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It’s 2010. At this point, there is no reason you should be working with any genealogy programs on any platform that doesn’t full export/import GEDCOM files unless you plan on always using that program, or you never intend to share information with others, or import genealogy information.

GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunication, and every major genealogy software package supports it these days. It’s a plain ASCII or ANSEL text file that contains genealogy information and links. It’s pretty much the standard these days, since genealogy software developers want to insure that you can easily incorporate data from other applications (or migrate from those applications. Where things get tricky is that because the GEDCOM format is basically unchanged for a very long time, some genealogy software will use certain parts of the GEDCOM file in different ways than others in order to get around older limitations, which means that importing data from those files might not pull in all of the data. Examples include certain genealogy applications and the way they handle notes and in the way they handle location data (GPS, etc.).

Information about GEDCOM files – Standards
GEDCOM at Wikipedia.org
Heiner Eichmann’s GEDCOM 5.5 Sample Page
The GEDCOM Standard Release 5.5
XML for Genealogists
Encyclopedia of Genealogy
GEDCOM 5.5EL at genealogy.net – GEDCOM 5.5 Extended Location.

Articles
GEDCOM Explained – Dick Eastman (Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter)
Sharing Genealogy Files – Sep, 1998, Gary B. Hoffman
Is GEDCOM Dead?

Help, Tips, etc.
* Tips and Techniques (users.sisna.com/mhobart/Generations/tips/tip38.html) – Tips and Techniques on working with GEDCOM problems.
* GEDCOM 5.5 Torture Test Files (geditcom.com) – Use these GEDCOM 5.5 files to test your applications’ abilities to import and export GEDCOM 5.5 files.

Last updated: August 11, 2010

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