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Supporting FTW TEXT - Sat, 11 Sep 2010

As I work through some of my test files, I came across some files that were in my “to handle one day” folder. These were created by some older versions of Family Tree Maker for Windows (FTW) that created something that looks similar to GEDCOM, but instead of the nice short tags GEDCOM has, it uses its own long wordy tags. e.g. instead of INDI it uses INDIVIDUAL. Instead of FAMC, it uses FAMILY_CHILD. Well, I don’t know what Family Tree Maker was thinking this would accomplish, but all they managed to do is to make an output format that most genealogy programs cannot import.

About a year ago, Tamura Jones wrote a series of articles about this, and gave the name FTW TEXT to this file created by FTW. The articles are detailed and interesting. Tamura has an index to the FTW TEXT articles. (Note: Internet Explorer 8 and less will not read Tamura’s xhtml web pages. You will need IE9 or Firefox or some other browser to read them.)

At that time, Tamura noted that there were some programs that could read FTW TEXT, but there were no programs that would differentiate correctly between FTW TEXT and GEDCOM. They simply accept all the tags from either. And the newest versions of Family Tree Maker cannot read older FTW TEXT files that are based on the old GEDCOM 5.3 standard. So what’s someone who has one of those files supposed to do?

Well, Behold can help out. It’s not that big a job. Tamura even gave instructions to developers on how to handle it. There were a few choices. I decided I’d detect first if the file was FTW TEXT. If so, I would map the FTW TEXT tags to their GEDCOM equivalents. Then I’d process the mapped file as GEDCOM. It adds minimal overhead to Behold’s input processing.

Once I add saving to GEDCOMs in Version 1.1, you’ll be able to read in an FTW TEXT file and export it as GEDCOM so that you’ll be able to use it with any program. In the meantime, you’ll be able to see what’s in it with Behold, and verify that the file is consistent GEDCOM, or consistent FTW TEXT as the file header suggests.

This only took two days to implement - and it took me into parts of Behold that needed to be thoroughly checked prior to Version 1, so the work was worthwhile.

The FTW TEXT input capability will be in the next beta release of Behold.

For fun, try a FTW TEXT fle your current genealogy program: Here’s a few to try.

I went to search for “FTW TEXT” to see if there were any other references to it, and this blog post showed up in ninth place - just 5 minutes after I posted it. Wow! Google is indexing things very quickly!

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