Welcome to the
Visual Method Archive
The one-stop website for all on-line blue line printing programs!

Search Form

Important Notice


Frequently asked questions

Other 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 directly taken from Tony Smith's method collections. The additional formats and use of Tony's 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 ***


Search Form

You can search for methods in two ways:using name or place notation. 

  • 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, 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 Tony Smith's 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.

Please select method size:

Please enter search string for method(s):


Important Notice

These method collections are the copyright of the Anthony P. Smith. 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 Tony Smith's 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 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 Darrowby?
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 anyway?).

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 Tony Smith's method 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 - Tony Smith's 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 Tony Smith's 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 Collections, but you won't get a blue line.


Other Web-based Method Programs

(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.
  • [Contents]

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This page written by Adam J. Beer and last updated 10th June 2018. accesses since 11th November 2007.