Terry's Second Site Tips

Creating Custom Indexes

This page updated 19 Apr 2013

Version note: Applies to Second Site 5 & 6

This article describes how to create Custom Indexes to help your readers more quickly find people of interest to them. Other articles in my Second Site Section cover other topics about customizing your site.

Second Site automatically creates a Name Index by which readers of your site can find the Person Page entries for each person included in the site. There is also a Surname Index and a Master Index, both designed to help the reader quickly find the correct section of the Name Index when there are many people in the site.

Still, there are situations in which specialized indexes can be useful. Some method of creating them are described in the following sections.

Topics Included in this Article
Custom Name Indexes
Creating indexes of family members, members of a military unit, or any other group you can imagine
Adding Group Links
Providing links to a specific page for groups of people

In addition to the custom indexes described in this article, two methods for creating a custom index of special individuals are described in my article on Creating a Notable Ancestors Index.

You can also create a Place Index for your site, listing the places mentioned in your site, and providing links to all the people who had events in those places. In addition, it can contain information about the place, and even links to maps of each place. This is a powerful tool with many options to configure it to suit your needs. Unfortunately, I have not used it and therefore can offer no suggestions for its use.

All Custom Indexes are created with User Items. If you are not familiar with the use of User Items, the discussion of them in my Second Site Overview article should provide a helpful foundation.

Custom Name Indexes

Custom name indexes are indexes that generally consist of a subset of all the people in the site. They are intended to help the reader find people who meet some specific criteria. These indexes can be based on any of three criteria:

Custom Indexes based on Flag values are extremely versatile. With them you can create an index of about any group you can imagine – members of a particular family; everyone born in a particular country, state, or city; people born before a specified date; people who served in a given war; or people who had a particular occupation or profession, just to name some random examples. The only requirement is that you be able to set a Flag for the group in TMG. Given TMG's powerful filtering tools, that leaves the possibilities virtually endless.

For purposes of the this illustration, I am creating an Index for a family group, as I described in my article on Creating Virtual Sub-Sites. An Index for any other group would be created the same way, the only difference being who you set the Flag for in TMG.

The first task is to create a custom Flag in TMG, and set that Flag to the correct value for each person you want to be part of the group you want in the Index. Typically, one would create a Flag with values N,Y for no and yes. But I have found it helpful to add a third value to use for people who I want to temporarily exclude from the group for some reason but do not want to lose track of. Once you have created a Flag you can set it manually for each person in the group if there are only a few members, or by use of the Secondary Output of the List of People report. Either Filters or the Focus Group can be used to specify people to be included in the List of People report. If, during editing, you decide individual people should be added or excluded you can change their Flags manually.

Once the index Flag is created in TMG, the Index is defined from the Pages > User Items section in Second Site. Click Add, select Index - Custom Index, and click OK to open the Edit Custom Index screen:

Edit Custom Index screen

In this screen, the fields you are most likely to use are the following:

That is all that is required to create the Index. See the discussion in my Menus and Links article for the several methods to create a menu button or links to the Index.

Creating Group Links

The Custom Index has a useful feature if you would like to provide links to a specific page in the Person Page entries of a selected set of people. For example, say you create a Custom Page with some information about a branch of a family, or a military unit that several people in your site served in, or a community in which a number of people lived. You then want to put a link in the Person Page section of each of those persons to the Custom Page.

You can create a Tag in TMG which produces those links, and indeed, if there are few people involved, that may be the best solution. That method is described in my Useful Tricks article. But if the links apply to many people that can be a tiresome and error-prone approach. Instead, you can use the Groups feature in a Custom Index to create those links for everyone who is included in the Index. The links appear in the Person Page section of each person who is listed in the Index, very similarly to the "Charts" links that are automatically provided for people who appear in Charts.

To use this feature to create the Group links you do have to create an Index, but there is no need to make the Index itself available to readers if for some reason you do not want to use it. You can simply arrange for it to not appear on the site menu or in any links.

You can create similar links without creating a Custom Index by using Flag Events. See my Flag Events article for details. If you want to create links to a specific page for a group of people who do not appear in a Custom Index I think that is a preferable method.

To create Person Page links with the Group feature you start by setting up a Custom Index based on flag values, as described above in the Custom Name Indexes section above. Then make some additional entries as shown below:

Creating Groups

After entering the Title, selecting the Index Type, and specifying the Flag in Values, you create the links by using the three fields at the lower right corner of the Edit Custom Index screen, marked with red arrows on the screenshot above:

Finally, for the link to appear in the Person Pages you must have the Chart Membership item activated in the Pages Person Entry section. It is active by default, so generally this will not be an issue.

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