Build a Better GEDCOM

build a better gedcom

[Editor's Note: we just received the following press release from DearMYRTLE and are we ever psyched! While the GEDCOM standard has been around for some time, it is in dire need of updating. Also, how can you not love a tech initiative within the genealogy community that has its own wiki! w00t!]

BUILD A Better GEDCOM

A grass roots initiative to improve data exchange among genealogists

Tuesday Nov 9, 2010. Alexandria, VA. A group of genealogists and programmers have established a workspace called Build A BetterGEDCOM for developing better data exchange standards to facilitate sharing between researchers using a variety of technology platforms, genealogy products and services.

“Genealogy software users are painfully aware that sharing data with other researchers is difficult since the existing GEDCOM (GENealogy Data COMmunication) file transfer script hasn’t been updated in 14 years. In the meantime genealogists have incorporated tools with expanded capabilities reflecting changing technology,” says Russ Worthington, a genealogy software power user and popular genealogy lecturer.

In developing a wiki site for pulling together genealogy software programmers, website developers and end users, genealogy blogger DearMYRTLE explains “The focus is cooperation. We seek solutions that will enable regular researchers like me to share genealogy with cousins regardless of the genealogy program they’ve chosen to use. The current GEDCOM file exchange strips out much of my hard work, leaving only some of the data I’ve typed and attached to each well-documented ancestor. We experience similar problems when uploading and downloading our genealogy data with popular genealogy websites. If all genealogy product developers agree to a BetterGEDCOM format, such problems will be overcome.”

The BetterGEDCOM wiki site is open to all, and is located at http://bettergedcom.wikispaces.com.

“BetterGEDCOM will be independent. This means no single entity who has an interest in our work will be the single driving force. Likewise, no work that anyone has done will be the defined starting place or the de facto basis of our work.” says Greg Lamberson, the technician who developed initial pages at the BetterGEDCOM wiki. “We also seek to account for language and cultural differences as we develop data standards for recording family history information in text and multi-media formats. Input from BetterGEDCOM participants the world over is a vital component of this initiative.”

“BetterGEDCOM will seek ISO recognition or recognition by other international standards bodies,” continues Greg. “This has never been done in the genealogical community. This means we will have to be a community effort with participation by a substantial part of the genealogical technology community. Also, unlike previous efforts, having standards actually codified will provide developers a framework to resolve ambiguities, conflicts or other problems that may develop in using the standard as well as a way to correct or amend the standard as needed.”

“Indeed everyone seems to be ready for something new,” says Greg. “Every person I have talked to agrees that now is the time for action. The BetterGEDCOM project invites all to participate so that we may achieve meaningful results.”

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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8 thoughts on “Build a Better GEDCOM

  1. Thanks for sharing the press release.

    It’s about time we got everyone together in the same room, playing nice — to figure out a viable set of data exchange rules so genealogists can share data without losing some of the info they’ve typed in and attached to an ancestor.

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