DOMESTIC BUILDINGS RESEARCH GROUP (SURREY)



Database - page 4

Tickboxes

It was also recommended to slim down the list of features of timber framed buildings from over 160 to 85 - see Feature list.

To simplify the collection of information from existing reports and to provide a method of collecting such information from future reports - a form was designed - 2 sides of an A4 sheet - on which the occurrence of a feature could be noted by placing a tick in the relevant box. The form incorporated a 'time-line' as a help in dating the building.

The aims of the new form were:

After giving the first version of the form to a small group of experienced report writers for their experimentation and comments it was launched generally in February 2001 and the first volunteers started work on reviewing reports, using the forms. When completed the information on them could be input to the database.

Reincarnation

All information about features therefore had to be input again. Nothing had been added to the Visiscan cards for some time and tickbox forms would be used for all future reports.

While awaiting the first completed forms the opportunity was taken to improve the design of the database.
It was decided that in addition to the existing conventional hierarchical record structure - each record for an occurrence of a feature being linked to both a building & a feature record - a new 'tickbox' record would be created with a similar to the tickbox forms. Ironically, because '?' could be used in place of a tick when not absolutely sure, the record had to show 3 'buttons' for each feature rather than one 'tickbox'.
Although this design meant that all data had to be input twice it made the database simpler for users to understand, enabled better designed reports to be requested & generated and, crucially, provided a vital aid to error checking.
An interesting later modification which came out of the Dendrochronological Survey was the ability to treat later builds of some important buildings as separate records - but associated with the main build.

The first completed forms were received in May 2001 and by June 2009 more than 2,400 out of over 3,600 buildings in Surrey have been reviewed and processed.

Also in May 2001 it was decided to create a DBRG website on the Internet. The flexibility of the Omnis software facilitates producing parish listings of all our recordings in the format required for inclusion in the website, including the summaries from tickbox forms where they have been written.

The website thus became the (expanded and always up-to-date) successor to the Green Book, of which a new - and possibly last - version was published in 2005.

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©DBRG 22nd June 2009