Event Sentences

Event Sentences

We track our ancestors by recording events in their lives, such as Birth, Christening, Marriage, Death and Burial. These are probably the five most sought after, and standardized genealogical events. They are obviously not the only ones. Ancestral Quest comes with a long list of other Event Types which it supports. To see this list, do the following:

01 Edit Event Types 01

Click on the Edit tab of the Menu bar. The last item on the Edit menu is Event Types. Click on this item. This is one of four ways I know of to get to the following screen:

02 Edit Event Types E 01

This is the Edit Event Types screen. Event types are divided into four general categories: Individual, Marriage, Book and LDS. When entered from either the Edit tab on the Menu bar, or from the Book tab in Reports, all four of these radio buttons are active. The Edit Event Types screen can also be entered from either the Edit Individual screen or the Edit Marriage screen. When entered from either of these, only the Individual or Marriage radio button, respectively, will be active. From the Edit Event Types screen you can highlight and select an Event Type, or you can choose to dig into the nuts and bolts of the Event Type.

Warning: HC SVNT DRACONES 

Dragon 01

Here Be Dragons

Tradition tells us that the ancient mariners used maps with unexplored or dangerous areas marked “Here Be Dragons.” Creating a new Event Type would be relatively simple, except for one thing. Events are listed in several reports, both as footnotes and as text. To make this happen, it is necessary to create a Sentence. Yes, this is both a bolded and a Capitalized Sentence. This can be a daunting experience.

Start Ancestral Quest, and split your screen so that you can do this as I explain.

To understand why creating a Sentence can be such a daunting task, let’s open the Edit Event Types screen by clicking Edit on the Menu bar, and selecting Event Types.

02 Edit Event Types E 02

Next, with the Individual radio button selected, click the Add Type button.

03 Define Other Event 01

Let’s examine the Define Other Event screen, one area at a time, top to bottom, left to right. The first area contains three fields, which are required.

The Title must be unique. If the Title is nine or fewer characters in length, just copy it to the Short title field. If it is longer, find a way to shorten it. Make up a two character Abbreviation.

Now enter Rank into the Title and the Short title fields. Enter Rk into the Abbreviation field.

The next section of the Define Other Event screen defines what fields will be in the Event record. It is possible to create an event which contains no fields. In that case, the Sentence could get the name  of the Individual from the Individual record, and use it in a sentence such as, “John had two left feet.” The Event name would probably be Non-Dancer.

AQ is  about to create a prototype for Rank event records. The record will contain the Date the rank was attained, the Place where it was awarded, what the actual Rank was, and from which field of Service it was received.

The first box is called Date. It consists of zero, one or two dates.

The rank was awarded on one, and only one, date, so in the Date box, click the Single radio button. It did not happen over a range of dates.

The second box is called Places. The individual was stationed at one and only one Place, when the rank was attained, so click the One radio button in the Places box.

The third box is called Descriptions. We need one description field to show what the Rank was, and one to say which Service awarded the rank, so click the Two radio button in the Descriptions box. Ancestral Quest now knows what fields are required for our Rank Event record.

That was the easy part.

At some point, we will attach our Rank Event to some Individual(s). When we do, the process which creates our Sentence will have access to the information in the Individual record, the information in the Event record, the text which we supply to the Sentence building process, and the Codes we use to tell the Sentence builder how to make choices about what to do, depending on the value, presence or absence of any of the information we are using. Let’s examine this Dragon.

Look to the box with the title Sentence Parameters/Codes. It is helpful, but incomplete. It contains the most commonly used Parameters and Codes. To see all the information, click on the Help button, scroll down to sentence codes, and click the Display button. This is what you will see. I have outlined some important areas for your consideration.

04 Codes 01

You will notice that each code and parameter begins with the percent sign (%) character. The Sentence builder will scan the characters in the Sentence box, and copy them into the Sentence until it finds the % character. This % character may, or may not, be the first character in the Sentence box.

When it finds a %, the Sentence builder decides whether it is to (1) retrieve information from the Individual record or the Event record, or (2) make a decision about how to proceed, based on the presence, the absence, or the value of the data in the records, or (3) do both.

If it finds a %1, it copies the Full Name from the Individual record into the Sentence.

If it finds a %2, it copies the Short Name into the Sentence.

If it finds a %3, it checks the gender in the Individual record. If it is a male, it copies either the word He or he into the Sentence, depending on whether it has previously copied any characters to the Sentence. If it is a female, it copies either the word She or she into the Sentence, depending on whether it has previously copied any characters to the Sentence. If the gender is unknown, it copies the Short Name into the Sentence.

Was that a Dragon I just heard?

If it finds a %4, it looks to see if there are any sources attached to the Event name. If there are, it copies those superscript numbers into the Sentence.

That brings us to %5. (Date 1)

When I learned Norwegian, one of the things that surprised me is that you can’t just translate prepositions. They are translate-able, that is, there is a one to one correlation between English prepositions and Norwegian prepositions, but the Norwegians don’t necessarily use the same prepositions we use. For example, we go to school, and they go on school. (Translators of AQ, beware)

Dates are a slight problem in English. We do things on a particular day, but in a particular month or year. When we are building a Sentence, we speak differently about complete dates, (on Day Month Year), and incomplete dates, (in Year or in Month Year). There is also the problem of before, after and about. These take the place of on or in.

The choice of which of these to copy into the Sentence is made by the %@ code. The code for placing a date into a Sentence would be %@ %5. Upon finding the %@, the Sentence builder first looks for the date modifiers, Abt, Aft or Bef. If it finds one of these, it copies the appropriate word (about, after or before) into the Sentence. If it does not find a date modifier, it checks to see if it is a complete (Day, Month, Year) date. If it is, it copies the word on into the sentence. If it is an incomplete date, the Sentence builder copies the word in into the Sentence. Next it will copy the space character it found between the @ and the next % into the sentence. Yes, spaces do matter. Next the Sentence builder copies the Date 1 into the Sentence. If there are any sources attached to this date, the Sentence builder will copy the superscripted footnote number(,s) after the date. What if the Date 1 field is blank? We’ll address that soon.

If the Sentence builder finds a %6, it copies the Place 1 value from the Event record into the Sentence.  If there are any sources attached to this place, the Sentence builder will copy the superscripted footnote number(,s) after the place.

If the Sentence builder finds a %7, it copies the Description 1 value from the Event record into the Sentence.

If the Sentence builder finds a %8, it copies the Date 2 value from the Event record into the Sentence. All the things we said about formatting Date 1 are true about Date 2. the %- code does for Date 2 what %@ does for Date 1.

If the Sentence builder finds a %9, it copies the Place 2 value from the Event record into the Sentence.

If the Sentence builder finds a %0, it copies the Description 2 value from the Event record into the Sentence.

07 Sentence Usage 01

The Sentence Usage area of the screen contains three parts.

(1) The Sentence box is where you enter Code, Parameters and text to be copied. In the example above I have entered the Parameters for Date 1, Place 1, Description 1 and Description 2. I have also entered space characters between these.

(2) The Sample box is where the Sentence builder simulates the Sentence it would build if this were an Event attached to an Individual.

(3) The bottom area is where you simulate the conditions which may exist when you attach an Event of this type to an Individual. Some explanation is in order.

If the Introduction radio button is clicked, the Sentence builder simulates how it would create this sentence if it were the first sentence in the first paragraph for this Individual. This is referred to as the Primary usage of the name.

If the Short Name radio button is clicked, the Sentence builder simulates how it would create this sentence using the Short Name. This is done when the name is used in the first sentence of a subsequent paragraph. It is referred to as the Secondary usage of the name.

If the He/She radio button is clicked, the Sentence builder simulates how it would create this sentence using the pronouns He or he, or She or she. If the gender is unknown, the Short Name is used. This is done for any sentence which is not the first sentence in the paragraph. This is referred to as the Tertiary usage of the name.

The above three radio buttons are mutually exclusive. Click each one now to see how it changes the Sentence.

07 Sentence Usage 01

As it is configured now, it doesn’t really form a sentence. It just strings facts together. We need more than just facts to form sentences. Below is the rest of the table found in the help screen. We will pick and choose parts of it, and mix in some of our own text to help our Sentence to make sense.

05 Codes 01

And there is still more.

06 Codes 01

I want the sentence to tell us that the individual received the rank of corporal in the US Army on 4 July 1976 while stationed in Salt Lake City.

Let’s start by naming our individual. We said earlier that the Sentence builder simulates how it would build a Sentence. That is so that we can see the result produced by the things we enter into the Sentence box. It assigns a name to our individual, and that name is either Lynn Jones, or Lynn, or He, or he, or She or she, depending on how we go about telling it to build the sentence. Go back and look at the rules governing %1, %2 and %3. If the name appears in the first sentence of the first paragraph, then we want to see the Full Name. If it appears in the first sentence in a subsequent paragraph, then we want to see the Short Name. If it is in any other sentence, we want to see He or he or She or she or, if we don’t know the gender, we want the Short Name.

What we need is an instruction that the Sentence builder will interpret as:

* * * * * * * * * *

If this is the first Sentence in this paragraph then
If this is the first paragraph then
Copy the Full Name into the Sentence
else
Copy the Short Name into the Sentence
else
If the sex is Male then
If this is the first character to be copied into the Sentence then
Copy He into the Sentence
else
Copy he into the Sentence
else
If the sex is Female then
If this is the first character to be copied into the Sentence then
Copy She into the Sentence
else
Copy she into the Sentence
else
Copy the Short Name into the Sentence
Endif

* * * * * * * * * *

There must be an easier way to slay this Dragon!

Remember this from the chart?

%(Secondary;Tertiary;Primary)

This is our first Dragon slayer. This will do what was done by the IF statement above. All we need to do is replace each word with its Code like this:

%(%2;%3;%1)

Lets put that into the Sentence builder and see what it produces. Lets start with the first sentence of the first paragraph. We do this by clicking the Introduction radio button.

07 Sentence Usage 02

Now let’s look at the first sentence in a subsequent paragraph. We do that by clicking the Short Name radio button.

07 Sentence Usage 03

Now let’s look at a Male in any other sentence. We do this by clicking the He/She radio button and the Male Radio button.

07 Sentence Usage 04

Now, what if this is a Female?

07 Sentence Usage 05

This is what we get if the gender is unknown.

07 Sentence Usage 06

Lets go back to the Male, but let’s put some text before and after our Code. In other words, we don’t need to capitalize the word he.

07 Sentence Usage 07

Now it starts to get complicated.

Ideally, if all the fields in the Event record were filled in, we would want the sentence to read:

Lynn attained the rank of Corporal on 25 May 1950 from the US Army while stationed in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States.

Keep in mind that if the Rank (Description 1) is unknown, we would not have created a Rank Event record at all, so we will assume that it will always be there. If the Date 1 is missing, we can’t include it, so we also should not include the preposition on, and if the Date 1 is incomplete it must say in, not on. Lets not forget that if we use Abt, Aft or Bef in front of the Date 1, then we replace in or on with about, after or before. To make it even more complicated, either or both of the Place 1 or Description 2 (branch of service) could be blank, and in that case the text relating directly to those should not be included.

Let’s go back to the original name only and start forming the Sentence. We will first add some text followed by the Rank.

08 Sentence Usage 01

Since this is still a prototype, and we have not yet attached it to an actual person, the Sentence builder has no way of guessing what we may place in the Description 1 field, it just shows the word Descriptor. As we have already seen, it uses the name Lynn Jones, and the date 25 May 1950.

Now let’s tackle that date. First we will address the possibility that it is missing from the Rank Event record. From the table of Codes, we will select %<x;;>. This Code tests for the presence of a value in a Parameter, which is represented by the x. When we start this Code with %<5 we are asking, “Is there a value in Date 1?” If there is a value, then we want to copy a space character to the Sentence, then perform the function of the %@ Code. This function checks Date 1 to see if it has Abt, Aft or Bef in front of the date. If it does, it copies about, after or before to the Sentence, and then copies another space character to the Sentence. Finally it will copy the date portion (minus Abt, Aft or Bef) to the Sentence.

08 Sentence Usage 02

Try clicking the radio buttons for He/She, Short NameIntroductionUnknown, Part Date, Female and Male.

Now we want to tell which branch of service awarded the rank.

08 Sentence Usage 03

Try clicking the Description 2 check box.

Now we want to tell where he was stationed when he received this rank.

08 Sentence Usage 04

Finally, we will close the sentence with a period, and check to see if there are any sources attached to the Event name. If there are sources, we will copy the superscripted number(,s) to the Sentence.

Now you can experiment with all the check boxes and radio buttons, except the Description 1 check box. If that is blank, there is no reason to have the Event.

08 Sentence Usage 05

Dragon conquered!

Now you are ready to do battle!!

 

Suggestions/Questions about AQ Will Do or Subjects discussed here? Leave a Comment Below.

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