Tuesday, June 11, 2013

FamilySearch.org Announces GEDCOM X Progress

GEDCOM XIn an email to developers on 4 June 2013, FamilySearch announced “the first stable milestone release of the core GEDCOM X specification set.” The announcement was repeated in a public GEDCOM X blog post on the GEDCOM X website, www.gedcomx.org.

The email was targeted to software engineers, so it is pretty technical. Release of a specification does not mean there are any products or apps that utilize GEDCOM X yet. It doesn’t mean that anyone (besides FamilySearch) is or will use it.

The “GEDCOM X Conceptual Model” does mention sources, one of the key deficiencies in the current GEDCOM standard.

The GEDCOM X website states that “the free flow of genealogical data will enable every individual to:

  • Discover their family and heritage, preserve their identity, and publish their life story.
  • Reduce duplication of sources, relationships, and identities.
  • Identify people in photos, in documents, on gravestones, and in other sources of information.
  • Keep track of the progress made in family research.
  • Distribute and share genealogical information with others.”

A Google site search of familysearch.org for "GEDCOM X" reveals a page in the FamilySearch Developer Center that states that “GEDCOM X is capable of preserving rich media content in a new file format” (emphasis in the original). This is another of the key deficiencies in the current GEDCOM standard.

The page also states that “the FamilySearch Family Tree API is built on this specification.” I interpret this to mean that products that are Family Tree (FT) certified are already using the GEDCOM X specification to some degree.

A Google site search of familysearch.org for '"FHISO" shows two mentions on the FamilySearch.org website. One page encourages participation in technology communities working on family history, including “FHISO: An international organization created to develop standards for the digital representation and sharing of family history and genealogical information.”

The other leads to comments on a blog post about David Rencher, FamilySearch chief genealogical officer. One commenter, Michael McCormick, wrote, “No one at FamilySearch in PR or GEDCOMX responds to my request for a statement about FHISO relations.” Another commenter, Steve Anderson, posted this reply:

FamilySearch applauds and encourages industry standards that enable families to connect with their past, present and future. Where we have the need to share between different products and systems, we are looking at how we can best do so. Due to limited resources we have chosen not to participate in joint standards development at this time. If an industry standard emerges, we would seriously consider implementing it. When it is ready, we are open to submitting our own work, GEDCOMX, as the basis for a standard.

Over the weekend FHISO, the Family History Information Standards Organisation, announced the appointment of Drew Smith as the first Chair of FHISO, effective 1 July 2013. Drew is currently the Organisational Member Representative to FHISO from the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS). In the press release announcing Smith's appointment, he is quoted as saying, "I recognize the critical importance of information standards, and as a long-time genealogist, I understand the needs of the world’s genealogy product and service vendors, repositories, societies, and individuals to collaborate and to share family history information. I look forward to leading an international effort to support the creation of these essential information standards." Smith's appointment drew support from FHISO members, Brightsolid, Ancestry.com, RootsMagic, and others. See the complete press release on the FHISO website.

I’m glad to see the progress of GEDCOM X and FHISO. The community has waited a long time for a successor to the current GEDCOM standard. It is encouraging to see any progress towards an updated standard.


  1. I spot a typo:
    The “GEDCOM X Conception Model”
    should be
    The "GECCOM X Conceptual Model".

    There's a joke there somewhere...

    1. That's funny. I was tempted to leave it just for fun.

      --The Insider

  2. Has FHISO done anything other than issue press releases?
    Do they meet, and if so, are there minutes of their plans or discussions? I had high hopes when this group was formed but I haven't seen anything but press releases about companies joining and people appointments.
    I hope I've missed something.


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