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The Ideal Genealogy System - Sat, 27 Aug 2011

Randy Seaver just posted an article on GEDCOM, Software, Online Trees and Syncing in which he outlines the horrendously time consuming job he does of creating a GEDCOM file every month, transfering it to several other programs so he can use their functions and help his readers, and then send the updated database to 10 or more (he doesn’t even remember how many) online databases.

Then he goes on to say what he’d like his “ideal” system to do, which is basically to automate this horrendous procedure. Well, the procedure would still be horrendous, but just automated.

So I had to add a comment to Randy’s post, which I will reproduce here. It is my idea of the “ideal” genealogy system:

Sounds like what you really want is to do all your adding and editing of your familytree data in one program (in your case, RootsMagic).

Then in an ideal world, you’d like that one program to do all the functionality needed so that you do not have to load it into other programs. (In your case, you are helping others, but if one program did everything - remember this is an “ideal” world, then you’d simply recommend to others to use this ideal program.)

Finally, the ideal program would have one button syncing to the one ideal all-inclusive online database that (and this is important) keeps everybody’s data separate - noone but the author can update the author’s data!!! What this ideal online system has is another database of linkages, which allows people to “conclude” that a person in their tree is the same as a person in another tree. Then this online database will “virtually merge” the data for the same people together when displaying it for you (maybe showing your data in one color and other people’s data in another).

Sadly, I don’t see the industry going this way … yet

First, I’ve written before about my strong feelings against merging data. No matter how well it is sourced, you’ll still lose the context of the original researcher and the work they did. You’ll dilute the work. You’ll incorporate errors made by others (and others may incorporate errors made by you) that may never get detected but get supported by the fact that multiple works of research support them.

The online databases must change. A “Borg Tree” as Tamura Jones has appropriately named it is evil. Data must remain separate by author, and only merged together in a virtual manner.

So, although I don’t see the rest of the world thinking the way I am, I believe I’ve got the right ideas and ideals. At least I’ll have a venue, through Behold, to try to turn these into a reality, and once genealogists will see my alternative universe, it will be interesting to see which path all of you decide to follow. I’m excited and optimistic that my direction is the correct one. I just wish I could make it happen a little faster. But it’ll come.

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1. Louis Kessler (lkessler)
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Joined: Sun, 9 Mar 2003
237 blog comments, 226 forum posts
Posted: Sat, 27 Aug 2011  Permalink

Just after I posted this, I discovered that MyHeritage made made their API available. In it, they have their SmartMatch object.

Now something like that is the way it should be done!!

… actually, I discovered it a week and a half ago from Tamura’s article. … But in that short a time, I had forgotten.

Genealogists everywhere: Don’t trust your memory. Document everything!!

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