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How to insert a Family tree in LO Draw in a way I can EDIT it ??

asked 2018-11-10 02:18:54 +0100

Mensana gravatar image

updated 2018-11-10 02:20:51 +0100


I made a very lengtly Family tree using an app called DrawExpress Lite but unfortunately, as I worked, I reached the limit of the in-app canvas.

I need a bigger workspace (infinite canvas woud be perfect) because my boxes are getting to close to each others and I lack space to add new elements.

So I just installed LibreOffice to continue my work on this Family tree but the way I imported/inserted it, I can't edit anything (it's basically a picture).

Can you help me and tell me under which format I should save my Family tree in order to open it in LibreOffice Draw and be able to move text boxes, pictures and connectors ?

Thank you,


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robleyd gravatar imagerobleyd ( 2018-11-10 03:17:18 +0100 )edit

Not to dissuade you from using LO, but have you considered one of the many family tree and genealogy programs, such as Ancestral Quest, Family Tree Maker, Legacy, and Roots Magic. All of these will lay out a tree for you, given your choice of options. Several of them also work with Charting Companion which adds extra charting features and options. For printing, all of them work with unlimited, multiple pages of output. As a genealogist, I have used all of them for various purposes.

ve3oat gravatar imageve3oat ( 2018-11-10 03:35:01 +0100 )edit

It depends on the formats Draw Express Lite exports to. Bitmap formats (JPG, TIF, PNG, BMP, etc) cannot be edited, all objects are flattened into pixels. If Draw Express exports to SVG or PDF, you might be able to pull it apart and edit it in LO Draw. Oftentimes exported files have extraneous groups and clipping paths around objects, so the whole drawing appears to be one big rectangle. If you ungroup several times, you might be able to finally access the individual objects. I like Inkscape :)

PhLo gravatar imagePhLo ( 2018-11-10 03:57:08 +0100 )edit

I have an uncle whose entire retired life is invested in genealogy research. I believe he uses one or more of the programs @ve3oat mentioned. They will save you tons of time. Instead of manually drawing boxes and lines, they store the data in a logical format and produce the graphical layouts you are probably looking for.

PhLo gravatar imagePhLo ( 2018-11-10 03:59:51 +0100 )edit

In addition to @ve3oat's list, in the FOSS world, there is Gramps which can draw both family trees and time lines. They can be exported as SVG or GraphViz and also in many non-editable formats like JPEG, PDF, PNG and more.

It can import data in GEDCOM, GeneWeb, Web Family Tree amongst others. So if you want to have a try …

ajlittoz gravatar imageajlittoz ( 2018-11-10 14:13:05 +0100 )edit

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answered 2018-11-10 13:30:31 +0100

DrewJensen gravatar image

updated 2018-11-10 19:40:09 +0100

Use the svg export option.

removed the old answer - do not export to SVG the program will turn everything to graphics, including text.

However with the latest update to the program you can export to PDF and (having just tried it) Draw will open it and recognize the text as text.

Here is my test file, exported as PDF, on GDrive

Everything else is exported as bitmapped graphics not vector objects, but it is better then the other options.

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Hello @DrewJenssen, thank you for your message.
When you say "Everything else is exported as bitmapped graphics not vector objects", does it means that everything else can't be "moved" on the Canvas ?

Mensana gravatar imageMensana ( 2018-11-11 03:24:06 +0100 )edit

answered 2018-11-10 05:01:51 +0100

Mensana gravatar image

updated 2018-11-10 05:05:22 +0100

Thank you for your reply @ve3oat and @PhLo.

The automatic functions of the genealogy are nice but not flexible enough for my type of work. The thing is that it's not a very conventional Family tree. I cover also informations about important events/people around who played a major role (not necessarily connected with a connector to the tree), amusing anecdotes, etc. To give a visual idea of my project, it's pretty much a fusion of the "European Royal Family Tree *" and *"Timeline of European History" as they are illustrated on this website :

Also, I spent so much hours working on this that it's pretty much unthinkable to start all over.

So in the app, I have the choice to "export" in .de format and .svg but I read on a forum post that we can never edit a file that was exported ; to edit, the file has to be saved. And then I guess "inserted" ? Is this right?

Thanks again.

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Save as * .SVG. In Draw you can open a * .SVG file directly. Note the statements of @PhLo. In Draw, set the page size to the highest possible. If I still know it, it's 3mX3m.

ebot gravatar imageebot ( 2018-11-10 09:29:45 +0100 )edit

Hello @ebot, Then I guess my problem is really that there is no option to save my tree in the app I'm using (DrawExpress Diagram Lite) ? I can "Quick Save" but I don't know where to look to find a copy of it ?? I'm on iPad Pro. I looked in the "Files" Folder but my tree isn't stored there.

Other than this "Quick Save" option, I have 5 "export" options (to Email/Photo Gallery/Dropbox/GDrive or Box) but if the person on the other forum is right, the Export is of no use in my situation.

Mensana gravatar imageMensana ( 2018-11-10 10:18:36 +0100 )edit

@Mensana If you have the E-Mail Export option, give it a try. When you receive the e-mail, you must save the attachment file on your computer. Check which file format the file has. It may be that your used app is not suitable for your approach.

ebot gravatar imageebot ( 2018-11-10 10:53:38 +0100 )edit

If you can't figure it out via the available options in the software, emailing the developers of that app might be a better route. They would know the ins and outs and answer whether you can export to SVG, PDF, AI, EPS, EMF, or some other vector illustration format. If not, you might be out of luck. They might also be able to export it for you, or perhaps the non-lite version has more capabilities for a $$

PhLo gravatar imagePhLo ( 2018-11-10 11:24:45 +0100 )edit

Regarding the statement that 'you read on a form that you can never edit a file after it has been exported', that is referring to the DrawExpress (lite) program, which can only read .de files.

DrewJensen gravatar imageDrewJensen ( 2018-11-10 13:17:32 +0100 )edit

If you wanted to go for a super crazy ballistic Rocky V mania slamfest solution, and nothing else works, you could probably take screenshots of portions of your zoomed document in DrawExpress, stitch them together in a photo editor, save the result as a hires TIF, and use an OCR program to convert the TIF into text. Ha, now that's nutberg crazy. Pray for an easier way. FreeOCR is a free program you could try. I've never used it because I have other OCR programs.

PhLo gravatar imagePhLo ( 2018-11-10 13:57:02 +0100 )edit

Their website specifically says you can export to SVG and PNG. PNG is a bitmap format, so it's not editable (unless you do the junk OCR thing), so SVG is the best option. Both LO Draw and Inkscape can open and edit SVG files.


Q. What diagram format can I export to?

DrawExpress can be exported to PNG, SVG, and DE file format
PhLo gravatar imagePhLo ( 2018-11-10 14:05:33 +0100 )edit

"it's pretty much unthinkable to start all over"

Is it really "starting over" to take the information you have already gathered through research and feed it into a program that will draw the tree for you, rather than you draw the tree yourself with a graphics program? I attend a family reunion where the current tree is 4 feet high and 50 feet wide, drawn for us by computer. Just a thought.

ve3oat gravatar imageve3oat ( 2018-11-11 04:09:03 +0100 )edit

Also, what if the program you choose to redo it in has a similar limitation on canvas size? How horrific would that be if you went to all that trouble only to find out you are no better off? For example, from my experience Inkscape is fantastic, but it can feel a little slow/clunky if there are complicated drawings with many objects. I don't have enough experience with LibreOffice Draw to say how it performs. Both programs probably have a maximum page size too.

PhLo gravatar imagePhLo ( 2018-11-11 11:24:11 +0100 )edit

LibreOffice Draw maximum page size - about 300 cm

Inkscape maximum page size - about 300 x 400 feet

Both of these links are old, so the dimensions might be different now. I can confirm from experience Inkscape will bog down with a huge number of boxes, text frames, lines and so on. Try dragging them all around, and it will choke a bit.

PhLo gravatar imagePhLo ( 2018-11-11 11:32:01 +0100 )edit
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Asked: 2018-11-10 02:18:54 +0100

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Last updated: Nov 10