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Discussing: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

We are going to be setting up tables for the excellent travel information developed by Sulriel, Blue Iris, and ErinRua. [if we had a 'bow down' emoticon, it would go here.] I will post this in the Geography and Maps discussion as well, but this is the time to figure out how to organize it. The list is so big, that it should be several tables, each table in its own chapter of an article. I have some thoughts on how to break it up, but I'd love to hear ideas from others so we can put together something that will be user friendly. Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

Hi Lyllyn, the templates look very nice. I agree just the list itself is a huge form and would do well to be broken up, but I'm concerned that you would lose some usability in the search function -but that may be a minor concern compared to the size of the chart. Are you considering adding the discussion from the thread as chapter text? It would be helpful, but I agree the difficulty will be in the organization.

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

I agree just the list itself is a huge form and would do well to be broken up, but I'm concerned that you would lose some usability in the search function -but that may be a minor concern compared to the size of the chart. Are you considering adding the discussion from the thread as chapter text? It would be helpful, but I agree the difficulty will be in the organization. I'm not sure about what should go there - Ang set it up that way, and I thought perhaps the commentary on conditions or route choice could go there. The table I did as practice I set up as 'local travel in Gondor' but that can easily change. As a first pass through, I thought of several areas of 'local' travel - Gondor, Rhovanion, Eriador, etc. Then maybe separate tables for the long trips which have several different routes? How would you see it set up to be the most usable? Barbara may have some ideas, given how good she's been at organizing information. - what thoughts do you have? Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

How would you see it set up to be the most usable? Jumping in here I think it's worth starting from this question because if we can work out what people want, then the how ought to flow from that! From the requests in the thread, there seem to be three different ways people approach this. 1) There are some specific long journeys (with alternate routes) that are very commonly requested such as Thranduil's Halls/Rivendell and Minas Tirith/Rivendell. 2) Then there are the local travel requirements. I'll hold up my hand and admit to asking for a lot of the Gondor stuff. (And not just because I was writing a particular journey but because I need to understand stuff like how long it would take to send messages between Minas Tirith and Dol Amroth and how often it's likely the Prince of Dol Amroth would attend councils in Minas Tirith.) 3) FInally, there's sometimes a need to construct a completely new journey no-one has considered before, which requires digging out all the individual legs of the journey. Which leads on to another question: do you want to have just a single copy of the data (good for data integrity) or are you happy to have multiple copies of the same information in different tables (given these are static copies and not being generated out of the same data source, so if something changes in one place, it needs to be changed in all the others)? There's also the issue that the journey from, say the Crossings of Poros to the Crossroads in Ithilien is (in term of travel time and terrain notes) essentially the same as the trip from the Crossroads in Ithilien to the Crossings of Poros. Are you going to list the trip one way round (and how do you choose which place is depature and which is destination) or are you going to list the trip both ways? Now, HASA members are smart and can do a bit of digging to find the individual legs they need, whichever way round they are listed, but I have my long-term planning head on here and I'm thinking about future uses of this data (the trip calculator, perhaps). So my thoughts are: Would it be possible to have a "summary chapter" with a table that does list every possible leg, both ways round, in alphabetical order by departure point - and the have a hyperlink to the local area page where that leg is included. This would be a long table, but it would also be a complete "single source" and index to all the other data. So the summary chapter would have: departure destination area/region Crossings of Poros Crossroads in Ithilien link to Gondor page Crossroads in Ithilien Crossings of Poros link to Gondor page Then the other chapters could be "regional chapters" and list all the legs in that region, with the full six columns of detail. In the notes section, as well as terrain notes we could put hyperlinks to relevant entries in the resources section on terrain (for example, the Forest Path, Great Spiders etc)? And finally we could have some chapters that list some of the most commonly journeys by different routes, complied from the legs in the area/region pages. Umm, sorry, rambled on there, but that's the way I think I would try and solve this. Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

On first thought, here are my suggestions. ch.1 I have general notes and comments set as a seperate chapter and I think that should stay. ch.2 I think should be the full table, basically as it is now with the direct trips and the longer trips with legs. I know it isn't very technical, but do most users have the kind of 'find' function like IE does, to find something on that page. That way, if someone was looking for anything, they could search that page. additional chapters could be set up regionally in sets of two, with the notes and comments from the thread (if it is ok with the authors) pasted into a chapter, and a following chapter with the travel chart cooresponding to those notes. so the chapter names would be like: ch.3 Gondor-notes ch.4 Gondor-chart ch.5 Mirkwood-notes ch.6 Mirkwood-chart ch.7 Shire-notes ch.8 Shire-chart I think Rivendell could have its own chapter since it is so popular and the Minas Tirith to Rivendell route could go there as well as in the Gondor Regional chapters. I could work on building the chapters from the thread notes since I don't have the crunching program for the charts. almost forgot. I think you thought I meant to suggest putting the thread comments in the comment section of the chart. I didn't mean that because the comments on the thread are too long and most of the routes already have comments. ....hope I have caused less confusion, not more.

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

So the summary chapter would have: departure destination area/region Crossings of Poros Crossroads in Ithilien link to Gondor page Crossroads in Ithilien Crossings of Poros link to Gondor page in the regional chapter divisions, this would fall into place automatically in many cases because the Minas Tirith to Rivendell would be in the Gondor regional section and the Rivendell to Minas Tirith travel would be in the Rivendell section In the notes section, as well as terrain notes we could put hyperlinks to relevant entries in the resources section on terrain (for example, the Forest Path, Great Spiders etc)? yes, this is an excellent idea

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

ch.1 I have general notes and comments set as a seperate chapter and I think that should stay. Yes, this is all good information ch.2 I think should be the full table, basically as it is now with the direct trips and the longer trips with legs. A technical point which might improve the speed at which the page loads is that the table could be split into several pieces from an HTML point of view (although this would not be apparent on the page when viewed). I think this would allow the first table to load and display while the second is being loaded, rather than having to wait for the whole table to load before it can be displayed. I know it isn't very technical, but do most users have the kind of 'find' function like IE does, to find something on that page. That way, if someone was looking for anything, they could search that page. Works for me and something I do actually use at HASA sometimes already! additional chapters could be set up regionally in sets of two, with the notes and comments from the thread (if it is ok with the authors) pasted into a chapter, and a following chapter with the travel chart cooresponding to those notes. Good idea. almost forgot. I think you thought I meant to suggest putting the thread comments in the comment section of the chart. I didn't mean that because the comments on the thread are too long and most of the routes already have comments. ....hope I have caused less confusion, not more. Thanks for clarifying (I wasn't completely clear what was meant). Crossings of Poros Crossroads in Ithilien link to Gondor page Crossroads in Ithilien Crossings of Poros link to Gondor page in the regional chapter divisions, this would fall into place automatically in many cases because the Minas Tirith to Rivendell would be in the Gondor regional section and the Rivendell to Minas Tirith travel would be in the Rivendell section OK, I obviously saw this working differently to you I saw the regional sections only including legs that were in that region. So the way I saw it working, for the Minas Tirith- Rivendell journey, the Gondor section would only cover getting as far as the Mering Stream (?) which is the border with Rohan. Then you would look in the Rohan section either for the legs that get you to the Gap of Rohan or the ones that get you up to the Limlight and the border with the Vale of Anduin. Witn the first route, you then would need to look in the Eriador section to get you from the Gap of Rohan to Rivendell. With the second. you would need to look in the Vale of Anduin (and Mirkwood?) part to get you through the Gladden Fields and to one of the two passes (Caradhras or the High Pass) and after that look in the Eriador part to get you from wherever you are on the other side of the Misty Mountains to Rivendell. Does that make any kind of sense? Another reason for saying we need the trip listed in both directions was that there was a whisper of some day (and let me emphasise the some day, because this is a really difficult coding challenge) there being a "trip calculator" that would allow you to automatically construct (and save) details of any journey from the available legs held in a database. So I was thinking about the best way to capture the data now to make that programming easier. In the notes section, as well as terrain notes we could put hyperlinks to relevant entries in the resources section on terrain (for example, the Forest Path, Great Spiders etc)? And the depature and destination points could also be linked to their entries in the resources entries if they exist as well. Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

saw the regional sections only including legs that were in that region. So the way I saw it working, for the Minas Tirith- Rivendell journey, the Gondor section would only cover getting as far as the Mering Stream (?) which is the border with Rohan. Then you would look in the Rohan section either for the legs that get you to ok, I see what you are saying. but I think by splitting the legs of the trip by region you will, in part, negate some of what Blue Iris has done in mapping the longer trips. And it would require more work rather than less by the members, in that they may have to search through (for example) six chapters instead of two in order to get from the Shire to Lake Town or Minas Tirith. I had in mind to split the regions by departure point regardless of destination, but that would greatly increase the amount of duplicated data over what you are suggesting.

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

I had in mind to split the regions by departure point regardless of destination, but that would greatly increase the amount of duplicated data over what you are suggesting. And from a usability point of view, that's a really good idea and I like it a lot. It's just warring with my concern for data integrity, in that the more data you duplicate, the more potential there is for data in different places to get out of step. What I did suggest further up the thread was that a limited number of the most "popular" routes could be put in a separate chapter, with the regional chapters just having the legs in those regions. I think we probably need more input from other people here Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

I totally agree that the duplication of data increases the odds for error and that is a Bad Thing. I think, like you suggest, if there were seperate chapters for the more popular longer routes, that the legs would work fine within the regions. I'm not set one way or the other, I'm just trying to toss out some ideas. I agree more varied input would help. Do you want to post to the ha-yahoo with a question about it?

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

I totally agree that the duplication of data increases the odds for error and that is a Bad Thing. And I agree that losing the work that has been done by Blue Iris pulling together the longer routes is a Bad Thing too. I didn't really think through that being a downside of my approach. I'm not set one way or the other, I'm just trying to toss out some ideas. I agree more varied input would help. Do you want to post to the ha-yahoo with a question about it? Why don't we wait for Lyllyn to take a look at the discussion and see what she has to say? Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

Hi all, I won't have the time to think about this in detail for a while... am up to my ears in Giant Spiders, but I have two three some thoughts opinions right off the top of my head: First, it is essential to store each trip segment in only one place, especially if you're going to do something like a trip calculator in the future. (In more technical terms, there should be a "Segments" table.) That way, any new information that must be added, such as new links (since the Resources Library is always expanding ), or modifications only have to be added in one place. Second, the user should be presented with a single, all-encompassing Index of Trips, indexed by the names of the end points, with both directions listed. If a user wants a trip from A to B, they should be able to find it under 'A'; and the return trip under 'B'. All of the individual trip segments would be indexed, as well as the multi-segment trips. If we wanted to keep things simpler internally, we could also include alternate routes in this Index (eg both "C to D via X" and "C to D via Y" - which also implies "D to C via X" and "D to C via Y", if those are also possible routes [e.g. don't involve, say, rowing a boat upstream in a fast-flowing river]). (Technical: there should be a "Trips" table, where alternate routes are separate Trips.) Third, the *ideal* situation would be for the user to select a Trip, and all the Segments (and *only* the segments) used for that trip are displayed. (Technical: there should be a link between the Trips table and the Segments table, where each Trip links to one or more Segments.) I do not recommend breaking the information up by Region (though region could certainly be one of the pieces of data stored for each Segment). Fourth, if you want to include non-structured text (Comments), there should be a separate "Comments" table, [tech: where each record is variable-length, or fixed-length ("Lines") and any number of Lines can be chained for one Comment]. Then, one or more Comments could be linked to a Trip. (Hmmm, maybe also need to link to a Segment?), and a single Comment can be linked to any number of Trips. So much for my potential database design . If you have any questions, let me know... - Barbara P.S. Breaking information up into Regions only makes sense if you can't display the information selectively; I think the ideal situation is to present the user with only the specific information they need for that Trip. (Edit: ) And then it would be nice if the user could print or download the information into a nicely-formatted text file... but File/Print or Save As will probably be enough at first.

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

Hi Barbara Great thoughts - I think Ang (who creates all the wonderful code for the site) has been considering all of that for the idea of a proper "trip calculator". However, that is really the plan for the future. (Ang is taking a break from any new coding - and a well-deserved break at that, after all her work on ni!HASA.) What is being considered now is how to quickly get the information into some HTML tables in a research article on the site that can be of practical use immediately. (Sorry if that wasn't clear.) The solution isn't likely to be the the elegant one you've outlined above, but something of a compromise that takes account of the limitations of displaying anything in a fixed HTML table rather than than pulling the information from a database (which would be trickier to program if more powerful). So that's why we're discussing stuff like whether to break things up into regions and how much duplication of data there should be. Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

Ah! Got it! Probably should have read the threads a little closer. Breaking up a huge spreadsheet into regions is a *most* appropriate idea, then. Sorry if I caused any confusion or consternation. - Barbara

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

Sorry if I caused any confusion or consternation. Not at all - I suspect Lyllyn, Sulriel and I were the source of the confusion because we'd already seen some discussion offlist about this and so were drawing on background we already knew about but others didn't. Cheers, Liz

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

May I still suggest an Index sheet at the beginning, if at all possible? One that lists the name of *all* the trips that are described, and then points to the Regional sheet where the details (at least for the beginning of the trip) can be found? A starting point, if you will... That way, it doesn't matter how you group the trips on the Regional sheets, the user can still find the trip they want... I'm trying to put myself into the shoes of a user who first looks at this information, and either wants to find a specific trip, or just wants to see what is there... - Barbara, who is notoriously bad at finding things that don't have big signposts pointing to them...

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

May I still suggest an Index sheet at the beginning, if at all possible? One that lists the name of *all* the trips that are described, and then points to the Regional sheet where the details (at least for the beginning of the trip) can be found? A starting point, if you will... I like this idea, Barbara. It gives people a few ways to find something - either by the index or straight to whichever chapter they thing might be right. So far we've got 'chapters' for regions, chapters for the longer and popular trips, maybe a miscellaneous chapter, and an initial index. Any other ideas on how to slice and dice? Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Travel routes and distances tables - structure?

Oh, *very* good idea! I like the idea of an index for trips. Here's some geek stuff to help the content organizers know what is/isn't feasible: There is a standard template, based on the big travel chart, that can be used for each grouping of travel legs. Each group of travel (like the Minas Tirith to Dol Amroth tables) will be prepared using the template. I take each table as prepared by the Resources crew and give it an HTML file of its own on my server here. I name them so they are easy to track. I then take each file and drop it into my W3C Compiler (a real program made by Port 80 Software) and the compiler spits out a crunched version. At that point, I open the crunched file in my HTML editor and copy/paste the table into the appropriate "chapter" of the travel times article. I actually like the idea of a chapter that holds all of the travel times. Yes, it will be a bitch to download, but for people with broadband connections, it is probably more convenient. Users with dial-up or restricted connections can use the smaller chapters, knowing the trade off is they may need to look at more. The same crunched table would be used in each location. My one concern about a single chapter is there is a lot of extra code because of the tables, and there is a chance it would be too large for the database field - but we can cross that bridge when we get to it. As per the travel calculator - it is formally on the development wish list. The kick-around idea right now is to have legs of travel each given an entry in a database, then have some mechanism where a user can start at one point (say, Hobbiton) and can plot a route point by point, one leg at a time. When done, click to generate a compelte travel itinerary, or something like that. As you can see, it is all "I wonder if we could..." at this point. Ang

 

 

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