FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Identifying Locations

Q.

How does the program know where to put places on the map?

A.

See the Placename Gazetteer Page, which explains some of how this works.

Importing Data

Q.

If I have a file of my own data, how much work is involved in getting it to display on a map?

A.

Normally, very little. You can import directly from a Gedcom file or from a database, though a database generally works best. The import wizard allows you to select the field or fields from a database file that hold geographical information, such as a parish/place name, and an optional county name. So, for example a database file with a record containing "Winchester" and "Hampshire" respectively in two separate fields would present no problem. Even "Winchester, Hampshire" in a single field is supported. The program recognises most of the common abbreviations for county names, e.g. Hants for Hampshire, and 3-letter county codes (HAM).

Q.

But how does the program know where to plot this imported data?

A.

It has a large database of placenames, together with their map co-ordinates. So it reads through your list of places, and tries to match them against places it knows about. For more detailed information, see the Import Wizard Page.

Q.

Fine, but my database is not in dBase, Acces or Paradox format.

A.

Fortunately you can create files of these formats very easily from most popular Windows applications. GenMap can even deal with a simple text file, subject to some formatting considerations

Q.

O.K, but what about a GEDCOM file?

A.

The import routine has to extract the place information from a single record in the Gedcom file, i.e. the 'PLAC' tag. This is always going to be more error-prone than using a database. So its success at recognising places depends to a great extent on how you formatted this information in the original genealogy package. Having said that, the recognition engine is fairly tolerant of syntax variations, e.g. it knows about common county abbreviations and Chapman county codes, and can even deal with some variation in the spelling of place names. To take an example, "Winchester, Hampshire", "Winchester, Hants", or "Winchester, HAM" (comma-separated) should all work O.K. It can also deal with extracting a place and county from a longer address string, even if the place/county elements do not occur at the end of the string.

Q.

What does the program do with the places it can't identify?

A.

It creates records for them in the GenMap data table, reproducing the syntax of the original. You can then use facilities within the program to turn them into 'real' placenames and get them plotted on the map.

Nature of the Maps

Q.

Do you get more detail when you zoom in?

A.

No, you don't get roads, railways or rivers etc. However more detail will become apparent as you zoom in because all boundaries are stored as 'vectors', i.e. line segments defined by geographical coordinates, and these get displayed at larger scales as you zoom. This is in contrast to a 'bitmap' approach, where if you zoom in the image becomes more pixellated.

GenMap includes coastline and county boundaries for England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland; also registration district boundaries for England & Wales. The program also includes the Scottish Islands (Orkneys, Shetland, Hebrides) and the Channel Islands together with adjacent stretches of the French coastline. High ground can be highlighted in different colours (in four bands) for areas above 500 ft.

Q.

Are there any plans to include any other countries?

A.

Not at present.

Q.

What if I have my own map data for other countries, can I import it?

A.

No, the existing maps are highly integrated into the program, so there's no way to incorporate other countries.

Registration Districts

Q.

I see you can plot floodfill maps using Registration District boundaries as well as county boundaries. Can you give me more details?

A.

Registration Districts are the areas that have been used for the registration of births, marriages and deaths since 1837, and also for the administration of the Victorian censuses. They were based on the same areas as the Poor Law Unions that had been set up from 1834, and generally included a block of parishes, usually some 10 to 20 in number. The Registration District and Poor Law Union systems were broadly similar although various minor changes have been made over the years - boundary changes, as well as the creation and abolition of districts. For that reason the program uses the boundaries as they existed in a single year, 1881. Only England & Wales are covered. The situation in Scotland was slightly different, they did have registration districts but they covered much smaller areas than in England & Wales, in fact in some cases parts of a parish only. Ireland had a similar system to England & Wales, but its Registration District boundaries remain to be added to the program.

Q.

So how can I use this feature?

A.

Each place in the program's gazetteer has its 1881 Registration District assigned, so it doesn't matter if your data comes from an 1881 Census dataset or not, you can still use the feature. Alternatively you can import a file comprising names of registration districts only.

Creating Web Pages

Q.

How can I put maps on to my own website?

A.

To create an image file for the web, it needs to be either in GIF or JPEG (.JPG) format. Since map files from GenMap have a limited number of colours, the GIF format (256-colour) is generally the most suitable. GenMap allows you to create a GIF file very easily, from either whole of the displayed map, or from a rectangle that you highlight with the mouse. Alternatively you can copy such an area to the Windows clipboard, and paste into another application. The images on the Examples page were created this way. Another alternative is to use the web page facility within GenMap, which creates a simple web page (.HTM file) with an embedded GIF file.


updated 25 March 2013

 
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