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Archiver > TMG > 2002-02 > 1013622027

From: "Cheri Casper" <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] Death to GEDCOM
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 09:48:15 -0800
References: <> <> <> <001f01c1b426$1c4fbff0$9c6c323f@custom> <>

The fact that no other software companies have picked up on the GenBridge
technology is indicative of the fact that they feel there already exists
adequate means to transfer data and/or the cost involved to use GenBridge is
prohibitive for them. We can argue all we want that their position is
incorrect and *ours* is best, but the fact remains that they if they haven't
adopted GenBridge by now, they are probably unlikely to in the future.

GenBridge works pretty good at bringing data into TMG. But for many folks
there is and will continue to remain the need for a viable option for
outputting data in a data transfer method that doesn't rely on paper and

It seems to me that an elitist attitude has developed. By golly, we want
every possible convenience to get data into TMG but we don't want you to get
it back ou, or if you do get it back out we are not going to make it easy
and won't guarantee reliability and integrity. You can always move from
Legacy, UFT, FamilyOrigins, etc. into TMG, but once you have committed to
TMG, you have next to no options to switch back out of it (at least not
without great difficulty). But perhaps this is by design for obvious


----- Original Message -----
From: "Lee Hoffman" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2002 7:00 AM
Subject: Re: [TMG] Death to GEDCOM

Walt Flory wrote:
>I haven't been following this closely, for my information: Is what you are
>saying that the problem is quality control on GEDCOM imports into programs
>is not great and the data frequently gets mangled when it is transferred
>from one program into another by means of a GEDCOM file?

GEDCOM is a protocol developed by the LDS Church (and thus owned by it) to
assist it in gathering certain information that it and its members
use. The reason being that many of its members (and other) use computer
genealogy programs and this protocol allows the programs to produce file
usable by the LDS Church. Primarily the data is birth, marriage, death
and burial information. The protocol is based on the GEDCOM "standard"
(quotes are mine).

When the protocol was developed some 20 years ago, only a few computer
programs existed and were, of course, incompatible with each other. Many
users and vendors at the time recognized that a means of transferring data
between programs would be useful, and asked the LDS Church to expand its
protocol to include other data. Keep in mind that 20 years ago, most
computer programs only gathered basic information (birth, marriage, death,
and burial) plus some minor additional information and thus it was rather
easy to expand the GEDCOM protocol to include this additional data.

Since that time, much additional data is being collected and stored in
genealogy programs. Also there is a large difference between programs as to
the capabilities of each one. Due to this expansion of data types being
gathering (and other reasons known only to the LDS Church), the GEDCOM
protocol has gone through various revisions. The latest "standard" is a
few years old at this point and was written using ambiguous terms. These
terms are very common in genealogy and are used daily in conversation. The
problem is that these terms are not well-defined for use in computer

Thus the GECOM "standard" may be (and is) interpreted differently by nearly
each reader and may be implemented differently in each program. In most
cases, the differences are small, but in other cases the difference in
implementation from one program to another is quite different. Thus a
GEDCOM file produced by one program and imported into another _may_ suffer
_some_ data loss. Now data loss may be that the data is not imported in
to the second program or that the data is imported into the second program
in such a way as to place the data into inappropriate or improper
places. In the latter case, data is not "lost" per se, but may be
difficult to find and/or output.

GEDCOM (as originally designed) does a fine job of transferring basic
information. But the additional data being gathered today is not
adequately provided for in GEDCOM and this type of data is what is usually
what is discussed as potentially being "lost".

There have been numerous attempts over that past (at least) ten years to
upgrade GEDCOM such that it will truly be a good transfer
protocol. However, since the "standard" is owned by the LDS Church, only
they may update it and since their needs are being met by the current
"standard", they do not wish to expend the money for something that is not
in their interests. Matter of fact, about a year ago, the LDS Church
announced that they did not plan any more updates to the GEDCOM "standard"
and would be developing a different standard which would would be only for
their own use and would not include any additional data transfer

A few years ago, the GENTECH Lexicon Working Group developed a data model
toward defining the terms we genealogist use. Hopefully, this will develop
into a good standard for transfer of data between programs.

At the same time, Wholly Genes developed their GenBridge technology which
(being implemented into TMG) allows TMG (or any program in which it is
implemented) to import data from another program directly without having to
use GEDCOM. Because GenBridge reads the data from the other program's data
files directly, the import is more accurate and thus no data is lost.

Unfortunately, TMG is the only program (so far) that has implemented
GenBridge technology. Wholly Genes has offered it to other vendors, but as
far as I know none have talked with them about licensing it even though it
is much better than GEDCOM.

Hope this helps -

Lee Hoffman/KY
TMG Tips: <>;
My website: <>;
A user of the best genealogy program, The Master Genealogist (TMG)

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