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All the latest news and information from Chronoplex Software.

2018

Text encoding woes

Several vendors still have poorly designed GEDCOM writers which use multiple encodings in the same file, mishandle line endings, and split lines within character boundaries.

This causes a major headache for users who cannot understand why their other genealogy applications struggle to import some GEDCOM files correctly. Let's take a closer look at these issues, how they arise, and how they should be fixed.

Issue 1: Multiple encodings within the same file

Some web based genealogy services have poorly designed GEDCOM writers which create files using a mix of ISO 8859-1 / Windows 1252 / UTF-8 character encodings.
This becomes problem when presented with text such as: © Jörg Schmidt
When the encoding is mixed, a GEDCOM reader might interpret the bytes representing this text as © Jörg Schmidt or © JÃ`rg Schmidt.
Unfortunately, neither is the correct representation. When a file has a few thousand cases of this issue, it becomes a very real challenge to fix. As a matter of urgency vendors should review their GEDCOM writers to ensure that they export only valid UTF-8 files.

Issue 2: Mishandled line endings

Line breaks within GEDCOM lines are not permitted. Continuation tags must be used instead. However there are a number of applications which do not check user input for line terminator characters and when exporting GEDCOM files, this results in a file like:
1 NOTE Here is the first line.␍␊
Here is the second line with more text.␍␊

The text should have been represented as:
1 NOTE Here is the first line.␍␊
2 CONT Here is the second line with more text.␍␊

Issue 3: Splitting lines within characters

UTF-8 files might contain multibyte characters. Some GEDCOM writers crudely split lines after a given number of bytes, rather than characters, resulting in some bytes of a character appearing before the line terminator and the remaining ones at the start of the next GEDCOM line value.
We recently dealt with a GEDCOM file containing an emoji smiley face character 😊. This is represented by 4 bytes in UTF-8: [F0][9F][98][81]. In this file, the 😊 character had been split mid-sequence with a line terminator, GEDCOM level, and GEDCOM tag. In terms of bytes this was [F0][13][10][32][20][43][4F][4E][54][20][9F][98][81].
Most GEDCOM readers will interpret this as �␍␊2␠CONT␠��� instead of 😊␍␊2␠CONT␠.

Summary

Users suffer as a result of poorly designed GEDCOM writers. These particular issues almost always lead to data corruption and data loss. Yet they can all be very easily fixed by vendors.
End users stuck with GEDCOM files suffering these issues can use the encoding repair tool in GEDCOM Validator to repair any affected files. If the file is suffering with issue 1, select the "UTF-8 + Windows 1252/ISO-8859-1" custom encoding option. Issues 2 and 3 are detected and corrected automatically.

Published 21 Oct 2018 15:00 GMT

GEDCOM Validator 7.0 now available

Today we are excited to announce the release of GEDCOM Validator 7.0 available now from the latest updates page.

This is a major release contains several new features and improvements in the following areas:

  • New and improved validation engine
  • Improved encoding repair
  • User interface improvements
  • Windows 10 April Update and .NET 4.7.2
New and improved validation engine

Over the last 12 months, we have been working to improve the validator engine.  Over 150 validation checks are now made (compared with 42 in the previous version).  We have added a new default validation mode aptly named "best practice".  In best practice mode, the validation engine takes account of a number of inconsistencies and errors in the GEDCOM specifications and does not report issues where a file follows best practice but does not follow the specification as written.  Best practice mode also reports extra recommendations and warnings to ensure that GEDCOM files are as interoperable as possible.  This will help developers and users focus on real compatibility issues.  Whilst not recommended, users who want to validate against the specifications as written, complete with mistakes and inconsistencies, can do so by using "standards only" mode.  Finally, processing speed has been significantly increased despite the increased level of validation.

Improved encoding repair

We added extra diagnostic information to help deal with encoding issues with older GEDCOM files.

User interface improvements

Issues can now be filtered according to severity and code using new column filters.  We also added extra right click options to hide specific issue codes as well as the ability to copy the selected error message.

New UI options
Windows 10 April Update and .NET 4.7.2

GEDCOM Validator 7.0 brings full support for the Windows 10 April Update and .NET 4.7.2. GEDCOM Validator makes full use of recent improvements to Windows 10 such as text selection brushes which render text more clearly in high contrast themes.

Upgrading from earlier versions

GEDCOM Validator 7.0 is a highly compatible upgrade from earlier versions of the application and is supported on Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista (SP1 or later), and Windows XP (SP3 only).
Users of the Windows Store version of GEDCOM Validator will automatically receive the update.  For all other users the new version is available now.

Published 27 May 2018 15:00 GMT

My Family Tree 8.0 now available

Today we are excited to announce the release of My Family Tree 8.0 available now from the latest updates page.

This release contains several new features and improvements in the following areas:

  • Calendars
  • Translations
  • Performance improvements
  • Windows 10 April Update and .NET 4.7.2
Calendars

Over a dozen new calendars have been added to the application, bringing support for lunisolar calendars and variants of the Gregorian calendar used in many East Asian countries.  Support for the Icelandic calendar has been improved and the Swedish form of the Julian calendar has been added.  Age calculation has also been updated to support East Asian age reckoning in the relevant calendars.  Date formatting has been improved to better support localised era name descriptions.

Translations

My Family Tree has partial translations The Language Iconfor 20 non-English user interface languages, all of which have been contributed by users of the software.  This release introduces updated translations for French, Turkish, and Polish.  Many translations only require a small amount of time and effort for a fluent language speaker to make them complete.  If you can help, please read our translation guide and download the translation toolkit to contribute.

Performance improvements

The last few releases have seen significant improvements in areas such as loading and importing files.  We have also fixed several minor bugs reported by users.

Windows 10 April Update and .NET 4.7.2

My Family Tree 8.0 brings full support for the Windows 10 April Update and .NET 4.7.2. My Family Tree makes full use of recent improvements to Windows 10 which means that it can load files up to 3 times faster, and use improved text selection brushes which render text more clearly in high contrast themes.

Upgrading from earlier versions

My Family Tree 8.0 is a highly compatible upgrade from earlier versions of the application and is supported on Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista (SP1 or later), and Windows XP (SP3 only).
Users of the Windows Store version of My Family Tree will automatically receive the update.  For all other users the new version is available now.

Published 12 May 2018 15:00 GMT

Reminders about data privacy

Here are some of the questions we sometimes get asked about data privacy.

Where is your family tree data stored?

Our applications are Windows desktop applications.  Data entered or imported into them is stored on your device.  It is not shared with anyone else and we cannot access it.  We provide tools for you to encrypt your family tree data if you intend to transfer it via flash drive or the cloud.  People sometimes talk about "uploading their information" to our applications or website.  To be clear; you don't "upload" information when you use our applications - it is stored only on your device.  Not convinced?  Use your firewall or a web debugging proxy, to record the traffic between our application and the internet.  You will find that, by default, not a single byte of information is transferred - exactly how it should be for desktop genealogy application.

Why does the application ask permission to use the internet?

PermissionsYou should always ask yourself why an application is making use of the internet and consider exactly what data is being transferred is and how it is being used.  Of course there are times when an application might reasonably request to connect to the internet (e.g. to check for updates, report crashes, or connect with third party services).  Applications should always ask permission to do this and make it clear when information will be transferred to a third party before any data is exchanged.  We do this in our Privacy Policy and the EULA for each of our applications.  We also disable such features by default and ask your permission to enable each feature before you use it (you can change this choice at any time in the application options).

Why do our applications have permission to use all system resources when listed in the Microsoft Store?

Microsoft Store permissionsOur applications are Windows desktop applications.  Any desktop application, whether installed from the Microsoft Store or not, has permission to use all system resources.  This is why every application in the Microsoft Store has a Privacy Policy: only data specified in the privacy policy can be collected and any data that is collected can only be used in the ways specified in the privacy policy.  This is why you should always read the privacy policy before installing an application.

Published 07 May 2018 17:00 GMT