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Format of the Category File

The armorial descriptions in the database are stored using codes defined in a text file known as my.cat, which is roughly 128 KB in size.

You can download the category file via HTTP from https://oanda.sca.org/my.cat

The category file is divided into three sections, each of which uses a different format:

Although the features section of the file appears first in the file, we'll discuss the other two sections first here because categories appear before features when entering search terms.

Categories

Categories are the core of armory descriptions.

Each category line contains a human-readable term, then a pipe character ("|"), followed by a capitalized category code.

For example, here are a selection of category lines.

axe|AXE
azure field|AZ
beast, bear|BEAST-BEAR
beast, dog|DOG
bird, demi|BIRD9DEMI
bird, whole|BIRD
cross, as charge|CRAC
cross, throughout|CROSS
field division, per fess|PFESS
field division, per pale|PPALE
pole axe|POLE-AXE

As you can see, the category code is sometimes a predictable capitalized version of the human-readable term, and other times is more idiosyncratic.

Most categories represent types of charges, but some correspond to solid fields or field divisions, and others indicate specific arrangments of charges.

Cross-References

Cross-references make it easier to find individual category terms.

Each cross-reference line contains a human-readable term, then either "see" or "see also", followed by one or more human-readable category names.

For example, here are a selection of cross-reference lines.

axe - see also pole axe
broadaxe - see axe

The see also lines mark places where one category is being linked to another, related category, so in the above example so we can expect to find both axe and pole axe in the category list.

The see lines mark places where an additional term is being linked to an existing category, so the above example is telling us that there is no broadaxe category and instead all broadaxes are indexed under the axe category.

Some cross-reference lines direct you to more than one corresponding category, separated by and.

bluejay - see bird, whole and bird, demi
swallow - see bird, whole and bird, demi

The above example shows that bluejays and swallows are each indexed in one of two distinct categories, either bird, whole or bird, demi.

Many of the cross references define varieties, heraldic synonyms, or related charges that are indexed together.

alaunt - see beast, dog
cub, wolf - see beast, dog
fox - see beast, dog
husky - see beast, dog
hyena - see beast, dog
talbot - see beast, dog
wolf - see beast, dog

Each of these is either a variety of dog (husky), or an old heraldic term for a variety of dog (alaunt, talbot), or a related canine that is indexed with dogs (fox, hyena, wolf).

Features

Features are used to provide additional details about armory descriptions.

Each feature line starts with a pipe character ("|"), then has a feature set name followed by a colon, and then the individual feature name.

For example, the cross_family feature set is used to mark subtypes of crosses. Its contents are defined in a series of lines like the below:

|cross_family:crosslet
|cross_family:flory
|cross_family:maltese

The feature name may optionaly be followed by one or more markers showing their relationship to other feature names.

For example, the tincture feature set is used to mark the coloration of fields or charges. Its contents are defined in a series of lines like the below:

|tincture:argent<light
|tincture:ermine<fur<light
|tincture:neutral=multicolor=fur

The first line defines a tincture code named argent, and indicates that it is a subtype of the tincture named light. The second line defines a tincture named ermine and marks it as a subtype of both fur and light. The third line defines a tincture named neutral and marks it as equivalent to both multicolor and fur.

The subtype relationship defined by the < chracter indicates that the term on the left is a more-specific feature encompased by the term on the right. For example, a search for CROSS:light should also match any armory that is marked as CROSS:argent. However, this relationship is not symatrical; if you search for CROSS:argent, it should not match armory that is marked as CROSS:light.

The equivalence relationship defined by the = chracter indicates a symetrical relationship between the terms. For example, a search for CROSS:neutral should also match any armory that is marked as CROSS:multicolor, and a search for CROSS:multicolor should also match any armory that is marked as CROSS:neutral.

Individual armory descriptions may combine multiple features from different feature sets. For example, an Maltese cross throughout argent might be coded as CROSS:maltese:argent

Individual armory descriptions never use more than one feature from a given feature set. For example, there will never be a cross with two different cross features such as CROSS:crosslet:maltese.

Some feature sets are only applicable to certain categories. For example, the features in the bird_posture feature set are only ever used with the BIRD or BIRD9DEMI categories.


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