Friday, July 20, 2012

Follow-Up Friday - Whither FHISO and GEDCOM X?

On Fridays, I try to capture the most useful, interesting and challenging comments from the previous week.  

This week, I'm going to concentrate on my post on Wednesday, 18 July, titled Whither FHISO and GEDCOM X? Observations and Commentary

1)  Louis Kessler said:

"I'm surprised you think all the activity you talked about that happened since RootsTech (only 5 months ago) has quietened down.

"I guarantee that if you go to BetterGEDCOM or go to GEDCOMX and post a comment, you will get a number of responses quite quickly. GEDCOM X's coming out with its conversion tool only 6 weeks ago was very significant, and they are assessing and incorporating all the feedback as we speak.

"As far as FHISO goes, there is an excellent dedicated international group of people involved in that, and there are rumblings that they are working diligently behind the scenes to get the major players on board with them. They can use support from respected genealogical community members such as yourself. If you'd like to get involved, I'm sure they'll accept you with open arms."


"And Randy, in your post, you've given an incorrect link to my "Whither GEDCOM X?" posting. It should be:"

My response:  I appreciate your viewpoint as someone working in the FHISO trenches.  To me, it seemed like the discussion went dormant, at least in "public."  I don't check the BetterGEDCOM or GEDCOM X forums on a regular basis, and I should.  I was part of the BetterGEDCOM group for several months, and expressed my views then, and dropped off because the discussion went over my head.

I was away for two days, but now have fixed the URL to your blog post.  My apologies!

@0  Pat Richley-Erickson commented, and provided links to her posts on this topic:

"Ol' Myrt here couldn't agree more with your simple request for genealogy file transfer upgrades and adherence by all genealogy technology com. See my response to your post, too lengthy for this space in FHISO or GEDCOM X, Oh My!"

My response:  Pat has several more posts on this:

Please read the comments on these posts also.

3)  Alex commented:

"I am an end user who monitors BetterGEDCOM via RSS. I usually cannot make comment as the details is way too technical for me. When I do post, most go without answer or comment, I assume because they have been asked before, they have no interest to others or are below their knowledge."


"I have asked the majority product contacts similar questions over the past 6 months. Most have said they would support any new standard, but none indicated they would support FHISO and few were involved in GEDCOM-X."

My response:  I will look into using RSS for BetterGEDCOM - I didn't know that was possible.  Thanks for asking the product contacts - it may be that the contacts don't want to reveal what they are doing for competitive reasons.

4)  GeneJ wrote about some of the interactions between FHISO and FamilySearch:

"The need to organize FHISO was expressed from within FamilySearch by Gordon Clarke. He followed up by creating a BetterGEDCOM wiki page, "Developing the Organization." (Link follows.) An international group of volunteers worked on the project and delivered the governance framework for an international community standards organization at RootsTech 2012. Those involved in the project believed FHISO would be the platform by which FamilySearch's GEDCOM X made history, becoming the first standard developed by the community, for the community, serving genealogists, worldwide.

It was not to be. 

In the months since RootsTech, the FHISO organizers have worked to devise opportunities for and communicate with FamilySearch, but they have opted to continue developing GEDCOM X in a proprietary fashion. If widely adopted, it will become what is known as a de facto standard. 

In its own right, FamilySearch makes decisions that are in its best interest. While we may continue to hope for better outcomes, accepting and respecting the decisions of others is a golden rule in community standards development. 

What does this mean for Randy and others?  In a community standards organization, everyone's needs are considered, and the democratic process rules. This is not required when the work is proprietary. In the case of GEDCOM X, FamilySearch decides which needs are met and which are not. 

What does this mean for FHISO?  We can assume that GEDCOM X satisfies the requirements of its author, FamilySearch. So, ironically enough, the organization from which the need for FHISO was expressed is unlikely to have need for, nor reason to support, FHISO. 

No one likes complications, but without the support of FamilySearch, things for FHISO become complicated by rules and guidelines. For example, because FamilySearch engages in developing proprietary standards, it is possible FHISO will not be able to establish itself as a community standards organization. 

The organizers have opened a dialog about the complications with American National Standards Institute (, and we are communicating with vendors as part of this process. 

We thank you, Randy, for your blog article. It will help FHISO widen the public comment about developing community standards and the organization. 

One community, one standard. We are stronger and better together. Let's sort out the issues and start making things happen.

Here's how your readers can find more information or get involved. 

(1) Comments are always welcome on the FHISO blog or on the FHISO Open Discussion page at the BetterGEDCOM wiki.

(2) FHISO representatives attend the open BetterGEDCOM meeting held Monday mornings (1:00 EDT/US). A part of each meeting is set aside for questions, answers and discussion about FHISO.

(3) Join the organizing effort. We are now a nine member international group; usually on five different continents, though today we are on six. Most of our work is done asynchronously (e-mail or common workspace). We hold a GoToMeeting session weekly (Wednesday at 1:30 EDT/US); attendance is encouraged, but optional. Those interested should email

(4) Speak out and let us know about it. If you blog or develop a posting about FHISO, send a notice to us at

If you are interested in learning more about standards and conformity assessment, check out"

My response:  Thank you, GeneJ, for providing your perspective, and for the work FHISO has been performing.  The money quote, for me, is about the contact with the ANSI organization and communicating with genealogy vendors.

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Tony Proctor said...
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