Ballista

The Baronial Local List of Awards (Ballista) is a WordPress plugin that reads a collection of Lochac-specific databases and produces a number of pages of copious yet friendly output. The plugin will shortly be installed on the Lochac web server for general use; until then, there is a test website demonstrating the features.

Requirements

Location of your Web Site

The current version of Ballista uses database commands to access Canon Lore and the Lochac Roll of Arms. Because of this, it has to run on the same server as each of those databases, or exact copies of them.  That limits it to the Lochac server sca.org.au, known as Selene, or my test server.  It’s not impossible to create an API for those databases so the plugin can be installed elsewhere, but that’s very low priority.  Therefore, you don’t need plugin installation and configuration instructions here, because the plugin will currently be used only on a system where it’s already installed and configured.  That saves a bit of trouble right there!

Website Login

You will need a login on your baronial website at least for the setup.  If you don’t have such a thing, talk to Masonry.  At this stage I’m not 100% sure what permissions are required, but I’ll work that out before launch.

Baronage Database

The data is stored in a database called Baronage, created by Master Nicodemus Novello, Masonry Deputy.  Nico has created an editing tool that is currently under active development.  Talk to him to get access.

Activation

The Quick Summary

To use Ballista, you need to put the appropriate data into Baronage, keyed to your Barony. Activate the Ballista plugin on your barony’s WordPress site and choose your Barony from the drop-down list, and then you can create pages with shortcodes in them. The shortcodes will display your Roll of Arms, Baronial History and expanded Populace Pages.

In More Detail

Editing Baronage

This requires a chat with Master Nico.  I’ll leave you to do that.

Configuring the Ballista Plugin

Someone with admin rights will ensure that the Ballista plugin is activated on your website. Log in and go to the dashboard. Click Settings | Ballista.  Choose your Barony from the list.  If it’s not there, Baronage hasn’t been updated, so do that.  While you’re at it, pick a nice colour for Header Colour to match your website.

Creating the Pages

Generally you will want a roll of arms page. Create a WordPress page, give it a suitable title (say “Baronial Roll of Arms”) and put the following text into the body of the page verbatim: [ballista]  Don’t forget the brackets!

It’s generally good to have a history of your Barons and/or Baronesses, so create another page, call it something like “Baronage History”, and put in the text [ballista-history]

If you want a populace page like the Anealan website has, see below for the instructions on setting that up, which are a little trickier.

Finally, you’ll want a separate page for each of your awards, which will be stored against each award in Baronage.  Create a page describing an award at the URL you put into Baronage, and add the shortcode [ballista-award award=”Name Of Award Here“].

Testing your site

You can now see if the databases are talking to the website.  View your newly-created roll and history pages.  You should see some content.  If there are headings in the colour you chose, it’s working.  Now we get down to the tricky bit.

Advanced: Setting Up People Pages

The People page has links within it to individual Person pages. Each Person page is just the one page with a different ?person=… argument, so you don’t need to set up one page in WordPress for each person in your Barony!  You do, however, need to set up a blank Person page and a blank People page and link them within the Ballista shortcodes.  To do this:

  1. Using the New Page option in the dashboard, create a People page.  Leave it blank, but make note of its “page slug”, the URL generated for it by WordPress.  You can edit this slug to something short.  For this demo, I’ll assume you’re calling it /people.
  2. Also create a Person page.  Take note of its slug.  I’ll assume you’re calling this one /person.
  3. In the Person page, put the shortcode [ballista-person people-page=”/people”], substituting inside the quotation marks the name of the actual People page.  You will need to check that the quotation marks are the proper straight ones rather than the curly quotes that WP substitutes in when type them in a page.
  4. Go back to edit the People page, and insert the shortcode [ballista-people person-page=”/person”], substituting your Person page slug.  Again, check your quote marks.
  5. Add the People page to your menu or contents page as appropriate. Don’t bother adding the Person page as well.

Once you have data in the Extra section of Baronage, this will operate as expected.

Implementation Notes

Inputs

The data sources for Ballista are as follows:

  • The Baronage database:
    1. Each person, with SCA name, mundane name, Canon Lore and LRoA IDs.
    2. Each award.
    3. The linkage between awards received and people, with the dates and special notes.
    4. A selection of optional extra data inspired by the Anealan Roll of Arms, for the populace page.
  • Canon Lore. Where the spreadsheet has a Canon Lore ID, cross references are made to Kingdom-level awards.
  • Lochac Roll of Arms (LRoA). Where the spreadsheet has an LRoA ID, the image for that person’s primary device is displayed.
  • The Ordinary and Armorial of the College of Arms. Keyed by the person’s name, this grants access to the registration history for that person and any alternate names they may have.

Outputs

The Roll of Arms. This is broken into sections as below, and displays the name, arms, heraldic registrations and baronial and kingdom awards for every person in the spreadsheet. Shortcode: ballista.

The Baronage History. Inspired by the River Haven Roll of Arms, a page displaying the names and arms of the past and present Barons and Baronesses of the Barony. This has provision for double-ups, as when Hrolf and Madeleine served as first and sixth Baronage of Ynys Fawr. Shortcode: ballista-history.

The Populace Page.  Inspired by the Anealan roll of Arms, the roll can be expanded to display photos and biographies of each person in the barony, and each name forwards to a page with full details. Shortcode: ballista-people person-page=”/path/to/person-page” and ballista-person people-page=”/path/to/people-page”.

The Awards Roll. As requested by Her Serenity Adelindis Ynys Fawr, a list in reverse chronological order of the recipients of each award, to be placed on special pages you create for each award. Shortcode: baronial-award award=”Name Of Award”.

Known Bugs and Missing Features
  • WONTFIX: There’s no provision for aliases not recorded by either the O&A or Canon Lore. The solution to this is to send a Fix Me to Canon to add any extra aliases you know about.
  • TODO: The site is dependent upon Canon Lore and the Lochac Roll of Arms at a very low level.  This would need to change if it’s to be used in other Kingdoms.  To solve this, I’d need to define a simple API standard and implement it on the Lochac server.  As a side effect, this would mean the plugin no longer required installation on the same server as those databases.
  • TODO: Improve the options for control over the layout, perhaps including a CSS section, control over the roll of arms sections, stuff like that.  Find a good balance between flexibility and sane defaults, because 95% of webmins don’t know enough to tweak anything.