Merge – Auto Merge – GUID

Globally Unique Identifiers – Merge

The Merge function is accessed either by clicking the yellow Merge traffic sign on the Tool Bar or by selecting Tools -> Merge -> Individuals… from the Menu bar. Either of these actions will present the Merge Individuals screen. At the bottom of the Merge Individuals screen is a button labeled Auto Merge…. Pressing this button brings up the Auto Merge Type selection screen. To merge on GUID, click the radio button labeled Auto merge on Global Unique ID, then click OK.

GUID (Globally Unique ID) is an 18 character (144 bit) field.  It is built when an individual record is created by Ancestral Quest, or by any reputable genealogical database software. By exporting an individual, the GEDCOM can then be viewed in Ancestral Quest. There it is shown as 36 characters. This is deceptive. It is really 36 Nibbles, 4 bit hexadecimal values. It is therefore only 18 characters. Representing them as Nibbles avoids the problem of unprintable characters, some of which could do strange things in the software handling them.

The likelihood that you will, at any time during your lifetime, create any two records with the same GUID, are astronomically low. The probability that any two people, anywhere in the world, will create two records with the same GUID are almost as low. It is safe to say that you will never possess two records with identical GUIDs, unless one of them was created as the result of a GEDCOM from the first record.

For this reason, this value received its name, Globally Unique ID.

If you export all or part of your file as a GEDCOM, and later those records come back to you as a GEDCOM, you can identify matching records by the GUID.

To test the use of this type of merge, I created a record for “John” using five different programs: Ancestral Quest, Family Tree Maker 2009, Legacy, PAF and Roots Magic.

1st Ancestral Quest GEDCOM

GEDECOM of John from Ancestral Quest

The GEDCOM from Ancestral Quest shows that the GUID was created.

1st Family Tree Maker GEDCOM

GEDECOM of John from Family Tree Maker

The GEDCOM from Family Tree Maker 2009 shows that this software product does not create a GUID. I dropped Family Tree Maker 2009 from any further consideration.

1st Legacy GEDCOM

GEDECOM of John from Legacy

Legacy creates the GUID, and as expected, it is different from the one created in Ancestral Quest.

1st PAF GEDCOM

GEDECOM of John from PAF

PAF created a GUID, and it is different from the ones in Ancestral Quest and Legacy.

1st Roots Magic GEDCOM

GEDECOM of John from Roots Magic

-Roots Magic also created a GUID, and it is different from the ones in Ancestral Quest, Legacy and PAF.

It is also noteworthy that the record of John in the Roots Magic file contained the same information that was in the Ancestral Quest record, the Legacy record and the PAF record. Into each record I entered the name John as the given name, the name of the program as the surname, and Male as the gender. The images of the GEDCOMs for Ancestral Quest, Legacy and PAF show the entire record. The GEDCOM for Roots Magic had 729 lines! Fortunately, it appears that all that extra stuff at the bottom is a trailer which goes after the entire GEDCOM, not after each person in the GEDCOM.

I imported the GEDCOMs from Legacy, PAF and Roots Magic into the Ancestral Quest file.

Next, I imported the GEDCOMs from Ancestral Quest, PAF and Roots Magic into the Legacy file.

Next I imported the GEDCOMs from Ancestral Quest, Legacy and Roots Magic into the PAF file.

Finally, I imported the GEDCOMs from Ancestral Quest, Legacy and PAF into the Roots Magic file.

At this point, each file had its own version of John as RIN 1.  The other programs’ versions of John were there as RINs 2, 3 and 4, listed alphabetically by surname, which is the name of their respective creating programs.

In each product, I next did a manual merge.  I used RIN 1 as the primary record for each pairing of the respective John records.  The images which follow are the result of that merge.

Ancestral Quest retained the GUID values from each of the matching records from other vendors. It also gave me the option to select which surname I wanted, and what to do with the other surname. I opted to place the other surname in notes.

Legacy dropped the other GUID values, and lost the surnames from the other records.

PAF dropped the other GUID values, and lost the surnames from the other records.

Roots Magic dropped the other GUID values, and lost the surnames from the other records.

Consider this scenario:

1.  You export records from your file, and give them to an associate.

2.  This associate imports this GEDCOM file into his file, which is stored on one of the other genealogical software products.

3.  He merges those records into his file, dropping the GUID information which you gave to him, then he makes changes to some of the records.

4.  He exports those records, and gives the GEDCOM file to you.

5.  You import the file, and do an auto-merge on GUID.

6.  You find no matches because his merge function stripped out all of the GUID information from the records you gave to him.

I ran the auto-merge function using GUID in the Ancestral Quest program. It merged the records from PAF and Legacy, however, it did not merge the record from Roots Magic. Repeated attempts also failed.  The image below shows the file after several attempts to get auto-merge to merge the Roots Magic record.

I will try to find out what is happening here, and modify this posting when I get more information.

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