Why is an image reference included in a GEDCOM download when the images cannot be downloaded as part of the GEDCOM file?

+3 votes
Having references to images that cannot be downloaded as part of the GEDCOM file can cause problems with genealogy software databases. In my experience they show up as "missing media."

How difficult would it be to not include references to any images in a GEDCOM download?
in WikiTree Tech by Anna Robinson G2G6 (7.0k points)
retagged by Jamie Nelson

2 Answers

+3 votes
Because the images themselves are not part of the gedcom file. The reference in the gedcom file is like a hyperlink-- it tells you where the file is--usually on someone's personal hard drive. But the referenced file/image is not itself contained within the gedcom.

by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (822k points)
For the sake of completeness:


"Support for embedding media directly was dropped in the draft 5.5.1 standard" The file gets too big (enormous...)
I use FamilyTreeMaker for my personal genealogy files. I just looked and when a GEDCOM is created for export, there is an option to either include or exclude media files in the GEDCOM. It might be good for WikiTree to instruct people who are uploading GEDCOMs to select that option, if possible. It might be possible for WikiTree to set up its upload process to exclude or reject GEDCOMs which contain media files, but I'm not sure it would even be possible for media files to be "filtered out" of a GEDCOM upload. Right now, whatever is in the GEDCOM, is uploaded to WikiTree--that's why there's so much in a GEDCOM-created profile which has to be "cleaned-up." Ultimately, it really is up to the person who chooses to create profiles in this way to do their own cleaning and manually remove references to media files, but so many people who choose this method of profile-creation never bother to do the cleaning and it is left to other WikiTreers to do.

"included in the GEDCOM" is something of a misnomer. GEDCOMs are text only files. If FTM is "including" media files, I've got to assume they're attaching the files to the exported GEDCOM.  I still don't think WikiTree could make use of that. I might be wrong about that, though.

I don't believe WikiTree can do anything with the media files either. That's why I suggested that when the GEDCOM is created for import into WikiTree, whatever software is used, the option to exclude media files be selected if that is possible. Then there will be no reference to "missing" media files when the file is uploaded which is what Anna wants to make go away. I think, rather than WikiTree scrubbing the GEDCOM on import, (which is probably impossible) the file, when created should not include media files.

I took a screen shot to show you how the media files can be included/excluded from a GEDCOM created in FTM.

+2 votes

I may not have been clear enough in my question.

How difficult would it be for WikiTree not to include references to any profile images in a GEDCOM download?

by Anna Robinson G2G6 (7.0k points)
That would mean a loss of information. You would never know there is an image available.

When I export from Gramps, I get a lot of information Wikitree cannot deal with. But I still would like to have it, as other software might be able to use it.

I have never tried, but does it transform the image links to the public URLs? Then it is rather simple to have the receiving software download the images. imho.
Not in Legacy 9 or FamilyTreeMaker 2011; I don't know about the newest FTM. It just lists it as Image:xyz-123.jpg (or whatever format). It would be better in some ways if it did give the URL.
We can look into adjusting how image data is exported the next time we work on GEDCOM exports.

I recently downloaded a GEDCOM from WikiTree and was looking at it in a text editor. If it did not do so before, the WikiTree GEDCOM exporter does put in a URL for profile image(s) which, though named different than the actual page, apparently redirects to it.

The only thing is, when I import the file into my database, the name of the image gets chopped from https://www.WikiTree.com/wiki/Image:xyz-123.ext to Image:xyz-123.ext. So, even if I had the image on my computer, the database's media re-linking tool is looking for Image:xyz-123.ext instead of the xyz-123.ext that it would be saved as (and apparently isn't smart enough to realize they are the same thing.smiley)

Also, since part of the URL gets chopped off, I can't see in the media list that there is a URL to go to (unless the URL is also in the individual's notes section.) There is nothing that WikiTree can do about that though, that's a database import issue.

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