GEDCOM (ɡɛdkɒm) is the standard for genealogical data. GEDCOM is a file format for exchanging genealogical data between different systems. GEDCOM allows you to export your genealogy data from one application, and then import it into another. GEDCOM is a de facto standard, supported by practically every genealogy application.
As a user, you should make sure the genealogy software you use supports GEDCOM, so you can transfer your data from one application to another.
The GEDCOM specification is the technical documentation for the file format. The GEDCOM Specification tells developers the details of the file format, how to read and write GEDCOM files.
This website is the official home of the GEDCOM specification. It offers a FAQ, a GEDCOM version overview, of course the GEDCOM specification itself. This is complemented with some GEDCOM samples and links to third-party GEDCOM validators.Here is a further quote about the meaning of GEDCOM from the website.
What is GEDCOM?
GEDCOM is a file format for genealogical data. GEDCOM is supported by practically every genealogy application. This allows you to export data from one genealogy application and import it into another.
Why is it called GEDCOM?
GEDCOM is originally an acronym for genealogical Data communication. That name is a misnomer, as GEDCOM neither is nor contains any communication protocol. GEDCOM is just a file format.
The name is kept because it is firmly established.Even if you are familiar with the GEDCOM file structure at least in using it to store or transmit genealogical data from one program or website to another, you may not be familiar with the file structure itself. Here is an example of part of a GEDCOM file.
0 HEAD 1 GEDC 2 VERS 5.5.5 2 FORM LINEAGE-LINKED 3 VERS 5.5.5 1 CHAR UTF-8 1 SOUR GS 2 NAME GEDCOM Specification 2 VERS 5.5.5 2 CORP gedcom.org 3 ADDR 4 CITY LEIDEN 3 WWW www.gedcom.org 1 DATE 2 Oct 2019 2 TIME 0:00:00 1 FILE 555Sample.ged 1 LANG English 1 SUBM @U1@ 0 @U1@ SUBM 1 NAME Reldon Poulson 1 ADDR 2 ADR1 1900 43rd Street West 2 CITY Billings 2 STAE Montana 2 POST 68051 2 CTRY United States of America 1 PHON +1 (406) 555-1232 0 @I1@ INDI 1 NAME Robert Eugene /Williams/ 2 SURN Williams 2 GIVN Robert Eugene 1 SEX M 1 BIRT 2 DATE 2 Oct 1822 2 PLAC Weston, Madison, Connecticut, United States of America 2 SOUR @S1@ 3 PAGE Sec. 2, p. 45 1 DEAT 2 DATE 14 Apr 1905 2 PLAC Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut, United States of America 1 BURI 2 PLAC Spring Hill Cemetery, Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut, United States of America 1 FAMS @F1@ 1 FAMS @F2@ 1 RESI 2 DATE from 1900 to 1905 0 @I2@ INDI 1 NAME Mary Ann /Wilson/ 2 SURN Wilson 2 GIVN Mary Ann 1 SEX F 1 BIRT 2 DATE BEF 1828 2 PLAC Connecticut, United States of America 1 FAMS @F1@ 0 @I3@ INDI 1 NAME Joe /Williams/ 2 SURN Williams 2 GIVN Joe 1 SEX M 1 BIRT
Of course, the file goes on and on. A GEDCOM file can be viewed, edited, and corrected using a word processing program or text editor.
Here is a link to a description of each of the versions of GEDCOM:
Here is another important statement from that same page.
GEDXML, GEDCOM XML, GEDCOM X
FamilySearch created and published several other specifications. The names of these specifications suggest that these may be newer versions of GEDCOM, but they are not. GEDXML, GEDCOM XML and GEDCOM X are not versions of GEDCOM, but GEDCOM alternatives.It is entirely up to the developers of the various genealogical database or family tree programs or websites to make their products more or less compatible with the GEDCOM standard. Some programs provide a way to download your data from their program in the GEDCOM format. Other developers do not adhere to the standard.
It is quite surprising that there is a new version of the GEDCOM standard after so many years.