Summary of XML/Genealogy Projects
From: Hans Fugal Subject: GDMXML et. al. Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 12:57:50 -0700
Hi Bob, good to hear from you.
* Bob Velke [Thu, 15 Aug 2002 at 07:56 -0400] > I wonder if I can trouble you for a very brief summary of your views > regarding your gdmxml project and its relationship to parallel or related > projects: particularly Jerry Fitzpatrick's (GeniML), Christopher Owe's > (GenXML), Michael Kay's (GedML), the LDS' (GEDCOM 6.0 XML), the TEI > guidelines, Stanley Mitchell's (UML), George Farkas' (GenealogyXML) and any > others that you know about?
I don't know how brief I can keep it but I'll try. :) I'll describe what each project is as I understand it and how it relates to my project, then give a summary at the end.
1) GedML This is the oldest XML model that I am aware of. It is very literally a mapping of GEDCOM 5.5 to XML. It doesn't have the advantages of other data models (such as GDM) and retains all of the advantages/disadvantages of GEDCOM. I think it is a valuable tool for that reason and I have used his java tools  to parse GEDCOM files. The SAX model is especially nice.
2) GEDCOM 6.0 XML There are some problems IMHO with the last draft. I don't have specifics but perhaps I should draft up my concerns and send my response to them and cc you and the list. That is for another message though.
3) GeniML GeniML is the closest to a true paralell of this project. It is based on the GDM and GEDCOM models but does not follow them strictly. I haven't had the chance to fully assimilate it but I know from my participation on the GenealogyXML list that Jerry thinks through these thing very carefully and I think it is probably the most mature XML model we have at this point. gdmxml is specifically an implementation of the GDM, I do not try to second-guess the lexicon group. I think there is value in both approaches: second-guessing the lexicon group and staying true to their work. Naturally, mine is the easier task. For the added value and also because I have commited to do this project I continue to work on it.
4) GenXML I was not aware of this model until recently, and I haven't had a chance to fully assimilate it either. Christopher has been participating recently on the GenealogyXML list also.
5) XGenML This is the project that you referred to as GenealogyXML above. Members of the GenealogyXML email list (hosted by Yahoo! Groups) have been discussing a genealogical XML standards body. We all seem to agree that there is a need for a standard and for cooperation. We have all lamented the fact that so many individual projects are 'popping up like daisies,' but it does show that the ground is fertile and it is encouraging that nearly all of the authors of the different projects are participating on the GenealogyXML list. The organization of the standards body is in its infancy to be sure, but if we can get the support of organizations and individuals something may come of it.
gdmxml is unique in that it is a model of the GDM itself. As I mentioned above I think there is value in this even if the GDM is not perfect, because it has been thought about by the Lexicon Group for quite some time and is likely to be closer to target than any of us developer's attempts at making a model. With the exception of GEDCOM XML (and XGenML which aims to be an organization rather than a project) all of the above mentioned projects are headed up by one developer who has interest in genealogy but is not exactly a professional genealogist.
I believe we need a standard data model first, and a standard implementation second. The GDM may become that standard, in which case my work will be very valuable. If it is not the future standard it will remain an important influence on that standard and my work will help in the implementation of that standard either directly or indirectly. That is my hope at least.
Which project(s) have the most promise? GeniML is the farthest along and seems to have the most support. But it is far from universally accepted, and it is definitely in a refining or refactoring process. XGenML is a new effort but it has the most promise if it gains the support of important people and organizations.
We have come a long way recently - it is currently possible to do real work on genealogical data with XML thanks to GedML, GenXML, and GeniML. And of course others have done work with home-grown solutions that is very impressive.
There are people on this list who are as qualified or more than I to comment - please do!
"Everybody is talking about the weather but nobody does anything about it." -- Mark Twain
gdmxml mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org http://fugal.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/gdmxml
Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See: "Genealogical Data and XML."