Descriptions for Field Division Directions

Following the 2021 rules change, SENA A5F1b now says that that changing the direction of partition lines is considered a Substantial Change, as is the difference between divided and undivided fields.

As a result, when using the Complex Search form to do conflict checking for fielded armory, we can add a second line for the field that matches anything with a similar direction.

For example, when looking for conflicts for armory blazoned “Per fess argent and vert, [anything]”, we would typically start a complex search with a criteria line for “PFESS:pl:argent:~and vert”. I believe that in this case we can safely add a second criteria line for “PFESS|FIELD DIV.-BARRY|NO”, which will still match per-fess items with other colors, or barry items, or fieldless items, but will exclude items which have solid fields, or per-pale fields, or bendy, etc.

That search should give us:

  • the maximum score for an identical per-fess field with the same line type and tinctures;
  • one less than the maximum for any per-fess or barry field;
  • one less than the maximum for any fieldless item;
  • two less than the maximum (and thus safely ignored) for any other type of field.

I’ve only been experimenting with this technique for a few weeks, and I’m not yet confident that I’ve figured out all of the potential hitches in it, but in my tests, this seems to cut down the number of items which have to be checked by hand (at times significantly), without ever excluding from consideration any items that might actually conflict.

If you want to give it a try, here’s a list of headings you can add as a second line for the field in a complex search when conflict-checking:

  • Per Fess or Barry: PFESS|FIELD DIV.-BARRY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Pale or Paly: PPALE|FIELD DIV.-PALY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Bend or Bendy: PB|FIELD DIV.-BENDY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Bend Sinister or Bendy Sinister: PBS|FIELD DIV.-BENDY*3|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Chevron or Chevronelly: PC|FIELD DIV.-CHEVRONELLY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Chevron Inverted or Chevronelly Inverted: PCI|FIELD DIV.-CHEVRONELLY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Gyronny: GYRONNY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Pall: FIELD DIV.-PER PALL|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Pall Inverted: FIELD DIV.-PER PALL*7|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Saltire: PSALT|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Quarterly: QLY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Checky: FIELD DIV.-CHECKY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Lozengy or Other Grid-like Tilings: FIELD DIV.-LOZENGY OR FUSILY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Party of Six, Orly, Others Not Mentioned Above: FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO

I’ve included the catch-all FIELD DIV.9OTHER type for all of these because items with that heading might also need hand-checking; for example, “party of six” is coded as FIELD DIV.9OTHER, and it’s not clear how much difference we would find between that and “checky.”

Sadly there isn’t a compact way to search for undivided fields, so if you want to add a line for those you need to mash a whole bunch of tinctures and treatments together; I think this might cover most of the relevant options, but I worry that I’ve missed a couple of salient choices:

  • For any undivided field: AR|AZ|CE|ER|ES|GU|OR|PE|PU|SA|TE|VT|FIELD TREATMENT-VAIRY|FIELD TREATMENT-POTENTY|FIELD TREATMENT-PAPELONNY|FIELD TREATMENT-PLUMMETTY|NO

If you give this a try, I’d love to know how it works out for you. I’m particularly interested in hearing of any potential traps, in which using this technique might exclude a legitimate conflict from consideration.

A Roadmap to Morsulus’s Monthly Updates

Last year I wrote up a summary of Morsulus’s process for applying updates from the monthly LoARs to the Society’s O&A database, and then more recently I put together a high-level visual overview of the context in which the Morsulus herald does his work.

More recently, I thought it might be useful to use a similar visual style to summarize the monthly update process, as a way of giving people a graphical roadmap to the data flow before they dive into the step-by-step technical nitty-gritty. Continue reading “A Roadmap to Morsulus’s Monthly Updates”

A Roadmap to the World of Morsulus

Because the tasks performed by the Morsulus Herald mostly take place behind the scenes, even experienced members of the College can be a little vague about what’s involved, so I put together a high-level conceptual diagram that outlines how some of the main elements are related. Continue reading “A Roadmap to the World of Morsulus”

Updating the O-and-A Category Files

On December 14, 2020, Master Herveus d’Ormonde led a few interested heralds through an online session in which we were able to observe a portion of his workflow as Morsulus Herald, watching as he added several new cross-references to the armorial category files and published the changes to the public O&A web site.

I am attaching my notes from this session below in hopes that they might be of interest to other members of the community, although this is admittedly a fairly-obscure topic with a limited audience. Continue reading “Updating the O-and-A Category Files”

Building the O-and-A Search from Source

In a recent post, I described how to install the software that drives the College of Arms’ Ordinary and Armorial on your own web site, but if you’re interested in modifying that software, you’ll need to be able to build it from source.

The O&A web search software is bundled into an open-source package named Morsulus-tools, along with the utilities that are used to manage and update the database. Continue reading “Building the O-and-A Search from Source”

Unusual Weights for the O&A Complex Search

When using the complex search form in the SCA’s online ordinary & armorial, each line of the search is typically coded with a weight of 1, and most people never change this value, but setting these weights to other values do allow for some interesting search techniques.

A while ago, I asked on SCA Heraldry Unofficial Chat about how how different folks used these weight fields, and have summarized that discussion below.

Weight values are limited to non-negative integers, and may optionally be prefixed with a “+” or “&” character. Continue reading “Unusual Weights for the O&A Complex Search”

Updating the O-and-A Database

On July 25, 2020, Master Herveus d’Ormonde led a few interested heralds through an online session in which we were able to observe core portions of his workflow as Morsulus Herald, watching as he applied the changes from a recent LoAR to the O&A master database and published the changes to the public O&A web site.

I am attaching my notes from this session below in hopes that they might be of interest to other members of the community, although this is admittedly a fairly-obscure topic with a limited audience. Continue reading “Updating the O-and-A Database”

Installing the O-and-A Search on Your Web Site

The Ordinary and Armorial of the SCA is a web-based searchable database of the names and armory registered by the SCA College of Arms over the last five decades.

At its core, the O&A consists of a 125,000-line pipe-delimited text file named “oanda.db” which typically contains a line for each registered item. (Although note that in some cases a name and associated armory are bundled together into a single line, and other times updates result in there being a couple of lines that document a single registration.)

Generally speaking, nearly everyone interacts with this data via the O&A web site, maintained by the SCA’s Morsulus Herald, but in theory you could just read through that text file to find relevant records, or utilize one of the small number of third-party applications which transform the oanda.db file into an e-book or import it into a third-party database engine.

The software that powers the O&A web site is open-source, and packaged in a way that makes it easy to install, as long as you have a machine that meets these requirements: Continue reading “Installing the O-and-A Search on Your Web Site”

A SQL Interface for the SCA Armorial

As powerful as the Morsulus O-and-A software is, it’s not particularly easy to install and get running on your own computer, and it’s a bit daunting to extend with new functionality.

I had an idea that it would be easier to work with the armorial data if it was loaded into a regular SQL database, and spent my weekend putting together a proof-of-concept implementation.

The results are available as Clerk-0.1.tar.gz, a pair of Perl scripts designed to work with a MySQL database. Continue reading “A SQL Interface for the SCA Armorial”