I frequently mention the acronym “GEDCOM” in this newsletter. In short, GEDCOM (GEnealogy Data COMmunications) is the language by which different genealogy software programs exchange data between dissimilar programs without having to manually re-enter all the data on a keyboard.
For background information, see my earlier “GEDCOM Explained” article at https://blog.eogn.com/2014/05/24/gedcom-explained/. For a more technical explanation, go to the GEDCOM 5.5.5 web site at: https://www.gedcom.org/.
GEDCOM has been available since the mid 1980s but the GEDCOM specifications have not been able to handle all data transfer requirements. The last widely accepted update to the GEDCOM specifications was released in 1999.
Later GEDCOM alternatives have been announced but have largely been ignored by the genealogy software developers. The genealogy program you use today probably adheres to the 20-year-old GEDCOM version 5.5.1 specifications. A lot has changed in genealogy data storage requirements in the past 20 years! We certainly need an update that everyone can agree upon.
Tamura Jones is a well-known genealogist and blogger. He has long had an interest in the GEDCOM method of transferring data between dissimilar genealogy programs. He, like many of us, has been frustrated by the numerous shortcomings of GEDCOM but, unlike the rest of us, he decided to do something about it. Tamura has now written a new proposed GEDCOM standard for the industry that he believes will alleviate most of the shortcomings in the now aging GEDCOM specifications. He writes:
“GEDCOM 5.5.5 is GEDCOM 5.5.1 cleaned up.
“This is the first new release of GEDCOM in exactly twenty years; GEDCOM 5.5.1 was released on 2 October 1999. Sure, there is the GEDCOM 5.5.1 Annotated Edition released last year, but however useful the corrections, commentary, clarifications, resolutions of contradictions, guidelines, best practices, links and bonus sections may be, it is still GEDCOM 5.5.1.
“Moreover, while the GEDCOM 5.5.1 specification includes support for a few new useful record types, such as those for email and web addresses, it is no more than a revision of GEDCOM 5.5, which was released on 11 Dec 1995, almost a quarter century ago.
“Nothing much has changed in a quarter century, and today’s GEDCOM 5.5.5 release does not introduce any major new features either.
“The new specification isn’t GEDCOM 6.0, a major new version. The new specification isn’t GEDCOM 5.7, a minor new version. The new specification is merely GEDCOM 5.5.5, a revision.”
If you are familiar with GEDCOM and especially if you write or maintain GEDCOM software, you need to read Tamura Jones’ explanation at https://www.tamurajones.net/GEDCOM555JustARevision.xhtml and his proposal. I also posted a PDF copy of his press release at: http://eogn.com/gedcom/PRGEDCOM555.pdf.
Do you have any comments?