GEDCOM Model <was> RFC: Simple XML Event-Based API for Java

Mark L. Fussell fussellm at
Thu Dec 18 14:41:10 GMT 1997

Michael Kay <M.H.Kay at> wrote:
> (What I haven't really worked out yet, and would appreciate advice
> on, is how to turn the XML objects into a set of genealogical
> objects, with methods like getFather(), getMother(), getSpouses(). Do
> I need to build a separate tree with the data organised differently,
> or should I write methods/functions that operate on the nodes in 
> the XML tree? I guess the chemists must have similar problems.)

I would strongly suggest first designing the genealogical object model 
from the GEDCOM definitions (and other sources) without considering XML 
or DOM at all.  You need to first get a good model of the information you 
want to represent in a computer (usually called a DomainModel) before 
considering technological/application constraints on it.  After you have 
the model you can consider how that information could be best constructed 
from an XML/GEDCOM encoding.  
    The GEDCOM spec has a very specific model behind it, so you can 
decide whether to use that model, a subset of it, or some improvement to 
it.  There is a lot of stuff in there so it may take a while to get a 
good DomainModel out of it and then implement that model in Java.  After 
that, the XML should be very easy.  
    Last time I checked (maybe a year or two ago), nobody had a 
publically available GEDCOM object model or implementation in Java, but 
maybe that has changed.  I spent several days starting the process of 
building a model but got called off to other tasks [not sure where my 
notes are].

If you have not already, you may want to look at Martin Fowler's Analysis 
Patterns book or any of the three Amigos' books (Booch, Rumbaugh, 
Jacobson).  Full references for these books are at:

mark.fussell at

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