I've come to the following conclusions as they apply to Source Citations in genealogy software and transferring them via GEDCOM to another user or via upload to an online family tree:
1) Each software vendor uses a proprietary set of master Source Templates to represent the Evidence! Explained models and adds the information into a GEDCOM file differently.
* Family Tree Maker 2011 uses standard tags for TITLe, AUTHor, PUBLisher, and REPOsitory for Free-form and Template Sources in the GEDCOM file, but adds extraneous words and punctuation to the fields.
* Legacy Family Tree 7 uses the standard tags for TITle, AUTHor, PUBLisher and REPOsitory for Free-form and Template Sources in the GEDCOM file.
* RootsMagic 4 does not use the AUTHor and PUBLisher tags, but adds that information to the TITle field for Free-form sources and Template Sources in the GEDCOM file. It also creates a unique set of tags for sources created from a number of Source Templates based on Evidence! Explained models in the GEDCOM file.
* Other software programs may have different Source Templates and GEDCOM tags - I've only worked with these three programs.
2) All three programs convey the PAGE (citation details) and REPOsitory tag information correctly and consistently.
3) Each program can transfer the Source Citation information in the native program format to another user of the same program. In other words, an FTM 2011 user can read the file obtained from another FTM 2011 user without loss of source content.
What is important in all of this is that source citation information, whether created by a Free-form or Source Template, be preserved when transferred to another user, including to or from an online family tree. Many researchers work long and hard to cite their sources and to use recommended source citation models, such as in Evidence! Explained. Here are three recommendations:
1) The surest way to have a Source Citation "survive" the GEDCOM experience for transfer to another program, or to an online family tree website, is to create the master Source Citations putting all of the information into one field - for instance, as RootsMagic 4 puts all the author, title and publication information in the TITLe field. However, this does not cover the Subsequent Footnote and Bibliography entries created by the different Source Templates.
2) My second recommendation is simple and should work: GEDCOM fields for FOOTnote, SUBSequent Footnote and BIBLiography could be created by the software programs (from Free-form or Template models) and the appropriate information put in those fields for transfer of the complete Master Source Citation. This would preserve the proprietary software models, but would require agreement between software vendors and online family tree websites in order to make it work.
3) The use of italics (or other formatting) in the Source citations should be included in any improvements made to the GEDCOM standard.
There is a Build a BetterGEDCOM group that seeks to participate in establishing a standard for the transmission, sharing and updating of genealogical information.
At the RootsTech Conference last week in Salt Lake City, FamilySearch said that the present standard is being evaluated and that FamilySearch would be moving ahead to update the standard (thank you, James Tanner of the Genealogy's Star blog).
Jordan Jones wrote RootsTech 2011: Towards a New Genealogical Data Model on the GenealogyMedia.com blog that discusses the open discussion session chaired by The Ancestry Insider. He mentioned the FamilySearch statement, and wrote:
"This is an exciting development in the intersection of genealogy and technology. If FamilySearch decides to share their work, and if a governance body can be identified or set up, and finally if that governance body has the trust of the genealogical community, including:
- the major desktop and mobile application developers
- the major web databases
- the NGS
- NEHGS (New England Historic Genealogical Society)
- FGS (the Federation of Genealogical Societies)
- BCG (the Board for Certification of Genealogists)
- APG (the Association of Professional Genealogists)
Thank you, Jordan, for an excellent report and reasoned suggestions.
I offer my Source Citation studies and my recommendations above in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, and I hope that they are considered in any creation of an improved genealogical data standard.