I recently had some old files in Microsoft Word and found to my dismay that the newest versions of Word do not recognize or open the files. I was able to solve the problem using OpenOffice but it is instances like this that are likely at the core of the issue about upgrading or abandoning the GEDCOM standard for a newer one. This is not entirely a programming problem. Any newer standard could include support for the older formats, but it is perception problem among all of the existing PAF users. I would guess that only a very small percentage of them have even yet considered migrating to a newer program.
OK, to be fair, PAF is still a viable program, but unfortunately, most of the people using the program do not realize its limitations. As a result, we still have tens of thousands of the program's users who are failing to properly attribute sources to their information and are otherwise not documenting their research in a way that can be ported successfully to other programs. It is not that PAF cannot add sources, it is that the source citation programming is itself very limited. I do not want to get into a critique of PAF, but my main objection is its limitations on sourcing. PAF and current version of GEDCOM are sort of like an old car, it was new and modern at the time, but in comparison with the latest models is now really old and clunky.
I freely admit, that using a newer genealogy program does not automatically make you provide sources, but at least, in most cases, the opportunity is there.
Today, DearMYRTLE wrote a post called "Build a BetterGEDCOM." She indicates that she and others are working on wiki for the purpose of discussing the possibility of building a better GEDCOM. She has several other issues with GEDCOM. To quote DearMYRTLE,
FamilySearch requires certification for software programs such as RootsMagic to integrate with the "newFamilySearch" mega-lineage database now being advanced beta-tested by LDS Church members. (Believe me, from what I've heard, programmers spent months modifying and remodifying their individual genealogy software programs to comply with FamilySearch requirements. Other genealogy software programmers have opted out of the FamilySearch compatability altogether.)In her comments she also refers to comments by Gordon Clarke of FamilySearch at the Bloggers Day Event on 21 October 2010, in which he commented that GEDCOM could be replaced by software APIs used to upload files to New.FamilySearch.org. Mr. Clarke's comment was probably very accurate, if GEDCOM's only present use is thought to be to upload files to New FamilySearch, the logic of not doing any further development makes some sense. But considering GEDCOM to be sort-of a New FamilySearch utility, leaves the rest of the genealogy community in the lurch. For years GEDCOM compatibility has been the touchstone of the genealogy software world. It was (and possibly still is) the de facto standard for file exchange between lineage linked database programs. As DearMYRTLE observes that "there seems [to be] no reliable data communications exchange among genealogy software programs that takes into account data fields, multi-media files and hyperlinks not considered in the last GEDCOM update. 1996 was light-years ago from a technology standpoint."
There seems no reliable data communications exchange among genealogy software programs that takes into account data fields, multi-media files and hyperlinks not considered in the last GEDCOM update. 1996 was light-years ago from a technology standpoint.
Now, that brings us back to the issue of PAF. If FamilySearch has no intention of updating either PAF or GEDCOM and if there is no practical way presently to exchange data between programs with losing some data in the process, then why are we hanging on so stubbornly to PAF and the old GEDCOM standard? Obviously from the perspective of FamilySearch, the development of a "new industry standard" developed outside of the realm of New FamilySearch may adversely impact all of the large databases, most of which now accept GEDCOM files for uploading information. At the time PAF and GEDCOM were developed, none of the huge online databases existed. However large FamilySearch is or becomes, it is no longer in the commanding position it once held whereby it could almost unilaterally create a file exchange standard. As DearMYRTLE indicated, there are a significant number of genealogy programs that basically ignore the GEDCOM standard and do very well, thank you.
Only time will tell if FamilySearch (now known as New FamilySearch) will become so large and so influential as to once again persuade the genealogical community to adhere to an arbitrary standard. It probably more likely that the genealogical software community will develop their own standard or standards rather than be dominated by one large entrant. Recognizing this inevitable change, why not move on from PAF sooner than later? Especially now while there are still a lot of programs accepting PAF data directly?