Modern Software Experience



The maximum values in genealogy are minimum requirements for genealogy software.

Genealogical Records

Last year, I wrote a couple of articles on genealogical records such as most married, most children and longest name. These less than perfectly sourced articles have some entertainment value, and may even inspire someone to proof or disprove a particular genealogical record. However, my reason for writing these articles was quite practical; the maximum values in genealogy are minimum requirements for genealogy software.

Genealogy software must allow entering the facts, even if those facts are extreme. The articles end with a few notes on how well some current genealogy software meets this requirement, and how should it meet it.

For example, the article on longest names notes that Family Tree Maker 16 limits names to only 40 characters and bluntly truncates names that are longer, and that software should not set a fixed limit on name length, but allow any length.

Most Married Test

For the Genealogical Record: Most Married article, I actually created a GEDCOM test file of one man married to 1200 women, and then tested a bunch of desktop applications.

I found that PAF 5 and Ancestral Quest 12 read that file without problems, but that GENViewer Lite crashed and RootsMagic 3 messed up the order of the wives. Legacy Family Tree was ridiculously slow, Legacy Charting crashed, Family Tree Builder became unresponsive and GenoPro messed up its graphical display. Family Tree Maker 16 once again disappointed with a hard-coded limit and Brother’s Keeper failed to import the file.

I later found that Family Historian 3.1.2 handles that file just fine and recently found that it makes the RootsMagic 4 import crash - and that prompted Bruce Buzbee to ask for a copy.

Torture Test Files

I’ve created a few additional GEDCOM files based on the other records. All these files can now be found on the Downloads page.

These torture tests are not GEDCOM coverage tests, but quite the opposite; each file concentrates on just one aspect, and uses as few tags as possible. Each file explores another possible limitation.

All files are encoded in ANSEL, but actually do not use anything but ASCII.

Married1200.ged Much Married Man

One man married to 1200 wives.
This GEDCOM test file was originally created for Genealogical Record: Most Married. It was later reused in the RootsMagic 4 review.

Children1200.ged Many Children

One woman with 1200 children.
This GEDCOM test file inspired by Genealogical Record: Most Children.

Long26CC.ged Long Names 26 - ConCatenated Lines

26 Individuals with increasingly longer names.
This test file inspired by Genealogical Record: Longest Name.
The Long26CC.ged file uses ConCatenated lines, as it should.

The last name in this file is 261 characters long. That is less than the reportedly longest name, but it is a few characters more than 255, a likely upper limit for dated applications designs using 8-bit character sets.

Long26LL.ged Long Names 26 - Long Lines

26 Individuals with increasingly longer names.
Long26LL.ged is a bonus file. It contains the same data as Long26CC.ged, but uses Long Lines, which is not valid GEDCOM.


2010-01-10 Children1200.ged

Louis Kessler reported a mistake in Children1200.ged. It has been fixed in version 1.1.1.

2010-01-22 Some GEDCOM Torture Test Results

Some GEDCOM Torture Test Results provides tests results for various well-known and several lesser-known genealogy applications.
A few small issues were fixed during these tests. All the GEDCOM files were updated and carry version number 1.2 now.

2010-12-23 Family Tree Maker 2011 GEDCOM Torture Test Results

An addition to Some GEDCOM Torture Test Results.

2012-04-13 Sibling Torture Test

Sibling Torture Test introduces the new Sibling Torture Test.

2013-03-14: Common GEDCOM Identifier Naming Convention

The torture test files have been updated to comply with the with Best Practices documented in Common GEDCOM Identifier Naming Convention; the identifier for the mandatory submitter record was changed from SUBM1 to U. The files carry version number 1.4 now.

2013-09-06: header fix

Fixed GEDCOM header issue; WWW record is correct level now. New version number is 1.5.