To keep the storage of data easy to the eye it is of very great importance that you use the proper coding system to display your data. Although throughout the years many different coding systems were used we still advice you to stick to the most common one in order to prevent errors. Coding also helps you because it's universal so it allows you to exchange data easier without translation.
At first glance the coding system may look very complicated. It is however very logical. Basically the numbers become larger the longer the family tree becomes. All generations are being numbered with the Roman system. The oldest generation is being numbered as I. The second as II the seventh as VII etc. If at some time you find another older ancestor then the initial one, then the coding needs to be adjusted.
The following example will show you how it works:
I- The oldest known generation
1. (Current, this may change after more research) Forefather
II- Second generation
1.1 First child of #1
1.2 Second child of #1
1.3 Third child of #1
III Third generation
1.1.1 First child of 1.1
1.1.2 Second child of 1.1
1.2.1 First child of 1.2
1.2.2 Second child of 1.2
1.2.3 Third child of 1.2
IV- Fourth generation
220.127.116.11. First child of 1.1.1
18.104.22.168 Second child of 1.1.1
22.214.171.124. First child of 1.1.2
126.96.36.199. First child of 1.2.2
188.8.131.52. First child of 1.2.3
V- Fifth generation
184.108.40.206.1. First child of 220.127.116.11
VI- Sixth generation
18.104.22.168.1.3 Third child of 22.214.171.124.1
VII- Seventh generation
126.96.36.199.1.3.2. Second child of 188.8.131.52.1.3
Of this child it is clear that he is a descendant of the second child of the oldest known forefather.
Although the current system is complicated when it comes to discovering a new forefather older then the current one, it is also possible to reverse the system. This means that the number 1 would be you. If you choose to use the system in this way clearly state it prior to the list to prevent confusion. The choice is completely your own, we do not advice people to prefer one system above the other one. We do however advice people to use a coding system. This can be numeric but also alphabetical.
It is virtually impossible to do genealogical research and to not to have heard of Gedcom. So what is Gedcom?
Basically there are many pieces of software that you can use for storing your genealogical data. They all use the same principle of "databases". But you cannot use the database stored from one software with another. It needs conversion in order to be used with other software.
To solve this problem people have developed a universal conversion. Every respecting programmer will comply with the rules and structure of Gedcom. This doesn't mean that all the different software on the market for genealogy suddenly work with the same database system. What it does mean is that the better software allow you to export your database created in that piece of software to a Gedcom format so that someone else using another program will be enabled to view your research without purchasing the same software you have.
You can recognise Gedcom files by their extensions–> filename.ged
Although the usage of a universal database structure is wonderful, and Gedcom provides this usage you should be aware of the following. Gedcom is an improvement but its far from perfect. The reason for this is that not all programmes on the market properly import/export Gedcom files. This is mainly contributed to the different versions of existing software, so always make backups and think twice before exporting data.
Also take into account that Gedcom doesn't store nor export graphical images. So you will need to re-add your images after the conversion. There can be other anomalies with the transfer of genealogical data to and from Gedcom files.
Did we mention to make backups always! This really means to make backups!