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Descendants Lines - Galileo Galilei's Genealogy example

The Descendants Lines Graphical Report addon generates a graphical descendants tree using orthogonal edges and routing ("square edges") in vertical mode only in which children in a family are ordered from left to right following the Gramps child order; and families are ordered right to left, top to bottom, following the Gramps family order.


  • Open Gramps
  • Select the report using the menu option Reports -> Graphical Reports -> Descendants Lines...
  • On the Report Options tab choose the output path for the Destination: $GRAMPSHOME/Descendants Lines.png(default).
    • Note: That Document Options Filename: option will contain an empty file or file with a list of people after the report is run.
  • Note: If the script is run in "debug mode" it generates copious terminal output such as "Unknown event type: ..." or "Unknown spouse: ...". These warnings are harmless.


Descendants Lines has the following option tabs available to change:

Paper Options

See also common options

Report Options

Report Options
  • Center Person:
  • Output format: - The output format (PNG, SVG, PDF or PS)
  • Destination: $GRAMPSHOME/Descendants Lines.png(default). The output filename
  • Generations: - Maximum number of generations to include. (0 for unlimited)
    • [ ] Use d'Aboville descendant numbering System - Whether to use d'Aboville descendant numbering system.
    • [ ] Include an image
  • Max Image height:
  • Max Image width:
  • Image Location:

Report Options(2)

Report Options (2)
  • [ ] Colour Name by Gender - Whether to use colored names indicating person gender in the output.
  • [ ] Use alternate events if primary events are not found - for example, if there is no Birth event, a Baptism or Christening event may be substituted. For Death Events, a Burial may be substituted.
  • [ ] Sort Events by Date
  • Text Style: - The predefined output style
  • Maximum Note Length: - limits the length of notes.

Display Options

Display Options
  • [ ] Box around Person's block
  • [ ] All Person's blocks have the same height
  • [ ] All Person's blocks have the same width
  • [ ] Colour blocks by Generation
  • Descend block colour intensity:
  • Spouse block colour intensity:

Display Formats

Display Formats
  • Name Display Format: - The name format. See Formatting for more detail.
  • Descendant Display Format: - the default settings provide for several event types and their dates and places. By changing the contents of this box, you can elect to include Events of various types, and include the dates or places and their format. See Formatting for more detail.
  • Spouse Display Format: - the default settings provide for several event types and their dates and places. By changing the contents of this box, you can elect to include Events of various types, and include the dates or places and their format. See Formatting for more detail.

Replace Options

Replace Options
  • Replace Display Format 'Replace this'/'with this': ie: United States of America/USA

Spouse and Family Options

Spouse and Family Options
  • Vertical edge descendant to spouse-bar
  • Vertical edge spouse-bar to spouse
  • Vertical space spouse-bar to other spouse
  • Horizontal space descendant to spouse
  • Horizontal space family to family
  • Horizontal distance spouse to family edge

Children Options

Children Options
  • OL_PAD - The number of ??? pad
  • Vertical edge spouse-bar to child-bar
  • Children distance
  • Vertical edge child to child-bar
  • Space around text
  • Space between lines of text

Header and Footer Options

Header and Footer Options
  • Title text
  • Footer text
  • Title and footer coefficient

Privacy Options

Privacy Options
  • [ ] Protect People, Images or Events that are marked Private
  • Privacy text: Private(default)


Lines of descendants chart
DescendantsLines, Left-aligned text style, example Gramps data, inc_marriages and inc_places.
Shakespeare family tree, DescendantsLines, inc_marriages
Shakespeare family tree, DescendantsLines, Left-aligned text style, including event places

Tree compression and or modification

SVG format trees can be compressed and or modified manually using the program Inkscape, using the select and path tools; or using other SVG manipulating program. PNG format trees can be compressed manually by manipulating the image.


There is an in-development migration of this Gtk/cairo code to a draw plugin working into Gramps (font, style, path, canvas, output formats). This migration, DescendantsLines, does not use the Document interface of Gramps.

Draft version is available on Addons repository. addons-source/tree/master/DescendantsLines

The idea is keeping Gramps XML parsing, but with a copy of the active database and use of current report environment (output formats, style, path).


Feel free to contribute or improve DescendantsLines.

  • This addon may with time become a general orthogonal family tree drawing resource for Gramps, for a View, etc., and outside Gramps as well. The PyCairo code can be connected to a view.
  • Think of optional tree compression algorithms.
  • Add option to include divorces.
  • Add option to include spouse parents.
  • Add option to include spouse ancestries.
    • Add option to include arbitrary spouse ancestries.
  • Add option to include arbitrary ancestries.
  • Add option to include notes.
  • Add option to include sources.
  • Add option to include images.
  • Add horizontal mode.
  • Add optional text wrap width.
  • Add optional text width with use of ellipses.
  • Cairo provides hyperlink support. Names could be hyperlinks to html complete individual reports or to web report pages.
  • The hardcoded number option limits can be altered by users, by altering the code.

Command Line Interface

Gramps provides a cli support for running reports and tools Gramps 5.2 Wiki Manual - Command Line.

  • 4114: Would like to use stdin and stdout for command line import/export.

Current limitations

  • The addon DescendantsLines does not use the Gramps document interface (Document Options). (perhaps the Gramps document interface options should be hidden)
  • DestinationOption does not have the usual error handling and user checking (e.g. for overwriting files)
  • Partial quoting of xml-syntax-like data. Data which resembles xml syntax (tags, etc) may cause error.
  • Script ignores role on event (was added in 2007)
  • Script ignores localized date handlers (using ISO date format, date quality in english)
  • Memory limitation with a large database (DOM parsing)
  • The last pixel column of each secondary line of each entry is wrong coloured (red instead black)
  • Size limit: Cairo surface size limit. (32767 for height and 32767 for width [3])
  • Some PDF output size limit (currently crossing this limit will result in an empty PDF file)


Pass 1: generate a tmp XML with only data needed for the report, to load it as input

  1. Enable Person selection (Gramps ID) - done
  2. Generate a temp Gramps XML database matching 'IsDescendantFamilyOf' filter rule - done
  3. Input path - done (need to set @prefix@: path_to_SVN/src on
  4. Clean-up - done
  • simple Gramps XML template with events, persons, families objects (only export primary event role reference).
  • 'localized' dates (does not follow last DTD, which uses english and ISO format).

FINISHED - it works fine!

Pass 2: use draw report environment

  1. Generate a plugins/docgen/ file 4447
  2. Move Gtk code to draw report (if possible)
  3. Move cairo code to draw report (if possible)
  4. Output path
  5. Clean-up, pylint, etc ...

Pass 2 (Alternate): use of user-defined (mega)-widgets

  1. Have a look at mega-widget request and implementation 2393
  2. Output path through mega-widget
  3. Clean-up, pylint, etc ...

Pass 2 (Alternate): use a DestinationOption

  1. Use a DestinationOption
  2. Ignore standard Filename option 5545

Development History

  • 2007: Adam Sampson created a standalone python script for parsing data.gramps (Gramps XML). [4][5]
  • 2010: this script needs some updates for avoiding minor issues.

A modified script is available from the sourceforge addons repository. [6]


The program DescendantsLines, as the script in which it is based, is written in Python, using the following prerequistes PyCairo and the Python XML library. Many Gramps modules are also used.


  • 5545 Add a way for CATEGORY_DRAW reports to turn Gramps Document Interface Options off
  • 5823 DescendentsLines does not display a marriage date when one spouse is unknown
  • 5965 report produced with stale name from previous gramps session
  • 10390 Display options in DescendantsLines graphical report do not work as advertised
  • Help button does not link here.

See: Tag: DescendantsLines on Bugtracker

inc_marriages option?

This page mentions a "inc_marriages" option but none of the option tabs have that setting , was it removed? Or is it now called "Spouse Display Format"

There are option and tree combinations which may generate overlapping edges and nodes.

If using the inc_marriages option the S_DOWN - S_UP difference may need to be increased by 5-15 units depending on the tree.

See also