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Revision as of 08:55, 21 March 2009 by Romjerome (talk | contribs) (The maps providers)
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Work in progress.

All we need to understand and test GeoView.

Why GeoView ?

I would like to see my ancestors all around the world on a map. And if possible, I would like to see them moving during time periods.


How to do this easily and with the minimum of software to install ?

GeoView is one solution. In GRAMPS 3.1.x it is present as an experimental view you can activate. For GeoView to work you need to:

  1. change the GRAMPS configuration file to list the view in the list of views
  2. install the required backend so you can see webpages inside of GRAMPS.
  3. set the GeoView Preferences
  4. use the appropriate latidude and longitude format in your data (Note: the Place completion tool can look up latitude and longitude of the places defined in GRAMPS.)

The first is simple to achieve. Start a text editor and go to your gramps home directory, and open the keys.ini file. Scoll down to the interface section, and look for the data-views variable. On a clean install of GRAMPS, this variable is normally:


To add GeoView, just add it to the back, so your configuration reads:


That's it.

To install the backend, scroll down to the installation section.

Finally, you need to set the Geoview Preferences:


The html kits

The Geoview shows internet map services inside of GRAMPS with your genealogical data marked. Although there is no visual web browsing, that is what GRAMPS is actually doing, so we need to be connected to the network. You probably also need a broadband connection to have a smooth result. Try eg Google maps in your browser to see if your internet connection is sufficiently fast.

GRAMPS can use two different kind of engines, webkit or gtkmozembed, to view HTML pages. If they are not installed, you'll never see GeoView appearing among your views. If you are looking on how to install these, see below

If both two kits are installed, webkit will be used.

Even if you have a HTML kit installed, you can always say : I don't mind ! I don't want to see the GeoView. For this, you can disallow Geoview in the Internet Maps preferences tab.


Be aware, WebKit is always in development.

More and more projects are integrating webkit ... Eg, epiphany states:


WebKit uses the libsoup library. You need to set the environment variable http_proxy.

Gecko ( GtkMozEmbed )

What will gtkmozembed be in the future ?

The embedding API of Gecko (GtkMozEmbed) has been unmaintained and stagnant for a long time.


GtkMozEmbed is proxy aware. I implement this and I use the http_proxy environment variable. Authentication is allowed. The http_proxy format used is :


To confirm : You need to use gnome-control-center to set the proxy.

Supported longitude/latitude formats

When you create/modify a place, the possible formats used for longitude/latitude are :

       'D.D4'    : degree notation, 4 decimals 
                   eg +12.0154 , -124.3647
       'D.D8'    : degree notation, 8 decimals (precision like ISO-DMS) 
                   eg +12.01543265 , -124.36473268
       'DEG'     : degree, minutes, seconds notation
                   eg 50°52'21.92"N , 124°52'21.92"E ° has UTF-8 code c2b00a
                   or N 50º52'21.92" , E 124º52'21.92" º has UTF-8 code c2ba0a
                   The character for seconds can be either one double quote "
                   or two single quote '
       'DEG-:'   : degree, minutes, seconds notation with :
                   eg -50:52:21.92 , 124:52:21.92
       'ISO-D'   : ISO 6709 degree notation i.e. ±DD.DDDD±DDD.DDDD
       'ISO-DM'  : ISO 6709 degree, minutes notation 
                   i.e. ±DDMM.MMM±DDDMM.MMM
       'ISO-DMS' : ISO 6709 degree, minutes, seconds notation 
                   i.e. ±DDMMSS.SS±DDDMMSS.SS

The maps providers

There are a lot of providers. Some are free.

By default, the provider GRAMPS uses is OSM ( OpenStreetMap ). As a free project, we find it our duty to first and foremost support another free initiative.

OpenStreetMap depends on the community and the maps are very light depending on the country. Nevertheless, the community made an extraordinary job and the quality is improving rapidly. And you can help make it better! We can say OpenStreetMap is and will be the map GRAMPS uses per default.

Openlayers is free too and uses by default OSM map. A lot of private or non free maps depends on OpenLayers.

The most interesting is the IGN ( Institut Géographique National Français )[1] which offers an old map of France ( about 1780 ) but this provider needs a key. I'll speak about keys later.

Then you have Googlemaps, Yahoo! maps, Microsoft maps, ...


Like you can see, it's impossible to implement all providers maps. For this reason, some people created an api over all these providers api.

With only a few modification, you can use the map you want. And better! you can switch between the maps keeping the zoom and the centered position.

It's also in the development phase and is sometimes buggy.

For performances issues, I can confirm it takes approximately 30 seconds to view 1000 markers for openstreetmap or google. If you have 2000 markers, this time is about 2 times 30 seconds.

For this, I limit one HTML page to 200 markers. If you have more than this limit, GRAMPS creates the necessary pages to see all your markers.

During testing with a places database for France ( > 35000 markers ), I set the limit to 20 markers which permit to create 1760 pages without problems. So we can say we have an unlimited number of markers. Only the file system space will limit us.

The provider Key

GRAMPS is not a web site. Keys are mostly only for web sites. In GeoView, I use a specific functionality : we are working on a local file instead of an url, so we again we normally don't need a key.

However, some providers like IGN need a key even in those cases. So we can't use them. Why ?

  1. To require a key would be too complex for the normal GRAMPS user
  2. We need a key from the provider

We hope it is understood that our choice of maps is limited even is mapstraction can do more.


We have no key, so we have a restricted access : About 10,000 to 15,000 requests by IP per day depending on the provider.

What is a request ? As I understand with the IGN ( OpenLayers ), a request is a tile ( an image ). You need several tiles for a view.

I think it is sufficient for the lambda genealogist.

The proxies

Most people don't need a proxy. The majority of us are connected directly to internet. In this case, forget all this.

You need a proxy only if you installed one or if you depend on some internet providers.

How to get the HTML kits ?

It depends on the distribution you're working on ! They are listed in reverse order.

python-webkitgtk is also called pywebkitgtk



You need libwebkit and python-webkitgtk.

Add to the /etc/apt/sources.list :

# for python-webkitgtk
deb hardy main
# for libwebkit
deb hardy main

It's from nightly builds, so it can crash.

If you have some crash and want to install the working package, you can get libwebkit from the following url :


If you want gtkmozembed on ubuntu, you must install : python-gnome2-extras

It's stable but installs many gnome packages even if you are on a KDE based distribution. If you installed the Ubuntu GRAMPS package you already have this package as it contains the spell checking GRAMPS uses. However, there is an open bug with debian/ubuntu to split this mega package as gtkmozembed and spelling don't need the other GNOME components, so these package names might change in the future.



  • libwebkit-1_0

I didn't test GeoView on suse or opensuse. I need some feedback.

I found on example in :<VERSION>/<ARCH>/

Replace <VERSION> by the fedora version you use. ie : Factory, 10.3, 1.0, ...

Replace <ARCH> by i586, x86_64, ...

  • pywebkit







You must use : WebKit-gtk

yum install WebKit-gtk pywebkitgtk




This is the same packager for ubuntu and debian, so go to the ubuntu paragraph.


install the python-gtkmozembed package.

windows XP/Vista

Perhaps the following link can help windows developers :



This is standard on MAC. Can someone confirm this. Is there a python-webkit package on MAC ?



Your modifications are welcomed ...