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Evidentia and GenSmarts – Match Made in…Cyberland?

Evidentia is a research tool. GenSmarts identifies gaps in your research.
Does it make sense to use them together? Time to do an experiment.

What is GenSmarts?

gensmarts logoAccording to the website gensmarts.com,

“GenSmarts is a utility that uses artificial intelligence to analyze your existing genealogy file and produce research recommendations.”

“It works with over a dozen popular genealogy programs, including Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, and Legacy.”

Of course, Evidentia is not on the list – at only 5 years old, it is still too new. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use Evidentia with GenSmarts. Like many programs, GenSmarts will accept a GEDCOM file as input.

Evidentia and the GEDCOM

Evidentia has a mixed history with the GEDCOM.  It was specifically designed to be “GEDCOM free”, which is to say, I would not allow the design of Evidentia to be limited by what could or could not be supported in the GEDCOM. The GEDCOM is an old file transfer standard that has not kept up with the latest in genealogy research standards. You can read more about Evidentia and the GEDCOM in a very early blog post I did, Citations and the GEDCOM

Eventually, I did give in and allow exporting of subjects with proofs.  This made it possible for users to share their data with all their favorite genealogy software.  Evidentia only exports of one subject at a time, and only the data for facts or events that have proofs.  It includes all evidence supporting those proofs with proper citations.

Exporting from Evidentia

Knowing that Evidentia only exports citations for facts and events that are “proven”, I was concerned with what GenSmarts would show.

gedcom export screenI exported the data for my 4th GGF Daniel Thompson.  I knew I had at least one proof completed for him (birth), but I also had evidence for several additional claim types.

From the Report Manager ->GEDCOM tab, I selected Daniel and I left the defaults for Analysis and Conclusion destinations.

Because of a limitation in the Mac version, I added “.ged” to the end of the file name, then saved it to my Desktop. (The PC version automatically adds the “.ged” suffix.)

gensmarts import screen

The GenSmart Experiment

Because GenSmarts runs on a Windows PC only, I switched opened a virtual copy of Windows in Parallels for Mac.
From the main GenSmarts screen, I selected File->Open.  The popup gave me several options, and I selected Gedcom Files.

After I selected the GEDCOM file I had just saved, GenSmarts took only seconds to perform its analysis.  GenSmarts provided 8 suggestions in my ToDo list.
gensmart analysis results

The comments in the bottom pane acknowledged that I had some birth records, and suggested I search for more. It also suggested several census records I should research.

The problem is,  the information for those records is already entered into Evidentia. GenSmarts has no way of knowing that because I did not export the citations for those records, since they were not used in any of the proofs I have written for Daniel.

I have seen GenSmarts provide many more suggestions than what came up for my test case.  This may be because of the time period Daniel lived? It may also be due to the limited number of facts with dates and place names that Evidentia provided.  It made a valiant attempt to guess at place names to suggest based on what data it had.


It seems that there is limited value in using GenSmarts with Evidentia right now.  This is not a limitation of GenSmarts, but of Evidentia, since Evidentia does not make all the data it has available in the GEDCOM export.

Normally I am a firm (stubborn?) believer in only sharing data that has solid evidence.  The intent of Evidentia is to improve the quality of your research, not add to the abundance of unproven facts and events available online.

However, the potential value to researchers of using Evidentia and GenSmarts together may be the first compelling argument for including ALL available data to the GEDCOM.

Is it time to loosen up? What do you think?

Please leave your comments below.

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  1. Perhaps you could provide two levels to choose between for Gedcoms, one for export of only proven records as you currently provide and a second level to use with GenSmarts providing both proven and unproven records.

  2. It has value if everyone uses all source citations that they have available entered into Evidentia and if not the suggestions that GenSmarts gives may be overkill. Most that understand and use the GPS may not have that problem as they will most likely use and enter all available sources to satisfy the “Reasonably exhaustive research”. So in that line of thinking I think it will be great for the GPS folks in possibly getting through some of their brick walls (with GenSmarts suggestions) and it will be great for those not using all the sources they could to get more solid conclusions. I value that more of my sources end up in Evidentia than in my Rootsmagic database. I agree with Kathryn above. Two levels of Gedcom export may be something to look at.

  3. I like Kathryn’s idea. A flag to choose all for exporting to gensmarts and proven only for your genealogy software.

    Also, why don’t we work on updating the gedcom standard. In my networking class we mimicked a standards committee and process and I know it is painful but we should push to update the standard too.
    Thanks Lisa

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