[r-t] Central Council Methods Library

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Tue May 29 14:00:38 UTC 2018

On Tue, May 29, 2018 at 4:21 AM, Graham John <graham at changeringing.co.uk>
> The Central Council Methods Library is now available at
> http://methods.cccbr.org.uk.

Please do not take my comments, below, as complaints about the efforts
you’ve gone to. They are appreciated. I am simply trying to make
suggestions for further improvement, when time allows.

The text format, all stages and classes consolidated, is a rather odd, and
Ι think unhelpful, one. The only way to find stages and classes is to pick
apart method titles, which is not something a spreadsheet is good at.
Making matters even odder is it is sorted first by stage (which can’t be
picked out in a spreadsheet sort operation) and then by class (which again
can’t be picked out), and then finally alphabetically by name. Quite odd.

You might want to reconsider this format, perhaps splitting things into a
few more columns to help its consumers make sense of it.

Both for it, and for the smaller by stage and class files, I think it might
also be helpful to have a column distinguishing little methods from
“normal” ones, for much the same reasons.

And, yes, I see the irony in this: I have long advocated reducing the fine
grained classification of methods, which is exactly what this format is
doing. I do appear to be inconsistent. What is driving this inconsistency
is that I often have a desire to look at just “normal” treble dodging
methods, as opposed to unusual ones. Perhaps the solution is not to include
ever more fine-grained classification in the format, but merely to add a
column for distinguishing the usual cases from the unusual? I dunno.

I also not that it is described as being laid out in six columns, but it is
really in seven, the last always being empty, and having no column heading.
What’s that all about? A minor bug in the export, perhaps?

Oh, and the zipped text file suffers from the same, odd permissions issue
as the zipped XML file, as mentioned in my earlier message.

Finally, it is worth noting that these text files are not just a different
format than Tony’s old ones, they also contain less information. For
example, no summary FCH groups for the PB lead head methods, nor
information about the treble paths. For such matters we now have to either
use the XML version or work it out ourselves, roughly equivalent procedures
since at this scale they both really only make sense to a machine, not to
biological readers. I fear this may leave a lot of people out who are not
comfortable programming; even I, who am comfortable, often find it more
convenient to just take a glance at things the old fashioned way.

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
“Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself.”
      — Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
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