Modern Software Experience



1994-07-25CommSoftInterGED 1.0 
1998-04-20Michael KayGedML 
1998-05-01FamilySearchGEDCOM Future Direction Draft 
1999-07-07FamilySearchGEDCOM Future Direction Draft 
2000-11-01Tom WetmoreDeadEnds Data Model 0.0001 
2000-12-18FamilySearchGEDCOM 5.6 DraftEarly GEDCOM XML
2001-12-28FamilySearchGEDCOM XML Draft 
2002-02-09Eric VitielloFamilyML
2002-07-22Christoper OweGenXML 1.0 
2002-07-25XGenML-George Farkas
2002-12-02FamilySearchGEDCOM XML Beta 
2003-01-07Hans Fugalgdmxml AlphaFirst Beta
2003-05-20Hans Fugalgdmxml 0.9Official Beta
2003-10-20Christoper OweGenXML 2.0
2004-01-10Tim ForsytheGREnDL 1.1 
2004-01-22Jerry FitzpatrickGeniML
2004-10-19Hans Fugalgdmxml 1.0 
2005-03-27Peter J. SeymourGendatam 
2005-05-05GRAMPS projectGRAMPS XML 1.0GRAMPS 2.0
2005-12-16Thierry NauzeGmCohmiGene 0.90
2006-10-30GRAMPS projectGRAMPS XML 1.1GRAMPS 2.2.1
2007-12-04Bill KinnersleyGEDC 1.0Schema only
2008-03-24GRAMPS projectGRAMPS XML 1.2GRAMPS 3.0
2008-06-09Chad AlbersGEDCOM 5.5 XML 0.1
2009-02-02Bill KinnersleyGEDC 2.0 
2009-03-06GRAMPS projectGRAMPS XML 1.3GRAMPS 3.1
2010-06-16Christoper OweGenXML 3.0 
2010-11-23Tom WetmoreDeadEnds Data Model 2.0 
2011-12-12FamilySearchGEDCOM X 0.6Project & source revealed
2012-02-02FamilySearchGEDCOM XWebsite public (was private)
2012-01-02Tony ProctorSTEMMA 
2013-06-04FamilySearchGEDCOM X 1.0.0 M1 
2014-04-18Tony ProctorSTEMMA 2.2 

genealogical standards

This is an overview of GEDCOM alternatives. It is not an overview of  conversion products or utilities. This overview does not include GEDCOM to DAML conversion for the same reason that it does not include every GEDCOM to HTML conversion utility. It does not include projects that merely demonstrate that genealogical data can be modelled in a particular language. It does not include any geocoding standards or mark-up languages for addresses.

This overview is focussed on genealogical standards that could replace GEDCOM. It does not include GEDCOM extensions such as GEDCOM 5.5 EL. It does include organisations that intend or intended to produce a standard, but have not done so yet.


The first GEDCOM alternative was InterGED introduced back in 1994. The original InterGED name was later changed to Event GEDCOM.
Event GEDCOM was created by CommSoft, an early developer of genealogy software. CommSoft developed ROOTS89 for the Heathkit H-89, Roots/M for CP/M and Roots II for MS-DOS. Roots II was followed Roots III and Roots IV.
Roots IV is the last Roots for MS-DOS. Roots V is a Windows application. After partnering with Palladium Interactive, Roots V became Ultimate Family Tree. CommSoft's earlier Windows product, Visual Roots, became Family Gathering.
It was for Roots IV version 1.1 that CommSoft introduced Event GEDCOM 1.0. As the name suggest, Event GEDCOM is quite similar to GEDCOM, but event-oriented instead of family-oriented.
Event GEDCOM was not adopted by other vendors, and has largely been forgotten.


On 1998 April 20, Michael Kay introduced GedML. GedML can be briefly be described as GEDCOM, redone in XML. The main reason for doing so are is that there is wide support for XML, making it relatively easy to manipulate GedML files, for example to generate web pages.
Michael Kay's GedML pages provide a more detailed rationale for using XML. GedML is based on GEDCOM because it was the dominant standard. In the e-mail to the XML-Dev mailing list in which he announced GedML, Michael Kay notes that compatibility with GEDCOM is a key objective of the GedML design, and adds that Compatibility means deliberately repeating other people's mistakes.

Michael Kay not only took a logical approach, he also provided a specification, some samples, and source code. He also updated GedML several times. Despite all that, GedML did not catch on.

GEDCOM Specification Future Direction

The publication of GedML did seem to galvanise the Family History Department of the LDS (now known as FamilySearch) into action; a dozen days later, FamilySearch published their GEDCOM Specification Future Direction document, more than three years before following that with their GEDCOM XML draft.
Michael Kay published Comments on the Future Direction document, which includes the real-world observation that the success of a proposed standard depends largely on the cost of implementing it.

FamilySearch pulled the plug on As a result the original URL provided for the GEDCOM Future directions document is no longer valid, but a version of the document is available on the LDS FTP server.

GenTech LexML

GenTech started as an American non-profit organisation. Today, GenTech is a division of the National Genealogical Society in the USA.

GenTech is best known for developing the GenTech Genealogical Data Model (GDM). Version 1.0 was published on 1998 Aug 21, version 1.1 on 2000 May 29. There has been no activity on the GDM since, but the data model has influenced several genealogy formats proposed by other parties, including FamilySearch's GEDCOM XML.

As early as 2000, the GenTech Lexicon Working group was working to develop LexML, an XML-based genealogical standard containing elements from the GDM and the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). There is no draft or specification available.

DeadEnds Data Model

The DeadEnds Data Model was created by Tom Wetmore, the original author of Lifelines. The DeadEnds Data Model is a twelve-page document aims to describe the genealogical data model for the DeadEnds Software System, a fictive application that supports the genealogical research process, which mostly means that it models evidence in addition to conclusions.

Version 0.0001 was published in 2000. Nothing happened until Tom got interested again late in 2010. He skipped version 1.0, and published the DeadEnds Data Model 2.0.


Late in 2000, FamilySearch released the GEDCOM 5.6 draft, which includes early thinking on GEDCOM XML, to a small group of people.
Late in 2001, FamilySearch released the GEDCOM XML draft to the public. That, the GedXML abbreviation and the ill-chosen alternative name, GEDCOM 6.0 all suggests that it is GEDCOM redone in XML, just like Michael Kay's GedML, but it is not. GEDCOM XML is not an XML version of GEDCOM.
GEDCOM XML is a new specification, based on a new data model. Their ideas about a new data model were previously published in the GEDCOM Future Directions document. The GEDCOM XML specification contains a mapping from GEDCOM to GEDCXOM XML.

FamilySearch released the GEDCOM XML draft late in 2001. It was followed by the GEDCOM XML Beta late in 2002.
FamilySearch told vendors that the Draft and Beta should not be implemented, but never followed up with an official specification. The result is that few products supports GEDCOM XML and GEDCOM 5.5.1 remained the de facto standard.

FamilySearch abandoned GEDCOM in favour of their New FamilySearch (NFS) API.
Around the time that they released GEDCOM XML, FamilySearch pulled the plug on the domain. Some GEDCOM and GEDCOM XML specifications are available on the FamilySearch domain.
The FamilySearch site offers the GEDCOM XML Draft, but not the GEDCOM XML Beta. The FamilySearch developers site does not offer either one.


FamilyML is an XML-based format created by Eric Vitiello. It is based on GEDCOM and Michael Kay's GedML, but aims to be more human readable than both.

FamilyML was created in 2002. First mentioned in 2009 Apr 9 post to the XSL mailing list. The FamilyML web page existed till 2006.


GenXML is a specification developed by Christopher Owe of CoSoft. CoSoft published Cognatio, a commercial desktop genealogy application for Windows. Cognatio supports GenXML.

GenXML is based on XML and actively maintained. GenXML 1.0 was published in 2002, followed by GenXML 2.0 in 2003 and GenXML 3.0 in 2010. The later specifications include discussions of the differences with the previous specifications.

All current and previous versions of GenXML are available from the CoSoft site, as is an XML Schema, and an GEDCOM to GenXML conversion utility, complete with source code.


GREnDL is an abbreviation of Genealogical Record Exchange and Description Language. It is a specification created by Tim Forsythe, who also created VGed, a GEDCOM validator for Windows, and ADAM, a GEDCOM web site generator.

GRenDL 1.1 is the first version of GREnDL, but supersedes previous work by the same author, Genealogy Data Format 1.1.2 and the Universal Data Model 1.0. The GREnDL specification has a layout and structure similar to W3C recommendations.

The specification includes an XML Schema Definition for GREnDL. The specification was last updated on 2004 Oct 6. GRenDL was obsoleted on 2011 Apr 18. The GRenDL specification is no longer available.


GeniML is an abbreviation of Genealogical Information Mark-up Language. It was created for Software Renovation Corporation's Institute of Genealogical Information Exchange (IGENIE) by Jerry Fitzpatrick.
GeniML is an XML-based format introduced at the NGS GenTech 2004 conference.

GeniML was created after extensive study of the GEDCOM model. Software Renovation Corporation' GEDCOM pages include among others things, an LALR(1) grammar for GEDCOM and the GEDCOM 5.5.1 data model in UML.

GeniML has not been developed beyond version 1.0 introduced in 2004, and is not supported by any genealogy application.

Software Renovation Corporation's GeniML pages include a description of the GeniML data model and a utility for converting GEDCOM to GeniML. They also offer version 2.0 and 2.1 of Fitzpatrick's Transcription Notation.


XGenML is a consortium developing the XGenML standard. The XGenML site is just one page. That page enumerates some desirable properties of the future standard. There is no standard. There is no list of members.  It is not clear when XGenML started. The domain was registered on 2002 Jul 29. It was registered by George Farkas of XBI Software.

The web page does not mention it, but there is a Yahoo! Group, started on 2004 Feb 5. It has not seen much traffic. The web page was last updated on 2006 Jul 25.


Hans Fugal created gdmxml. As the name suggests, it is the GenTech Genealogical Data Model (GDM) from 1998 in XML. It was proposed to GenTech as an XML Document Type Definition (DTD) for GDM, but became a RELAX NG schema for GDM in the RELAX NG Compact Syntax.

It is not intended as another standard, but as an implementation of an pre-existing data model. However, to the extent that this requires interpretation of the GDM, gdmxml is a unique standard, based on the GDM.

The first beta, mislabeled Alpha, was released on 2003 Jan 7. It was quickly followed by gdmxml 0.9 in May of the same year. On 2004 Oct 19 the gdmxml 0.9 beta was promoted to the gdmxml 1.0 release, and released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License.
There has been no activity on gdmxml since, but there hardly needed to be any as there has been no activity on GDM.

The gdmxml pages contain the project history, slides from the 2003 May 28 presentation at the NGS GenTech 2003 conference, the gdmxml schema, a sample file and a style sheet.


Gendatam is a Genealogical Data Model created by Peter J. Seymour. It was announced in soc.genealogy.computing on 2005 Mar 27.

The site offers both the Gendatam specification, a sample file, and the Gendatam Suite, a collection of Java application that provides a reference implementation of Gendatam.
The Gendatam Suite Beta initially became available for OS/2 on 2005 Dec 20. Gendatam for Windows followed later. The OS/2 variant was withdrawn on 2008 Jun 30. The Gendatam Suite is still under active development and still in beta.
Update 2012-07-01: the Gendatam site is gone.


GRAMPS is a free open-source desktop genealogy application, programmed in Python. The GRAMPS project started on 2001 Apr 21, GRAMPS 1.0.0 was released on 2004 Feb 11. GRAMPS used XML from the beginning, but it was GRAMPS 2.0 introduced on 2005 May 5 that introduced GRAMPS XML 1.0.

The GRAMPS Wiki GRAMPS and GEDCOM page provides an overview of data that is supported by GRAMPS XML but gets lost when the user opts for output to GEDCOM.

The GRAMPS XML format is fully supported by GRAMPS. PhpGedView supports GRAMPS XML as an output format. Both applications are in active developments. There are various GRAMPS-related utilities that use GRAMPS XML.


GmC is a genealogical data format developed by Thierry Nauze. It was introduced together with ohmiGene 0.90. Support from GmC was removed in ohmiGene 1.60 introduced on 2007 Aug 10.

The ohmiGene website does no longer offer information about GmC.


GEDC is an XML-based format created by Bill Kinnersley. The creator describes it as an outgrowth of FamilySearch's GEDCOM XML, and notes that it still bears a resemblance to that specification.
His criticism of GEDCOM XML is two-fold. One that it lacks practical experience, that to determine its usefulness you need to use it. The other is that GEDCOM XML, like GEDCOM maintains the fiction that the data contained in a typical genealogy is entirely consistent and correct. Like the GenTech GDM, GENC allows for conflicting data.

The GEDC spec has been in both development and use since 2003. A grammar was published on 2007 Dec 4, without documentation, and is version 1.0. The first true specification, published on 2009 Feb 2, bears version number 2.0. Minor changes have been made since then.

GEDCOM 5.5 XML 0.1

The unfortunately named GEDCOM 5.5 XML is a specification by Chad Albers that should not be confused with FamilySearch's GEDCOM XML. GEDCOM 5.5 XML aims to be straightforward translation of GEDCOM 5.5 into an XML schema, so it is very similar to Michael Kay's GedML, and FamilySearch's GEDXML (but the existence of GEDXML, defined in the still unreleased GEDCOM 5.6, was not public knowledge at the time). FamilySearch's GEDCOM XML is quite different from GedML, GEDXML and Chad Albers' GEDCOM 5.5 XML.
Michael Kay defined GedML through a DTD, Chad Albers defined GEDCOM 5.5 through an XML schema.
GEDCOM 5.5 XML 0.1 was released on 2008 Jun 9. An XSL style sheet was released on 2008 Aug 12; it creates a standard XSL-FO style sheet, from which a PDF file can be created. There has been no further activity on GEDCOM 5.5 XML.


The International OpenGen Alliance was conceived in April of this year by Scott Mueller and Rysa Pitner of AppleTree.
The kick-off meeting was on 2010 June 27. The OpenGen goal is to created a new genealogical data standard, that allows greater interoperability, starting with a new genealogical model.
There is a technical and a marketing committee.


BetterGEDCOM is an initiative of a group of end-users dissatisfied with current state of affairs. The founding members are DearMyrtle Pat Richley-Erickson, GeneJ, Greg Lamberson and Russ Worthington.
The BetterGEDCOM Wiki was created on 2010 Oct 28.


GEDCOM X is a GEDCOM replacement project of FamilySearch, initially introduced early in 2011 as FamilySearch SORD, but GEDCOM X Origin has shown that parts date back to 2008.
The GEDCOM X name and source code were revealed late in 2012 in GEDCOM X. FamilySearch made the GEDCOM X project public on 2012 Feb 2, and introduced several specifications and a one-way GEDCOM X Converter on 2012 Jun 6. This GEDCOM X converter allowed a first look at the GEDCOM X file format, and developers were not impressed.


2010-11-06 additions

Added Tom Wetmore's DeadEnds Data Model, a mention of Jerry Fitzpatrick's Transcription Notation and a few more links, most notably the FamilySearch GEDCOM XML Beta from late 2002.

2010-11-11 DeadEnds link

The DeadEnds document was no longer available directly, so a link into the Web Archive was provided. Tom has uploaded the document again.

2010-11-14 GmC, FD link, BG video, German, validator

Added Thierry Nauze's GmC, links to the elusive GEDCOM Specification Future Direction document, the Introduction to BetterGEDCOM video, GEDCOM 5.5.1 in German, and a GEDCOM validator section.

2010-11-24 DeadEnds Data Model 2

Added the new DeadEnds Data Model 2.

2011-01-07 GEDCOM 5.6

Tom Wetmore has posted the hard to find GEDCOM 5.6 draft. The GEDCOM 5.6 article provides a quick overview.

2011-04-24 BetterGEDCOM video

The YouTube video Introduction to BetterGEDCOM has been deleted.

2011-04-24 RumbleFische

All RumbleFische content (VGED, GRenDL, Adam) moved to AncestorsNow. The affected links have been updated.

2011-04-24 GRenDL

GRenDL was obsoleted on 2011 Apr 18.

2011-04-24 GEDCOM 6.0 draft

FamilySearch has broken the link to the GEDCOM 6.0 draft. The more recent GEDCOM 6.0 Beta is still available for download. The broken link has been removed.

2011-06-29 GEDCOM Validation

GEDCOM Validation provides an overview of GEDCOM validation tools.

2011-07-31 GED-inline

Nigel Munro Park has created GED-inline, the first GEDCOM validator to support GEDCOM 5.5.1.

2011-09-08 GEDCOM replacements considerations

Tim Forsythe has published Designing a GEDCOM Alternative, an article about what a GEDCOM replacement should be like, what features it should have.

2011-12-12 GEDCOM X

FamilySearch's New GEDCOM revealed in GEDCOM X.

2012-01-02 STEMMA

Tony Proctor has introduced the STEMMA file format. STEMMA is an abbreviation of Source Text for Event and Ménage MApping and is XML-based. The format is available as a single PDF on the BetterGEDCOM wiki.

2012-02-02 GEDCOM X

FamilySearch has made the GEDCOM X project public.

2012-02-02 OpenGen and BetterGEDCOM articles

Added articles about OpenGen and BetterGEDCOM.

2012-01-31 GEDCOM 5.5 XML

Added Chad Albers' GEDCOM 5.5 XML and link to new GEDCOM X article What does GEDCOM X mean?.

2012-06-06: GEDCOM X Converter

FamilySearch has introduced some specifications and GEDCOM X Converter.

2012-06-06: Gendatam

The Gendatam site is gone. The links have been removed.

2014-04-18: GEDCOM X 1.0

FamilySearch has released GEDCOM X 1.0.0 M1.

2014-04-18: STEMMA 2.2

Tony Proctor has released STEMMA 2.2.





GEDCOM Future Directions

GenTech LexML

DeadEnds Data Model