Web-based Method Programs
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The Visual Method Archive (VMA) has undergone a long-overdue update in January 2014, allowing you to search for methods on-line, and then view their blue lines in your preferred format (Method Maker (VMA), Blueline (ringing.org), Method Printer (boojum.org.uk) or BLUELINE (https://rsw.me.uk/blueline/methods/)). The method database is also now directly taken from the official Central Council (CC) Method Collections, and is thus much more up to date. The additional formats and use of the CC collections also allows for methods beyond the Maximus stage to be searched and viewed.
You can also use it to check if a method has been rung and named, and to edit place notations, once entered, to try to create new methods. Further details and known possible limitations of the formats/programs are given in the Scope section below, and on the Search Results page.
To find a method on the VMA, you need to use the Search Form.
N.B. If none of the above makes any sense at all to you, you
are advised to click here for an
explanation of blue lines, methods and change-ringing in general.
*** Please note that, although blue lines should be fully functional, some of the text on this and subsequent pages is still being re-written ***
You can search for methods in two ways:using name or place
- Method Name - this may be the whole method name or just part
of it. If you search for a method type like Surprise, you may get a very long list
especially at the Major and Royal stages. The search is case-insensitive.
- Place Notation - again either the whole notation, or a
part. Use the format X36X16... . (N.B. no spaces in the place
notation, please!). To find a half-lead/lead end combination enter in the form 18-18,
where the first pair is the half lead and the second the lead end. If you enter a 'whole'
place notation (for symmetrical methods like Plain Bob use the "-" character to separate the half-lead change from the lead end change ie enter X16X16X16-12 ; for asymmetrical methods like Grandsire you really do have to enter the full place notation ie 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.5.1.), you are effectively checking to see if the method has been rung and named
- if not you will be able to view the blue line and see if it is false or not. If you are checking to see if you have generated a new method or not, please exercise caution in that (for example) omission of the final '.' in the Grandsire place notation above will generate an 'un-named' search result. Also, provisionally named methods are not listed in the VMA database. To make sure your method is un-named, to see if it has been provisionally named, or if in any doubt, check your place notation against those in the official Central Council collections (making sure to check the provisionally-named methods in the Supplementary Collections as well. Note that even if you want to use the Blueline or Method Printer programs to view, you should enter the place notation as described above, as it is translated as appropriate by the VMA.
These method collections are the copyright of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. You are welcome to make copies of the material for your own use. You may distribute copies to others provided that you do not do so for profit and provided that you include this copyright statement. The material has been modified, in that only Stage, Method Name and Place Notation have been retained from the original collections, and the Place Notation has been modified to suit the Method Maker blue line generator.
The VMA contains all the methods
contained in the on-line Central Council collections, which provide the definitive lists of method names and place notations. For full details of where the method was first rung, what lead head type it is etc. you will have to refer to these collections, as the Visual Method Archive is only intended to display blue lines. The Central Council Collections are normally updated weekly.
The blue line printing programs that can now be accessed directly from the VMA are:
- Method Maker (the original VMA blue line program)
- Paul Graupner’s Blue Line program, now hosted at ringing.org
- Martin Bright’s Method Printer program, at www.boojum.org.uk (two different formats, a one-click ‘default’ format, and a fully user-configurable format)
- Robert Wallis’s BLUELINE (Not related at all to 'Blue Line' above!) program, at rsw.me.uk
Frequently Asked Questions
*** Please note that this section is still being re-written from V6.0 ***
Why can't I find St. Lalluwy Doubles?
A lot of doubles 'methods' are in fact Variations - that is; standard
methods with not-so-standard calls. As the Method Maker program won't do
calls, it is currently impossible to put these on the Archive using the present automated
system. You can however, find a selection of Doubles Variations with Cornish connections
(including St. Lalluwy Doubles!) on my Cornish Methods page.
Why won't it display the line for Double
I don't know. As explained elsewhere on this page, I have no control
over the Method Maker engine which makes the VMA work. I suppose it was just never
designed to cope with something like Double Darrowby (do you REALLY want to ring it
What happened to version 4.0?
The short answer is that it was superceded by version 5.0 before it
went public. The long answer is below.
The VMA has evolved over several years as follows:
- Version 1 (aka Beta test version, or the Old Visual Method Archive - a manually
processed list of treble dodging minor and major methods
- Version 2 - a complete listing of Central Council-recognized methods,
form-searchable (using a hacked about Exeter University engine) but still manually updated
(it took a week!)
- Version 3 - automatically updated, using a macro with Excel
Spreadsheet. Appearance only changed from version 3.0a to 3.0b
- Version 4 - perlscript search engine replaced by Htmlscript search
engine to allow for a more useful response when no matching methods found (at Roger
Bailey's suggestion) - makes it much easier to check for unrung methods.
- Version 5 - following up the rest of Roger's suggestion, the method
viewer was changed so that only the blue line itself now comes from the Method Maker
Engine, all the rest is processed by an engine I wrote which allows for easy editing of
the place notation if you don't like what you've found. During 2001, the Method Maker
engine running at Yacc labs was disabled and it now runs at Exeter IT Services thanks to
the efforts of Jon Warbrick, Ian Campbell and Bill Edmunds. While Method Maker was
unavailable there was a VMA version 5.0a which used a crappy text version which I wrote
(best I could do I'm afraid).
- Version 6 - Htmlscript search and viewing engines replaced by PHP. Datafiles rationalised to eliminate repetition of unnecessary data. Method Maker program transferred to Ian Campbell's keeping.
- Version 7.0 - Major overhaul incorporating:
- Method database now taken directly from the on-line Central Council collections.
- Alternative line formats now offered at every stage of the method viewing process: Paul Graupner's Blue Line, and two options for Martin Bright's Method Printer (default and fully user-configurable).
- Version 7.1 - Robert Wallis's BLUELINE now included as an additional method-viewing option.
How does it work?
The Visual Method Archive is a cobbling together of four different
parts - the Central Council Method Collections, a search engine and editing form which I wrote, and Jon
Brawn's Method Maker program,
which now runs at Exeter University, after some sterling work by Jon Warbrick and Exeter
University IT Services. The Method Master files are automatically downloaded, unzipped and
converted into html databases in a web-searchable directory using Excel, all under the
control of a macro I wrote. It's probably not very elegant but it works! If either of the
search engine or the method generating engine go down then the whole thing fails. As the
method blue line image programs are incomprehensible to one of my limited programming
ability, I can't make changes to the output of the Method Maker engine.
Will it do bobs and singles?
No. As explained above, the program which actually returns the blue
line is beyond my ability to modify. Jon Brawn did say that he was working on a Java
version of the Method Maker, but whether that will do bobs etc. I don't know.
Can I change the blue line bell?
Again, no, for the reasons explained above. It is fixed by the blue
line producing program as the heaviest working bell.
How up to date is it?
A lot more than version 6! As the update process is now fully
automatic, it can be done in a very short space of time and the source file is updated weekly.
What happened to lead ends and index numbers?
The method files are now taken from the Central Council Method Collections as detailed above. However, ancillary details such as Ringing World references and lead head codes have been deleted for simplicity. If you want full details you can refer to the Central Council Collections, but you
won't get a blue line.
(other than Method Maker, that is)
- Paul Graupner's BlueLine
generation Application. Allows you to enter a place notation and get a blue line. Can also
accept place notation on the command line and is rather compatible with the VMA (so much
so that I have linked to it directly from the method display page of the VMA)
- Martin Bright's Method printer. Produces PDF or POstScript blue lines with a large number of different style and presentation options.