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multi column list

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 1:41 pm
by Darris Williams-p40
The Earl wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Reflist

Template:Reflist can automagically multi-column a list of things. The template is pretty complex, and I could not get it working over on FS, but it might give you some ideas for auto-formatting of multi column lists.

Thanks
The Earl


This idea of a multi column list generated by this template could be a great solution for the word lists and some other things we have talked about such as a handwriting guide for Danish words and letters. What will it take to get this to work? Would our engineers need to investigate it further based on what you have learned so far or do we wait for browser upgrades? Where do we go now?

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 1:57 pm
by Thomas_Lerman
From what I have seen so far, a couple of things are required to get it to work:
  • More extensions installed, please see all comments from thread: http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1106
  • One of the following:
    • Browser upgrades will allow the multi-column styles to automatically break the list into columns.
    • Have page creators/editors manually break the list into columns. I really do not suggest this as it sure could be a pain.

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:09 pm
by The_Earl
Thomas_Lerman wrote:
    • Have page creators/editors manually break the list into columns. I really do not suggest this as it sure could be a pain.


I have not seen a template that parses the length of a list, and automagically breaks it, but it is theoretically possible.

Keep your eyes open for such a thing.

Thanks
The Earl

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:15 pm
by The_Earl
Darris Williams wrote:This idea of a multi column list generated by this template could be a great solution for the word lists and some other things we have talked about such as a handwriting guide for Danish words and letters. What will it take to get this to work? Would our engineers need to investigate it further based on what you have learned so far or do we wait for browser upgrades? Where do we go now?


For sure have one of the engineers take a look at it. It wasn't working for me, so I backed out my changes. I did not know that the parser functions were not installed, so imagine that is what I couldn't figure out.

I would absolutely be willing to give it another go!

I am not sure that {{reflist}} fills a need for users currently. It does do a nice job of formatting footnotes, but it is a pretty complex template to shoot for if all we want is multi-col lists.

Walking {{reflist}} or one of the other multi-col templates to verify that the missing parser functions (or which parser functions) are the problem is the next logical step I think.

Thanks
The Earl

Posted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:48 pm
by Thomas_Lerman
At this time, I have only seen the styles, not templates (but the templates use the style), that automatically breaks a list into multiple columns. I think this is an important distinction to make to avoid possible confusion.

Concerning Template:Reflist that apparently The Earl was playing with as well, please see the Extensions thread (http://tech.lds.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1106) as it explains why this template does not work yet (two reasons). When I noticed Darris was playing with it a few days ago, I found this information out. I believe I e-mailed him or else forgot to. I can get this working in the matter of minutes once the Extensions are installed. This template really only uses the style for multiple columns and the extensions explained in the other thread.

Posted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:13 am
by Thomas_Lerman
As I was trying to get to sleep, my brain jumped around thinking about the Wiki (yes, again Michael). We thought was that lists of words could also be pretty easily broken into columns using an Extension. This extension would cause it to work with all current browsers.

I took a quick look and found one that does not quite work that way I would expect in this case, but proves that something could be built (like I said, I think that would be really pretty easy). Actually, I saw this Extension previously, but thought I should document it.
http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:ColList

Example of use

Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 2:16 pm
by Thomas_Lerman
A real-live example of why a column extension would be very useful:
https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Czech_Word_List#General_Word_List

This "General Word List" is extremely long . . . something like 63 screenfuls of words. In theory, by breaking this into 2 columns, it would cut it down to 32. Three columns would be 21.

Automatically breaking this up would be much easier than a manual process of trying to make the columns equal. Using an extension would allow this to work on old, current, and future browsers. Whereas, a style will work on some current and future browsers. I believe creating an extension will be very easy.

I have to go out of this room, so that is all for now,

Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:26 pm
by Thomas_Lerman
My other comment I wanted to make about the current word list is that it takes up a relatively small portion of the horizontal real estate. Multiple columns would use that white space more efficiently. Ideally, the number of columns would use a standard screen width (whatever that is, 800 pixes?) most efficiently. This means it would have the most amount of columns probably with the least amount of wrapped text. I would imagine that we would have some standard for this. I am working on a manually built simple HTML file to prove how this could work & look. Not sure if I will post it or not.

Multi-col bot

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 6:49 am
by The_Earl
Thomas_Lerman wrote:A real-live example of why a column extension would be very useful:
https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Czech_Word_List#General_Word_List

This "General Word List" is extremely long . . . something like 63 screenfuls of words. In theory, by breaking this into 2 columns, it would cut it down to 32. Three columns would be 21.

Automatically breaking this up would be much easier than a manual process of trying to make the columns equal. Using an extension would allow this to work on old, current, and future browsers. Whereas, a style will work on some current and future browsers. I believe creating an extension will be very easy.

I have to go out of this room, so that is all for now,


I am beginning to wonder if a bot is the correct solution for this.

I think it would be nice to have a tag or template that you could mark a page with, and have a bot automagically alpha sort the list, build multiple columns and a TOC. This would be pretty simple for any language to do.

I think it would be a bit more difficult to do with an extension, because you would have to keep a lot of the page state in memory. PHP web apps, and web apps in general tend to have problems with large memory structures, and saving state.

My 2c
The Earl

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 6:57 am
by Thomas_Lerman
When I get a chance finish my test HTML file, I will see about uploading it to my Talk page or something. It may not be today as I have several appointments. I personally believe it can be done very well and rather easily with an Extension and retain functionality we have right built into MediaWiki.