Basic (uncluttered) view of GED data

2010-01-10
2013-05-30
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  • Robert Shaw

    Robert Shaw - 2010-01-10

    I was a bit disappointed that PhpGedView did not support a simple, uncluttered view of the basic data from a GEDCOM file.  It seemed more oriented to collaborative editing than to viewing, and had lots and lots of options.  (The indivdual page has a bunch of menu items across the top, with popup submenus, plus a sort of floating menu with submenus, plus tabs, plus a scattering of other controls.)  This is way too complicated for some of the people I want to be able to view my family data.

    So I've been working towards providing an alternative view with minimal complications.  I could just cobble it together for my own site, but I feel a lot of people might want this option so I should integrate it into the PhpGedView source.  I'm calling it "basic view".  At present it has just a single page type, which shows a single person with sidebars for their families.  The sidebars are used for navigation. It seems too entwined to be an independent module, so would need to go into the main files.

    I've set up a demo showing the basic functionality:
    http://www.genlit.org/vc/iview.php?pid=I1&ged=Demo.ged

    The  welcome page  has a couple of notes about it.

    What are your thoughts?  Do you have ideas just how it should integrate with the more complicated parts of PGV, like pedigree charts and reports?

     
  • Greg Roach

    Greg Roach - 2010-01-10

    To customise the individual page (or any other type of record), you simply need to re-implement the individual_controller class.  The hooks for this are already present.

    Sometime real soon now, John Finlay should submit some changes to SVN which combine/simplify the menu options.

     
  • macalter

    macalter - 2010-01-10

    Your view makes the assumption there's a "story" that goes with the individual. Otherwise, I'd see no value to another view of James' data.

    That said, viewing the PF&D page of James seems more "collapsed/condensed" than other themes. I use Minimal but the blocks for each event/fact are high adding to vertical scroll if a lot of info is available.

     
  • Stephen Arnold

    Stephen Arnold - 2010-01-11

    Robert  
    Nice job, although I'm personally not fond of the menus left and right. And I don't find PGV's menus any more confusing than Amazon.com's, which obviously has done well with menus, rollovers, submenus and autocomplete.  

    That said, the chief issue that Sharon brings to light is the general lack of a 'story' for each individual. In fact, of our 75,000+ indi's, we have but a handful with any distinctive story to tell, so we'd be faced with a big blank. I do like an option that, if a story exists, it could be presented in some similar fashion, but in our case - this is the exception rather than the rule - as would be the case with a US Presidents' site. 

    I do think you'll be pleased with the relocation of menus, elimination of the sub-menu and the ability to control the tabs that is forthcoming in the next release (yet to be decided if it is v4.4 or v5). There will be a new Family.php page, default silhouettes, tab management, menus and more.  
    -Stephen

     
  • macalter

    macalter - 2010-01-11

    Another view that caught my eye was the distinction between James' immediate family and that of him with his parents. In current PGV, when there are a lot of kids or multiple marriages of the parents, the side pane gets kind of long to scroll down before getting to the immediate family (spouses/kids). But, having them on both sides is questionable given that not everyone uses a large monitor or uses browser full size. (Mac browsers don't default to full screen like Windows does.)

     
  • knorway

    knorway - 2010-01-11

    To macalter's and Stephen's point the "story area" could be written like a Ahnentafel report to give a quick read of the basic information about a person like "John Doe was born in Denver, Colorado, USA on 3 Mar 1821.  He died in San Fansisco, California, USA on 4, Jul 1902.  John was married to ….    "    Some of this could be parameter driven, i.e.  the screen information displayed could be driven by the site admin who say "Print the following GEDCOM level 1 information/events".  BIRT, DEAT, FAMS information would be standard and RESI, OCCU, others would be optional.

    Just a thought to resolve macalter's (and Stephen's) very valid issue. 

    K

     
  • macalter

    macalter - 2010-01-11

    Never knew the name of that kind of report (Ahnentafel). I've set prefs in my offline app for this and find it very tricky to get tenses correct. That said, Where actual dates aren't known for BIRT/DEAT then "Yes" should appear so as to avoid blank screen. That could be acceptable.

    Wondering what tag would trigger the "story" if there were to be one for an INDI? I am, by coincidence, working on a branch that does have "stories" per person. Have tried DESC and 1 NOTE and decided, for now, on 1 NOTE. Would that mean this proposed view would not pick up the info?

     
  • knorway

    knorway - 2010-01-11

    GEDCOM is not directed toward the "story" idea.  I personally would stay away from NOTE (I've tried this approach in other software) but because NOTE is used by many for "offline comments" it could have issues.   IMHO it would be better to create another database structure with this type of information accessible to the Admin only that could have either a HTML markup text structure so it looks real nice or links to PDF type documentation.  This gets away from the primary use of PGV which is viewing and collaboration of GEDCOM data and also takes us down the road of a GEDCOM database access plugin that could be used to add GEDCOM data from PGV to a more formatted (display only) screen display that would include information from other databases some that would carry information not in the GED about individuals, families, cities, states, countries, farms …  The list goes on and on. 

    I love PGV for the work it does displaying GED info and the ability to bring researchers from all over the world to collaborate on family and regional genealogical work.  As the project matures more will probably be done (I hope) to expand and tell other stories, more than just the raw facts found in the GEDCOM standard.  (Just my opinion)

    K

     
  • macalter

    macalter - 2010-01-11

    IMHO it would be better
    to create another database structure with this type of information accessible
    to the Admin only that could have either a HTML markup text structure so it
    looks real nice or links to PDF type documentation.

    Not quite sure I understand. The information "story" is support to events/facts or replaces my not getting all the events/facts entered yet. (Not sure if it's necessary when the story clearly includes in 1838 person did this, in 1840 person did that.) That said, HTML is not a factor for me. I like quick-loading plain text. Iinline vs PDF means whether it's displayed w/o use of external application (reader). Firefox has plug-in, Safari does too. Camino does not handle PDFs, it downloads and opens in Preview (Mac).

    I agree PGV is great for Gedcom info display and collaboration. Guess alternative too would be external pages within my PGV site that contains the story portions. Almost like SOurces, you could refer to them if desired. But that would require the INDI record/FAM record have links to the page/s. And a visitor knowing about leaving the PGV site and how to return.

     
  • Anonymous - 2010-01-11

    That said, the chief issue that Sharon brings to light is the general lack of a 'story' for each individual. In fact, of our 75,000+ indi's, we have but a handful with any distinctive story to tell, so we'd be faced with a big blank. I do like an option that, if a story exists, it could be presented in some similar fashion, but in our case - this is the exception rather than the rule - as would be the case with a US Presidents' site.

    I agree with this comment. On my own site I've overcome that by adding a new tab for the purpose, accessible either from an Individual Page, of from a menu item (Resources -> Family Stories -> A List of Personal Stories). It only displays if a story exists, like the other tabs.

    http://www.our-families.info/individual.php?pid=I5510&ged=Osborne.ged&tab=9

    My attempt works OK for me, but is quite crude. If someone were to do a better job it should be possible to make this the default tab in GEDCOM config, so achieving something similar to rsshaw22's example.

     
  • macalter

    macalter - 2010-01-11

    I agree with this comment. On my own site I've overcome that by adding a new tab for the purpose, accessible either from an Individual Page, of from a menu item (Resources -> Family Stories -> A List of Personal Stories). It only displays if a story exists, like the other tabs.

    kiwi: This would be a great solution, IMHO. Similar to the Media tab, if nothing's there, it's greyed out. Although I do find contrast in Minimal such that it's hard to tell sometimes :) As a tab, the Admin can then configure whether this should be the preferred view for visitors (if there were enough stories). Also note the images you include are within the body which I'm not sure you did within PGV or not but would be preferred over having them at bottom.

     
  • knorway

    knorway - 2010-01-11

    Sorry about my less than complete thoughts on the the word "Story".  :-)

    When I looked at the website by "rshaw22" the center area was kind of like a biography or history of the person.  A biography is not supported as such in a GEDCOM.  A GEDCOM does give the person adding data (an author) the ability to add information like Residence and Occupation as well as a lot of other events by adding special events like "Ran for President" or "Staged a rally against the government".  Most of this data can (with limited sentence structure) be massaged to give a nice little Ahnentafel report which could be seen as a story.  However, the biography idea like rshaw22 showed may also have included things that are a little outside of pure events like the reason he staged the rally or their presidential platform and is probably better (though more time consuming) written by a person.  This is what I think of as a "story",  and while the NOTE structure does support this use I was worried that the NOTE structure would interfere with what others (including myself) use the NOTE structure for today which is, Notes about the information it is associated with, for example in the birth area I may have thing like "the birth date is in question because …" or "This individual is listed as a son in the census but may not be a family member but a cousin".  This could then get mixed into the "story information" written with good sentence structure.

    My HTML statement was probably a little enthusiastic.  What I probably should have said was "Markup Language"  for things like headings, bold, italic, maybe quoted things so a person who gave a presidential speech could have a short passage added. 

    When I envision a finished website that puts my family history on the web for all to see I would want more than the GEDCOM data, but also pictures, poems and art work (I have several artists in the family) speeches (several politicians too) and background of the businesses the owned.  I'd hope that the basic data could be pulled from the PGV GEDCOM (using an interface to PGV) so I would not have to replicate (with possible errors) birth, death … information and augment that with biography information associated with them on a single web page.

    What I was trying to say but did not get the right words on paper was that:  In and automated way the Ahnentafel report would replace a the biography when the bio did not exist.

    I know several replys have probably been written  since I started this reply (I got a phone call) so I may have more to say..

    K

     
  • knorway

    knorway - 2010-01-11

    KIWI,

    I looked at your page and this is what I'm talking about.  And would be great with a "preferred display" setting.

     
  • macalter

    macalter - 2010-01-11

    Seems, kfnordan, we are on same page :) kiwi's site is a good example. I too don't like using NOTES for the story about why the rally was staged (your example) and the blah, blah, blah about it.   Descriptives for Events, Places, etc in narrative format aren't really Notes and don't want to keep them there. It was that or Desc which would be harder to find later (to move). Or, maybe not :)

     
  • Anonymous - 2010-01-11

    Another view that caught my eye was the distinction between James' immediate family and that of him with his parents. In current PGV, when there are a lot of kids or multiple marriages of the parents, the side pane gets kind of long to scroll down before getting to the immediate family (spouses/kids). But, having them on both sides is questionable given that not everyone uses a large monitor or uses browser full size. (Mac browsers don't default to full screen like Windows does.)

    Mac, I think you're going to LOVE the next development coming in PGV. For a sneak preview go to www.pgvthemes.com. Click on DEMO >> Future PGV. Pick any individual, and look for a small "+" in a blue border on the very right-hand side of the screen.
    (But remember, this is in the early stage of development yet)

    Nigel

     
  • Robert Shaw

    Robert Shaw - 2010-01-11

    Lots of interesting comments so far.  At the moment, I don't have time to respond to them beyond a few notes:

    "Lack of stories" - Yes, if no narrative exists for a person, the middle of the display for him will be pretty scanty.  This is seen for most all the pages in the demo gedcom except James A.'s page; see Harry Garfield for example.  This reflects either lack of knowledge about a person or lack of a write-up. For the audience the Basic view is targeted to, a table of GEDCOM tags and values is not very adequate as a substitute, especially technical things like "Last Change" date.  These people eyes will glaze over.  Yet those items need to be available for some accessors, so turning them off for everyone is not really good either.

    Navigation/display sidebars:  having spouse/children on left and parents/sibs on right is meant to do a couple of things.  It separates the generations in a manner like the pedigree generations; this gets more important for clarity when there are multiple marriages.  Having two does help limit the length for large families, as you point out.   Check out the younger Abram Garfield (b.1872) for a multiple marriage.  The sidebars also serve as graphic display of the families to give a feel for the individual's place, including separating the parents from their children.

    Window size for two sidebars:  I haven't spent much time tuning the theme, but I don't think a small window is too much of a problem.  Try sizing down a browser to 800x600 (smallest I've tried), and the presentation still seems reasonable (no horizontal scrolling needed).  The flowing text of the middle might be considered a problem if embedded images were included, but even then might be ok.

    Kiwi, your site shows a good approach. If it was available in the downloaded PGV, I probably would have started with that.  I note you not only allow for "stories",  but you have also substantially reduced the clutter of all the menus, which is very important if casual readers were to use it.  For them, it could use some more simplification, such as always landing on the "simplest" tab available (e.g. Story tab, even if coming from a place that didn't have a story tab).

     
  • knorway

    knorway - 2010-01-11

    In another life I was a DB and Application designer and I always talk/write with a vision beyond today.  I had to learn how to design with the thought of "A little today and a little more tomorrow".  What I truly would like to see builds, over time, on what we have today, removing what may be cumbersome for a better interface and adding features that go beyond the basic premise of the GEDCOM which is the "communication of genealogical information in a standard way".  In general the "story" idea is not part of that premise, however it is part of many genealogist's concept of their hobby / profession.  The developer of the  Ahnentafel report (I think) tried to bridge that gap without upturning the apple cart!

    rshaw22 probably still wants an "uncluttered" view and hopefully in the future some changes to the application can make it easier for a non OOP PHP programmer to accomplish that feet.  He has a leg up on me because I'm 12 years removed from OOP and only got a few chapters past "Hello World" in PHP.  :-)

     
  • Mitar Miric

    Mitar Miric - 2010-01-11

    @kiwi

    I agree with this comment. On my own site I've overcome that by adding a new tab for the purpose, accessible either from an Individual Page, of from a menu item (Resources -> Family Stories -> A List of Personal Stories). It only displays if a story exists, like the other tabs.

    http://www.our-families.info/individual.php?pid=I5510&ged=Osborne.ged&tab=9

    My attempt works OK for me, but is quite crude. If someone were to do a better job it should be possible to make this the default tab in GEDCOM config, so achieving something similar to rsshaw22's example.

    Excellent solution. I'd like to see it as a standard feature.

    Mitar

     
  • macalter

    macalter - 2010-01-11

    Ah, the experimental new site (PGV THemes) is interesting. Think the little "+" is easily overlooked though. The Family Navigator close/open is interesting but would like default option (to keep open during heaving editing for example). I don't use Minimal Theme which has tab for Notes, unseen in this one.But "stories" and "Notes" probably could be combined to include this discussion?

    Notice use of generic icons for male/female. I was going to eventually do that pending overhead to Gedcom. Kind of like for no reason particular :)

     
  • Anonymous - 2010-01-12

    the little "+" is easily overlooked though.

    I did say this is early development.

    The Family Navigator close/open is interesting but would like default option (to keep open during heaving editing for example).

    The Family navigator will probably be removed once the 'slide-in version is complete. Don't need both.

    Notice use of generic icons for male/female.

    This is optional (GEDCOM config), and carries virtually no overhead on the data.

    I don't use Minimal Theme which has tab for Notes, unseen in this one.

    All themes include the Notes tab, not just Minimal. But like many tabs it doesn't appear if it is empty and you are not logged in (if it is empty and you ARE logged in it appears "dimmed" in all themes except Minimal.

     
  • macalter

    macalter - 2010-01-12

    I did say this is early development. (+ sign)

    Yes, hence my two cents :)

    This is optional (GEDCOM config), and carries virtually no overhead on
    the data. (icons male/female)

    Assume you mean in the new theme. Like. Then I don't have to figure it out (or I guess more accurately post here to find out.)

     
  • Anonymous - 2010-01-12

    Assume you mean in the new theme.

    Hopefully thats just a poor choice of words - only there is no new "theme". Those "silhouettes" are not theme related, they are a standard part of the NEXT release of PGV.

     
  • Wes Groleau

    Wes Groleau - 2010-01-12

    GEDCOM is not directed toward the "story" idea. I personally would stay away from NOTE

    My preference is to put narratives in a Wiki or blog format and just put the URI in a NOTE.  I also put transcripts of sources that way and put the URI in the PAGE subrecord.

     
  • Wes Groleau

    Wes Groleau - 2010-01-12

    I've set up a demo showing the basic functionality:
    http://www.genlit.org/vc/iview.php?pid=I1&ged=Demo.ged

    I like it a lot for its appearance, but it omits too much of the "facts" on the subject.  All you have is birth and death.  Granted, a good bio is going to work in the dates and places, but there's something to be said for a quick-to-scan table like individual.php

    Maybe the center panel could toggle between the two.

    Also, did you know that you can hide specific tags from specific roles?  For example, you could configure it so that only admins see CAUSe of death, CHAN, UID, or whatever.  That would be one way of reducing "clutter" for non-admins.  You could suppress even more tags for people not logged in.

     
  • macalter

    macalter - 2010-01-12

    Okay, poor word choice. No comprende that you meant next PGV.

    Another thing I liked that was on your site - the "Tips & Tricks". But, I did find the "page" too narrow to see the Famly Navigator w/o side scrolling.

     
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