What short comings if any does Gramps XML free format have; that has stopped other major genealogy programs adopted it as a transfer format?

Why don't more programs accept it for import seeing it is idempotent?

I am aware of GEDCOM (this is about Gramps XML).

Note:(In reference to a comment by @DaleAthanasias ) The portable gramps package is not specifically what I had in mind, but I admit it would be handier than just sending a GEDCOM and separate media.

2 Answers 2


Major genealogy programs tend to be commercial programs. They each choose to use their own proprietary format for their own database that matches their internal data structure.

Their external interface (i.e. input from and output to) other programs is simply to allow data transfer. The GEDCOM standard has been around for a long time, and as imperfect as it is, it has been adopted by 99% of all programs, including Gramps.

Gramps XML is their own format they developed to transfer data between Gramps users in a nearly lossless way. It does this because it mimics the internal data structure of Gramps.

Other programs would not adopt this format for three reasons:

  1. The format mimics Gramps data structure, but would be quite different from other programs data structures and require mapping to and from it by the other program. As a result of this mapping required, it loses its idempotency.

  2. Gramps XML is not an industry standard. Gramps XML is used by Gramps and a few Gramps utilities and PhpGedView can write but not read it (see Programs that support Gramps XML). No third-party genealogy editor provides full support for Gramps XML. Chicken and egg. If other programs used it, more would join.

  3. The mapping would not be an easy thing to implement. To do so, it would need to be worthwhile to do. For a commercial program, it is unlikely that they'll get many users of a free open-source program to convert to their paid program, so the cost/benefit is not there.

  • you may want to split number "2" as while not listed on the gramps site as far as I can see the following en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GRAMPS#Programs_that_support_Gramps_XML shows a number of programs(?) that support Gramps XML. Even with the chicken and egg would it not make more sense for developers to support a better import format also even in limited format it may be better than or equal to GEDCOM. Even to the point of dropping GEDCOM and say hey if you want GEDCOM just open Gramps and export one. By the way BEHOLD is a great little program, very interesting. Dec 2, 2012 at 4:26
  • @DaleAthanasias - Those four programs listed are Gramps utility programs written by the programming community that is supporting Gramps. The two that appear to be related to PhpGedView and The Master Genealogist only export to Gramps XML, meaning a Gramps programmer wrote that to get his data into Gramps. So you see, no other software developer actually supports Gramps XML.
    – lkessler
    Dec 2, 2012 at 5:21
  • @DaleAthanasias - If Gramps XML were the only "improved" version of GEDCOM out there, then I might agree with you that it could make sense for developers to go with the one thing that's better. But Gramps XML is only one of dozens of different GEDCOM alternatives that have been proposed, with some in use but by no more than a minimal number of programs.
    – lkessler
    Dec 2, 2012 at 6:11
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    Gramps XML is in my mind different from all other implementation other than GEDCOM in that it is in actual use. I believed that as a XML based format it would be easier to manipulate with XML based tools or XSL transformations ( gramps-project.org/wiki/index.php?title=Lxml_Gramplet ). The "Portable Gramps XML Package" extension .gpkg that is .tar.gz archive including Gramps XML together with all referenced media maybe what Sam888 may actually be referring to for transfer between people (I'm guessing) as I believe there is no GEDCOM package equivilent that is in.. Dec 3, 2012 at 4:41
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    @DaleAthanasias The portable gramps package is not specifically what I had in mind, but I admit it would be handier than just sending a GEDCOM and separate media.
    – Sam
    Dec 3, 2012 at 22:55

I agree that the Gramps format is a step in the right direction. However, as stated by others, it hasn't been widely adopted outside the Gramps community.

I think the reason more software programs don't adopt it is because

  1. it doesn't have a large enough user community and
  2. Gramps does a good job at GEDCOM export so there isn't a hue & cry by the Gramps community to any given commercial program to allow it's import.

Hopefully the Gramps crowd will participate in the Family History Information Standards Organisation (FHISO) and this will all come together. See is-there-a-replacement-for-gedcom-in-the-works

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