BetterGedcom – Improving Data Exchange Among Genealogists

Posted November 10, 2010 by George | No Comment

Last Wednesday’s interview subject, Dear Myrtle, sent us this press release yesterday regarding a project with the intent of making genealogy data a little bit more portable.  The BetterGedcom project “will be to develop an update/replacement for the de facto GEDCOM standard based on input from end users and developers world-wide. Long-term efforts will include standards for the sharing of genealogical information over the internet, for example,” according to Myrt.

We can confirm that GEDCOM is a deeply deficient standard for exchanging data between applications. It is even less effective for collaborating with other genealogists, even if they are using the same application. There are no reliable ways to merge two GEDCOM files, or synchronize data from your application with a GEDCOM as a backup.  This is a pain for collaboration, and we fully support the initiative to invent a solution to encompass the positives of GEDCOM files (data portability, data backups, etc.) with additional features that will help genealogy grow into the future.

“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.

At Geni, we strive to make genealogy more collaborative and we encourage you to get involved, too.  The BetterGedcom project is a great place for genealogists to congregate and discuss ideas and opinions ranging from data portability to privacy and security.  There is no doubt that many brilliant engineers will contribute to this project (and likely have advanced discussions that most of us can’t understand), but it’s important in the early stages for every voice to be heard so that the finished product encompasses the needs of all genealogists.

BetterGedcom is a wiki-based project so anyone can contribute. Head over to the BetterGedcom wikispaces portal to find out how you can help.

We created a BetterGedcom Project on Geni where we’ll frequently post updates and generate Geni-specific discussions about this endeavor.  To get involved, follow the project and contribute to discussions about BetterGedcom.

Post written by George

George joined the Geni team in September, 2010 as Geni's marketing director. You can find him on Twitter where he never posts but is happy to respond: @georgegeni

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