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Re: GEMS 1.16.1 Header Editor

Thanks ever so much, I'm very impressed.  I have to correct you on one thing, though - the vagaries of VTS' Maintain Ballots functionality are alive and flourishing in the elections voodoo ceremonies in the swamps of Florida.
----- Original Message -----
From: Ken Clark
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2000 5:32 PM
Subject: RE: GEMS 1.16.1 Header Editor


I'd like an elaboration on the purpose of each of the radio buttons as well as the Soft check box in the Grouping Options group box in the Header Editor.




Sigh.  That's a fair question. 


I had a document for this about 4 years ago (before GEMS was called GEMS), but it has long since evaporated.  The honest answer is that the auto layout grouping options were overbuilt and no one uses them -- pretend they aren't there and pick Scroll. 


Here is a bit of history.  Since manually laying out a ballot in VTS was basically impossible for mortals (everything was ASCII), you had to rely on auto layout to create your artwork.  The standard operating procedure at the time was to (1) guess what auto layout flags would make the ballot lay out right, (2) batch generate every ballot, (3) print them all out, (4) proof them all to see which didn't lay out right, and then (1) tweak the flags and repeat.  I think Sophie might be the only one left with the company that remembers that black art.  Suffice to say, when asked what features the VTS rewrite should have, the first thing support would tell us was "more auto layout options".


GEMS' graphical "desk top publishing" layout shifted the paradigm.  Better to charge by the hour to lay it out on screen.



That said, I suppose I am going to have to answer the damn question...



If you look at the Ballot Options you will see a field "Layout Count".  It allows you to define more than one ballot layout for an election.  You can for example say that your first choice for ballot layout might be a three column 11 inch ballot.  Your second choice might be a 3 column 14 inch ballot.  You would do this if you know most ballots are going to lay out in 11 inches, but the ones in the city (say) are going to require 14 inches because of some big refendum.


One function of a header is to organize races into a group.  A header proceeds a group of races linked to it.  A good example of this might be "Judicial" races or "County" races.  The Grouping Options are there to keep that set of races together.  If auto layout can't keep the races together using the first ballot layout (e.g. 11 inch) it will start over with the next choice (e.g. 14 inch).


The options are:

  • Scroll.  Allow the race group to continue into the next column/side/card.  Scroll always succeeds to lay out, because GEMS can always proceed to another card if there is no room for the current race it is trying to lay out.
  • Same Side.  Allow the race group to continue into the next column, but keep them in the current side.  If all races in the group won't fit in the current side, start over with the next ballot layout.
  • One Side.  Try laying out the group in the current side.  If that doesn't work, proceed to the next side, and try laying them out again.  If that doesn't work, start over with the next ballot layout.
  • Same Column.  Analogous to same side, but for columns.  Lay out the group in the current column.  If they don't all fit in the current column, start over with the next ballot layout.
  • One Column.  Analogous to one side, but for columns.  Lay out the group in the current column.  Failing that, proceed to the next column, or the first column of the next side.  Failing that, proceed to the next ballot layout.
  • One Column Same Side.  Same as one column, except that it won't proceed to the first column of the next side.
  • Inherit.  Use whatever the previous race group's option was for this group also.

The "Soft" flag applies to the One Side, One Column, and One Col Same Side rules.  Each of these rules tries the next side/column if the current side/column fails.  If the group still fails to lay out in the next side/column, then we start over with the next ballot layout. 


The soft flag allows you to say "forget this rule if you can't do it".  If the group can't lay out in the next side/column, then forget the rule entirely and treat the group as if it were the Scroll grouping option, which always succeeds.



Lets never speak of this again.