GEPS 029: GTK3-GObject introspection Conversion

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Revision as of 23:30, 24 January 2013 by Patsyblefebre (talk | contribs) (Ubuntu 12.10 (Linux Mint 14): remove space)
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Gramps was written with GTK 2 toolkit. This has been replaced upstream with GTK 3, so Gramps should convert to GTK 3.


We try to convert 1 to 1. If there are problems due to deprecated features, or otherwise, add in the code:

# TODO GTK3: write what problem is due to gtk 3 conversion

Before release, all TODO GTK3 in the code must be cleaned up


Python GTK3 docs: [1]

Alternative is to look at the base C documentation, and understand from experience how the introspection works. Gnome docs: [2].

As python works with classes, it looks somewhat like the C++ interface: [3]. To investigate the specific override (how to init Gtk classes):

  • python overrides: [4]

Furthermore, for the other gi libs:


Ubuntu 12.10 (Linux Mint 14)

On Ubuntu 12.10 (as of December 1, 2012), or Linux Mint 14 (as of December 24, 2012), you need only (replace python with python3 if you want to run the python 3 version!):

sudo apt-get install python-dev libglib2.0-dev libcairo2-dev
sudo apt-get install python-cairo-dev python-gobject-dev libgirepository1.0-dev
sudo apt-get install gir1.2-freedesktop python-gi python-gobject python-gi-cairo
sudo apt-get install gir1.2-pango-1.0 libgtkspell-3-0 python-gtkspell

The removal of python-gnome2 (and anything that relies on it) is necessary apparently because some "selectors" have not yet been converted. The right thing to do here is to fix the selectors rather than removing the package.

You can also run Gramps 4.0+ in Python 3 first Install the Python BSDDB interface and check that it works

sudo apt-get install python3-bsddb3

You will probably want these optional packages:

sudo apt-get install python-pygoocanvas gir1.2-goocanvas-2.0-9

For additional functionality, install these:

sudo apt-get install python-pyexiv2

Ubuntu 12.04

For people on Ubuntu 12.04, you need:

1. add the gnome_shell repo to have the latest version of glib and friends, see how to add the ppa on: gnome_shell pppa Then upgrade your system via the system manager.

Note 1 : If you use Gnome3, also add the gnome3 ppa!

Note 2: this can make gnome shell unstable if the ppa is too bleeding edge!!

2. install version 3.3.2 of pygobject. No ppa for this, I use the git repo on, so my git config:

     [remote "origin"]
       fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*
       url =

So to install it to folder pygobject, do

git clone git:// pygobject

Then checkout tag 3.3.2, so

cd pygobject
git checkout 3.3.2

Make sure you have the dependencies installed, you will need:

  1. libglib2.0-dev package (otherwise you will obtain an error like undefined mqcro: AM_PATH_GLIB_2_0.
  2. autoconf, automake, libtool, intltool package
  3. python-dev package
  4. libcairo2-dev, python-cairo-dev
  5. python-gobject-dev
  6. libgirepository1.0-dev

So, use the line:

sudo apt-get install autoconf  automake libtool python-dev libglib2.0-dev libcairo2-dev python-cairo-dev python-gobject-dev libgirepository1.0-dev

Then compile pygobject:

sudo make install

Now this installs to /usr/local, so to run the test with that, on ubuntu in your terminal:

PYTHONPATH=/usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/ python

If you then get:

$ PYTHONPATH=/usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/ python src/
Gtk typelib not installed. Install Gnome Introspection, and pygobject version 3.3.2 or later.

Gramps will terminate now.

You may need to:

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib

Also, I had to get rid of the older gobject:

sudo rm -rf /usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/gobject

Debian Testing

As of 25 July 2012, the Debian repositories does not contain sufficiently up-to-date python GObject introspection packages and so need to be installed from the experimental repository, which currently contains version 3.4.2-2. Perhaps the simplest way to install is just to download the latest packages from the Debian packages web site. The files required can be found for different architectures at:

Install the package files with dpkg. eg

dpkg -i python-gi_3.4.2-2_i386.deb

GTK 3 theme

A GTK3 theme engine is required to make Gramps look visually more appealing.

If Gramps looks ugly in GTK 3, you probably are not using a GTK 3 theme. In that case, GTK falls back to the Raleigh theme.

Gramps in GTK3 Adwaita theme

The solution is to install a theme that comes with a GTK 3 theme. For example the Adwaita theme:

Gramps in GTK3 Adwaita theme

For a good dark theme, consider elementary-dark-theme, installable from [5]

Gramps in GTK3 elementary dark theme
  • Elementary theme and warnings
Default GTK3 elementary engine under Elementary OS

If you see some warnings[6] by running Gramps with Elementary theme:

( Gtk-WARNING **: Theme parsing error: gtk-widgets.css:217:20:
 Not using units is deprecated. Assuming 'px'.
( Gtk-WARNING **: Theme parsing error: gtk-widgets.css:218:20: 
Not using units is deprecated. Assuming 'px'.
( Gtk-WARNING **: Theme parsing error: gtk-widgets.css:250:20: 
Not using units is deprecated. Assuming 'px'.
( Gtk-WARNING **: Theme parsing error: gtk-widgets.css:251:20: 
Not using units is deprecated. Assuming 'px'.
( Gtk-WARNING **: Theme parsing error: gtk-widgets.css:277:20:
 Not using units is deprecated. Assuming 'px'.
( Gtk-WARNING **: Theme parsing error: button.css:151:20: 
Not using units is deprecated. Assuming 'px'.
( Gtk-WARNING **: Theme parsing error: button.css:152:20: 
Not using units is deprecated. Assuming 'px'.
( Gtk-WARNING **: Theme parsing error: content-view.css:92:20:
 Not using units is deprecated. Assuming 'px'.

then the best solution is maybe to try to fix it by yourself,

GtkSwitch {
-     text-shadow: 0 1 alpha (#fff, 0.4);
+     text-shadow: 0 1px alpha (#fff, 0.4);
-     icon-shadow: 0 1 alpha (#fff, 0.4);
+     icon-shadow: 0 1px alpha (#fff, 0.4);

and to provide a patch for this theme!


To set the theme, open gramps, and open System settings -> Application Appearance -> GTK+ Appearance, and select different theme, click on apply. If you see Gramps update completely, you have selected a theme with GTK 3 support. If the theme falls back to something consisting of Raleigh theme components, the theme does not have good GTK 3 support. Even if Gramps updates, not all elements visible will update. Restart Gramps to be sure the theme works as intended. You can install gtk-theme-switch to test themes.

Spell Check Install

For working spell check, you need gtkspell 3.3.0.

In Ubuntu 12.10, this is available in your distribution as libgtkspell-3-0 package.

If the package is not in your distributions packages, you need to compile the spell check. For this, obtain the GtkSpell 3.3.0 or later source code, and extract the code to a directory, eg gtkspell3, and go into this directory using the terminal.

Before continuing, remove any old version of gtkspell v3 you might have installed before!

Now obtain the packages needed to compile this code. In my case I had most code (see above installation introspection for other packages that might be needed). I still needed to install the following:

sudo apt-get install gtk-doc-tools libenchant-dev

You may also need gtk3 devel packages:

sudo apt-get install gtk+-3.0-dev

Now compile and install the code

sudo make install

Gramps now needs to find the gtkspell typelib and introspection lib. The first I achieve by copying the typelib to the correct location:

sudo cp /usr/local/lib/girepository-1.0/GtkSpell-3.0.typelib /usr/lib/girepository-1.0/

The lib can be found by path by setting the LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable. Hence, start Gramps as follows:

LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib python src/

If you followed the guide above and compiled your own pygobject module, you need to start Gramps with the command

PYTHONPATH=/usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/ LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib python src/

Old install method

we need a patched gtkspell version that supports gobject introspection. A working version is the changes branch at So one needs to install this version of gtkspell. The python-gtkspell code is then no longer needed, and can be removed. Source of this code is a sourceforge bug entry [7] and a redhat bug entry: [8]

Gramps supports this version since revision 20130: [9]

First we install the git package to obtain the code:

sudo apt-get install git

Obtain the source code, and change to the version with gtk3 and gobject introspection support:

git clone git://
cd gtkspell3/
git checkout -b changes origin/changes

WebKit for Htmlrenderer

The htmlview requires WebKit. Introspection bindings for this is available, in Ubuntu package gir1.2-webkit-3.0

Developerwize, we need to replace size-request signal, see [10]

OsmGpsMap for Geography

The Geography requires osmgpsmap. Introspection bindings for this is not currently available, so you need to compile it. As it doesn't work correctly for the moment and some patches are not in git, I forked osmgpsmap.

git clone git://
cd osm-gps-map
# switch to branch gtk3
git checkout -b gtk3 origin/gtk3
git branch -a

As I'm currently modifying osm-gps-map, If you already have osm-gps-map and you want to get the last version, do :

git pull

You might have all your dependencies as you already compiled pygobject. For Ubuntu you still need packages libsoup2.4-dev and libsoup2.4

You may also need gtk3 devel packages:

sudo apt-get install gtk+-3.0-dev

Now compile osmgpsmap:

sudo make install
sudo cp /usr/local/lib/girepository-1.0/OsmGpsMap-0.8.typelib /usr/lib/girepository-1.0/

To use this now, you have to, or remove the installed version of osmgpsmap on your computer, or set the LD_LIBRARY_PATH to point at the installed version. Eg, I start Gramps in trunk with:

LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib PYTHONPATH=/usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/ python src/


LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib PYTHONPATH=/usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/  python -c 'from gramps.grampsapp import main; main()'

First sets library to /usr/local/lib so as to find osmgpsmap and gtkspell, second /usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/ to find the local install of pygobject


If anyone files a bug against PyGobject, Gtk or any of the Gtk dependencies (except Cairo, which isn't part of Gnome), please add John (the address bugzilla has is [email protected]) to the CC list at the bottom of the bug report page or post the bug URI to the gramps-devel list.


  • We cannot set strings in struct, see GTK bug [11] It seems we can do without this, so not an issue at the moment
  • osmgpsmap is GTK2. There is a GTK3 branch in git, we should try it, and contribute to the conversion. In Progress: Geography really minimalist : no menu, no markers, ...
  • pyexiv2 module causes a segmentation fault when exiting Gramps - see bug #6042
  • python-gnome2 package causes a segmentation fault when Gramps starts - see bug #5972
 TypeError: Error when calling the metaclass bases
    metaclass conflict: the metaclass of a derived class must be a (non-strict) subclass of the metaclasses of all its bases
  • Geography : missing tiles : osm-gps-map problem.
  • Geography : for all other problems, use last version with git pull. Be careful, osm-gps-map is now 0.8. You must remove all 1.0 versions (OsmGpsMap*.gir and OsmGpsMap*.typelib)
  • No rows_reordered function on treemodels in python, see GTK bug [12]. Current fix: disconnect and reconnect the model so sort need not emit rows-reordered signal. However, this means the history of expand collapse of nodes in a treeview is lost after rows have been reordered (this happens in gramps on click on the column that is already sorted.
  • Geography : We cannot mix osmgpsmap between trunk and gramps34 and others.

Solved or workaround

  • there are some drag and drop issues: [13], [14]. Solved: Use set_target_list functions for drag and drop with a created TargetList.
  • error in list_families on textview in styledtexteditor: [15]. Workaround: we use a global function that calls this once as workaround. There is a fix upstream.
  • str and unicode no longer seem to work, the encoding must be passed too; Future: deprecate unicode() in the code, as we want to support python 3' - SOLVED FOR NOW: added reload(sys) in and set encoding to utf-8. Is there a better way that is userfriendly?
  • there is no longer automatic conversion to str utf-8 when using GTK functions, we must convert before passing to GTK.
  • glade can no longer work with our catalog. We need to upgrade comboboxentry to combobox with has_entry manually, and hope editors keep working... - Solved: Although our catalog cannot be opened, we can use glade with undefined elements without issues.
  • menu.popup does not seem to work in some instances. Solved: Make sure the reference to menu survives, so eg, do function, then Alternatively, passing position function seems to also work as workaround, see for example
  • Many Gtk elements no longer grab certain events. Solved: Add a Gtk.EventBox under them to grab the event.
  • Geography : bad placement of markers : osm-gps-map problem. Solved : git pull the latest version. Need to be acknowledge by osm-gps-map team.
  • Geography : We cannot mix osmgpsmap between trunk and gramps34 and others. Solved : git pull the latest version. You must remove all libosmgps* from /usr/local/lib before make install

Related Gramps Bugs

  • #5009: Use gobject introspection for GTK 3 dependency

How to investigate a hard crash?

With GTK 3, hard crashes are a lot more likely than before. Very troubling for a python developer, as you do not know where the crash happens. So, to investigate these, do the following.

First install python with debug symbols, in Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install python-dbg

Now, you can start python with gdb

$ > gdb python
(gdb) set env GRAMPSCODE /path/to/code/gramps/src
(gdb) set env PYTHONPATH $PYTHONPATH:$GRAMPSHOME:/usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/
(gdb) r $GRAMPSCODE/
...after the crash...
(gdb) bt

This works best if you have the debug symbols installed for everything relevant, or are running from a self-built tree.