Visual Method Collections
Web-based Method Programs
Restoration of Method Maker and the graphics capability of the VMA
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Alternative blue line format
now available - click here for more info
The Visual Method Archive allows you to view the blue lines for
methods, by searching a series of database files. 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
To find a method on the VMA, you need to use the search form. If you
can't use forms on your browser, you will have to look at one of the other
visual method collections.
N.B. If none of the above makes any sense at all to you, you
are advised to check here for an
explanation of blue lines, methods and change-ringing in general.
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 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.5.1.), 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 'unrung' search result. To make sure, or if in any doubt, check your place notation against those in the official Central Council collections. (See also Disclaimer)
The VMA contains all the methods, principles and differentials
contained in the on-line Method
Master libraries. For full details of where the method was first rung, what lead head
type it is etc. you will have to refer to the Central Council collections,
from which the Method Master libraries are derived. These are downloaded once a week (if
my computer's turned on) and shouldn't therefore be more than a week or so old.
Disclaimer: These databases may contain
errors. They are as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but in case of doubt please check
place notations against the Central
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
How does it work?
The Visual Method Archive is a cobbling together of four different
parts - the Method
Master method libraries, 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 2! As the update process is now fully
automatic, it can be done in a very short space of time (every Monday night if I remember
to leave my PC switched on).
What happened to lead ends and index numbers?
The method files are now taken from the on-line Method Master libraries
as detailed above, which has resulted in loss of ancillary details, instead of adapting
Tony Smith's much more detailed Central
Council Collection files. If you want full details you can refer to these but you
won't get a blue line.
Other Visual Method
(mainly for those without forms-capable browsers)
- Cornish Methods.
Another selection of methods with (sometimes rather tenuous) links to Cornwall.
(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)
- Otto Benz's Bellring Applet.
Java application producing blue line a bit like Method Maker, but you can't submit place
notation on the command line. Despite what it says in the blurb, it does work with
Netscape (well Communicator
4.7 at any rate).
- Kees van Doel's The Bells Applet. Rings the
changes and produces the sounds (well so it says but I don't have a sound card).
Thanks to some sterling work by several people, the VMA is now
producing graphic blue lines after a gap of almost a year. The roll of honour is:
- Jon Brawn for making his original Method Maker scripts available
- Jon Warbrick for re-organising the scripts, getting them
working on an sgi machine, and writing full instructions on how to install them!
- Ian Campbell of Exeter University IT Services for agreeing to
host the said scripts and taking over the blueline generator
- Bill Edmunds (the only non-ringer involved) for actually
installing the perlscripts and the extra modules of Perl required to get the thing working
However, while Method
Maker was unavailable, several people offered their assistance to try to produce a
usable blue line-generating program, most notably Paul Graupner, Otto Benz and Kelly
Barnes. These attempts didn't work (but Paul Graupner's Blueline program now offers a very handy alternative format of output to that provided by Method Maker) but I am very grateful to them for trying. Hopefully,
the current service will not go the same way.
Paul Graupner's BlueLine generator is now available on-line, and, as
it uses a very similar input format to the VMA, it has been trivially easy to include a
link from the Method Display page to offer another alternative format (as well as text
here to see what Cambridge Surprise Minor looks like in this format, or go to the Method
Display Page and click on the BlueLine link below the method image.