Forums: Index > Help desk > Problem with new person form

I am having difficult with the new person form that is used for creating a new page about a person. I have just tried over the last hour to create a new page for an ancestor using the new form and I have:-

  • been able to upload an image but not make the link to it appear in the form
  • been unable to view any of the data I have input in preview mode, so I have no concept of what the page looks like (and I'm not going to save until I can see it)

I am used to using the previous version of creating pages for individuals, and I had no difficulty with that system. Is there any way that pages for individucals can be created in the old fashioned way - I found it quicker and easier and am struggling to work out how this new form system works.


Your edit history shows you never saved an article using the form. So it sounds like you said that you tried for an hour but refused to save the article and concluded it somehow wasn't adequate for your needs. Is that what you are saying? It's hard to identify the merit of your criticism if that is so.
More than a dozen unregistered users have used it just fine, so perhaps your expectation is misplaced that naive users should have to figure out how to edit templates. Because that is what I see you are doing from your edit history. Still, after an hour of making a good faith effort of trying out the new form, perhaps you would have noticed the button labeled "edit without form" plainly labeled in the upper left corner. You are free to use it and do as you please.
Actually many of our biggest contributors do not use the form and prefer to enter data directly into templates. Personally, I think it is error prone except for the most experienced users so I don't think we should offer it. At the very least it would have to have embedded comments, and these interfere with the new editor- so effectively we would be barring naive users from editing any content that was entered this way.
Please note that the form is just the tip of the iceberg. Take a look at the automatically generated trees and ahnentafels generated from articles that use the new form. If you encode your ancestor data using alternate templates, you won't get the benefit of those and other features like semantic search on ancestors.
Lastly, there is a style question. Our wiki doesn't have a standard look and feel. The majority of articles use the new templates, and soon only a small minority will not. Users will expect to be able to correct articles using a form. By using non standard templates, you are forcing them to use the plain text editor and understand how to edit parameters. I don't think that is a fair expectation for non technical contributors. You on the other hand can edit the articles using the plain text editor changing parameter values if you like so you are not excluded. ~ Phlox 15:59, November 18, 2009 (UTC)

No indication of template on preview[]

OK, I use the form, either the standard one or the advanced one. I hit Preview. Other wikis have a preview that looks very like the final page you will get when you save. This "preview" does not. And I don't remember any note telling me I shouldn't expect it to.

Near the top of the article I see three lines of text:

Move this template to the location in the article where you wish the table to appear.
  • Displays children for an individual in table(s). Otherwise this template does nothing.
  • To add data to this template, choose the "edit with form" menu item and click the Children form button.

Then there's a blank child box with the suggestion that my spouse is unknown.

Puzzling. Almost frightening.

  1. "Move this template" - ?? It isn't a template, it's a few lines of text and a box. Sure, it's probably created by a template, but how's a beginner supposed to know that, let alone how to work out where to find this template and move it?
  2. Then we are invited to add data to it. Well, it certainly needs some, with no spouse and no children shown, even though we are fairly sure we entered them in the right boxes. So how are we to do that? Choose the "edit with form" menu item and click the Children form button. Crazy! I've spent what seemed an eternity filling in this form, and I remember a big warning at the beginning that said I should save my work before clicking on any of the bold links that were just below it. I'm not risking all that work. I'll have to save this stupid thing and try to find why my spouse and children aren't showing.

User-friendly? Hah. I might go back to doing info pages, which that experienced genealogist explained so well on his Squidoo lens that attracted me here. I'm not surprised he hasn't yet amended it to urge newbies to try the forms system. Whizzbang software is good only if you can see how to use it.

— written on behalf of a hypothetical new user by Robin Patterson (Talk) 13:55, January 26, 2010 (UTC)

Recent users may have noticed that I've made several edits in various places (including some of the dreaded templates) that make the user experience a little less puzzling. Anyone still puzzled may gain more insight after rereading the recently-amended Help:Starting pages for people, places, or surnames/Guidance (which is the target of the "Help: ..." link near the top of the sidebar). — Robin Patterson (Talk) 03:58, June 10, 2010 (UTC)

Places, including places-other fields[]

It appears that in converting to the new info page form, the new places-other fields (birth_places-other, death_places-other, wedding_places-other) have been filled with a concatenation of other place fields. In boxes on the person page and tree subpage these places-other fields are displayed in quotes following the individual place fields, which of course is redundant. See for example Doris Irene Hunt (1924-1972). I find that when I delete the contents of the places-other fields, the redundancy goes away. If this redundancy is a problem generally for converted info pages, could someone create a bot to delete the contents of places-other fields that were created during the conversion of existing info pages? DennisDoty 22:01, February 3, 2010 (UTC)

That one may have been fixed. I've just done a page for my mother-in-law with no duplications; it shows four places exactly as I typed in. But I didn't use the "other" field - without any instructions about what sort of "other" there could be (with a pretty complete-looking range of places in the regular boxes) or where it would appear, I wasn't encouraged to use it. — Robin Patterson (Talk) 00:55, February 13, 2010 (UTC)
The problem I described is a problem only for pages that were converted automatically from the old template to the new template or form. That conversion program or bot erroneously concatenated the other address fields and placed them in the places-other fields. It should have left the places-other fields blank. In adding new pages, as you did, one would not repeat the same address information fields in the addresses-other fields and so the problem would not occur. The problem still exists for the tens of thousands of person pages which were converted, and we still need a program or bot to reverse this error, that is to blank out the places-other fields on all the pages that were converted. An alternative fix would be to change the showfacts person template to not display the places-other fields. DennisDoty 02:50, February 13, 2010 (UTC)

Autocomplete needs more work. When I type "London" as the county I don't want to tab on to the nation and look back to see "County Londonderry...". When I type "Devon" as the county I don't want it coming out as "Adams County, North Dakota"!! I can't even see why that would have been on the menu. — Robin Patterson (Talk) 00:55, February 13, 2010 (UTC)

I've started on "Autocomplete", so now you get some help for a commonly-used nation and several states (mostly those with long names). — Robin Patterson (Talk) 06:10, June 10, 2010 (UTC)

New problem - no surname box[]

See Michael John Healy (c1847), for what it's worth. The form appeared with no box for surname and with no "Sex" name before the three buttons.

I carried on regardless and was not pulled up by an error message insisting that I had to enter a surname.

There have been no changes to Person:Form in the last four days and no changes to the Semantic Forms extension since March.

Robin Patterson (Talk) 06:10, June 10, 2010 (UTC)

I have fixed(?) {{Form table-general info‎}} to fix the problem. Please review and test. Thurstan 10:01, June 10, 2010 (UTC)
Robin needs his wrist slapped: commented-out some ASCII symbols that probably produced pipes or brackets that created boxes. Thank you, Thurstan. — Robin Patterson (Talk) 12:45, June 10, 2010 (UTC)