lines - Stright, alternate line attachment.

Graphviz Options: Aspect ratio: Expand uniformly, Node spacing - 0.20, Rank spacing - 1.20

Note: Top, size - 16

I have a screenshot attachment of the result in PDF. The red square is my 24" PC monitor’s real size and document visible 100% which in my case is nearly 1:1 ratio with the real size of the real paper.

For sure would be lovely to have more options to control the graph. Would be good to have the option to break the line of the generation. As the widest, part of the tree is our generation. For example, in the family a spouse to have their own line. so this would help to decrease the width of the generation.


I find that I can fit up to around 700 or 800 people on a A0 chart. Using horizontal graph direction (on the Graphviz layout tab) seems to work best for large numbers of people.

The layout of persons on the chart is done by graphviz, not Gramps. The optimisation is not that effective for large numbers of persons, and the chart can end up with many crossed lines. However, the graphviz routine is affected to some extent by the order of persons in the .gv file, so I wrote a little script to improve the layout (GrampsCrossing on GitHub). This works for me, but I need to learn more about python and GitHub to get the script working properly.

Using the subgraphs option (graph style tab) keeps parents together, but there is a bug in Gramps 5.1 (#11494) that misplaces spouses when this option is selected. There is a fix developed (PR1040) which will hopefully make its way into a future version of Gramps. In the meantime, you can manually swap out the 3 files in your installation of Gramps.


If you’ve gather a small pool of people with GraphViz knowledge as used by Gramps, maybe you can continue to explore.

The graphs generated by Gramps are functional, but not very attractive.

Just changing from rectangles to rectangles-with-rounded-corners and lighter weight borders would give our graphs a more sophisticated look.

Going from a gender-fill-color to a gender-accent-color would also be nice. But I suspect that this is a lot more work… and doubles the number of nodes having to be drawn.

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