Thursday, August 01, 2013

Genealogy data sharing REVISITED

James Tanner described a perplexing problem in his post Sharing Data Files or What Happened to GEDCOM? in the Genealogy's Star blog. As a co-founder of BetterGEDCOM, I feel to speak to the issue. Our initial work garnered attention of some good thinkers internationally and has morphed into FHISO.

The legal entity FHISO ( Family History Information Standards Organisation) headed by +Drew Smith is now forming the technical standing committee and has most major genealogy software and web developers on board. Noticeably absent from the list is FamilySearch. FHISO's goal is to create standards that all genealogy developers can incorporate into their products for seamless file sharing, including containers for attached media files.

GEDCOM X is a file transfer product proposed by FamilySearch that has been largely ignored by FamilySearch management. Not having updated the current GEDCOM 5.x in nearly 15 years, there appears no urgency to produce GEDCOM X anytime soon. If FamilySearch wanted GEDCOM X done, we would have had it two years ago, and with FamilySearch's standing in the community, end users like me could enjoy large scale adoption of the product by other genealogy developers.

Instead, FamilySearch puts its weight behind the concept of crowd sourcing, with all data in the cloud on the FamilySearch website. It is unrealistic for any genealogy product to expect universal acceptance by end users like me. Sadly, without  a reliable file transfer mechanism, it remains impossible to get Aunt Madge's well-documented genealogy data about 23,000+ individuals seamlessly up in the FamilySearch website, or any other website or software program for that matter.
Most genealogy software and website developers have responsibilities to improve their products to maintain a revenue stream. FamilySearch has no such restraints. Dropping the GEDCOM X ball is regrettable. It is also regrettable FamilySearch has failed to hear the cries of genealogists the world over, who just want to share their data with a cousin. Why should a website be part of the equation?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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