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Louis Kessler’s Behold Blog » Blog Entry           prev Prev   Next next

Checking Your Genealogy Data for Errors - Thu, 10 Nov 2011

I’ve had several people ask me questions on what error checking Behold can do.

I would group errors into 4 camps:

  1. Non-Standard: There may be something wrong with your GEDCOM file that does not follow the GEDCOM standard. Behold deals with what I call “extended GEDCOM”, and can handle all the extensions that various programs have added to it. Behold then reports any problems in the log file. These will be of concern to you if you try to import your GEDCOM into some program other than Behold. That program may not accept the data that is non-standard. In that case, you’ll lose data during import. Behold is one of the few programs available for GEDCOM checking. And Behold is one of the only programs that can read the FTW TEXT files produced by old versions of Family Tree Maker, which tries to pass them off as GEDCOM files with the .ged suffix.
     
  2. Data Problems: There may be something wrong structurally with your data. These are reported as “Data Problems” in Behold and are the most important problems to detect and fix. Behold currently looks for structural problems: i.e. connections between people, and reports these to you.

    The best example of this is Behold’s detection of loops. This is when someone turns out to be their own ancestor. This goes undetected by many programs and is difficult to present in a way that is comprehensible that will allow it to be fixed. I think I’ve done a good job with Behold on this. Behold not only checks for loops at every input, but presents all loops found without listing any redundantly. I was surprised by how often I encountered this problem in GEDCOMs I downloaded from the web. It can easily happen in your genealogy program if you accidentally linked a person to the wrong “John Smith’ who is a descendant instead of the parent who you thought he was. Very few programs detect this. Behold still will display the Everything Report even when this occurs.

  3. Inconsistencies: These may be slight differences in your spelling and use of surnames, placenames, and source references. Behold’s Name Index, Place Index, and Source Index make these inconsistencies pop right out at you. A few other programs have some of this, but Behold’s Source Index is quite unique in its presentation and ordering. It’s easy to improve the consistency of how you format and structure your sources by inspecting Behold’s Source Index.
     
  4. Logical Problems: These are contradictory event dates. Children cannot be born after their parents, or when their parents are younger or older than certain ages. There are many possible checks here. A lot of programs do these checks. This version of Behold does not do them, because dates are not yet read to be understood. Once version 2 and editing comes, Behold will have to understand dates. Then I’ll include these checks.

What I suggest is you try your GEDCOM file and see what Behold says about it. I bet it will find a number of problems that other programs didn’t detect and you didn’t know you had.

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