Gramps and GEDCOM
The native data exchange format for Gramps is Gramps XML, a structured XML text format which supports ALL the Genealogical data that can be stored in the working relational database file. XML is a more expansive format than the sluggishly evolving GEDCOM.
Although Gramps is able to import basic genealogical data from GEDCOM through its GEDCOM Import module, much data commonly handled in modern Genealogical software can not be described while staying within the confines of the GEDCOM standard. So, GEDCOM Export from a Gramps Family Tree or Gramps XML is necessarily a lossy operation.
Gramps state of the GEDCOM art
Since 1999, GEDCOM v5.5.1 has become the de facto standard for schema crosswalking basic family history data between programs.
In May 2021, a GEDCOM 7.0 version was announced. But as of September 2022, adoption is very limited with only 2 software tools reporting partial support. (See for updated register of support for GEDCOM 7)
So, the 5.5.1 version remains the most widely compatible data exchange format for genealogical data.
This page attempts to list information that is lost on a GEDCOM export from Gramps, so that users may choose to restrain their Gramps use to those features that GEDCOM can handle. Gramps recognizes the relevance of GEDCOM and attempts to offer the broadest compatibility possible.
The Gramps version used as a reference for this page is
Gramps Trunk, which at the time was Gramps 3.3.(Released:2011-06-12)
The evolution of the GEDCOM standard stalled on 10 January 1996. There was a 1999 draft for a GEDCOM 5.5.1 version, which became the de facto standard but wasn't officially endorsed until November 2019. (The GEDCOM 7 specification was officially published in June 2021.)
Gramps uses several features of GEDCOM 5.5.1 as noted below.
The following assumes the 5.5.1 standard for the GEDCOM export utility. However, there is also a set of common extensions that have been bundled together as another dialect writable by Gramps. See Addon:GEDCOM Extensions for more information.
Lost information on a GEDCOM export from Gramps
- Preformatted flag on notes
- Markup in notes. Most other genealogy programs have markup in notes, but GEDCOM has no support.
- Roles on events
- One gender on same sex relation: GEDCOM does not support same sex relation.
- Children status: GEDCOM only uses child-family relationships, ex: adoption as event not a relation.
- County County fields in Locations
- Parish Church Parish fields in Locations
- Media Attributes: no equivalent in GEDCOM.
- Source Attributes (previously Data): no equivalent in GEDCOM.
- Source and Date on places: no equivalent in GEDCOM.
- Event Attributes different from age, father age, mother age, cause, agency. These other attributes have no equivalent in GEDCOM. AGNC and CAUS are exported from Agency and Cause attributes (respectively) of an event. AGE, HUSB:AGE and WIFE:AGE are exported from Age, Father's Age and Mother's Age (respectively) of an event reference. Hence these items of data should be stored in the appropriate place for export.
- Media Description: set by user, no equivalent in GEDCOM.
- Reference region of a media reference.
- Tags: an organizational tool for data analysis. This is not real genealogical data.
- Shared Events: will generate the same event for each record. On import Gramps tries to merge equal events.
- Events order: like for children, GEDCOM ignores events order.
- Shared Places in events: GEDCOM does not know the concept of sharing places, so places are duplicated in the GEDCOM. On import, Gramps will automatically merge places with the same title and street, so this should be of no influence.
- Call Name: no equivalent in GEDCOM.
- Family Nickname: no equivalent in GEDCOM. Use an alternate name.
- Date on Name
- Group names: Used by Gramps for sorting.
- Sort As on names: Used by Gramps for sorting.
- Alternate Locations: This full data on alternate locations is not exported as GEDCOM has no support for this.
- Private objects
- Persian, Islamic, Swedish calendars
- Dual date and non 31/12 new year
- Independent event, source, citation, media, repository, note: GEDCOM needs INDIvidual or FAMily as top level.
- Some Gramps' Types (Note, Repository, Repository reference, etc ...)
- No GEDCOM data structure exists for the place hierarchy introduced in Gramps version 4.1.
Information written in other form on GEDCOM export
- Compound surnames: all name grouping info is present using comma-separated lists. Using the Extract Information from Names tool, such a GEDCOM can be converted again in grouped names.
Information available in GEDCOM 5.5.1 form
- Coordinates: Latitude and Longitude use MAP.LONG and MAP.LATI fields of GEDCOM 5.5.1
- Custom attributes on Person, Family: FACT tag is used of GEDCOM 5.5.1
Information in GEDCOM 5.5 not in Gramps (lost on import)
Gramps GEDCOM Import
Details of GEDCOM import for Gramps are already provided in the Gramps manual's Importing Data section and will not be repeated here.
Details for earlier versions of Gramps 4.1
- Multimedia object in source citation
- EVENT_TYPE_CITED_FROM and ROLE_IN_EVENT in source citation
- The 2018 revision of a blog article by Keith Riggle is a frank evaluation of GEDCOM dialect issues between Gramps & Family Tree Maker
- GEDCOM dialects when importing from another program
- GEPS 037: Support GEDCOM X - a proposal to support the GEDCOM X file format
- GEDCOM 7 support
- Lossless GEDCOM Export
- Discourse forum article: "Funny codes in notes on published GEDCOM" (Some exported Note types not recognized for Tribal Pages website generation.)
- Jones, Tamura. "A Gentle Introduction to GEDCOM" Modern Software Experience, 24 Aug 2010, https://www.tamurajones.net/AGentleIntroductionToGEDCOM.xhtml.