Terry's Second Site Tips

Creating a Notable Ancestor Index

This page updated 5 May 2009

Version note: Applies to Second Site 5 & 6

Second Site by default creates name indexes for everyone included in the site. There is also an option to create charts, such as ancestor or descendant charts, with each name on the charts being a clickable link to the page for that person. These tools, together with the links for every name that appears in the narratives, provide a variety of means for your readers to navigate through the site.

One of the useful applications I see for Second Site is to create personalized webpages to share with close members of the family, many of whom have limited interest in our family history. Like most families, we have our share of ancestors, or at least "in-laws," who are interesting because of when or where they lived, their place in history, or just because we are lucky enough to have some some good stories about them. It occurs to me that my semi-interested siblings and cousins would appreciate an easy way to find the "good parts." This article discusses creating a special index of "Notable Ancestors," "Outlaw Relatives," or any other group that one might care to highlight with a special listing.

For an example of such an index, see my Sample family webpages and click on the link for "Special People."

Two Methods Available

There are two methods available to create such an index:

Advantages
Disadvantages
  • Simple to set up
  • Set up entirely within Second Site
  • Formatting lists of items can be controlled by user
  • Index appears in main (right) pane in side-by-side layouts; more room for text
  • A "starter" index in included in new sites
  • Must be re-created with new site definition
  • Changes to layout of list items must be done for each item
  • ID numbers and Names must be typed in as each person is added

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Names of people automatically come from TMG Project
  • Layout and format of item text controlled by standard TMG Sentence codes
  • Layout of all items can be changed globally by editing Tag Type Sentences; consistent formatting within text easier to maintain
  • Becomes a permanent part of the Project; can be used with any site
  • Index appears in index (left) pane of side-by-side layouts; visible while other pages are in the main pane
  • Requires setting up "index person" in TMG
  • Requires creating custom Tag Types and Sentences in TMG
  • Editing of index entries must be done in TMG

The choice between them should probably be based on which of the features are most significant to the user. In general, I would suggest that long lists of people might be easier using the Index Person method while shorter lists may be simpler using the Custom Page method.

Using The "Index Person" Method

Creating an index with this method is a two step process. First you create an artificial "index person" in your TMG Data Set, and add tags to link each real person you want to appear in the "index person." Then you use the custom index capability in Second Site to create the index.

To create the "index person" in TMG, add an unrelated artificial person, and give that "person" a recognizable name, like "Index Person." If you will be creating different indexes for different sites, say for different family lines, create a separate index person for each. For example "Smith Index" and "Jones Index."

After creating the Index Person custom Tags are attached to that person to create the individual entries in the index. I created two custom Tag Types for this purpose. Both Tag Types are described below. For help with creating custom tags, see my article Modifying Tag Sentence Structures; for help with creating custom Roles, see my Roles Tutorial.

IndexName Tag:

The IndexName Tag creates the actual entries that will appear in the index. Each IndexName Tag creates one entry, that is one name, in the finished index. Each tag will have two principals – the Index Person and the real person who is to be the subject of the index entry. The text of the description that goes with each person is placed in the Memo of the Tag.

The Tag has two Roles because we need different Sentences for the Index Person and the real person. For the Index person we want a Sentence that produces the index entry. For the the real person we want no Sentence so the Tag will not create output in reports if the IndexName Tag is included in the report.

I created somewhat different Roles than suggested by the Second Site Help page for this topic, but either method works well. I just created two custom Roles - with only two Roles, when you assign one, the other is automatically assigned. My Roles, and their Sentence Structures are:

Principal
Sentence:
[:CR:][:CR:][ITAL:]Assign Roles to the [PO] Index Tag!![:ITAL]<[M0]>
Witness
Sentence:
I ignore it.
Sentence for
Role "IndexEntry:"
[:CR:][:CR:][PO] -- <[M]>
Sentence for
Role "Person:"
--    (the double exclusion marker)

Use:

  • I make the "index person" one of the Principals in the Tag, and make the real person who is to appear in the index the other.

  • Assign the IndexEntry Role to the "index person" and the Person Role to the real person. The descriptive text for that person is placed in the Memo field.

  • Control the order of the entries in the index by assigning sort dates to each tag (sort dates are only available in the Advanced Data Entry mode - change to that mode in Preferences > Program Options > Data Entry). I recommend assigning dates outside the range the people actually lived, so the index tags will appear in the Person Views of the real people at either the top or bottom of the list. (TMG will accept years from 100 to 3000 as valid sort dates.)

Note:

The strange sentence in the Principal Role is to create a clear reminder (in the webpage) if I fail to apply the other Roles.

IndexHeader Tag:

The IndexHeader Tag is used to create the subheadings within the index list. To see what I mean by subheadings, see my Sample family webpages and click on the link to "Index of Special People." This Tag Type is not required if you want a single index listing with no subheadings.

Principal
Sentence:
[:CR:][:CR:][:CR:][BOLD:]<[M]>[:BOLD]
Witness
Sentence:
I ignore it.

Use:

  • This tag is entered only for the "index person."

  • The text of the subheading goes in the Memo field.

  • Control the order of the entries in the index by assigning sort dates to each tag.

Here's the Person View of the "Index Person" for my Sample website with the tags entered:

Index tags in Details screen

The three IndexHeader tags create the section headings, with the individual entries under them.

Creating the Index in Second Site

Once the "index person" is created, tags added for each person and subheading that is to appear in the index, and sort dates adjusted so each entry is in the desired order in TMG, setting up the index in Second Site is pretty simple. After you have set up your Site Definition File to define the site as you desire, use the Pages > User Items section to add the Index. Click the Add button a the lower edge of that screen to open the Choose User Item Type screen:

Choose User Item Type screen

After selecting Indexes - Custom Index from the list, click OK to open the Edit Custom Index screen:

Edit Custom Index Screen

In that screen, enter a helpful title in the Title field - here we entered "Special People." What you enter will appear on the buttons or links to the index. At the lower left, make sure Description is selected, then enter the text you want to appear at the top of the index page in the adjacent field. In the drop down box for Index Type, select "List based on person's events." Finally, enter the TMG ID number of your "index person" in the TMG ID field.

Click OK to close the screen, and create your site. That's all there is to it!

Using the Custom Page Method

When creating a Notable Ancestors index with this method, the index is defined entirely within Second Site. Using this method, we create a Custom Page which will contain the index, then add the text we want to appear on that page as well as links to each person who is to appear in the index.

You will need to know the names and TMG ID numbers of the people you want to include. Use the Pages > User Items section to add the index. Click the Add button a the lower edge of that screen to open the Choose User Item Type screen:

Choose User Item Type screen
If your site definition file was created with a recent version of Second Site, there will already be an inactive “Notable People” Custom Page. Instead of creating a new one as described above, make it active by checking the box in front of it in the list of User Items. Then, if you like, select it and click Edit to change it's Title or add a Description as described below.

After selecting Other - Custom Page from the list, click OK to open the Edit Custom Page screen:

In that screen, enter a helpful title in the Title field - here we entered "Special People." What you enter will appear on the buttons or links to the index. At the lower left, make sure Description is selected, then enter the text you want to appear at the top of the index page in the adjacent field. Click OK to create the Custom Page User Item.

Next we add each person who is to appear in the index to the Custom Page. We do that by selecting the Custom Page we just created, then clicking the Add button to open the Choose User Item Type screen again:

Choose User Item Type screen

This time we choose Links - Person Link, and click OK to open the Edit Person Link screen:

If your site definition file was created with a recent version of Second Site, there will already be two inactive person items. Instead of creating a ones as described above, make them active by checking the boxes in front of them in the list of User Items. Then, select each in turn and click Edit to enter the person's ID# and description text as described below. Additional people are added as described above.

In this screen we enter the name of the first person who is to appear on our index, and his or her TMG ID number. In the Description field we enter whatever we want the index entry to say about this person. Click OK to create the Person Link. Our User Items screen should now look something like this:

Screen with completed person entry

Our Person Link is indented under the Special People Custom Page, showing that it will be part of that page. If it is not located properly, either click and drag it with the mouse, or select it and use the Up, Down, and Right buttons at the bottom of the screen to move it as required.

Once we have created the first Person Link, we add each additional person in our index by creating Person Links for each of them. Either use the Add button as above, or select the first one, click Duplicate to copy it, then click Edit to change the information to that for the next person.

When Person Links have been created for everyone who is to be on the index, we are ready to create the site. Clicking on the menu button that appears on your site will bring up our new index.

That is all that is required to create a basic Notable Ancestors index. The two following sections describe ways to enhance the appearance of the items in the index for those who would like more control over the way the list appears.

If you would like to break the list into sections with sub-headings as I did with the Special People index in my Sample site, you may want to try the methods described in my article on Adding Page Content.

Conclusion

There are two ways you can add a "Notable Ancestors" list to your website to make it more interesting to your readers. The one best suited to your needs depends on a number of factors, including your objectives and available resources. But no matter which method you use, it should help in getting those less than thrilled about reading about "dead people" (as my wife says) to read at least some of your work.


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