Everybody’s wondering how things are going to pan out between the GEDCOM X project and FHISO. Well, I thought I’d take a stab at describing where things sit today.

Before I do, I have to start with the necessary disclaimer. The views expressed here are my own, and do not represent the official position of FamilySearch nor any of its associated entities. And I hope that it goes without saying that I’m not speaking for FHISO either. I’m just giving my own personal perspective, and this post is as new to FHISO as it is to you. I’m just writing because I don’t believe there is any reason not to be open about our current status.

I’d also like to say that I think the FHISO organizers deserve a lot of admiration. Anybody who gives that amount of time and resources to a such a noble cause deserves our respect. I’m excited about what FHISO is trying to do and I respect the work they’ve done already. I also think that my colleagues here at FamilySearch generally feel the same way and we’re each individually supportive of their vision and goals.

Part of the reason this issue hasn’t been addressed before is because there wasn’t a lot to say. Both FamilySearch and FHISO were still figuring out their relationship with each other, and progress was quite slow. I think it’s fair to say that most of the slowness was because FamilySearch took forever to figure out what they wanted their position with FHISO to be, but it didn’t help either that the interactions with FHISO tended to be awkward and uncomfortable and confusing.

FamilySearch as an organization is not going to to officially endorse or sponsor FHISO right now, but they have agreed to allow me to spend some of my time on FHISO work. We’re still waiting to hear back from FHISO on if/when/how they want to take that offer. Of course, this isn’t the final state of things between FamilySearch and FHISO–I’m optimistic that the relationship will improve and strengthen as we move forward and FHISO makes progress towards its vision and goals. But from my perspective, that’s where things stand today.

What does that mean for the GEDCOM X project? We’re going to continue to design and develop and iterate on GEDCOM X with as much openness and dedication to the community as we can. We’re going to continue to create tools and libraries and projects that use GEDCOM X to further the noble work of genealogical research. Maybe someday in the future, another standard will be developed that we can all get behind, and FamilySearch will evaluate how and when to adopt and apply it according to their own business needs and objectives.

Understandably, FHISO doesn’t feel like the GEDCOM X requirements should constrain their work. I don’t think so either. To be honest, I have no idea how FHISO wants to proceed. Maybe they just want to start from scratch and define entirely new models and media types. Maybe they want to take parts and pieces from other models and media types (including GEDCOM X) to create their own. Personally, I think FamilySearch might someday be open to applying a new governance model to the GEDCOM X project, but they’d need to be convinced that the governing body is up to the task. If FHISO is interested in becoming such a governing body, they’ve got a ways to go to prove themselves. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, won’t we?

Anyway, one thing is for certain: there is a lot of work to be done here. We can’t afford to waste time and money and resources vying for position or leverage. There are plenty of holes to fill, and we need to figure out how to best work together to get the work done. I know there’s a win/win scenario here. We’ve got to get there.