Updated 10 Jun 2007

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Not much to do with genealogy, but a lot to do with putting genealogical records on line. Tim Webb of Soham sent me this e-mail, and here's my answer about why this website seems to work.

From: sohamgen@hotmail.com
To: john.palmer@wirksworth.org.uk,
Subject: RE: census
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 2003 08:51:05 +0000

Hi John
I wonder if you could help me, I run a site (One-Place-Study) at
www.sohamroots.bravepages.com [warning, since 2003 the content of this
URL has changed radically]
and I am trying to put the records ie marriages for Soham online. But I am 
having problems with the large amount of information, and the time it takes 
to load a page, I notice on your census pages a lot of information, which 
takes very little time to load, I wonder if it would be possible if you 
could tell me how you achieved this, I have all the records on a database, 
but they do not line up correctly when I paste the information across to my 
web editing programme without the table showing, as showing the table makes 
the loading time too  great.

Best wishes

Tim Webb
Soham Roots

Hello Tim,

You have put your finger on the problem everyone runs into
eventually. The solution is simple, but not easy to describe. Brett
Payne (another OPSer) has called the method "Palmerization"! Here's
how it works.

1 Use the HTML tag <PRE>
  This tag overules the normal treatment of white space. Text written
  inside <PRE>...</PRE> is displayed with the spaces, tabs, and new
  lines exactly as they were written in the code. Use it where
  carefully spaced layout is required. Other formatting
  tags can be written within <PRE>...</PRE> but remember that the space
  they occupy in the code will disappear on screen.

2 Avoid using the HTML tag <TABLE>
  This tag is the normal way of controlling layout on the screen,
  especially when requiring columns of data that look easy on the eye.
  The snag is that the code memory "overhead" is very high, and files
  quickly get above the 70k which is a good "rule of thumb" for
  maximum file size for fast downloading from the Internet. Another
  snag is that all the "Wizards" that write code for you automatically
  choose <TABLE> instead of <PRE> as far as I know. Thats why I write
  all code by hand, not difficult after a few months learning time.

3 Divide files into 70k maximum size
  This is wearisome to do, but is necessary. My 1891 Census was sized
  2.2 Mb, and I divided it up into 38 files of average size 58k
  containing about 500 entries. Of course, each file then needs a link
  to the previous/next file. Big files must have an index, and the
  index must know which of the 38 files each entry appears. With 18,000
  entries, this must be done automatically ie by the database. So the
  database must produce the HTML code needed to make the links between
  Index and List. This can be done using DPL (database processing
  language), most databases have them its just a matter of learning and

4 Use a Word Processor
  Use a word processor for several vital steps in the whole business:
  A: Transcribe into the WP from fiche reader screen.Then you can use a
     pre-prepared blank format which greatly helps transcribing.
  B: Export from WP to database and so get the data into the database.
  C: After indexing and coding, re-import from database to WP
  D: In the WP, change from text-with-tabs to text-with-spaces. This
     needs an "Exchange" facility which most good WPs have.
  E: Export a page-image in ASCII format. This step is vital, it
     produces a file which has the data lined up in nice columns which is
     needed before adding the <PRE> tag. And it also produces a file which
     can be renamed with a .htm ending before uploading to your ISP and
     understood by the Internet and every visitors browser.

And thats about it, apart from the boring detail! Use your
browser "view source" facility to examine the coding of my Census
files. Find the <PRE> and </PRE> tags, and see how the data in
between is preformatted with just the right number of white spaces to
do the job. Also see the <A HREF= and <A NAME= codes on each line
which link Index to List and make the Census Index on my website so
easy to use.

Hey, I need to have my breakfast now. Get back to me if you
have any questions.

Best wishes,

John Palmer, Dorset, England

Hi John,
Thanks for the information, its going to help me a lot, I've tried 
everything else, and just about gave up. You deserve an extra shreddy 
after all that.
Thanks once again, 
Tim Webb.

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