webtrees follows the GEDCOM standard 5.5.1, which was released as a draft in 1999. In November 2019 it was released as final version with updated email, dates, and copyright. There are many inconsistencies and errors in this standard, so that exchange of genealogical data is still a problem. Maybe you know that a group of German programmers published a GEDCOM Addendum to overcome some of these problems:
. I had a discussion with them because I found some minor errors in this Addendum (some examples given in the text are not conform to GEDCOM 5.5.1 or to the Addendum itself). They asked me to use an existing
GEDCOM test file
and add all the code samples from the Addendum to this file, in order to find possible errors in the Addendum by checking the file with several GEDCOM validator programs. The validator
was very helpful because it has an option “Addendum conformity”.
Then I used my GEDCOM test file to test several programs, one of them was webtrees (with
installed to support shared places and _LOC records): After importing and exporting the test file I compared the original file with the exported file using the Notepad++ DIFF function and checked the exported file with the validator (ShowMeGedcom). There are only five errors of two types found by the validator:
- BOM does not exist
- @ are not doubled.
About the last topic, there was already a discussion in this forum and I think it is ok to leave the “@” as it is.
Comparing the original file with the exported file using DIFF, I found that all GEDCOM records are exported by webtrees completely unchanged, except:
- @ are not duplicated after export ("@@" in the test file are imported as "@")
- TEXT.CONC in the import file becomes TEXT and NOTE.CONC becomes NOTE, with no characters being lost
- in the HEAD, webtrees lose information (_SCHEMA, SOUR, NOTE and PLAC.FORM are lost in the HEAD; maybe NOTE should be kept because the standard says that HEAD.NOTE allows the user to describe the content of the GEDCOM file).
All in all, these three points are not critical for the exchange of genealogical data.
Then I tested several other programs the same way with disastrous results. When checking the exported files from these programs using the validator they produce many, many errors. Some of these programs cannot handle sources or shared notes. They import a correct GEDCOM file, loose relevant information, and export wrong GEDCOM.
I knew already before these tests that webtrees is a very good program, but that it is, regarding the import and export of GEDCOM data, so much better than many other programs that was surprising for me!