I use Family Historian 4.13 as a data entry platform. Some of the special tags Ancestors Now supports have no value associated with them. When I try to add one of these special tags without a value, Family Historian deletes the record on save. I think this is a bug.
The specification explicitly states in Chapter 1, in the first paragraph under Concepts:
“A line always contains a hierarchical level number, a tag, and an optional value. ”
Furthermore, the GEDCOM 5.5. standard grammar syntax defines a GEDCOM line as:
level + delim + [xref_id + delim +] tag + [delim + line_value +] terminator
level + delim + optional_xref_id + tag + delim + optional_line_value + terminator
Which clearly indicates that the line value is optional.
I consulted the Family Historian users forum, but the responses I received were that they thought a line value was required and that genealogy applications are allowed or supposed to prune tags without line values. Their reasoning comes from the following text found in the specification.
“The presence of a
DATE tag and/or
PLACe tag makes the assertion of when and/or where the event took place, and therefore that the event did happen. The absence of both of these tags require a Y(es) value on the parent TAG line to assert that the event happened. Using this convention protects GEDCOM processors which may remove (prune) lines that have no value and no subordinate lines. It also allows a note or source to be attached to the event context without implying that the event occurred.”
However, the comment is specific to events. It does make sense that a line value or subrecord such as
NOTE should exist for events, otherwise having
1 BIRT in a file does not provide any additional information, and is probably okay to simply delete it.
However in the case of user tags, FH cannot know if this is an Event, Flag, etc., so it is decidedly not safe to simply delete it. Valuable information can be lost. It is also not cool that no warning was given that the data was tossed out.
Family Historian also tosses out user defined level 0 tags, which is also clearly allowed by the specification. This is unfortunate because, there are plenty of uses for user defined records.
All that said, Family Historian is still the best GEDCOM editor I’ve found and I will continue to use it until a better one comes along, or I getting around to writing my own.