An example, in the Royal data set, is of the Swedish Royal house of Bernadotte. Here the founder of the Bernadotte line was French but was adopted into the Swedish Royal family on accession to the throne. He would therefore need to be listed as a sucessor to earlier monarchs, but his true origins would still need recording.
We are not, obviously, limited to just two sets of parents. People can have Biological, several sets of Step, Foster and Adoptive parents. When this situation occurs with historical figures, as in the royal database these facts are of historical consequence and need recording and displaying appropriately.
The inability of the tools either to capture, or render in GEDCOM, the necessary details has a consequential effect on the poor quality of the data displayed in this experiment.
Not all data is conveniently rendered in 7-bit ASCII. The results are much more attractive and understandable if native language representation of information is used. Further, to avoid the information loss attendant to transliteration from formatting used in sources to that necessary for ASCII only representation means that we must accept and display accented and native character sets.
The problem with accented and extended character sets is that there are several physical representations of them. A PC may use the PC character set, along with the restricted number of characters that it implies. A unix user may have access to the ISO extended Latin-1 alphabet.
The HTML standard itself uses the ISO Latin-1 alphabet, but this is a lot more restrictive than the set specified in the GEDCOM5.3 standard. The GEDCOM standard copes with the wide variety of possibilities, but leaves us with the problem that in standard HTML there is no way of communicating and displaying the characters above and beyond ISO. This is quite a problem when just looking at plain accented characters. When considering extensions such as Chinese, Japanese, (Kanji, Katakana etc), Arabic similar non-latin texts.
We must also not forget that Web pages can be displayed in a non-graphic environment such as a vt100 terminal!. How should the data be rendered for these users and how should the loss of information content be moderated?
This could, perhaps, be solved by using a notation for standard abbreviations which can then be expanded on display in order to render the correct form of name or title.
If you want an example, then consider Frederick Ferdinand III, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Wolfenbuttel.
If the tools that originate the GEDCOM cannot cope with the complexity, then the Web displayed version will be equally deficient.
The GED to CGI postprocessing tool would need to process this field accordingly.
For example, Harold a Norman from England became Monarch in Lithuania. His name can be rendered in English, French, Lithuanian, Russian Cyrillic and so on. All these representations would be "correct". No one form should really have precedance over the other for storage keys or enquiry. The standardisation down to one form only would mean that this person could not be found in the database by people from one of the language groups who are unaware of the rendering of the name in the other linguistic form.
The Gedcom5.3 standard does have entity specifications for multimedia forms, but very few tools know how to use them. We therefore have problems both of refering to the data but also presenting it in a standardised way.
A further point is the sheer difficulty of the data gathering task for multimedia as well as the volume of archive space it consumes.
I have attempted to address this problem by the creation of several search modes or styles, such as search by date, title, forname, surname and so on as well as a set of directed indexes pointing into threads into the data. There is a need for the specification of more powerful or specific searches by the use of techniques such as HTML Forms, but this then places larger and larger loads on the database host. The need to rely more on remote searching, such as WAIS would alleviate this problem.
For further thoughts on Navigation see also my search Help text.
The experiment home page is GEDCOM to Web Experiment.
Department of Computer Science
University of Hull
Hull, UK, HU6 7RX