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For computer users of the PAF and other genealogical programs, there is much confusion on using GEDCOM files in transferring data. The following is a reprint from the Italian Genealogical Group Newsletter of June 1996.

Having problems with switching to your new computer program?

The Computer section of the March/April 1996 issue of the NGS Digest has a lengthy but illuminating article on GEDCOM. For those of you using computer programs for your genealogy, GEDCOM, which is a means of data transfer from one program to another, is extremely important. Many genealogists like to change genealogy computer programs and must transfer their information to the new program from the old. Unfortunately, they lose a lot of information. George Archer's article gives some insight on the problems involved. New genealogical programs support different versions of GEDCOM (4.0 and 5.2). As computer programs have become more complex, GEDCOM s shortcomings have gotten worse. A newly released version of GEDCOM (5.5) promises not to solve anything. Data transferred between the various versions of GEDCOM becomes mangled and lost. This is especially so when someone sends you their data from their program. You have no way to know what was lost or changed from the original. Archer states his opinion that "PAF's role as the GEDCOM standard bearer probably is already over." PAF has never come out with a Windows version and is reported to have shelved the project. They have virtually abandoned their market leadership to other Windows compatible genealogy programs. If the credibility of PAF is lessened, GEDCOM becomes superfluous. Archer states "The market leaders of Windows-based programs will probably determine the data transfer standards. LDS has been and needs to continue to be in the business' of genealogical software and compete in this marketplace if for no other reason than to help maintain an open standard for data exchange." He concludes that "LDS should reconsider its decision to abandon PAF for Windows, so they can stay in the developer's circle as a major player and give others the benefit of many years of experience." All of the above is an explanation of why important data is lost or changed when you switch computer programs for genealogy or import data from someone else into your program.

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