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Who Are We?
All are invited to participate in the wiki and the blog to move the discussion forward.

Simply put, if you will participate, we are you. This is user-driven project completely independent of any other genealogical organization and will remain so. This community relies on your participation to work. Please jump in and lend a hand! Add your name and profile info as you see fit.

The organizers of BetterGEDCOM are members of the genealogy user community not affiliated with any particular genealogical organization and not advocating for any particular constituency except the end-users.

The organizing team at BetterGEDCOM was set in place to advertise the BetterGEDCOM workspace designed to bring groups from all parts of the net into one place for decision making. We hold joint voice meetings weekly for reporting purposes, and are in constant communication in the mean time. As BetterGEDCOM expands and actually makes decisions by consensus, the organizing team will not exercise control. Our goal is to organize large-group meetings and report progress to the world at the direction of the consensus of participants.




jhy001 2010-11-13T19:55:39-08:00
How will progress be made when there are competing ideas? Are the founders a
benevolent dictatorship?

I think the rules of engagement need to be written. (bylaws?)

Should there be voting? Who gets a vote? Founders only? Should voting members be
selected by the founders according to some critera?

I think to make progress, this has to be made explicit and followed so that decisions
can actually be made.

I am involved in some non-profits in New Jersey. I wonder if the founders should
see if forming one would be useful? I don't know all the rules on founding one, but
have read the bylaws of a few. That is where founders, officers, elections, conflict
resolution, etc. are all described. And in formal meetings, Roberts Rules of Order are
adhered to.

And in NJ, one may ask for state grants under the umbrella of preserving history.
It might be possible to get some funds for things like founders to travel to meetings,
travel awards to major contributors, even hire a consultant to get over a sticky
issue. Here in NJ, one can ask for up to $10k a year. Not that you'd get that!

Just a thought. Trying to avoid chaos by a well known organizational model.
greglamberson 2010-11-13T20:28:35-08:00
This is a community-based project driven by user input, debate and persuasion. At the same time, we have very a pragmatic understanding of the genealogy community and know of the nearly dozen similar projects that have failed before us.

I don't think the question is, "Are we a benevolent dictatorship?" The question, as I see it, is, Does the user community have enough muscle and determination to will the genealogy software and services companies to cooperate regarding data exchange and give us the features we want?"

We've got several structural issues to discuss, such as the pursuit of a process for internationally-recognized standard codification. We will do what is necessary in regard to these issues as needed, but right now we need to have an idea of what we're talking about.

Don't worry. These issues are on our minds, and they have been since the beginning. Right now, it is to our benefit to NOT define ourselves in a legal fashion. Right now our primary concern is to build support and develop practical solutions to the problems of genealogy technology standards.

What good does it do to decide who is in charge right now? In charge of what? Besides, what good does it do to be the one in power and yet get nowhere?

We'll get there (or some entity likely will), but we're not there yet.
Andy_Hatchett 2010-11-13T23:06:09-08:00
"and develop practical solutions to the problems of genealogy technology standards."

Practical solutions means,if nothing else, making decisions about the practicality of the solution.

So the question becomes how when, and who decides when a solution is practical?

We can even, for the moment, dispense with the who and the when.. but the how really needs some sort of definition - if for no other reason that to judge how close we are to one.
gthorud 2010-11-14T01:43:58-08:00
I raised this issue on the GEDCOM-L list before the launch of this wiki. I have since had more understanding for Greg's view. We need first to create a picture of something that may be available in the future, driven both by user requirements and technical possibilities - by exchanging ideas and not the least, learn from each other. Only then can users understand what they might be missing if this effort does not succeed. So, for the moment I think we should proceed in brainstorming modus.

But, I think we need more focus on describing the benefit for users, in terms that non-technical people can understand.
hrworth 2010-11-14T09:50:56-08:00

You said: "How will progress be made when there are competing ideas? Are the founders a
benevolent dictatorship?"

That was a real shock to me.

As one of the "founders" of the BetterGEDCOM wiki, I don't know how to respond to the dictatorship question.

Just a small piece of how this started.

A small group of Users of several genealogy software programs where sharing "how to do" things in our own software. One thing lead to another and one of us tried to share information with another member of this small group. The data sent was not received is a way that the information was useful at 'the other end'. The Vehicle for this sharing was a GEDCOM.

Each of us, in our own way, have run into GEDCOM issues for years. Each of us had helped or tried to help users of our respective software packages over the years.

Thus began the BetterGEDCOM project. Two users wanting to share, and there was a participant who IS very technically talented in this group. A few short weeks later, we kicked of this wiki.

Bottom line here, is that this IS a Community effort to create "something" that will allow Two End Users Share Genealogy Research Information.

I hope that this has been captured in what is on the Wiki to this point and we hope to continue to expand what we want and how to make it happen.

Clearly there are Users, I am one of them, there are folks, like Greg, who can 'translate' what we want, into a format that our Vendors can create for us.

Thankfully, there are a number of 'Gregs' from various disciplines and technologies / applications that are participating already and we are trying to get some of the other vendors to participate.

Offering of suggestions, questions, requirements, solutions are most welcome. And, at some point, may reach a conclusion.

Keep in mind that this wiki has only just begun. It has all be done Online. There ARE efforts to get some face to face time, either in person as a group with some online participation in the meeting to move this project forward.

Again, this is a Community Effort. The Community will make the decision. We ALL are the decision makers.

I hope that you join us in this effort.

Thank you,

jhy001 2010-11-14T15:25:18-08:00
I didn't mean to shock anyone. But I also would like this effort to succeed and to that end, a formalism needs to be set down to do that. Brainstorming is fine for now, but rules of engagement for progress are not expressed, I think I'll tune out and come back in 5 years and see how the arguments are going. (tongue in cheek people! ;-) but with an element of truth!)

For example, the decision to use an XML data structure seems to me to already be a benevolent dictator decision. I saw some that disagreed, saying it is too complex, and whatnot (I happen to strongly believe that the XML data structure is the best one to use, but am just pointing out how I see that decision as being made).

What about where it is less clear cut. How do we make progress there? I submit we model a democratic method similar to an organization's bylaws, as I mentioned above.

I think voting is important. But informed voting. I would recuse myself from things I don't understand. I don't think I can educate myself by reading thousands of conflicting posts. I think I could learn if the smartest people advocating positions wrote an executive summary white paper arguing for their method, and put it up for comment. At the end of the comment period, a vote could be taken. If the loser continues griping, and is listened to at that point, no progress would be made. If the founders thought that the decision is too clear to them to be A and not B, well, that is benevolent dictator model again.

I am not trying to be difficult. I am trying to say we need to codify how progress can be made in the face of adversity. Which there is already plenty of conflicting opinions. Without such a plan, I assure you, progress will not be made. (unless benevolent dictators step up! ;-) ).

My $0.02.
greglamberson 2010-11-14T15:46:20-08:00

This effort is going to be hard enough without setting up power struggles from the very beginning. This is my main thought when reading this.

Every single step of this process will be negotiated over and over again. To set some process up by which something is voted upon this early is just a sure-fire way to kill the whole project. Having plenty of experience with nonprofits, community organizations and big corporations myself, to say nothing of the entrenched and insular world of genealogy software companies/organizations, I just find the whole idea of even discussing ways to formalize this process and finalize ideas completely counterproductive.

How about we work on the ideas first before digging in our heels and suggesting there are deal-breaking decisions we must decide upon?

This is just completely unhelpful at this point. Completely.
JohnTracyCunningham 2010-11-15T09:48:11-08:00
Pace, John and Greg. It's very early days yet, way too early to be taking such strong positions. Everything being discussed in this Wiki will be revisited many times before BG Version 1.0 hits the street.

Every project begins like this, with enthusiastic if informal brainstorming and discussion, and folks bounding off in all directions. Lots of ideas are generated and everyone learns a lot. This initial phase is not self-sustaining, though, because brainstorming/informal discussion is a tool and must be followed by coordinated effort to produce a product.

When we get to that point in this project, it will either fizzle or we will organize and press on. We should keep this in the backs of our minds.

Most software projects of any stature seem to be backed up by nonprofit corporations. Certainly, when the LibreOffice folks separated from Oracle recently, one of the first things they did was to incorporate. Of course, they had the existing model and product to build on. Incorporation offers advantages like legal presence, limited liability, copyright assignment, etc. (Is there a lawyer-genealogist in the house?)

An alternative to incorporation would be to hook up with an existing organization. Merge with NGS GenTech? Form up under the Federation of Genealogical Societies?

Organization assumes some particular importance when we get to standardization. As I think Greg observed, getting into the standards business is complicated and time-consuming. Do we want to be a standards-setting organization, or part of one?

Internally, I think we will want to think at the same time about development process. I favor and recommend OpenUP, the open course incarnation of IBM Rational Unified Process. Go take a look at OpenUP offers tailorable tasks, roles (for team staffing), work product templates, and so on. Including a complete, ready-made, downloadable and modifiable website.

One could say we're right now at the very, very beginning of the Inception Phase, working on the Technical Vision and maybe a little on the Project Plan. Again, something to keep in mind.


greglamberson 2010-11-15T09:59:08-08:00
1. We're very involved with considering options and have been since the beginning.

2. We don't need to do this now and trying to shoehorn this effort into some organization right now would be counterproductive.

These two points sum up my thoughts on this matter.
VAURES 2010-12-05T00:30:12-08:00
I agree completely with jhy001.

The first step should be to get a show of hands, of who wants to participate in this procedure of discussing and voting.

Than you could make clear decision points (rather soon if not now) as to

  • develop a complete new structure for genealogical data or improve GEDCOM by motivating the authors to follow a strict standard of interpretation of the meaning of the tags
VOTE on it
IMHO most of the problems encountered with GEDCOM are not due to GEDCOM but are caused by different interpretation of the GEDCOM tags by programmers and by different interpretation of the boxes in the programs by the users.
Thus a Checking programm for GEDCOM files and a translation program for GEDCOM files would be an other option.

  • discuss/brainstorm the next topic and than vote on it

All the minorities who have voted against some decision should be able to stick to the discussion and eventually let themselves be convinced by the progress.

At the moment the discussion is so widespread that it takes more time than I have (better: I want to give to the topic) to follow and I think I’m not by myself with this feeling.

Have a nice day
louiskessler 2010-12-05T08:25:16-08:00
I too, am trying to participate and help the effort. But, as Vaures correctly says: the discussion is so widespread that it takes too much time, effort and thinking to just keep up with it, and that's without even trying to map it to my own ideas.

This very interesting discussion can go on forever without anything formal and usable getting accomplished. If you want, you can read the last 16 years of the GEDCOM-L: and merge all that discussion to this Wiki as well.

But AFAIAC, the discussion cannot lead to anything tangible until some formal document is made. I don't know if voting is required, but we at least need a formal document to scrutinize and improve upon. I'd suggest something like starting with the GEDCOM 6.0 XML draft.

Rather than try to reinvent the wheel (which might be tough to get consensus on, and to get developers to change to), why not do it in steps. Start with GEDCOM 6.0 and lets not try right away to develop GEDCOM 10.0, but instead lets develop GEDCOM 6.1. Let's simply take what's is wrong with 6.0 and needs to be fixed, and also add anything missing that absolutely needs to be added.

GEDCOM 6.1 might be a product we can come out with in 4 or 5 months. It might be something that we can get majority approval on.

It's important this initiative get something out quickly, or we will lose momentum and everyone will start to get tired and leave.

We can always make further improvements after, but lets get a GEDCOM 6.1 out as a first priority.
Andy_Hatchett 2011-11-24T20:42:42-08:00
And here we are a year later...
As Yogi would say...
"Its deja vue all over again!"

GeneJ 2010-11-20T08:18:39-08:00
How do "industry/profession" standards relate to the process of file format standardization
For example, does the process of file format standardization codify style elements like date, name. location, source composition, citation composition, etc.?
theKiwi 2011-05-09T11:06:05-07:00
Comment: A Test of Adding a Comment as notifie...
A Test of Adding a Comment as notified by Mike in Developer Meeting 9 May
theKiwi 2011-05-09T11:09:34-07:00
Making the Comment automatically created this discussion page...
GeneJ 2011-05-09T12:52:39-07:00
Ooo. Disregard the note I sent to you. When in edit mode, I see the "reply" button. tyty
theKiwi 2011-05-09T13:12:22-07:00
theKiwi 2011-05-09T13:13:55-07:00
I replied on the Discussion board, and it showed up here in the Yellow Comments box - this reply is being typed in the yellow box - very handy feature :-)
GeneJ 2011-05-09T13:39:27-07:00
I like.
GeneJ 2011-11-24T17:36:14-08:00
Behold releases on deadline. Congratulations, Louis Kessler
Behold 1.0, 2 Nov 2011
Andy_Hatchett 2011-11-24T17:53:11-08:00
Great idea- him giving us gifts on his birthday!

louiskessler 2011-11-24T19:32:33-08:00
Many thanks, my friends. 1.0 is just the beginning. Lots of excitement ahead.
Andy_Hatchett 2011-11-24T20:01:53-08:00
As long as it doesn't take another 9 years for version 2!
louiskessler 2011-11-24T20:55:15-08:00
Andy_Hatchett 2011-11-24T21:02:28-08:00
Looks like you're right-
According to that rate of acceleration version 2 should be ready in 6 months!- neat!
Andy_Hatchett 2012-01-02T09:03:48-08:00
Comment: Occupy RootsTech 2012
Occupy RootsTech 2012
Andy_Hatchett 2012-01-02T09:18:05-08:00
WesleyJohnston 2012-01-03T21:09:47-08:00
Andy, I tried to follow the "View this message in your browser" link ( in the e-mail that you sent out via Wikispaces, but it comes up with a Wikispaces "Page Not Found" page.

I will be attending RootsTech (though I wish that they would finalize an actual schedule so that I could make specific plans - never had a conference of this magnitude delay so long in publishing a schedule).

And I would be interested to meet other BetterGEDCOM members.
WesleyJohnston 2012-01-13T06:19:40-08:00
I'm not sure where the right place to post this is. And I am not sure how to point you directly to the file that I uploaded to this Wiki.

But for those who prefer a spreadsheet to a bedsheet version of the RootsTech 2012 program, I have uploaded a spreadsheet version that I created.

When you print it out, each day fits on two pages - 1 sheet if you print duplex.