We Need A New GEDCOM NOW!
Addressing the primary issue of how to format genealogical data and get it from one person to another in some standardized format is the single most important issue in the genealogical community, in my opinion.
Really, what could be more fundamental?
The only thing I can think of that might take precedence is if I lived across from the Family History Library or the National Archives or my local courthouse and it was on fire. Right now. In that case, I’d grab a bucket, but as things stand now, this whole GEDCOM problem is THE issue.
The GEDCOM Standard is now almost 15 years old. Saying a technology standard governing how information is formatted has reached the age of 15 years is about like reaching your 202nd birthday. Here’s a short, impromptu list of GEDCOM’s problems:
- It mostly uses an obsolete character set making basic use a compatibility issue in many cases
- There are many ambiguities in the standard, which cause developers to have conflicts in how they adopt the standard or simply adopt their own solutions which negates the original purpose of having an standard
- Passing core information like sources or external supporting documents is done intermittently, badly or not at all
- Since there is no development on the standard, there is correspondingly no hope of the user community seeing adoption of innovations in genealogy across software programs uniformly
- Lack of any general effort in the genealogical technology community is now causing developers to retreat into their own environments, making their products even less capable of cooperating with the products of other vendors
Do I need to go on? I’m already going to have nightmares tonight.
The only way to solve this problem is for the user community to step up and exhibit some leadership in the area of genealogical technology. We have to band together and get these software companies to work together, because they’re not going to do it themselves.
Aren’t you sick of your data being trapped inside one program unless you’re willing to sacrifice all that more advanced information to get it out? Aren’t you sick and tired of entering the same information over and over again because the products and services you want to use won’t cooperate enough to share information effectively? Let’s get serious, my fellow genealogists!
Stay tuned for some serious community action!