Before designing the York System, a list of user requirements was established. These were then addressed as fully as possible. These were:
It can be said that there are as many recording systems as there are zooarchaeologists, or zooarchaeology institutions. Each method can differ from others, either widely (as represented by the differences between the 'specimen' and 'context' approaches), or in more subtle ways concerning the use of attributes and variables. Even the process of intermeshing the two main protocols that formed the basis of the York System required alterations to the ways in which preservation information was recorded; the EAU protocol favoured context-level recording, while Fish 1.1 preferred specimen-level recording. In keeping with requirements of flexibility and choice, this problem was resolved by keeping both levels of recording in place.
The York System does not intend to force users to record variables and attributes that they feel are of no use. Users therefore have the option to customise many aspects of the system, or leave fields blank if desired. At the same time, the system aims to provide a widely acceptable recording standard, albeit within a flexible structure. For example, the diagnostic zone images cannot be altered.
The York System contains a number of labour-saving devices that permit quick recording. For example, once familiar with the system, users can navigate entirely using the keyboard. Context, sample, recovery level and species are all copied from record to record, also saving time. Cross-referencing with diagnostic zone or tooth wear manuals on paper is no longer required, again reducing time and errors. That said, on slower, older computers diagnostic zone images may take up to a few seconds to load.
The following illustration shows the basic structure of the database tables, excluding the numerous lookup and measurement tables.
Figure 3: Simple relationships diagram
The user does not have to access any of the tables shown above directly (although they may do so if they choose), as the entire recording system is based on forms. The following flowchart illustrates the forms used in the recording process:
Figure 4: Forms used in the York System
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Last updated: Thu Mar 13 2003