Second Site News #060

6 February 2014

In this issue:

Second Site Version 5.1 Build 1 Released

This is a maintenance release with only minor enhancements and some changes that make Second Site fully compatible the most recent release of TMG.

See the Change Log for a list of changes.

I apologize for releasing an update so soon after the last one, but I wanted to make Second Site completely compatible with TMG v9 which was released today.

Subject Variables in TMG v9

TMG v9 has a great new enhancement, a set of Subject variables for use in sentence structures. Second Site 5.1 Build 1 fully supports these new variables.1Second Site 5.1, released last week, supports most of the Subject variables, all that were included in the specification at that time.

Subject variables refer to attributes of the subject person such as the person's name or the person's age at the time of the event. The subject person is the person for whom the narrative is being constructed. For example, in an Individual Narrative for John Smith, the subject person is John Smith. His narrative may include events that are shared with other people, but only his sentences for those events are included in the narrative.

Other variables return information about the subject, but they all have characteristics that make them unsuitable in some situations.

  • [P] refers to the subject, but only when the subject is a principal.
  • [W] refers to the subject, and works with both principals and witnesses, but its name implies usage with witnesses only.
  • [R:role] refers to the subject if the subject is assigned the indicated role, but in other circumstances [R:role] refers to everyone with the indicated role.

The primary Subject variable is [S]. It returns the full name of the subject, and like all Subject variables, [S] can be used for witnesses or principals.

The full set of Subject variables is show in the table below.

Variable Description Example
[S]Full name; eligible for pronoun substitutionJohn Joseph Smith or he
[S+]Full name; not eligible for pronoun substitutionJohn Joseph Smith
[SG]Given nameJohn Joseph
[SF]First name (first word of given name)John
Possessive Names
[SS]Possessive form of full nameJohn Joseph Smith's
[SGS]Possessive form of given nameJohn Joseph's
[SFS]Possessive form of first nameJohn's
[SLS]Possessive form of surnameSmith's
[SE]Exact age1 year and 19 days
[SPP]Possessive pronounhis
[SM]Objective pronounhim
[SPAR]Parents of subjectWilliam Smith and Jane Doe
[SFATH]Father of subjectWilliam Smith
[SMOTH]Mother of subjectJane Doe

As you can see, the Subject variables include an extensive set of variables to refer to attributes of the subject. The [P] family of variables, including [P], [PG], etc., provide many—but not all—of the same options. However, similar variations are not available for [W]. For that reason, and others, as of TMG v9, I recommend always using [S] or one of its variants in place of [W].

Here is one example where a Subject variable provides functionality that was not available prior to TMG v9.

In TMG v8.08 and previous, it is not possible to use a variable to refer to the given name of the subject for an event where the subject is a witness.

  • [PG] is not suitable because the person is a witness, not a principal.
  • There is no [WG] variable for witnesses that is the equivalent of [PG] for principals.
  • [RG:role] will return the given name of all the witnesses assigned to the indicated role, it is not limited to the subject only.

As of TMG v9, you may use [SG] to refer to the given name of the subject whether the subject is a principal or a witness.

The Future

I proposed and lobbied for the addition of Subject variables to TMG.2Once the proposal gathered steam, Bob Velke and Terry Reigel extended and refined it. My proposal had two parts:

  1. The addition of Subject variables as described above.
  2. The simplification and standardization of the values of Role variables ([R:role] and [RG:role], etc.).

    Once implemented, Role variables will always return the full list of people with the indicated role. This is simpler than in TMG v8.08 and previous where under some circumstances Role variables return the subject only but in other circumstances return everyone assigned to the role.

As of TMG v9.0, part 1 of the proposal has been implemented and provides many of the benefits of the entire proposal. Wholly Genes has indicated that they will implement part 2 in a future release. Part 2 requires a conversion of existing sentences and that needs careful planning and implementation.

When part 2 is implemented, using Role variables will be simpler and the output will be more predictable.

Preparing for the Future

If you sometimes use Role variables to refer to the subject, I recommend that you use Subject variables instead. So, for example, if you have this sentence for the role "Reverend":

[R:Reverend] performed the ceremony ...

Change it to this:

[S] performed the ceremony ...

The recommendation above only applies to the sentence for the given role. So, you make the change above in the sentence for the Reverend role only. To refer to the reverend in the sentence for someone other than the reverend, you continue to use [R:Reverend].


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