Second Site News #007

15 February 2003

In this issue:
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Special Edition

One of the goals for Second Site News is to make sure that subscribers hear about new features before anyone else. I always announce new versions of Second Site here first, then wait a day or so and announce it on the Second Site mailing list and TMG-L. It's important to me because that is what I promised in the first issue. Over the past few weeks, some information about an upcoming feature has slipped out. I am not concerned about that, and it's unlikely that many people have heard the news yet, but I want to honor my promise and for that reason I decided to publish a rare, between-updates version of Second Site News.

OK, so what's the new feature, you ask?

CHARTS!

Release 1.4 of Second Site will generate charts. These charts are all HTML and are tightly integrated with the other pages in the site. Because they are all HTML, they are relatively small. An example pedigree chart with 200 people is about 50K, which is a very reasonable page size for such a high information content. Names in the chart are clickable links that navigate to the appropriate person page entry. Each person page entry includes a link to every chart where the person appears. As usual with Second Site, you don't have to worry about any of the details. You specify the subject of a chart, and Second Site does the rest.

The initial chart release will support two basic chart types: Pedigree charts and Descendant charts. For all charts, you can specify how many generations to include and what to do when an ancestor or descendant has been excluded from the site.

An important limitation of these charts is they will only display properly in a newer browser such as Internet Explorer 5.5 or greater, Netscape 6.0 or greater, and Mozilla 1.0 or better. The most widely used unsupported browser is Netscape Navigator 4, which has approximately 4% of the market, and that market share is shrinking. If you are using Netscape Navigator 4, the example charts on this page will not format properly. Second Site's main features will continue to support Netscape Navigator 4, but I am unwilling to restrict the chart feature in order to make it work under Netscape Navigator 4.

[NOTE: See Second Site News #014 for an update on support for Netscape Navigator 4.]

Pedigree charts come in three flavors.

In the Compressed Pedigree chart, the box for each ancestor of the subject person takes a row. Each generation is in a column, but the columns overlap. That is, the left edge of boxes for generation N people begin to the left of the right side of boxes for people in generation N-1. Boxes in the chart are links to person page entries for the associated people. It's hard to explain, but easy to show:

Compressed Pedigree for Walter Francis Cardinal

In the Wide Pedigree chart, ancestors of the subject person are aligned in columns by generation. Fathers appear above and to the right of their respective children; mothers are below and to the right. Second Site adds as few rows as possible between spouses to minimize the height of the chart while retaining the essential tree format of the chart. Boxes in the chart are links to person page entries for the associated people.

The compressed format (above) reduces the need for horizontal scrolling, but the basic structure of the tree is hidden somewhat by the overlapping boxes. The wide chart format shows the generational structure more clearly but produces wider charts, as you can see in the following example, which shows the same pedigree data as above but in the wide format.

Wide Pedigree for Walter Francis Cardinal

In the Paged Pedigree chart, groups of ancestors are split into pages with a fixed number of generations. Sorry, there is no example available at this time.

In the Descendant chart, descendants of the subject person are aligned in columns by generation. Parents appear to the left of their children. Second Site adds as few rows as possible between siblings to minimize the height of the chart while retaining the essential tree format of the chart. Boxes in the chart are links to person page entries for the associated people.

Descendant Chart for Louis Cardinal

Louis Cardinal
b. 15 Feb 1830
d. 15 Mar 1911
Olivier P. T. O. Cardinal
Henriette Cardinal
Philomène A. Cardinal
Esther Cardinal
Mary Cardinal
Hormidas Cardinal
Louis Cardinal
b. 11 Jun 1879
d. 05 Feb 1937
Louis R. Cardinal
William R. Cardinal
Walter F. Cardinal
b. 20 Jun 1906
d. 05 Nov 1956
George H. Cardinal
Mary Cardinal

Questions... and Answers

Why aren't all the names links?

Depending on the state of options in the People section of the Second Site user interface, charts may show both included and excluded people. The names of people included in the site are links to their person page entries. Second Site will show the names of people who are excluded from the site but are shown as a result of the "Show Name when Parent" or "Show Name when Child" properties. In that case, the names are not links.

Do the charts show only names?

The example pedigree charts show the name of the person only. The example descendant chart shows both the name and the lifespan. Second Site has options to include the name in various formats and the lifespan in various formats. Second Site sets the HTML TITLE text of the box to the name and lifespan of the person in the box if the full name and full lifespan are not visible in the box. The TITLE is displayed as a tool tip by most browsers. Place your mouse over one of the underlined boxes above to see for yourself.

Is there a limit on the number of charts in a site?

There is no theoretical limit on the number of charts in a site. The most restrictive practical limit is time; Second Site makes all the charts specified in the new chart sections when you execute the "Make Site" command. A single chart is produced in a few seconds or less, but thousands of charts will take thousands of seconds.

Is there a limit on the number of boxes in a chart?

There is no theoretical limit on the number of boxes in a chart. The page size grows as each box is added, of course, and at some point the page will become too large for the browser to handle or the user will grow tired of waiting for the page to be downloaded. I have created a chart with 4,000 boxes, however, and it worked properly.

Can I limit the number of generations in a chart?

Yes.

Do the charts work in all Themes?

The charts work in all Themes supplied with Second Site. Custom Themes will need minor editing. For example, the chart pages use a new template file. Any of the chart page template files supplied with Second Site are a good starting point.

Can I change the box colors?

Yes, you can change the box colors, the font, the chart background, the box sizes, and other formatting properties.

Can I put multiple charts on a single page as shown in this newsletter?

No. I hand-edited the HTML generated by Second Site to put multiple charts on this page.

Update: In Second Site v3, most chart types were enhanced to support placing multiple charts on a page.

Will there be more chart types than are shown here?

Yes, but probably not in the first release.

Can charts be printed from the browser?

Yes, charts may be printed from your browser, but unfortunately, browsers don't do a very good job of printing large charts.

When? When? When?

You'll have to speak up, I can't hear you. <g> I try not to promise release dates, but I know that reading about the new features will make some users anxious. My plan is to release in mid-March, 2003. The chart feature is mostly done and the beta testers have been using it for weeks. I have to finish the documentation and complete a few other minor features. I appreciate your patience.

[NOTE: All the charts described above, and more, have been released and are available in the current version of Second Site.]

If you do not own Second Site yet, there is no reason to wait for the next release. The next version will be a free upgrade for all registered users, the same as all the updates since the first release.


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