GEDCOM 5.5 Discussion And Detail

Notes from reading through the GEDCOM 5.5 Standard

Cover Letter

"Needed changes that would cause major compatibilities with prior implementations were postponed until release 6.0, some time in the future. Minor 5.x releases may occur in the interim." This tells me that even by the release of the 5.5 standard, FamilySearch recognized the existing GEDCOM standard's syntax caused limitations that could not be fixed within its framework.


The specification describes the standard at a low level in Chapter 1 and a high level in Chapter 2. The lower level is called the GEDCOM data format, and the high level is called a GEDCOM form (there can be many GEDCOM forms). The GEDCOM form for the purposes of the standard is specified as the Lineage-Linked GEDCOM Form.

This table should be useful in seeing how these sections correspond with our future efforts.

Data Syntax (low level)
Chapter 1: GEDCOM Data Format
XML syntax
Data Model (Genealogical Structure of data)
Chapter 2: Lineage-Linked GEDCOM Form
XML BetterGEDCOM namespace

As illustrated by this table, BetterGEDCOM (BG) will benefit from using the existing XML data format by not having to define a custom low-level data syntax.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2