Second Site News #014

21 February 2004

In this issue:
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Second Site and Netscape Navigator 4

When I began to develop Second Site in the fall of 2001, Netscape Navigator 4 (NN4) was the most popular browser available from Netscape. For various reasons, many Netscape users chose to continue using NN4 even though Netscape 6.0 (NN6) was released in November of 2000. Netscape 6.2 (NN6.2), released in the fall of 2001, was brand new and not widely used.

As a result of the lingering popularity of NN4, I decided that Second Site must produce web sites that were compatible with NN4. That was a difficult decision because NN4 was ancient by web standards, even in 2001. At that time, the technology base for NN4 was about 5 years old, dating back to the original release of NN4 in 1997. Supporting NN4 added complexity to the design of Second Site, and worse, it required many compromises that negatively affected the overall usability of the generated sites, even for people using newer browsers.

In the two years since I made that decision, a lot has changed. NN6.2 attained the popularity that eluded NN6.0. Netscape 7 and Netscape 7.1 were released. Those browsers are much better browsers than NN4, and NN4 has all but disappeared.

Meanwhile, some Second Site users have objected to negative characteristics caused by the support of NN4. For example, some users see a brief flash when browsing a site using Internet Explorer. The flash is caused by resetting the stylesheet associated with the page. Resetting the stylesheet is only necessary because NN4 requires a custom, reduced-function stylesheet. Resetting the stylesheet also caused difficulty for Opera users.

As a result, I am going to dramatically reduce support for NN4 in the next release of Second Site. All the current Themes will be altered to eliminate support for NN4. For Second Site users that want to continue supporting NN4, I will add a special Theme that retains support for NN4.

If you would like to remove support for NN4 now—and eliminate the flash and any other negative side-effects of supporting NN4—see the instructions on the Deleting Support for Netscape Navigator 4 page. The Browse Compatibility page includes information about support for browsers in Second Site.

A System for Adding Census Transcripts and Images to Your Site

Tom Clough is a Second Site beta tester whose site is featured in Cyndi Howell's book, Planting Your Family Tree Online: How to Create Your Own Family History Web Site. Tom has put a lot of care and effort into his site... and it shows! (See book review in this newsletter)

The question of how to present census information on a web site comes up often. On my own site, I link a transcript to each census source and an image of the census page to the transcript. While this is what works for me, the basic method of linking to files within Second Site will apply even if you are using a different system to transcribe censuses. And, it also will work if you prefer to link the transcripts and images to census tags or citations rather than to the source.

While it is possible to add transcripts and images as exhibits in TMG, the method presented here has the added advantage of making these same transcripts standalone entities that can be used outside of Second Site. For example, I present mine in an entirely different way at http://www.tomclough.com/census.htm.

To start, I created an HTML file for each census year (1790.html, 1800.html, etc.) and put them in the folder of the theme I am using. These files are where I will do my transcribing. Personally, I just transcribe the census data directly into these HTML files using Notebook but they could come from spreadsheets, word processor documents or whatever form your transcripts are in just as long as they can be saved as HTML. If you are interested in using my templates, you can download them from http://www.tomclough.com/forms/census.zip. Here is a sample transcript from the file 1850.html:

<!-- Seth Burgess -->
<BR><BR>
<B>Family Name:</B>
<A Name="sethburgess">Burgess</A>
<B>State: </B>Maine 
<B>County: </B>Oxford
<B>Town/City: </B>Peru <BR><BR>

<B>Enumeration Date: </B>13 July 1850
     <B>Page No: </B>275/138<BR><BR>

<B>Line No. </B>11   
<B>Dwelling No.: </B>77   
<B>Family No.: </B>84 <BR><BR>

<B>Source: </B>1850 U.S. Census Images;
    Images Online, Ancestry.com, image 11 of 27
<BR><A HREF="../images/census/seth_burgess_1850.sid">View
    the census page<IMG SRC="sidicon.gif"></A><BR><BR>

<table border="1" cellpadding="4">
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Name</B></TD>
      <TD>Seth</TD>
      <TD>Virtue</TD>
      <TD>Lydia<SUP>1</SUP></TD>
      <TD>Gardner Lovejoy</TD>
      <TD>Saomi [sic] Lovejoy<SUP>2</SUP></TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Age</B></TD>
      <TD>62</TD>
      <TD>66</TD>
      <TD>12</TD>
      <TD>41</TD>
      <TD>34</TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Sex</B></TD>
      <TD>M</TD>
      <TD>F</TD>
      <TD>F</TD>
      <TD>M</TD>
      <TD>F</TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Color</B></TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Profession</B></TD>
      <TD>Farmer</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>Laborer</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Real Estate Value</B></TD>
      <TD>600</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Place of Birth</B></TD>
      <TD>Maine</TD>
      <TD>Massachusetts</TD>
      <TD>Maine</TD>
      <TD>Maine</TD>
      <TD>Maine</TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Married During Year</B></TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Attended School</B></TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>Y</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
      <TD><B>Person Over 20 Who Cannot Read or Write</B></TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
    </TR>
    <TR>
  <TR>
      <TD><B>Deaf, Dumb, Blind, Insane, Idiot,
           Pauper or Convict</B></TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
      <TD>-</TD>
    </TR>
</TABLE>
<B>Notes: </B><BR>1: Probably a granddaughter<BR>
2: Salome, the daughter of Seth and Virtue Burgess,
married Gardiner Lovejoy about 1838. Gardiner was
the son of Jacob Lovejoy and Mehitable Wing.
<BR><BR>
<HR>

Once a transcript is done, I add a new source for the census family in The Master Genealogist. Notice line 3 of the sample above contains a named anchor (<A Name="sethburgess">). To link to a specific household in a file that may contain many transcripts, I use that anchor name by putting a line like this in the comments section on the Supplemental tab of the new census source:

[HID:][SS:]<A HREF="1850.html#sethburgess" target="_new"><IMG SRC="docicon.gif" BORDER=0 ALT="Click to view transcript"></A>[:SS][:HID]

When I generate my web site, Second Site will add the transcript link to the sources of each narrative where this census entry is cited. Notice that, for this step to work, your source template must include the [COMMENTS] element.

Finally, I add an image of the census page to a folder that will be manually uploaded to my web site. In my case, the census images are stored one level above the SS files in a folder called images/census. In the transcript example above, line 10 has the link to the image (<A HREF="../images/census/seth_burgess_1850.sid">View the census page <IMG SRC="sidicon.gif"></A>). You will have to modify the template to point to the specific location of the folder on your site. I don't put the images in the theme or the -t folder because I only want to upload the new ones, not send every image every time I upload a new version of my Second Site generated files.

You can see the final result by going to http://www.tomclough.com/p16.htm#i385 and clicking on the document icon in note 2. [S125].

I hope the techniques given here will help you add content to your own web pages. While this article has addressed census data, the same basic linking procedures can be used for any documents created outside Second Site. I have used it to link to other web sites, PDF files of newspaper articles, and HTML pages created outside Second Site. Experiment with it a little and I'm sure you will come up with many of your own ideas.

Book Review: Planting Your Family Tree Online: How to Create Your Own Family History Web Site by Cyndi Howells

Planting Your Family Tree Online is a no-nonsense guide to creating and publishing a genealogy Web site. For people who have not published a site yet, the book provides step-by-step directions. For more experienced users, Cyndi includes dozens of tips, tricks, techniques, and recommendations that will help you improve your site.

Cyndi has done an excellent job of explaining some complex issues in a way that is both easy to understand for people new to the topics, but still accurate and useful to more experienced readers.

I bought the last unsold copy of Planting Your Family Tree Online at the NGS GenTECH conference in St. Louis. I was doubly-lucky, in fact, and got Cyndi Howells to sign it for me. My luck ran out a bit on the way home; I waited in the St. Louis airport for 12 hours, during which time three consecutive flights were canceled on me. I finally got home 24 hours later than expected. I used the extra time to read Planting Your Family Tree Online.

Adding Any File as a Linked Exhibit

Back in July 2003, Wholly Genes released TMG Version 5.08. The change log for TMG v5.08 announced the following feature:

Added new features to the Exhibit Log for External Text exhibit. An external text exhibit can now refer to any sort of file. An effort to "View" any non-TXT file will trigger the application that is associated with that file extension (e.g., Excel for XLS, Word for DOC, Internet Explorer for HTM, etc.). *NOTE*, however, that only real text (TXT) files will be embedded in TMG reports when exhibit output is supported. Also, Internal text exhibits can only be TXT files.

The new feature is an easy to use alternative to OLE exhibits, and that is valuable TMG users, but I requested the feature specifically for the benefit of Second Site users.

Using the new capability, you can attach PDF files, MS Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or any other filetype as an external text exhibit, and Second Site will add a link to the document on the appropriate person page or source page. The contents are not embedded on the web page for the same reason TMG does not include the contents in a word processing document.

The new feature required only a small change in TMG's user interface, and as a result it's a little hard to find. Here are instructions for how to attach any file as an external text exhibit attached to an event:

  1. Double-click on the event to open the Tag Entry dialog
  2. Click on the camera icon to open the Exhibit Log
  3. Right-click in the open area of the middle of the window
  4. Select "Insert new text > External file" from the pop-up menu
  5. TMG will open the "Insert new exhibit" file dialog
  6. Change the "Files of type:" pull-down menu to "All Files (*.*)"
  7. Navigate to the folder that contains the PDF file you want to attach
  8. Select the proper file and click [OK]
  9. TMG will warn you that only "true text files" can be embedded in TMG's report output. Click [OK]
  10. TMG will add the file as an exhibit

The basic process is the same for adding exhibits to sources.

Second Site assumes that External Text Exhibits contain text, and that the text can be embedded on the web page if the associated exhibit property is set to Embed, except for the following file extensions. Any file with an extension in the list below will be linked to the web page:

File ExtensionType
DOCMS Word
PDFAdobe Acrobat
RTFRich Text Format
XLSMS Excel Spreadsheet

You can edit the 2ndsite.ini file to add other file types to this list. Recently, a user asked how to support MrSID images. The solution was to add the MrSID image as an external text exhibit, and add "SID" to the LinkedTextType list in the 2ndsite.ini file.

If you use this approach, visitors to your site must have their PCs configured properly to open the files. It is reasonable to assume that most people will have no trouble opening common file types like PDF, DOC, RTF, and XLS. If you use less common file types, your site should include an explanation of how to get the tools required to view those files. If possible, include a link.

Lost Your Serial Number?

Second Site users who lose their registration information should contact Technical Support at Wholly Genes. I get many requests for this information, but unfortunately I can't help. Out of respect for privacy concerns, Wholly Genes does not share the registration information with me.


This copyrighted material may not be redistributed.

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