[TSC-public] Progress on ELF / user defined tags

Richard Smith rsmith at fhiso.org
Sat Oct 28 11:15:45 CDT 2017

On 28/10/17 07:32, Albert Emmerich wrote:
> In Gedcom-L we had four groups of "wild" tags:
> 1. tags without underscore as first character, not defined in GEDCOM
> standard, by that violating the standard. At import we recommend to
> replace these tags with other tags. We recommend not to export these
> tags.

Are you aware of any applications that fail to import GEDCOM files 
containing such tags?  We're currently planning to add several new tags 
without underscores to ELF, and so far as we're aware current 
applications will just ignore such tags, or perhaps preserve wrapped in 
a NOTE field.  If that assumption is wrong, we may need to rethink this.

> 2. tags with underscore as first character, user defined, because
> this tag is not defined in GEDCOM standard, however is needed. Some
> of these tags we recommended to use, and they are used very often (as
> _RUFNAME, _GODP, _WITN, _GOV, _LOC, _UID): de facto standard. These
> tags should be shown as standard elements in ELF.

Would you be willing to produce a list of tags that you think belong in 
this category?  Or do you think it's just these six?  It would also be 
helpful to know to what extent these have multiple independent and
mutually compatible implementations.  We haven't definitely decided 
that's a criterion for inclusion in ELF, but I think knowing that would 

I have some concerns about standardising _UID, due to the way it has 
been used somewhat incompatibly by various providers, e.g. as documented 
by Tamura Jones, here:


I'm not saying that means we can't include it in ELF, but we will need 
to take care how we do it.

> 3. tags with underscore as first character, defined in GEDCOM
> standard without underscore, however not allowed under another tag
> where we needed it. Example _POST: We use
> 	2 PLAC <name of place>
> 	3 _POST <postal code>
> If GEDCOM standard would allow we had (and I think that to be the
>better version for ELF):
> 	2 PLAC <name of place>
> 	3 POST <postal code>
> with POST as defined in GEDCOM standard. Other example is _ASSO /
> ASSO in FAM records / under event tags.

I agree.  If any of these uses are to be included in ELF, I'd rather it 
was with the natural spelling (i.e. without an underscore).

> 4. tags with underscore, user defined, however the same content can
> be  described with structures and tags of GEDCOM standard. We recommend not
> to use these tags. Example: _MARN or _MARNM for the name after marriage.
> The multiple name structure in GEDCOM standard allows to show this name
> without any user defined tag.

Have any of these have been widely used?  I can't immediately think of 
any that have.

> As user defined tags may be defined in any way according to GEDCOM
> standard, and by this may be program specific, we recommend to explain
> the user defined tags in the HEAD record. This recommendation is found in
>   http://wiki-en.genealogy.net/GEDCOM/_UserDef-Tag#N5_Description_of_User-defined_Tags
> I think ELF will replace this definition by a more general one...

Interestingly, we were discussing this only two days ago.  Our current 
feeling is that there should be something like this, and that it may 
well use SCHEMA tag form GEDCOM 5.3 but it will certainly go beyond the 
facilities that facilities of the GEDCOM 5.3 SCHEMA tag.

We haven't really discussed how much we care about about compatibility 
with the GEDCOM 5.3 SCHEMA tag syntax.  How many applications actually 
read it?

Richard Smith,                       FHISO   <http://fhiso.org/>
FHISO Technical Co-Coordinator       One Community, One Standard

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