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Hypertext Indented Narrative - Fri, 15 Aug 2008

A wonderful article was pointed out to me. It is something I had missed over the years, by Mark Humphrys in 2000, titled: “Hypertext Indented Narrative” pedigree format: Adapting the Burke’s Peerage format for the Web or: How to draw indefinitely large family trees by hand”.

What Humphrys has taken the Burke’s Peerage format, which has been used for hundreds of years to document, on paper, the huge and interrelated family tree of the Royal Family of England. He has adapted this for the web with hyperlinks and an ability to paginate the whole thing into decent sized chunks with family names all together. Using this, he is able to take advantage of the web, without a database, and manually and relatively easily maintain and update his large family tree. The result is a beautiful, well organized and easy to follow set of documents.

This interests me very much because Behold is the only program that I know of that can do something similar, and do it mechanically.

Humphrys goes on to describe his system. He foregoes the one-person-per-page format that almost every web-generating genealogy program uses, and builds pages of a manageable size. Each page will relate to only a single surname, although there many be many pages for one surname if there are a lot of people or a lot of information. The key is hyperlinking between them. This structure is maintainable, so much so, that Humphrys maintains his by hand.

Behold has all the hyperlinking capabilities that Humphrys talks about, but it does two main things differently:

  1. Behold produces everything on one page. I could change Behold to produce each family on a separate page, but that is still not quite the same. Human thought is really needed to paginate the families for most readability. But Behold does allow you to select and organize families the way you want which is not perfect, but close.
  2. Behold does not put the information and children of women with their husband’s family/surname. Humphrys’ system is surname-based. That is great for knowing the context of the people in a single “page”. Behold is different on purpose, because behold is family-based, and puts all the people of a given family together. Anyone related through marriage is in another section, and those who are completely unrelated to the specified families are in the last section. The family basis is done to allow instant generation of anyone’s family from their point of view, done using Behold’s “Instant Organize” function.

Despite this, the philosophy is the same, and Humphrys has some great ideas. I like the way he uses different styles of links to represent direct connections, cross-references and external hyperlinks. He has a good naming convention for his files. His concepts about linking to other’s data, and not sharing or merging theirs with your own is precisely correct! I do think, however, that Behold has a better structure for its source listing, organizing by source and citation alphabetically, with included hyperlinks to and from the data documented.

But the one key thing of his and my system is exactly that same: Each piece of data only appears in 1 place.

Right on!

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  1. Recent Faves Tagged With "surname" : MyNetFaves : Fri, 20 Feb 2009
    [...] public links >> surname Hypertext Indented Narrative First saved by ogunum61 | 11 days ago XmlSerializer: Serialized Syntax and How to Override It [...]

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