Tips for large databases

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Large family tree data files, what to do, and what not to do.

Loading the file

Should work for BSDDB versions of Gramps

Initial import of a large (100,000+) database from either Gramps XML formats or GEDCOM can take a few hours. You will need to adjust the number of allowable locks. For 140,000 people you should use:

  • max_locks 300000
  • max_objects 300000

The easiest way to do this is to:

  1. create a new Family Tree
  2. exit Gramps
  3. add a DB_CONFIG file to the database directory before importing (see gramps -l output for the directory of a specific family tree.)

Contents of this DB_CONFIG file should be:

#may want to fiddle with cachesize also
#set_cachesize 0 200000000 2
set_lk_max_locks 300000
set_lk_max_objects 300000

Default view: bookmarks and active person

As there are many people, loading the person view might take some time. See a comparison of performance on large datasets, between different Gramps versions.

You can circumvent this load time by going to the relationships view before opening the family tree. This will open the active person and their family extremely fast, independent of the amount of data you gathered.

You can add bookmarks to common people, or in the branch you are researching. This allows to change person in the relationships view without the need to activate the person in the person view first.

Avoid relationship calculation

Avoid displaying relationships on the status bar. From the Edit > Preferences Display tab change the Status bar option from Relationship to the home person to Active person's name and ID.

Avoid Gramplets

Avoid gramplets which do a lot of database work. The Deep Connections Gramplet seems to be the worst case. Those type of gramplets slow everything down enormously.

Avoid general filters

Filters search all the data looking for the people who satisfy your query. Try to avoid this on large files.

Search letters

Fast search can be done by enabling column search (disable Sidebar on View menu), but this will search all letters on words into the column, not only the first letters.

For a surname search:

  • click on a person in the people view. Now start typing the family name of the person you need. The view will automatically go to the family name as you complete your typing.
  • for a more detailed search, use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+F. This will expand all the nodes and allows to search more specifically.

Flat views are faster than Tree views

Using a large database and person treeview needs to often rebuild the view.

Flat person view (list) is faster.