It seems that discussions of source referencing always end up like herding cats. That doesn't have to be.

Using a house analogy, everyone is wedded to their own curtains, blinds, or shades. The problem is not the styles themselves, but that no one has built the proper house yet.

The proper house will let its inhabitants select curtains, blinds, or shades, or any or all, as they wish.

No one can complain then! Right? ;-)

This web site describes a model that would allow users to use whatever style(s) they wish, and would let computer programmers program the method once and never have to revisit its source referencing code again because from that point on it would be in the user's hands. The web site pertains to Evidence Style, and gives such templates for all 170 QuickCheck Models in "Evidence Explained", but there is no reason that the model is locked to that.

Another analogy other than window dressings in a house that hasn't been built yet, is the electronic game platform of today. One buys a game box and then plug in chips for whatever game(s) they want to play.

That is what I'm advocating and described on my web site. And the game chip is completely in plain text so you email whole style definitions, single style definitions, and even citations themselves if you wish. Easily shared by end users. Not locked in binary inside a program (well, that too, but exportable/importable in plain text too).

The vendors program the game box code (as part of their genealogy program), and can give you a game chip (starting set of source referencing templates, or even a choice of them).

You want Evidence Style 2009? It can be available on line to download for free. If you don't want that one, download another one. Don't like any? Write one yourself according to the rules at my web site. The Evidence Style 2007 is downloadable from the above web site right now.

You want Lackey 1985? It can easily be made available. Evidence Style 2012 comes out? No problem. Load it up, and it won't hurt any of your already recorded citations. But it will use the new templates if you wish. Not if you don't. Want to do free style? No problem. Covered in my web page.

It is not difficult, as shown on this web site, to let users define the templates that use variables, substitute text for the variables according to a template and a simple mark up language? It would then all be under *your* control and not what some programmer happened to program in to a program. And you could even share templates with each other if you wish.

The only initial problem would be portability to other programs. This could be easily solved if someone took the list of variables I use on this web page, spent some time cleaning them up, distilling them down to a unique standard list of available variables that one should use [I believe someone is doing just that, from my web site, as they communicated to me just this week. But I think they too have overlooked the further generalization concepts I am proposing]. I say should. You wouldn't have to. But if you used variables from a suggested list, and that list was a set that includes every field that a genealogist would need in a source reference, then codes can be written to export and import your data from one program to another. Perfectly! No data loss. If there is a new field not thought of until later, simply add it later. [e.g. each allowed field could be a data definition in an XML structure to a database].

My challenge to vendors is to build such a house, I mean game, I mean genealogy program, around such a concept. And I see no problem in being the first to do it and thus it won't initially allow sharing of data with other programs at first. I think it is the correct model and once users learned its power, they would demand that vendors offer it. And meanwhile, you still have the other ways of sharing data in the programs too. It doesn't have to break any of that. At least at first. And if it becomes dominant, as I think it would, the vendor never again has to worry about what style(s) they offer. Or getting locked into old templates. That would then be in the user's hands from then on. I predict that there would be on line gurus that would gain trust in putting up complete sets of templates for various styles. You could choose your style just like you choose a game chip. Only it would be free!

It never hurts to be first if you do something right!

How about it genealogy program vendors? ;-)

[this may be the most articulate version of what this web site model contains].