[APG Public List] Genealogy Program Specifications

Myrt at DearMYRTLE.com Myrt at DearMYRTLE.com
Wed Nov 17 07:28:49 MST 2010

My previous posting to this thread was in html format -- and so it was
not forwarded to the list. I think John will be pleased to see the depth
of input from coders throughout the world.

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 in 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

The BetterGEDCOM wiki site is open to all, and is located at

"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

"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."


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [APG Public List] Genealogy Program Specifications
From: DonnDevine at aol.com
Date: Tue, November 09, 2010 8:51 pm
To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org

Whatever comes from John's proposal or the February RootsTech
conference, I hope those involved don't find it necessary to reinvent
the wheel.

The underlying genealogical process modelling necessary was completed
over ten years ago by the GenTech Data Model Group, a collection of
dedicated and talented professionals, both genealogists and programmers.
Its final report, a 106-page pdf file, really helped me understand how I
do genealogy, even with no interest in developing a genealogical
software program. The report can be found at


It hasn't gotten much attention recently, but I suspect it has had some
positive influence on recent software development--but without the
continued collective effort necessary to produce the agreement on
specifications for minimally acceptable software, which John has called


Donn Devine, CG, CGL
Wilmington DE

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are
service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under
license by board certificants after periodic evaluation, and the board
name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

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