Is GEDCOM dead?

I picked up a copy of ‘Your Family Tree’ magazine today and found it contained an article entitled ‘Is GEDCOM dead?’ (June 2011 issue 104, p22-24), the same title as an article published in ‘Genealogical Computing’ in 2000 (available online  I have not come across the author, Richard Wentk before, so I Googled him.  It seems that he has written articles for computing magazines published by future plc, the publishers of ‘Your Family Tree’, so he may be an in-house writer.

The article picks out five contenders for the development of a new standard: Better GEDCOM, OpenGen, an unnamed German project (, LDS church and GRAMPS.  Of these, I would rate only Better GEDCOM and GRAMPS as contenders as they are clearly in active development.  Gramps has been around for a few years now and I discovered Better GEDCOM in November 2010, shortly after it started.

Anything specifically related to software or standards development on the German website is not obvious, but having to translate from German did not encourage me to be persistent.

Although OpenGen was established in April 2010, their website contains no publicly viewable debate and the home page was last updated in 9 February 2011, so it seems moribund and the name a misnomer as it is an industry led endeavour.  I found a couple of references to an unofficial announcement from FamilySearch (=LDS) of something called SORD (SOurce Record Data) at the RootsTech conference in February.  It seems to me that there is still no real industry commitment.

I commend the publication of the article because raising the issue with the genealogy public is long overdue.  I believe that the antiquated GEDCOM is holding back the Genealogy world, as it is the underlying cause of data transfer and other problems.  An analysis of the search terms recorded for this blog suggests that 30% of queries are about this and related issues, which if representative, should be a big wake-up call for commercial developers of genealogy software.


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