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A relative has sent me five GEDCOM files of different family branches. They are partly redundant, their content is formatted differently and place names are inconsistent. While most programs offer merging functionality, including Gramps and MacFamilyTree which I tried here, this functionality is often limited and requires a lot of manual work (choosing entries to merge). I also found GenMerge, this tool seems sophisticated but only runs on Windows computers (I am on a Mac).

What alternatives are there for merging complete family trees? Is there an online service for this task? What is the tool of your choice and why?

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    I would advise against using any merge facility that doesn't require (at the very least) manual confirmation that two entries are a match. Personally, I never merge trees constructed by others into my 'primary' tree; I prefer to review each 'fact' and its sources first and only enter the data into my tree when I am convinced. – user104 Mar 23 '14 at 18:01
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    @ColeValleyGirl This is certainly right, but at this point I don’t want to merge anything in my very own tree. I just want to build one tree out of these files. Every addition to my primary tree is hand-picked as well. – lejonet Mar 23 '14 at 18:36
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    I feel like @ColeValleyGirl and wouldn't trust any automatic merge, unless I can see what it is saying is a "significant" match. If I understand you correctly, I could class the merging 2 ways. Merging inconsistent placenames etc. (e.g "USA" v "U.S.A.") and merging people. The 1st seems mechanical (Even then, there are dangers, e.g. "British North America" is not a synonym for "North America"). I wouldn't want to merge people as that loses context - I worry that I might want to ask "Which file did that John Doe come from?" I think you need to ask what benefit you gain by merging the 5. – AdrianB38 Mar 23 '14 at 20:24
  • Merging does require a lot of manual work. The irony is that you might be in the best position to know what records to merge after you have already worked through the individual GEDCOM files. Finding a tool to compare the two files might be a more useful utility. There is a question 'which tools are available for GEDCOM comparison?' genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/3121/… but that too discusses Windows software, not Mac. :( – Jan Murphy Mar 24 '14 at 6:03
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    You can run a lot of PC programmes on a MAC by using Wine (free) or Crossover (paid) or if you can find a spare version of Windows then you can use Virtual Box (free) or Parallels (paid). I use Family Historian this way and it has an excellent Find Duplicate plugin which helps with the merge compare operation. Like the others, I agree that this needs to be a manual action as it is the only way to ensure that merging is done properly. – Colin Mar 24 '14 at 6:35
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Given that you promise only to merge these 5 GEDCOMs and not merge them into your own, I'll give you two suggestions, although I disclaim that I haven't tried either because I'm not a Mac user:

JPriseMerge is written in Java and will run on a Mac. It costs $40, but you can try it first.

GWintree has facilities to record, view, edit and merge genealogy data, and is available for Mac OS X. This program is free.

However, I still do not like your idea of merging these 5 databases. In doing so, you will be making possibly arbitrary corrections to other people's data. I prefer always keeping other people's data in original form, and making corrections only when I incorporate their findings into my own family file. When I do that, I document their original GEDCOM as the source, and I include my reasoning about any discrepancies.

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I'm one of the founders of Twile and we've just added a new GEDCOM merge feature that you might find helpful. It allows you to merge multiple GEDCOM files and also import them again and again as your research continues - you can then share your research easily with family and Twile turns the data into a visual timeline of your family history.

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If I were wanting to merge multiple GEDCOM files, I'd first import each into a separate database using a program that has merging capability. After examining each and adjusting where needed, I'd then start merging, but not using any automerge feature.

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I also use MacFamilyTree and Ancestry.com together (they both have different strengths) and I needed a way to compare and merge trees, better than existing solutions.

I have created and use a suite of tools (https://github.com/elliotchance/gedcom) for this. If your requirements are not too complicated you can use gedcomq to process and output a new GEDCOM files either by filtering or merging. Or dive into the full functionality of the library.

Disclaimer: I built this.

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