[TSC-announce] Draft of a new ELF Dates standard
rsmith at fhiso.org
Sun Dec 30 11:47:10 CST 2018
FHISO's Technical Standing Committee is pleased to announce the first
public draft of a new standard dealing principally with dates.
Extended Legacy Format (ELF): Date, Age and Time Microformats
This draft defines microformats for representing dates, ages and times
in arbitrary calendars together with how they are applied to the
Gregorian, Julian, French Republican and Hebrew calendars in a
GEDCOM-compatible manner It is available as a HTML web page or as a PDF
We welcome comments these, preferably to the <tsc-public at fhiso.org>
In the nine months since we released our last batch of public drafts, we
have continued to work on FHISO's Extended Legacy Format, or ELF for
short. This is a document model and file format which we hope will be
fully compatible with current uses of GEDCOM 5.5.1, but which will be
much more readily extensible. For better or worse, GEDCOM is currently
the most widely support genealogical data exchange format and we believe
it is necessary for any new facilities we define, such as those in our
draft standards on Citation Elements, to be usable in ELF as well as
other formats including GEDCOM X. This does mean we have decided
against defining our our serialisation format as well.
It is not our intention to make significant changes to the data model in
ELF 1.0, except to reflect best current practice and to add
extensibility facilities. Significant extensions to the data model will
be delivered in a series of component standards such as Citation
Elements. This will allow us to deliver data model improvements in a
modular fashion, and will allow vendors to build in support incrementally.
Earlier this year, in order to establish a common theoretical
underpinning and terminology for our various standards, we created the
Basic Concepts draft standard, and ELF builds on this foundation. We
understand the material in Basic Concepts is largely of an arcane and
technical nature, but we feel a solid formal basis is essential to the
smooth interoperability of our various standards. One reason for having
a separate Basic Concepts is so we can keep our other standards
relatively free of such material.
Back in October 2017, we said ELF would be a pair standards, with ELF
Serialisation defining the low-level serialisation format and ELF Data
Model defining a lineage-linked genealogical data model on top of it.
Progress on these is going well, and we now believe we have identified
and resolved all the major technical challenges. This autumn we decided
we would create two further documents as part of the ELF 1.0 suite. One
will be an ELF Primer, which will not be a formal standard but will
provide a less technically oriented overview to the facilities in ELF.
The second new document is ELF Dates, the document we are releasing as a
first public draft today. We split this out of the ELF Date Model
document partly because of its length, and partly to make it easier to
release a future ELF Dates 2.0 standard independently of the data model.
In producing this draft of ELF Dates, we've tried to write it in a much
clearer, tighter style than GEDCOM 5.5.1, not only making it explicit
what is and is not allowed, but also explaining the semantics implied by
the syntax. The GEDCOM 5.5.1 standard frequently fails to specify
details of GEDCOM. In such cases, we have attempted to research the
behaviour of current applications, and where we've found consensus,
we've standardised that.
The document contains numerous notes drawing attention to any deviations
from GEDCOM 5.5.1, giving the rationale behind the text and otherwise
explaining it. There are also many examples which we hope clarify the
intent of the text, especially when applied to non-Anglophonic or
non-Western cultures. Finally, there are a number of editorial notes
recording outstanding issues which need to be resolved and removed in
the final version of the standard. Some of these record material which
was removed from ELF Dates as too large a change from GEDCOM 5.5.1 to be
within the remit of ELF 1.0, but which we plan to return to in the
future. The resulting document is 52 pages long: much, much longer than
GEDCOM 5.5.1's treatment of dates, ages and times which takes up no more
than six pages.
Comments, discussion or other feedback is welcome on any aspect of this
document, but particularly on the issues discussed in the orange
editorial note boxes. We'd also be interested in feedback on the
general approach we're taking with ELF. Do you agree with it?
A complete list of FHISO's current public drafts can be found here, and
feedback is always welcome on any of these:
Small editorial changes to any draft standard are also welcome. I know
my error rate when typing is quite high, so I'm sure lots of typos have
slipped through, and there probably passages that not as clear as they
could be. Do draw our attention to these if you spot them.
Merry Christmas from all at FHISO, and we wish you an enjoyable New Year.
Richard Smith, FHISO <http://fhiso.org/>
FHISO Technical Co-Coordinator One Community, One Standard
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