johnsonth wrote:Can you help me understand why you just wouldn't use the Print feature within Directory to print out a directory of members?
Sure, I'll be happy to try. When I was called as clerk a few years ago, our ward had a directory of a type that seems to be common in our area. It was a booklet prepared by one of the young women for her YW project (YW recognition? I'm not too familiar with the YW program).
I was asked to update it. The old on had been prepared from scratch in a word processor. The young women diligently copied all of the data over from a printed copy she received from the clerk of the time. Needless to say, it was full of errors, and much of the data was out of date by the time it was published.
This was my starting point. I started by re-creating her work (since that was my initial assignment) by automatically extracting the data from the CSV export in MLS, generating LaTeX output, and producing a similar booklet. Actually publishing it would require a lot of work each time it was updated. The booklets would need to printed, covers prepared, and each one manually folded and stapled.
Someone suggested adopting a more compact format, so I wrote code to fit everything in a more compact form, with font sizes chosen automatically to fit onto a single sheet of paper. To make the font clear and readable, this required abbreviating some of the information. All but two households are in the same town with the same zip code, so it made sense to remove that part, leaving it only for the two exceptions. Similarly, our home phone numbers all share the 435- prefix, so removing that (but leaving it for non-435- numbers) reduced the clutter further. I also show last names for individuals only when they differ from the household surname, and show individual phone and email addresses only when they differ from the household data. By using the lds.org directory CSV data, I also made it so that it did not require special privileges and did not use data that was not already approved for directory publication.
All of these tweaks add up, in our case pushing the font size from a miserly 8.5 points or so up to a more generous 10 points. The result is a directory with all of the pertinent information, with privacy requests honored (since the data comes from lds.org), in a simple, compact format. Publishing an updated list is simple, since it is all automated, and printing it can be done easily in the library. No additional preparation is necessary to hand it out.
Most of this I did before the printable directory from lds.org was available (or at least before I knew about it). I have experimented with it, but the results undo most of the improvements in presentation that I made. My directory follows basic typographical conventions like using a serif font for printed work, and a typewriter font for email addresses. It does optimal line breaking and optimal column breaking. It also allows last-minute corrections. My brother prepares a directory for his ward (he is not a clerk), and his clerk is unresponsive to requests for corrections. Being able to fix errors before distributing the printed directory is therefore helpful.
I don't suggest that everyone abandon the lds.org directory, but rather I wanted to share my work with others who might have similar tastes. My intention was not to ruffle anyone's feathers, nor to create a controversy, but rather to share my efforts and hope that they would prove useful to others. I've been a little surprised by the cynical response I've received, but then I'm new to this forum and am not familiar with the general tone of conversation.
Thanks again for the helpful suggestions that many of you have offered, and for pointing out issues that I had not considered.