Gramps 3.0 Wiki Manual - Manage Family Trees

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Now we turn to a detailed exploration of the day-to-day use of GRAMPS. In this Chapter we give a detailed overview of how you can manage your family trees, as well as share your data with other genealogists.

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Starting a New Family Tree

To start a new Family Tree, choose Family Trees ->Manage Family Trees or select the Family Trees button from the toolbar. This will open the Family Tree Manager.


Select the New button and GRAMPS will add a new Family Tree entry to the list of Family Trees. To change its name from the default Family Tree 1, click on the name and type in a new name.

Now select Load Family Tree to open the new, empty Family Tree.

Opening a Family Tree

To open a Family Tree, either choose Family Trees ->Manage Family Trees or click the Family Trees button on the Toolbar. The Family Tree Manager will appear and you'll see a list of all the Family Trees known to GRAMPS. An icon will display under Status beside any Family Tree that is currently open. Select the tree you want to open, and open it by double-click or with the Load Family Tree button.

To open a recently accessed Family Tree, choose either Family Trees ->Open Recent or the down arrow next to the Family Trees button and select the Family Tree from the list.

If you do not have "write permissions" for the selected Family Tree, it will be opened in a Read Only mode. In this mode, the data may be viewed, but no changes will be made to the Tree. To indicate this mode, the title of the main window will be appended with (Read Only) text.

If a family tree contains archives (snapshots of previous version), you will be able to open them too by the same procedure.

GRAMPS allows you to open certain databases that have not been saved in GRAMPS' own file format from the command line. TODO link to page explaining how. These include XML and GEDCOM databases. But you should be aware that if the XML or GEDCOM database is relatively large, you will encounter performance problems, and in the event of a crash your data can be corrupted. Hence, it is best to always create a new family tree by creating a new GRAMPS family tree (database) and importing your XML/GEDCOM data into it.

Opening databases

XML and GEDCOM databases require all data to be held in memory and don't contain indexes. GRAMPS' native format is a database that only reads the data needed. Thus, for a large family tree the data can be accessed quicker and more efficiently by not using XML or GEDCOM.

GEDCOM Editing

Please keep in mind that some information in a GEDCOM file may be lost during import into GRAMPS as well as export back to GEDCOM. Simply opening and viewing the file will not change it. However, if any changes were made and they were not abandoned upon exit, exiting GRAMPS will save the data, with possible data loss.

Deleting a Family Tree

Select the family tree you want removed, and click the Delete button.

This wil completely remove the tree, with no possibility to retrieve the data. Consider taking a backup of your data by exporting to the .gramps XML format, and storing that file.

Rename a Family Tree

You can rename a Family Tree (or an archive of it) by selecting the tree you want to rename and click Rename. You can also click on the name in the list of trees.

In either case, you just type in the new name to have it take effect

Unlock a Family Tree

When GRAMPS opens a tree, it locks the tree. In the event of starting a second GRAMPS instance, you will be able to open another family tree, but the tree already open will appear with the lock icon, indicating you cannot open it. Openening twice the same database can and will lead to errors in your data.

In the event of a crach of GRAMPS, the family tree will be left in a locked state. To unlock the tree, select the locked family tree, and click the Unlock button that will be available. Only do this if you are sure no other instance of GRAMPS is open on this family tree

Archiving a Family Tree -- Easy backup

You can easily backup and timestamp family trees with GRAMPS built-in use of GNU Revision Constrol System or RCS. For this to be possible this utility must be installed on your computer.

To make a revision, select the family tree you want to backup, and click the Archive button.

Saving Changes to Your Database

GRAMPS saves your changes as soon as you apply them. This means, for example, that any time you click OK when using GRAMPS, your changes are immediately recorded and saved. There is no separate "save" command (although there is a "save as" command that we'll discuss later.)

You can undo changes you've made by selecting Edit ->Undo . If you select this command repeatedly, your most recent changes will be undone one at a time. To roll back multiple commands at a time, you can using the Undo History dialog available from the Edit menu.

If you want to return your database to the way it was when you opened it, select File ->Abandon changes and quit . (This is just like quitting without saving in other programs.)

If you would like to save your database under a different name, you can do so by choosing File ->Save as... and specifying the name (and, optionally, the format) of your new database. Note that Save as will allow you to continue editing the newly saved database. If this is not what you want to do, you may wish to use the Export command instead.

Importing Data

Importing allows you to bring data from other genealogy programs into a GRAMPS database. Currently, GRAMPS can import data from the following formats:

Another GRAMPS database (having the grdb file extension),



GRAMPS package


Importing vs. opening

Please recognize that importing a database is different from opening a database. When you import, you are actually bringing data from one database into a GRAMPS database. When you open a file, you are editing your original file.

To import data, select File ->Import . The Import database dialog will open, asking you to specify the file you wish to import.

Data loss with some formats

It is important to note that the importing process is not perfect for GEDCOM and GeneWeb databases. There is a chance that some of the data in these databases will not be imported into GRAMPS.

The GRAMPS database (grdb), GRAMPS XML, and GRAMPS package are all native GRAMPS formats. There is no risk of information loss when import or exporting to these formats.

  • GRAMPS database (grdb): The native GRAMPS database format is a specific form of Berkeley database (BSDDB) with a special structure of data tables. This format is binary and architecture-dependent. It is very quick and efficient, but not generally portable across computers with different binary architecture (e.g. i386 vs. alpha).
  • GRAMPS XML: The GRAMPS XML file was the default format for older versions of GRAMPS. Unlike the grdb format, it is architecture independent and human-readable. The database may also have references to non-local (external) media objects, therefore it is not guaranteed to be completely portable. The GRAMPS XML database is created by saving ( File ->Save As... ) or exporting ( File ->Export... ) data in that format
  • GRAMPS package: The GRAMPS package is a compressed archive containing the GRAMPS XML file and all media objects (images, sound files, etc.) to which the database refers. Because it contains all the media objects, this format is completely portable. The GRAMPS package is created by exporting ( File ->Export... ) data in that format.

If you import information from another GRAMPS database or GRAMPS XML database, you will see the progress of the operation in the progress bar of GRAMPS' main window.

Exporting Data

Wait to update manual: The exporter is undergoing a major rewrite.

Fig.3.xx Export assistant: format selection

Exporting allows you to share any portion of your GRAMPS database with other researchers as well as to enable you to transfer your data to another computer. Currently, GRAMPS can export data to the following formats: GRAMPS database (grdb), GRAMPS XML, GEDCOM, GRAMPS package, Web Family Tree, and GeneWeb.

Export is saving a copy

When you export, you are saving a copy of the currently opened database. Exporting creates another file with a copy of your data. Note that the database that remains opened in your GRAMPS window is NOT the file saved by your export. Additional editing of the currently opened database will not alter the copy produced by the export.

To export data, choose File ->Export . This will bring up the Export assistant. Its pages will guide you through the format selection (see export-druid-fig ), file selection, and format specific export options (see gedcom-export-fig ). After a final confirmation page, the export will be performed according to the choices you have made. At any time, you can click the Back button and revise any selection, and then go forward to redo the export.

Exporting into the GEDCOM format

GRAMPS allows you to export a database into the common GEDCOM format. It provides options that allow you to fine tune your export (see [image:Gedcom-export.png]gedcom-export-fig ).

  • Encoding: Since different languages use different characters, it is important to tell a GEDCOM file what character set is used. The two formats traditionally accepted are ASCII and ANSEL. Since all ASCII characters are valid ANSEL characters, GRAMPS does not provide an option for ASCII.

Because ANSEL is not commonly used, some genealogy programs will accept ANSI (more commonly known as ISO-8859-1) and Unicode character sets. Only select ANSI or Unicode if you know any program that attempts to read the GEDCOM file will understand these character sets.

  • Filter: The filter allows you to export a limited amount of data, based on the criteria you select.
  • Target: While GEDCOM is a standard, not every program implements it in the same way. This can lead to data loss. GRAMPS can reduce the data loss in some cases. You can tell GRAMPS what program is the target, and GRAMPS will customize the exported file for that program. If your program is not listed, choose the "GEDCOM 5.5 Standard".
  • Copyright: Allows you to select a statement to describe your Copyright claim.
  • Do not include records marked private: Check this box to prevent private records from being included in the exported file.
  • Restrict data on living people: Check this box to limit the information exported for living people. This means that all information concerning their birth, death, addresses, significant events, etc., will be omitted in the exported GEDCOM file. If you choose this option, you will be given additional options to limit further the data on living people. For example, you can choose to substitute the word "Living" for the first name; you can exclude notes; and you can exclude sources for living people.

Sometimes, it is not always obvious from the data if someone is actually alive. GRAMPS uses an advanced algorithm to try to determine if a person could still be alive. Remember, GRAMPS is making its best guess, and it may not always be able to guess correctly all the time. Please double check your data.

  • Reference images from path: Check this box to tell GRAMPS to use the specific path for your images when writing image references in GEDCOM.

This option allows specify where your image files are located. This is useful when you are transferring your GEDCOM file from one computer to another. It tells the program that is importing the data where your images are.

Fig.3.xx.Export assistant: GEDCOM options

Export into GRAMPS formats

  • GRAMPS database (grdb) export: Exporting to the GRAMPS native format will simply make a copy of your data under another name. Exporting to this format can also be useful if you have directly opened an XML or GEDCOM file and would like to save it as the grdb file.
  • GRAMPS XML database export: Exporting into GRAMPS XML format will produce a database compatible with the previous versions of GRAMPS. As XML is a text-based human-readable format, you may also use it to take a look at your data.
  • GRAMPS package export: Exporting to the GRAMPS package format will create a compressed file that contains the database and copies of all associated media files. This is useful if you want to move your database to another computer or to share it with someone.
  • Export to CD: Exporting to CD will prepare your database and copies of all media object files for recording onto a CD. To actually burn the CD, you will need to go to the GNOME burn:/// location, which can be accessed by navigating through Nautilus: After exporting to CD, select Go ->CD Creator in the Nautilus menu. Your database directory will show up. To burn it to the CD, click the CD icon on the Nautilus toolbar, or select File ->Write to CD in the Nautilus menu.

If a media file is not found during export, you will see the same Missing Media dialog you encounter with GEDCOM export.

Export into other formats

  • Web Family Tree: Exporting to Web Family Tree will create a text file that can be used by the Web Family Tree program. Export options include filter selection and the ability to limit data on living people to that of their family ties.
  • vCalendar and vCard: Exporting to vCalendar or vCard will save information in a format used in many calendaring and addressbook applications, sometimes called PIM for Personal Information Manager.

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