FamilySearch GEDCOM

FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0

FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 incorporates the added ability to include photos and other files when you download a FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 file from a supported Family Tree product.

Users of FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 will be able to import files from older GEDCOM versions. However, users of older versions of GEDCOM will not be able to import from FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0.

What is GEDCOM?

GEDCOM is an acronym for Genealogical Data Communication. GEDCOM was created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the specification for exchanging genealogical data between different genealogical software products. The original GEDCOM specification was released in 1984, and the last full update to the standard was version 5.5 in 1996. An incremental upgrade to 5.5.1 was released in 1999. FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 was released in 2021 and is the most recent update to the GEDCOM specification.

When a software company adopts the FamilySearch GEDCOM specifications for their product, users can download their family tree data to a FamilySearch GEDCOM file that can then be uploaded to another company’s software product that recognizes FamilySearch GEDCOM. Hundreds of software products support reading and writing FamilySearch GEDCOM files, which may be comprised of websites, computers, or mobile apps. Individuals who use software products that implement FamilySearch GEDCOM file import and export can share all or portions of their data for collaboration, reports, charts, special analysis, and other innovative purposes.

The FamilySearch GEDCOM file format allows users to build, preserve, collaborate, import, and export their data with different applications while maintaining control of the original copy of their data. All versions of GEDCOM remain relevant today for personal, private backup of family tree information. The “.ged” file extension is the standard used as a suffix to indicate that the file has been formatted using any GEDCOM specification.

Why is GEDCOM Important?

GEDCOM enables family tree-related products to share and collaborate by transferring data with other GEDCOM-compatible software products while allowing users to preserve their original file in its present format.

Introducing FamilySearch GEDCOM version 7.0

FamilySearch is committed to continually improving GEDCOM specifications. FamilySearch announced FamilySearch GEDCOM version 7.0 at RootsTech Connect 2021. This update will allow more efficient managing and sharing of information. FamilySearch GEDCOM version 7.0 incorporates the added ability to include photos and other files when users download a FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 file from a supported Family Tree product. All of this information will be packaged in a zip format called FamilySearch GEDZip. Future updates to FamilySearch GEDCOM will continue to expand the capabilities of the program.

What’s New in FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0?

  • Zip packaging capabilities for photos and files have been added.
  • Notes have been expanded for more versatile use and styling of text
  • Tools, sample files, sample code, and self-testing guides are included.
  • The GEDCOM specification and any code available from FamilySearch based on the specification is subject to the terms and conditions of the Apache License, Version 2.0.
  • Ambiguities in the GEDCOM Version 5.5.1 Specification have been removed.

A public GitHub repository generates maintenance requests and on-going discussions about future features.

How to Create and Use a FamilySearch GEDCOM File

You create a GEDCOM file by using the procedures specified by the software product you are using to store your genealogical data. Some of the products that incorporate the GEDCOM specification can be found in the FamilySearch Solutions Gallery or by searching “genealogy software” on the web. These companies provide support for their own products, and the way they implement the GEDCOM specification may vary, including which version of GEDCOM they support. It is up to each individual software developer to provide updates and support for the latest version.

How to Upload a GEDCOM File to FamilySearch currently allows users with a Family Tree-based GEDCOM file to upload their files with certain limitations. See the “Genealogies” section of the website for more complete instructions. Once a file is uploaded, you have the ability to delete or replace the file later. Other users can see the information in your GEDCOM file, but they cannot change it. Your uploaded information may help others further their research on the shared Family Tree.

Many genealogical companies also accept GEDCOM files. Please contact them for how to upload and manage GEDCOM files using their services.

What Is FamilySearch GEDZip?

FamilySearch GEDZip is an added feature of the FamilySearch GEDCOM specification. A standard zip archive file is formatted to combine existing Family Tree data with external images and other files. The FamilySearch GEDZip file can be unzipped after transfer, making the genealogical data and associated external files available together in a different software product. The exact procedures for importing or exporting files will vary according to the individual software product’s implementation of the GEDCOM specification.

What Can We Expect in the Future?

FamilySearch GEDCOM will increase the use and exchange of genealogical data through file transfers. Preservation options will increase, along with many other valuable services. For software companies and developers, barriers to entry will be lowered, allowing more innovation and improving the ability to address the needs of users and the marketplace.. All of this will directly benefit those who rely on genealogical software products to organize and store their family tree information.

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