* [Wish List Item 625] 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

For Wish List Requests that have either (a) been progressed to the Wish List; or (b) been classified as duplicates, or as redundant because the requirement is already satisfied within FH and/or plugins; or (c) closed because it wasn't possible to arrive at a clear specification of the request within 15 months of it being raised.
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[Wish List Item 625] 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by Gary_G »

One or more genealogy programs already permit the user to manually enter, or cut-and-paste, rich-format text to define the Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote. Having this capability in FH7 would be particularly useful for users of Evidence Explained style, due to the non-deterministic structure of the citations and the importance of italics in that methodology. It also could facilitate the direct import of free-form citations from other programs such as RootsMagic.
Last edited by tatewise on 07 Nov 2023 21:52, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by Mark1834 »

If this is to go to the general Wish List, I think it needs a more extensive explanation of what the issue is in plain English. Wanting to have freedom to format footnotes and bibliography as you wish I understand, but I haven’t a clue what non-deterministic citations are, and I suspect most other readers won’t either.

It needs a lot more fleshing out for those of us not immersed in the world of EE.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by AdrianBruce »

Re "non-deterministic"
I'm familiar with its use in quantum theory - or as familiar as any amateur ever is. I believe that I understand its use elsewhere. But, given that the formats in EE! are all laid down in that book, I struggle to understand its applicability to ESM's formats. I can invent a meaning for this context but that's hardly helpful to my understanding of the intended justification.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

AdrianBruce wrote: 08 Nov 2023 09:14 Re "non-deterministic"
I'm familiar with its use in quantum theory - or as familiar as any amateur ever is. I believe that I understand its use elsewhere. But, given that the formats in EE! are all laid down in that book, I struggle to understand its applicability to ESM's formats. I can invent a meaning for this context but that's hardly helpful to my understanding of the intended justification.
I agree that the dictionary definition of non-deterministic isn't a lot of help in determining its relevance to citing sources.

My understanding?

In the context of EE, it's a common misconception that the book sets out a prescriptive set of templates. It doesn't; it sets out the principles for analysing and citing sources, and some models for source citations. Analysis of a source, including: what is it? where did I refer to it? was it the original or a derivative, and if a derivative, what is it a derivative of? And was that a derivative? If so.... for as many layers as necessary can result in some pretty convoluted citations.

Which is why EE-style citations are non-deterministic. Until you're eyeballing a source, and have gone through the thinking, you don't know what the structure of your citation will be. Often, if you're lucky, it will fit one of the existing models. But if you're dealing with a website that's imaged a microfilm of an out-of-print published book of transcriptions of the Parish Registers of a Parish Church (said registers having been partly burned in a fire in the vestry and the transcriptions were made by the local antiquarian society from the remnants after the fire...) you're not going to find a ready made model for that.

Or Gary might mean something else entirely. If he does, he will correct me no doubt.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

Gary_G wrote: 07 Nov 2023 21:38 One or more genealogy programs already permit the user to manually enter, or cut-and-paste, rich-format text to define the Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote. Having this capability in FH7 would be particularly useful for users of Evidence Explained style, due to the non-deterministic structure of the citations and the importance of italics in that methodology. It also could facilitate the direct import of free-form citations from other programs such as RootsMagic.
Gary,

Are you envisaging:

1. A third type of source ('Freeform') alongside 'Generic' and 'Templated' with the ability 'to manually enter, or cut-and-paste, rich-format text to define the Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote'. This 'manual etc.' definition would need to be supported at both source definition time and citation time to meet the needs of both splitters and lumpers. Do you propose that there should be a Generic Freeform and Templated Freeform type, so actually we'd be looking at 4 source types?

Or:

2. The ability to manually etc. override the citation for either a Generic or Templated Source. Again, this would be needed at both source definition time and citation time.

There may (will?) be different pros and cons to both option that we should discuss.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by tatewise »

My understanding is that if the citation format is non-deterministic then metafields requiring specific styles cannot be predetermined because they can appear anywhere in the citation and may vary in quantity.
So currently you would need a unique Source Template for every Source Citation.
I think the thread Is it possible to construct a truly Free-Format template in FH7? (22447) illustrates the problem.
If a mixture of styles for italics, bold, underscore, etc, are needed then a combinatorial explosion of template formats is needed to support them. The BOOK and TITLE features do not help.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by Gary_G »

ColeValleyGirl wrote: 08 Nov 2023 09:55 My understanding?

In the context of EE, it's a common misconception that the book sets out a prescriptive set of templates. It doesn't; it sets out the principles for analysing and citing sources, and some models for source citations. Analysis of a source, including: what is it? where did I refer to it? was it the original or a derivative, and if a derivative, what is it a derivative of? And was that a derivate? If so.... for as many layers as necessary can result in some pretty convoluted citations.

Which is why EE-style citations are non-deterministic. Until you're eyeballing a source, and have gone through the thinking, you don't know what the structure of your citation will be. Often, if you're lucky, it will fit one of the existing models. But if you're dealing with a website that's imaged a microfilm of an out-of-print published book of transcriptions of the Parish Registers of a Parish Church (said registers having been partly burned in a fire in the vestry and the transcriptions were made by the local antiquarian society from the remnants after the fire...) you're not going to find a ready made model for that.
ColeValleyGirl;

You are absolutely correct in your interpretation.

The following explanation is a lot longer than I'd like. A simply request, like Free Format capability, shouldn't require it. However; it appears that it needs to be spelled out.

Definitions have different shades of meaning depending on their usage context. "Nondeterministic" is often used in software/systems-engineering context to describe something that does not have a predictable structure/behaviour. The implication is that it is, as such, too complex to mimic in code. No doubt Calico Pie would implicitly understand the term, when reading the Wishlist item.

I used the term "Nondeterministic" to describe Evidence Explained citation formats, because they are too variable to be fully covered by a specific set of coded templates. As you implied, the common misconception is that the set of contained QuickCheck Models represents the complete set of possible templates. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately; many software companies have made the mistake of basing their templates solely on the set of QuickCheck Models. Shown-Mills, herself, has said that the style is not really suitable for templating and that the QuickCheck Models were not intended as templates. Looking at the extreme variability in structure and content of the examples, contained in the rest of the book, quickly illustrates why.

This doesn't mean that there aren't a limited set of cases for which one could construct templates. That is what some companies have done. But it does mean that one can't construct a finite set of templates that works for all cases. Trying to cite artifacts is one great example where templates are not really of much use. Each case tends to be unique, because the type of item, the item description and its chain of custody are unique to each case.

The above is exactly why FH7 needs a Free-Form method of defining the Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote. At least with the ability to input Rich-Text, as one already does in FH7 notes fields, one could enter whatever was necessary to create a valid Evidence-Explained citation for any situation.

This also illustrates why many other popular programs already have a "Free Form" capability. It ensures that users can cite in a style that the designers did not foresee. It keeps their product viable and saleable despite the evolution of different citation styles (and not just for Evidence Explained).
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by Gary_G »

Just a quick note. I think I need to make one point clear to avoid the misconception that I'm suggesting changes to the existing user-defined template capability.

In most other programs, the Free Form citation capability is not actually implemented within the templating portion of the program design. However; it may be made to "appear" as if it were just a predefined template with the three key citation sections. So; I doubt that Calico Pie would change the behaviour of templating in any way. They would likely just add another "type" of predefined template. I think this might look similar to the way FH7 has generic "templates" and user-definable templates. Free Form would just be a third option.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by Mark1834 »

I know that it is not our role to design implementation, and should leave that to the folk at CP, but I've been having a look at how RM deals with this to give some sort of benchmark.

Although FH and RM templated source designs are essentially very similar to each other with good compatibility, the 'Free-Form' citation is a very significant difference. In FH templated sources, the template takes care care of the data field and footnote, short footnote & bibliography definitions, and each templated source is linked to a specific template.

The RM 'Free-Form' source and citation is a different animal. It has no linked template, so footnote etc are defined at the source level, not the template level. In FH, if a source has no template, it is a generic source, with very limited options for customisation.

Clearly, CP would have considered at length how to reconcile that difference when designing FH7, and decided not to have a hybrid customisable non-templated source. However, if the user is prepared to create their own unique 'templates' in combination with more formatting options in the template (and I share Helen's reservations about adding that to data fields, as I think we need to maintain a distinction between data and presentation), that could be a solution for those who need the facility.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

Gary_G wrote: 08 Nov 2023 12:02 A simply request, like Free Format capability, shouldn't require it. However; it appears that it needs to be spelled out.
Gary, a note on process.

Wish List requests (and Wish List items) need to not only be comprehensible to Calico Pie but first and foremost to the people discussing them here, so that we can thrash out any objections and ensure the request is adequately formulated, with all implications for users taken into account; and then to the people who might vote for them on the Wish List and thus (hopefully) move them up CP's priority list for consideration.

Giving an example of what 'non-deterministic' means in this context is therefore necessary to this discussion process (where those participating are motivated to understand it), and essential on the Wish List (where somebody not understanding the Wish is not going to vote for it).

Hence the need to spell out your request.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

Mark1834 wrote: 08 Nov 2023 12:38 However, if the user is prepared to create their own unique 'templates' in combination with more formatting options in the template (and I share Helen's reservations about adding that to data fields, as I think we need to maintain a distinction between data and presentation), that could be a solution for those who need the facility.
Sorry Mark, but no. EE-style citations (as Gary and I have already explained) cannot all be represented by templates. At some point an EE-adherent user is going to need to do something out of the box. No template in the world is going to cater for my 'burned parish records example'. It's a one-off and needs to be treated as such.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

Gary_G wrote: 08 Nov 2023 12:27 Just a quick note. I think I need to make one point clear to avoid the misconception that I'm suggesting changes to the existing user-defined template capability.

In most other programs, the Free Form citation capability is not actually implemented within the templating portion of the program design. However; it may be made to "appear" as if it were just a predefined template with the three key citation sections. So; I doubt that Calico Pie would change the behaviour of templating in any way. They would likely just add another "type" of predefined template. I think this might look similar to the way FH7 has generic "templates" and user-definable templates. Free Form would just be a third option.
I'm not sure it's this simple, Gary.

One of the key elements of Templated Sources which most people overlook so far but which I suspect is quite important strategically to CP is the inclusion of Metafields which not only contribute to the contents of Title, Footnote, etc. but also enable source-driven data entry via Data Entry Assistants.

It sounds as if you're suggesting a variant of what I proposed here:
ColeValleyGirl wrote: 08 Nov 2023 11:09 1. A third type of source ('Freeform') alongside 'Generic' and 'Templated' with the ability 'to manually enter, or cut-and-paste, rich-format text to define the Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote'. This 'manual etc.' definition would need to be supported at both source definition time and citation time to meet the needs of both splitters and lumpers. Do you propose that there should be a Generic Freeform and Templated Freeform type, so actually we'd be looking at 4 source types?
i.e. a third source type 'Freeform', but without any metafields. Is this the case?
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by AdrianBruce »

ColeValleyGirl wrote: 08 Nov 2023 09:55...
Which is why EE-style citations are non-deterministic. Until you're eyeballing a source, and have gone through the thinking, you don't know what the structure of your citation will be. Often, if you're lucky, it will fit one of the existing models. But if you're dealing with a website that's imaged a microfilm of an out-of-print published book of transcriptions of the Parish Registers of a Parish Church (said registers having been partly burned in a fire in the vestry and the transcriptions were made by the local antiquarian society from the remnants after the fire...) you're not going to find a ready-made model for that. ...
Thank you, Helen. Explained like that it makes sense. I'd not resolved in my head the implications of multi-level citations such as you list. I confess that I'd previously interpreted the "common misconception that the book sets out a prescriptive set of templates" as meaning "don't expect all types of documents". What one might term a width issue. But the linked / multi-level example is about the depth.

(I've even had multiple level sources as you describe, and quite happily hacked more elements into my "skeleton" sources, but since I'm just using generic sources I'd not transferred the implications of that to EE formats.)
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by Mark1834 »

ColeValleyGirl wrote: 08 Nov 2023 13:11
Mark1834 wrote: 08 Nov 2023 12:38 However, if the user is prepared to create their own unique 'templates' in combination with more formatting options in the template (and I share Helen's reservations about adding that to data fields, as I think we need to maintain a distinction between data and presentation), that could be a solution for those who need the facility.
Sorry Mark, but no. EE-style citations (as Gary and I have already explained) cannot all be represented by templates. At some point an EE-adherent user is going to need to do something out of the box. No template in the world is going to cater for my 'burned parish records example'. It's a one-off and needs to be treated as such.
What I was thinking was that there is a one-to-one matching of source to 'template' (hence the inverted commas), so each unique solution has its own template. That probably could cater for your burned parish records, but I agree that individual templates are probably against the spirit of templated sources, and as you said later, not be compatible with the DEA approach.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

Pulling some threads together to try to focus on what we might or might not be asking for, we have potential wishes here for:
  • Additional Style options for styling Record Title, Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote for both Generic and Templated Sources.
  • Rich text formatting to be applicable to Source Metafields.
  • A third source type, 'Freeform' alongside 'Generic' and 'Templated', which has 'hand-crafted' Title, Bibliography etc.; or else the ability to override the default Record Title, Bibliography etc. with a 'hand-crafted' alternative (at source creation or citation time) for both Templated and Generic sources.
Have I missed anything so far?

We need to ensure any proposals cater for the whole spectrum of splitters and lumpers; and don't require existing users to make any changes to how they work.

Given that Item 1 and item 2 do not satisfy the requirements for Item 3, I'm proposing to split them off for separate discussion, unless anyone shouts very loudly.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

Mark1834 wrote: 08 Nov 2023 13:35 What I was thinking was that there is a one-to-one matching of source to 'template' (hence the inverted commas), so each unique solution has its own template. That probably could cater for your burned parish records, but I agree that individual templates are probably against the spirit of templated sources, and as you said later, not be compatible with the DEA approach.
I'd really resent having to put in the effort to define a template to enter a single source when I might as well hand craft the thing in a suitable text processor and cut-and-paste it.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by NickWalker »

Other than the text formatting issues, isn't a generic source title effectively 'free form' in that you can type whatever you like into it (ignoring possible maximum length issues). Or indeed source text or a source note?

Or are you imagining that when you enter a freeform source you would be adding multiple data fields and giving each a field name and splitting the various parts of your citation into those boxes? Wouldn't it get quite tedious to have to do that every-time you create a source as a lot of sources will have a very similar set of fields so wouldn't you want to use a template as at least a starting point?
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

NickWalker wrote: 08 Nov 2023 13:57 Other than the text formatting issues, isn't a generic source title effectively 'free form' in that you can type whatever you like into it (ignoring possible maximum length issues). Or indeed source text or a source note?
Doesn't help with Footnotes and Bibliography, Nick. Plus the formatting is quite important to EE-adherents :)
Or are you imagining that when you enter a freeform source you would be adding multiple data fields and giving each a field name and splitting the various parts of your citation into those boxes? Wouldn't it get quite tedious to have to do that every-time you create a source as a lot of sources will have a very similar set of fields so wouldn't you want to use a template as at least a starting point?
No, because the problem is not the 'set of fields' but the multiple 'sets of fields' in unpredictable quantities and combinations. Much easier to hand-craft a one-off (or cut and paste it from somewhere else -- you can get a lot of help crafting these things in the EE forums :) ).

P.s. The conversation at Is it possible to construct a truly Free-Format template in FH7? (22447) might illustrate why the field-based approach won't work.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by AdrianBruce »

Re "Form" generic sources.

Firstly I hope that I'm using the terminology in the same way as others.

I am cautiously assuming that a free form generic source would have 4 specific items - short title, bibliography entry (to also serve as the long title?), initial footnote and subsequent footnotes. I'm away from my PC right now but suspect that may be better than the ordinary generic sources as I don't think that generic sources have the ability to define a subsequent footnote. Plus I suspect that some handwaving might apply to the bibliography entry as well.

But if the generic free form source does need more than just Short Title and Long Title, then it needs new custom(?) data items - in which case, why should it not use the same data items as the template free format source records?

In order words, we might be looking at just one new type of source record, not two (feel free to say that's what you were already thinking of). Leave the final decision to CP because I'm not certain if generic free format sources might need too much extra infrastructure if they invoked templates.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

AdrianBruce wrote: 08 Nov 2023 14:19 I don't think that generic sources have the ability to define a subsequent footnote
They do have the option for a Short Footnote.

My thinking, given that I'm a great proponent of DEAs... and predominantly a splitter but occasionally a lumper:
  • I'd retain the two existing source types, Generic and Templated.
  • I'd add an option to both types (to be selected per source at Source creation time): Allow override of Footnotes etc. (or something pithier)
  • If the option was selected:
    • At source creation time, extra formatted text metafields would be exposed for customised Footnotes etc. to be entered; if entered, these would override the auto-generated equivalents.
    • At source citation time, ditto. If entered, they'd override anything coming from the Source.
  • We could try to get clever and combine overridden details in the citation with auto-generated stuff from the source, or vice versa, but that might be a complexity too far.
By introducing one option and 4 normally hidden formatted metafields for all Sources, plus 4 ditto metafields fields for Citations, this seems to avoid introducing another source type.

CP could even use the hidden fields if they wished to hold the formatted Footnotes etc. for all Sources and Citations, which would help make them more easily available to plugin authors.

Edited to add:

Stepping back from implementation details:

Proposal: The ability to optionally override the automatically-generated Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote for any Source (Generic or Templated) or Citation (ditto) with formatted text manually entered or copied from other sources.

Background and Benefits: One or more genealogy programs already permit the user to manually enter, or cut-and-paste, rich-format text to define the Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote; this is often referred to as a Freeform Citation.

Having this capability in FH7 would be particularly useful for users of Evidence Explained style, due to the unpredictable structure of the citations and the importance of formatting in that methodology. It also could facilitate the direct import of free-form citations from other programs such as RootsMagic.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by Gary_G »

AdrianBruce wrote: 08 Nov 2023 14:19 Re "Form" generic sources.

Firstly I hope that I'm using the terminology in the same way as others.

I am cautiously assuming that a free form generic source would have 4 specific items - short title, bibliography entry (to also serve as the long title?), initial footnote and subsequent footnotes. I'm away from my PC right now but suspect that may be better than the ordinary generic sources as I don't think that generic sources have the ability to define a subsequent footnote. Plus I suspect that some handwaving might apply to the bibliography entry as well.

But if the generic free form source does need more than just Short Title and Long Title, then it needs new custom(?) data items - in which case, why should it not use the same data items as the template free format source records?

In order words, we might be looking at just one new type of source record, not two (feel free to say that's what you were already thinking of). Leave the final decision to CP because I'm not certain if generic free format sources might need too much extra infrastructure if they invoked templates.
Adrian;

The concept of a Free Form Citation typically uses only three panels into which one can cut-and-paste Rich-text from elsewhere or enter the text directly. These are the; Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote. In the EE-Style book those three elements use slightly different names, but their function is exactly the same and using FH names for the elements only makes sense within FH. There is no concept of fields. The user is fully responsible, as the name suggests, for the look and content of what will later appear in those elements of a citation within reports etc. In a sense, each of the elements can be thought of a dedicated "Notes" field. FH typically uses an additional Title field to allow its groups of the three citation elements to be located within the program. That field needs to be present and must be plain-text, as if one were manually entering a title elsewhere in FH. The key difference is that there would be no automatic generation of the name, as a Free Form citation is intended to be unique and needs a manually entered description because fields are not used. Does this explanation help?
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by Gary_G »

ColeValleyGirl;

I read over your posts and just wanted to say that I would stay away from touching the Generic and Templated capabilities in FH7. Altering their behaviour in any way could have unforeseen consequences for plugin and application developers etc. I feel that one should view Free Form citation input as being used for situations in which the other two methods cannot meet the user's needs. I would not view them as replacing either of the existing methods.

While Free Form citations are used in other programs, the way in which they are used in RootsMagic may be more familiar to FH7 users. There they are designed to co-exist with and compliment the main template-based citation input method.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

Gary_G wrote: 08 Nov 2023 15:14 The concept of a Free Form Citation typically uses only three panels into which one can cut-and-paste Rich-text from elsewhere or enter the text directly. These are the; Bibliography, Footnote and Short Footnote. In the EE-Style book those three elements use slightly different names, but their function is exactly the same and using FH names for the elements only makes sense within FH. There is no concept of fields. The user is fully responsible, as the name suggests, for the look and content of what will later appear in those elements of a citation within reports etc. In a sense, each of the elements can be thought of a dedicated "Notes" field. FH typically uses an additional Title field to allow its groups of the three citation elements to be located within the program. That field needs to be present and must be plain-text, as if one were manually entering a title elsewhere in FH.

The key difference is that there would be no automatic generation of the name, as a Free Form citation is intended to be unique and needs a manually entered description because fields are not used. Does this explanation help?
If you're expecting a one-to-one mapping from Source-to-Citation (i.e. the ultimate splitter) then yes, a Free Form citation would be unique.

Does that adequately meet the needs of lumpers?
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

Gary_G wrote: 08 Nov 2023 15:30 ColeValleyGirl;

I read over your posts and just wanted to say that I would stay away from touching the Generic and Templated capabilities in FH7. Altering their behaviour in any way could have unforeseen consequences for plugin and application developers etc. I feel that one should view Free Form citation input as being used for situations in which the other two methods cannot meet the user's needs. I would not view them as replacing either of the existing methods.
I understand your thinking, but by introducing a new Source Type (rather than adding Metafields to existing Source Types) you are possibly complicating life for:
  • Anyone writing plugins to handle Gedcom exports (Export Gedcom File, Ancestry Synchronisation.
  • Anyone writing DEAs.
  • The Ancestral Sources developer.
And that's what I can come up with off the top of my head.

Extra metafields on existing sources will, I think be less disruptive, but the authors of Ancestral Sources and the export plugins are both in this conversation so will have a view.
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Re: 'Free Form' Citation Entry capability

Post by ColeValleyGirl »

And just thinking about it some more, would it make sense to enable metafield token substitution (if present) in the freeform details? More degrees of freedom...
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