GEDCOM - A Killer XML Application?

Martin Bryan mtbryan at
Mon Feb 9 11:05:21 GMT 1998


>I have been wandering the Web searching for my Wife's relatives
>(surname Kilcawley. Know anyone?) and have learned very quickly that there
>is a *huge* amount of genealogy stuff/activity on the Web.
>Most of it revolves around a genealogy file format called GEDCOM
>that apparantly originated with the Church of the Latter Day Saints.
>This is a snippet of Gedcom:
> 1 NAME Archibald  /BARD_(Beard)/
> 1 SEX M
> 1 BIRT
> 2 PLAC Antrim,Ireland
> 1 DEAT
> 2 DATE    FEB 1765
>Sure looks like a cool XML application to me!

Defining an XML DTD for it is easy, but what is really interesting is how
you could use the data already out there in this format within XML
applications without having to recode it all.

Unfortunately the XML-Data proposal does not seem to provide sufficient
tools for mapping the existing schema to an XML equivalent without invoking
a specialist script. It would be nice if there were some generalized
mechanisms for doing this.

> I mean,the whole
>point of these GEDCOM files is publishing/interchange of
>genealogy data. Richly structured hierarchies. Oodles of
>scope to show of spiffy XLL linking, spiffy XSL rendering,
>intelligent search agents. The whole nine yards.
>Has anyone looked into this? If not, anyone interested
>in helping to get a ball rolling?

I am currently exploring how we could do a mapping between three file
formats, XML, CSV and GEDCOM, to provide an integrated set of resources for
tracing genealogical information through a HyTime-encoded Topic Navigation
Map. This goes a bit beyond what you are suggesting, but may be more
practical in the longer run.

Martin Bryan

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