Interfaces to the Armorial Database

I’m working on some possible improvements to the web interface used to search the SCA’s heraldic database, known colloquially as the “O and A,” short for “Ordinary and Armorial.”

(Traditionally, an armorial is a printed listing of armory registrations with their blazons and the names of their holders; mundane armorials typically include all, or all of the notable, registrations within a certain heraldic jurisdiction. An armorial is typically organized alphabetically by the holder’s name; in contrast an ordinary is a specialized index used for looking up armory based on its blazon or appearance, grouping registrations under their primary charges.)

For decades the SCA’s armorial database has been maintained and distributed as a delimited text file, but searching it by hand in this format is inconvenient.

Periodically the database has been converted to a PDF file that could be printed for reference by heraldic consultation tables at events without internet access, but the alphabetical armorial and indexed ordinary both grew to over a thousand pages long, which makes it impractical to print up-to-date versions on a regular basis.

There is an e-book version in ePub format that is generated from the database every month by Jason Fesler; it includes both an alphabetical armorial and an indexed ordinary.

However, in practice, most searches of the database are done using the web interface at oanda.sca.org, which provides searches by name and blazon, as well as a clickable ordinary and a powerful “complex search” interface that allows for filtering registrations with multiple simultaneous criteria, which greatly speeds the process of searching for potential conflicts with new heraldic submissions.

The software that powers that web interface is available on GitHub as part of the Morsulus-Tools package, maintained by Master Herveus d’Ormonde of the East, who has served as Morsulus Herald since 1999. It’s written in Perl and includes numerous CGI scripts the power the various search features.

There are several mirror sites which run copies of the same Morsulus oanda software, although you’ll want to double-check that their copies of the database are up-to-date.

The HeraldStick project by Tanczos Istvan provides instructions for setting up a copy of the Morsulus oanda software, along with mirrors of some useful reference works, as a web server that runs inside a virtual machine that can be packaged on a USB memory stick and attached to a Windows computer. The setup process is not fully automated, so a fair amount of technical ability is required to get it running.

The HeraldsPoint hot spot project by Master William of Meridies is an effort to package the HeraldStick software as a pre-configured package running on a WiFi access point that can be made accessible to multiple heralds working at an event’s consultation table. These devices seem promising but are not yet available for purchase.

A few third-party applications have been created that allow browsing and searching the database.

• Aspilogia is a Windows 8/10 application built by Oddr Þiálfason of An Tir. This includes a complex search tool, along with a fuzzy search for names and blazons.

• There is a Windows desktop application built using dBASE by Hirsch von Henford of the West Kingdom.

• Stentorian.us has a Lotus Notes interface to the database, affiliated with the Meridies College of Heralds.

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