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”

Downloading the Stemmario Trivulziano

The Stemmario Trivulziano is a fifteenth-century Italian armorial featuring the Milan’s ruling family the Visconti and many of their allies and neighbors, believed to be painted by Gian Antonio da Tradate somewhere around around 1465. It takes its name from its owner, Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, an independent mercenary commander, who might have made good use of it in identifying military units on the battlefields of Italy.

Unfortunately, for a long time the only way to view the Stemmario Trivulziano has been to either finagle an invitation to the library where it is held inside Milan’s Sforza Castle, or to purchase a lovely bound edition for € 296 (about $350). As those options were both out of the reach of many amateur armorialists, the rest of us had to make do with a few isolated pages which had been scanned and posted online. Continue reading “Downloading the Stemmario Trivulziano”

Downloading the Arlberg “Viennese Manuscript”

A couple of months ago I posted about extracting Vigil Raber’s sixteenth-century Wappenbuch der Arlberg-Bruderschaft from the “click to pan and zoom” web interface in which it is hosted, but as it turns out, this is not the only armorial manuscript created by this brotherhood.

For a bit of context, the Brotherhood of St. Christopher was established in the fourteenth century to shelter and assist travelers who were crossing the Alps using the Arlberg pass between Italy and Austria. For hundreds of years, they recorded the identities of armigerous travelers (and donors to the brotherhood) by painting the arms in a series of manuscript guest books.

In addition to Vigil Raber’s manuscript (circa 1548), several other copies of these books have survived to the present, although it appears that others were lost over the centuries. Continue reading “Downloading the Arlberg “Viennese Manuscript””

Using DrawShield for Emblazons

DrawShield is a web service that allows rapid generation of armorial images by either entering a blazon or choosing elements in a point-and-click interface.

It’s an automated system, so the results often aren’t as polished as you can produce by assembling elements yourself, or as unique as the custom work of a talented heraldic artist, but it’s fast and easy, and doesn’t require any tools other than a web browser, so it’s a great option for casual users to try out different possibilities and quickly mock up options for discussion.

Hundreds of charges from the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art have been converted to DrawShield elements, so users of the Traceable collection may recognize some images they encounter there, and DrawShield users can find additional variations of charges here if they wish to further embellish a design they started in that system.

Downloading the Wappenbuch der Arlberg-Bruderschaft

Having had some success with the Gelre armorial, I thought I’d take a stab at extracting another renaissance-era armorial that is only available through a “click to pan and zoom” web interface: the Wappenbuch der Arlberg-Bruderschaft, painted by Vigil (sometimes spelled Virgil) Raber around 1550 in Tyrol, on the border between northern Italy and western Austria. Continue reading “Downloading the Wappenbuch der Arlberg-Bruderschaft”

Downloading The Gelre Armorial

The Gelre Armorial is a medieval manuscript including over 1700 coats of arms that was painted around 1395 near Geldern, presumably by Claes Heinenzoon, herald to the Duke of Guelders.

It is kept in the Royal Library of Belgium, or KBR, and until very recently it was not available in full online, although images of several pages or noteworthy arms had been posted, such as the earliest known color depiction of the flag of Denmark.

Very recently, KBR published high-resolution images of the complete book, but they were only available through an interactive point-and-click “zoom to view” web interface, and could not be downloaded in a simple PDF format. Continue reading “Downloading The Gelre Armorial”

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”

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, and so there are several tools that provide an interface to this data. Continue reading “Interfaces to the Armorial Database”