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After spending quite a bit of time lately editing various wiki pages, which includes updating the VIN pages, I feel it is time to have a discussion about the way they are formatted with a view to making it easier for editors. It has been ten years since we first started the 'special project' to document VINs so I think a discussion is warranted on several points. To be clear, my points are regarding the VIN pages and not the individual fleet series pages. Also, none of my comments should be interpreted as criticism of the status quo or any previous efforts but rather looking at ways to improve things and make wiki editing easier.

1) Currently, the VIN pages are set up that each VIN must be entered individually. This is incredibly time consuming, especially for large orders even with copy and pasting. I find I am spending more time putting VINs on the VIN pages than actually editing and improving wiki pages elsewhere, and can honestly say that adding VINs to the VIN pages is my least favorite part of wiki editing. I suspect I am not alone in this regard, and I can understand how this process could turn off people from editing the wiki due to how time consuming it is.

Simplifying the way information is entered onto the VIN page would make wiki editing a lot easier and less time consuming. I would like to propose that rather than entering each VIN individually, that we instead enter the VIN ranges for buses in orders that have sequential VINs. To give an example, take the New Flyer Industries XN60 'L VINs' page. 

The current format has VINs listed individually in this format:

5FYC8YC12LF073655    

5FYC8YC14LF073656

5FYC8YC16LF073657

....

5FYC8YC19LF073667

5FYC8YC10LF073668

It would be much easier if we could just list the sequential VINs in the following format as a example: 5FYC8YC12LF073655 - LF073668. 

Individual VINs would continue to be listed on the respective fleet series pages, ensuring that anyone would be easily able to search for a VIN by simply entering it into the search function of the wiki. The first VIN in each group would become the "id" number in the VIN page tables.

The main advantage of this proposed format would be the drastically reduced time in entering the information while still maintaining the ultimate goal of creating reference lists for production of each model.

2) The VIN pages should be narrowed in scope to only focus on buses/vehicles that have a integral chassis and/or unique serial sequence. There is no need to have VIN pages for cutaway buses like Ford Cutaways, GM Cutaways, IC Bus Chassis, etc. This is because these cutaway chassis will share the same serial sequence with whatever else the manufacturer is manufacturing whether it be cars, trucks or both. Thus, it would be impossible to compile a complete production list at any point and all these pages end up accomplishing is duplicating information already available on the fleet series pages. Since the fleet series pages would already have the VIN listed, anyone trying to search a VIN would be able to do that by using the search function.

3) In the long term it may be worth thinking about how the VIN pages are set up. It appears they were originally set up by model rather than being set up to follow the manufacturer serial sequence. I can understand it is probably way too far in the game to consider changing the format completely but there needs to be a way to perhaps integrate some of the pages. For example, Gillig Low Floor and BRT serials should have been on the same pages, same with all the various Xcelsior models. Some VIN pages (but not all) have links where any gaps in VINs are linked to the appropriate page that has those VINs, perhaps that would be a standard?

Overall I think I would like to see some changes to the VIN pages based on points 1 and 2 I've raised. Point 3 is probably worth some discussion but I can understand if there isn't really much that can be done in that regard.

In the ten years since the VIN project began we've come a long way. However I think it's always a good idea to discuss ways to make the wiki easier to edit and I would be also be interested in hearing if anyone else has had similar concerns to me, or has any different ways to approach the issues I've raised.

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4 hours ago, Silly Tilley said:

1) Agreed. It would save time while still containing the necessary information.

2) In hindsight, I can see that it is kinda pointless to create a list for them.

3) The Gillig Low Floor and BRT pages would be a good start and others that follow a sequence.

I'm in support of this if people feel these would be positive changes.

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Thanks @Silly Tilley for taking the initiative to start this discussion. I also appreciate the common-sense approach you've taken, and the detailed rationale you've laid out for each proposed change. Below are my responses, to promote a conversation on the topic and not to discourage or belittle your/others suggestions:

#1 - This one I'm a little less enthuastic of compared to the other proposed changes. I find it a little bit more difficult to comprehend where a VIN fits into a sequence if they get grouped together in a bunch, and only the first (and part of the last) are on the page. It's one thing to do with serials, but another with VINs which due to the check digit in the middle don't follow a strict numerical sequence; as well, some older manufacturers used to do odd things with the VINs so that not all buses produced in order had the same beginning portions of the VIN. Maybe it's just me, but over time I have developed a rhythm to speed up adding blocks of VINs; it's actually changing the alternating colours that is the most time-consuming portion for me, especially if you add a block of VINs in the middle of a long page. But I can definitely see and understand how the process is very arduous to users who don't have the shortcuts I use.

#2 - 100% agree. It will be impossible to compile a complete record of van/truck chassis as the majority of them (as mentioned) do not go to public agency ownership, so not as much point in trying to track them (although VINs of units in transit service should still go on the fleet pages).

#3 - 100% agree. Most of the major North American manufacturers use one VIN sequence for all their models, so it would be beneficial to put all on one page where it makes sense to do so. MCI and Nova have two sequences, but even then they get shared between multiple models. So long as a model column gets added it would work out fine.

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On 8/3/2020 at 11:54 PM, Articulated said:

Thanks @Silly Tilley for taking the initiative to start this discussion. I also appreciate the common-sense approach you've taken, and the detailed rationale you've laid out for each proposed change. Below are my responses, to promote a conversation on the topic and not to discourage or belittle your/others suggestions:

#1 - This one I'm a little less enthuastic of compared to the other proposed changes. I find it a little bit more difficult to comprehend where a VIN fits into a sequence if they get grouped together in a bunch, and only the first (and part of the last) are on the page. It's one thing to do with serials, but another with VINs which due to the check digit in the middle don't follow a strict numerical sequence; as well, some older manufacturers used to do odd things with the VINs so that not all buses produced in order had the same beginning portions of the VIN. Maybe it's just me, but over time I have developed a rhythm to speed up adding blocks of VINs; it's actually changing the alternating colours that is the most time-consuming portion for me, especially if you add a block of VINs in the middle of a long page. But I can definitely see and understand how the process is very arduous to users who don't have the shortcuts I use.

Regarding your points about the possibility of listing VIN ranges on the VIN page:

  • Grouping together VINs/serials is common practice in production lists and seems to be the accepted standard. I don't see how it could be hard to comprehend where VINs fit into a sequence. 
  • The check digit in a VIN has nothing to do with sequencing or other component of the VIN, it's simply a validation for the VIN. I would suspect very few if any people are looking for check digits specifically. Even with grouped VINs as I proposed the full VINs will always exist on the wiki. The fleet pages with the full VINs would still be linked to from the VIN pages, should anyone want to view the full VINs including check digits for each bus.
  • The starting portions of VINs consist of things like manufacturer identity and equipment information (engine, length, brakes, etc.). This is standard and I am unable to find any manufacturers who use different characters in the beginning portion of a VIN for buses of the same spec built in the same order. If there are cases, then it is probably warranted to have it's own separate entry on the VIN page regardless of format, much like 30/35/40' buses and diesel/CNG/hybrid buses are separated by color currently regardless of whether they were built in sequence in the same order.
  • There are some cases where the end portion of a VIN may have been different for buses in the same order and same spec, such as early Orion I and their "counting numbers" or "line sequence numbers" and in this case, it is probably justified to leave those VIN pages as is.
  • Even with copy and paste and any other rhythm I still find the current setup a incredibly time consuming process.

Further to my suggestion #3 which was to have VIN pages set up by manufacturer sequence rather than each individual model, I'm glad there's support for this but it may be the trickiest to accomplish out of the 3 suggestions. Grouping the VINs would make this easier as the pages wouldn't be so long and it would be much easier to implement. Giving some examples of how this would have to be implemented:

  • All New Flyer models would go on the same page, but would probably have to be separated by model year to prevent the page from getting so long. For example New Flyer Inudustries 'A VINs', New Flyer Industries 'B VINs' and so on.
  • Orion pages could remain with the same set up as they are already based on serial sequence and not specific models
  • Gillig low floor pages would probably have to be split by serial sequence as there are a few they use for the 35/40 ft buses and the 29ft buses have their own sequence. You can't split Gilligs by year due to the way they assign their serials.
  • All Nova models would go on the same page but split by model year like the others. 

While some of the above can be easily accomplished with copy/paste and even easier if we just group VINs, There is the issue of the links from fleet pages to VIN pages, unless a redirect will work or a simple copy the contents to word, then find/replace all the links would also work.

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On 8/6/2020 at 10:12 AM, Silly Tilley said:

Regarding your points about the possibility of listing VIN ranges on the VIN page:

  • Grouping together VINs/serials is common practice in production lists and seems to be the accepted standard. I don't see how it could be hard to comprehend where VINs fit into a sequence. 

You sir are so very right. Every production list I've seen has VIN ranges grouped together. So much cleaner and easier to look at and digest.

Can you image sifting through 6200+lines of data on this list if everything was by individual bus?

http://omot.org/roster/GMList/tdh5303.html

And I get that the at the time serial numbers were a lot simpler back then, but, full VIN data is still available on a bus by bus basis on the specific transit agencies page for that particular series.

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On 8/3/2020 at 10:54 PM, Articulated said:

#1 - This one I'm a little less enthuastic of compared to the other proposed changes. I find it a little bit more difficult to comprehend where a VIN fits into a sequence if they get grouped together in a bunch, and only the first (and part of the last) are on the page. It's one thing to do with serials, but another with VINs which due to the check digit in the middle don't follow a strict numerical sequence; as well, some older manufacturers used to do odd things with the VINs so that not all buses produced in order had the same beginning portions of the VIN. Maybe it's just me, but over time I have developed a rhythm to speed up adding blocks of VINs; it's actually changing the alternating colours that is the most time-consuming portion for me, especially if you add a block of VINs in the middle of a long page. But I can definitely see and understand how the process is very arduous to users who don't have the shortcuts I use.

^ The bold part is exactly what I was going to bring up. The handful of times I've come across a VIN on an auction or dealer site that wasn't already documented, I've added it to the agency or operator roster fleet range page detail or as a note for a specific unit. But then when I've gone to see if I could get it onto the appropriate VIN list as well, I simply decided not to as having to edit 100s of lines to add a alternating color line for one little VIN was too much.

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On 8/3/2020 at 7:46 AM, Silly Tilley said:

1) Currently, the VIN pages are set up that each VIN must be entered individually. This is incredibly time consuming, especially for large orders even with copy and pasting. I find I am spending more time putting VINs on the VIN pages than actually editing and improving wiki pages elsewhere, and can honestly say that adding VINs to the VIN pages is my least favorite part of wiki editing. I suspect I am not alone in this regard, and I can understand how this process could turn off people from editing the wiki due to how time consuming it is.

Simplifying the way information is entered onto the VIN page would make wiki editing a lot easier and less time consuming. I would like to propose that rather than entering each VIN individually, that we instead enter the VIN ranges for buses in orders that have sequential VINs.

This 100% ^^. It's a nightmare adding dozens upon dozens of VINs onto those pages and frankly picking up info from one part of the wiki and transferring it to another part doesn't feel very productive. Most of the time, I don't bother anymore adding VINs to their VIN pages and having looked through some of the recent changes, it seems I'm not the only one that does this.. Even looking past the inefficiency argument, if the hope is to build a complete production list a la OMOT, then it should ideally be in a format that's more friendly to editors (that doesn't omit useful information). FWIW, it has the potential to get messy for a select pages (See me), but given how those are in the vast minority, I would say it's worth it switching formats...

On 8/3/2020 at 7:46 AM, Silly Tilley said:

2) The VIN pages should be narrowed in scope to only focus on buses/vehicles that have a integral chassis and/or unique serial sequence. There is no need to have VIN pages for cutaway buses like Ford Cutaways, GM Cutaways, IC Bus Chassis, etc. This is because these cutaway chassis will share the same serial sequence with whatever else the manufacturer is manufacturing whether it be cars, trucks or both. Thus, it would be impossible to compile a complete production list at any point and all these pages end up accomplishing is duplicating information already available on the fleet series pages. Since the fleet series pages would already have the VIN listed, anyone trying to search a VIN would be able to do that by using the search function.

Not like i've ever worked with those cutaway VIN pages, but I can see the logic to this and can get behind it.

On 8/3/2020 at 7:46 AM, Silly Tilley said:

3) In the long term it may be worth thinking about how the VIN pages are set up. It appears they were originally set up by model rather than being set up to follow the manufacturer serial sequence. I can understand it is probably way too far in the game to consider changing the format completely but there needs to be a way to perhaps integrate some of the pages. For example, Gillig Low Floor and BRT serials should have been on the same pages, same with all the various Xcelsior models. Some VIN pages (but not all) have links where any gaps in VINs are linked to the appropriate page that has those VINs, perhaps that would be a standard?

Personally I kind of like the model setup, but I could live with the information being displayed in a different way. To address:

On 8/3/2020 at 7:46 AM, Silly Tilley said:

a way to perhaps integrate some of the pages.

this part ^, there is this solution featuring the black row with the link but I have no preference between that and a page with every series of VINs in serial order and a special model column.

At the end of the day, as long as the table is sortable by model, which is of course very easy to arrange, I can get behind #3

On 8/3/2020 at 11:54 PM, Articulated said:

it's actually changing the alternating colours that is the most time-consuming portion for me,

That's the easier of the two parts IMO.

Just use find/replace. This is what i do - 

-Copy content on page I want to change, paste into text-edit-

Find: bgcolor=

Replace All: bgcolor=cceeee to bgcolord=cceeee

Find: bgcolor=

Replace all: bgcolor= to bgcolor=cceeee

Find: bgcolord=cceeee

Replace all: bgcolord=cceeee to bgcolor=

-Paste new content over the highlighted content-

 

edit-I messed up the order. It's been fixed

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I created some test/demo pages based on the discussion above:

First one - Removed the alternating blue and combined the serials.

Second one - Condensed all NFI Xcelsior models into a year (2020) page.

 

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9 hours ago, Kevin L said:

I created some test/demo pages based on the discussion above:

First one - Removed the alternating blue and combined the serials.

Second one - Condensed all NFI Xcelsior models into a year (2020) page.

 

Thank you for these samples. 

 

I'm going to be honest and say that I am not a fan of all these proposed changes. Before I explain myself I would just like to say that as a wiki editor who has edited and even created Vin pages many times I fully understand how time consuming and annoying editing Vin pages can be. Frankly, editing vin pages are a pain in the you know where. 

 

Now for the reasons why I'm not a huge fan of these changes... I believe that when we combine the serial numbers it can look very messy because you end up with one line consisting of one bus/serial number and the following line consisting of 8 buses/serial number merged together. Maybe it's just me and my mild perfectionism but I am not a huge fan. 

On a positive note I think removing the alternating blue was a good idea because it's very annoying when you have to insert Vin numbers in the middle of a big page. There were a few vins in the past that I wanted to add but the page was soo long is simply discouraged me from doing so because I would spend an hour playing with the colours.

I am also not a huge fan of all the NFI Xcelsior models into one year. New Flyer manufacturers many buses in a year so if we were to combine them all onto one page it would make for a veeeeeeery long page. I am also not a fan of this because I like to visit a random page and look and see, for example, who owns 2014 XDE40s and to see what they are used for but I'm pretty sure that I'm the only one that does that. 

 

Anyways, that you for these great suggestions!

I wish I had a little more positivity to spread but maybe next time. 

-Thomas

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On 9/17/2020 at 12:16 PM, Kevin L said:

I created some test/demo pages based on the discussion above:

First one - Removed the alternating blue and combined the serials.

Second one - Condensed all NFI Xcelsior models into a year (2020) page.

Thanks @Kevin L for putting together the two test pages. It really helps to look at a finished example to see how it would work.

Overall, the layout is good IMO. I would make two suggestions:

1. The VIN(/serial) column and the notes can stay left-justified, but the other columns should be centre-justified, which is the standard for all other tables on the Wiki.

2. Add links to the model pages. Less important for the Orion page (they're all the same model anyway) but needed for the New Flyer page. There is nowhere on that page that actually links to the model pages or even the overall Xcelsior model page.

Another question: how are the IDs formatted? Right now it looks like it only uses the first serial in the sequence, while the current standard for serials is to use the full sequence (see the GM New Look Serials).

While personally I'd still like to see individual VINs like @Thomasw, I recognize that ship has sailed, and it is more beneficial for more users to collapse the VINs, both in terms of reading/page length and editing. The alternating colours were nice visually but not needed now that it'll be one line for each order, and they were an absolute pain to format.

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I love the look of the new layouts, especially the New Flyer one.
I agree with Articulated's point #1 above about having only the VIN and notes column being left-adjusted. Maybe it's just force of habit but it looks a little strange to me seeing everything being left-adjusted.

 

One suggestion i'd like to submit is to remove the "(Links to full VINs)" under the "Unit Numbers" column heading. I think that generally column headings should be as simple as feasibly possible and having that message on a second line kind of goes against that. After all, right above the table there is the "Note" which says the same thing but in more words. As an alternative, that could perhaps be retyped as "Full VINs are available by clicking on the link to the individual fleet pages (See unit numbers column)." ? Maybe that makes that sentence more awkward (Frankly, I prefer the sentence the way it is now) , but that's just an idea if it's necessary to further specify where the full VINs can be found.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to this becoming official

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Thanks to Kevin L for taking the time to create those pages so we can see what it would look like.

Regarding the title, If the manufacturer has used one serial sequence for all models, which New Flyer and most others do, then I think it's better to just title the pages "New Flyer Industries 'L VINs'" as an example.

While almost all the manufacturers will be able to be switched to the proposed format, Gillig is a outlier due to the way they assign their serials. While the 35' and 40' low floor models use the same serial sequences regardless of styling or propulsion, they do not necessarily assign serials in order, and go back and use skipped serials even years later. This means a higher serial does not necessarily indicate a newer built bus and it also means that model years are all over the place in the serial sequence. Given this, it may be best to have the Gillig pages done as serial number ranges rather than model year, such as in increments of 10,000.

Additionally, the 29' low floor versions use a completely separate serial sequence than the 35' and 40' models and would require their own separate pages.

Some further discussion on how to tackle Gillig will probably be necessary before any changes implemented. Perhaps some of the people more experience with Gillig's production lists can chime in.

 

 

On 9/17/2020 at 10:15 PM, Thomasw said:

 

I am also not a huge fan of all the NFI Xcelsior models into one year. New Flyer manufacturers many buses in a year so if we were to combine them all onto one page it would make for a veeeeeeery long page. I am also not a fan of this because I like to visit a random page and look and see, for example, who owns 2014 XDE40s and to see what they are used for but I'm pretty sure that I'm the only one that does that

I understand what you're getting at because I do use the VIN pages occasionally for the same reason. That said, It would still be possible with the page format that has been proposed, as the table would be sortable by model (clicking the arrows in the header of the 'model' column) which would make it easy to then see who operates a specific model.

As for the length of the page, given that sequential VINs will now be combined (1 row per order) It still wouldn't be as long as some of the existing pages which have hundreds and sometimes even thousands of individual rows on one page.

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On 9/20/2020 at 10:47 PM, Articulated said:

Another question: how are the IDs formatted? Right now it looks like it only uses the first serial in the sequence, while the current standard for serials is to use the full sequence (see the GM New Look Serials).

The reason I did the GM ones like that was to avoid the possibility of duplicate IDs since all models start off at 001.

 

The two sample pages have been modified based on the feedback above.

To summarize what's been discussed above:

  • No alternating colours.
  • No longer have the cutaway/chassis lists.

When we convert the pages, I think we will need to chose the best format for the manufacturer. Most (New Flyer, NovaBus, MCI, Prevost) could be done by year, some (like Orion, Gillig) would need more separation by model or serial range.

The Gillig one will be tricky. Grouping them by serial number range (possibly in groups of 5000 or 10000?) may be the best way.

It's been a good constructive discussion, so I'll let it continue for a bit longer and then we can agree/disagree to go forward with this.

 

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On 9/28/2020 at 5:05 PM, Kevin L said:

The Gillig one will be tricky. Grouping them by serial number range (possibly in groups of 5000 or 10000?) may be the best way.

I agree, this is probably the only way. I mean like taking a sample from the 29 ft series:

A1092073-A1022079 Lynchburg 1004-1010

A1092080-A1022089 Escambia 1043-1052

A1092090-A1022091 Luzerne 101-102

C1092092-C1092093 Ulster 60-61

092094 ????

A1092095-A1092096 ??

A1092097-A1092109 ??

B1092110-B1092112 COTA 1138-1140

They're just all over the place... It also won't really help much that build dates won't always correspond with the model year which raises a question with how years should be dealt with for the Gilligs. I suppose one can determine the model year by a simple examination of the VIN but someone who isn't that familiar with VINs might get slightly confused by this. I think it might be a little excessive to have a new column be made for model year on top of the pre-existing build date column, especially since AFAIK the build dates for many of the newer gilligs (2006+) aren't known making a model year column extremely redundant (If someone knows them then please speak up). But, having some standard where noting the model year in the notes when it doesn't match the build date might be a good practice. Just throwing that idea out there..

This would be a great time to finally add the model names of each Gillig to the  VIN lists though, that's something i've wanted to do for a long time.

On 9/28/2020 at 5:05 PM, Kevin L said:

Most (New Flyer, NovaBus, MCI, Prevost) could be done by year,

Even there it gets a little tricky though imo. I rarely deal with non-RTS Nova, MCI, and Prevost VINs so I can't speak to those but at least for New flyers it isn't always cut and dry. Take for example this sequence-

YU021705-YU021706 IndiGo 705-706

1U021707=1U021709 IndiGo 707-709

YU021710-YU021823 LA Metro 5301-5414

1U021824-1U021829 Edmonton 4900-4905

YU021830-YU022165 Houston Metro 3200-3535

YU022166-YU022170 Simi Valley 4519-4523

1U022171-1U022172 River Valley Transit/Williamsport Bureau 901-902

Before the series settles out on 1-VINs (Putting aside the DE60LF demo).

Admittedly this is an extreme example, but I noticed sometimes the transition between model years isn't always that clean (See 2005/2006, 2011/2012, 2014/2015, 2015/2016 for other, less extreme examples). I suppose this could be fixed with the black bar (See [Linked page] for [VIN range]) like is being used on the Neoplan, Proterra VIN pages and Flyer serial ones.

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On 8/3/2020 at 4:46 AM, Silly Tilley said:

After spending quite a bit of time lately editing various wiki pages, which includes updating the VIN pages, I feel it is time to have a discussion about the way they are formatted with a view to making it easier for editors. It has been ten years since we first started the 'special project' to document VINs so I think a discussion is warranted on several points. To be clear, my points are regarding the VIN pages and not the individual fleet series pages. Also, none of my comments should be interpreted as criticism of the status quo or any previous efforts but rather looking at ways to improve things and make wiki editing easier.

1) Currently, the VIN pages are set up that each VIN must be entered individually. This is incredibly time consuming, especially for large orders even with copy and pasting. I find I am spending more time putting VINs on the VIN pages than actually editing and improving wiki pages elsewhere, and can honestly say that adding VINs to the VIN pages is my least favorite part of wiki editing. I suspect I am not alone in this regard, and I can understand how this process could turn off people from editing the wiki due to how time consuming it is.

Simplifying the way information is entered onto the VIN page would make wiki editing a lot easier and less time consuming. I would like to propose that rather than entering each VIN individually, that we instead enter the VIN ranges for buses in orders that have sequential VINs. To give an example, take the New Flyer Industries XN60 'L VINs' page. 

The current format has VINs listed individually in this format:

5FYC8YC12LF073655    

5FYC8YC14LF073656

5FYC8YC16LF073657

....

5FYC8YC19LF073667

5FYC8YC10LF073668

It would be much easier if we could just list the sequential VINs in the following format as a example: 5FYC8YC12LF073655 - LF073668. 

Individual VINs would continue to be listed on the respective fleet series pages, ensuring that anyone would be easily able to search for a VIN by simply entering it into the search function of the wiki. The first VIN in each group would become the "id" number in the VIN page tables.

The main advantage of this proposed format would be the drastically reduced time in entering the information while still maintaining the ultimate goal of creating reference lists for production of each model.

2) The VIN pages should be narrowed in scope to only focus on buses/vehicles that have a integral chassis and/or unique serial sequence. There is no need to have VIN pages for cutaway buses like Ford Cutaways, GM Cutaways, IC Bus Chassis, etc. This is because these cutaway chassis will share the same serial sequence with whatever else the manufacturer is manufacturing whether it be cars, trucks or both. Thus, it would be impossible to compile a complete production list at any point and all these pages end up accomplishing is duplicating information already available on the fleet series pages. Since the fleet series pages would already have the VIN listed, anyone trying to search a VIN would be able to do that by using the search function.

3) In the long term it may be worth thinking about how the VIN pages are set up. It appears they were originally set up by model rather than being set up to follow the manufacturer serial sequence. I can understand it is probably way too far in the game to consider changing the format completely but there needs to be a way to perhaps integrate some of the pages. For example, Gillig Low Floor and BRT serials should have been on the same pages, same with all the various Xcelsior models. Some VIN pages (but not all) have links where any gaps in VINs are linked to the appropriate page that has those VINs, perhaps that would be a standard?

Overall I think I would like to see some changes to the VIN pages based on points 1 and 2 I've raised. Point 3 is probably worth some discussion but I can understand if there isn't really much that can be done in that regard.

In the ten years since the VIN project began we've come a long way. However I think it's always a good idea to discuss ways to make the wiki easier to edit and I would be also be interested in hearing if anyone else has had similar concerns to me, or has any different ways to approach the issues I've raised.

I am extremely late to the discussion and I apologize. I've had a lot of life changing events occur recently and had a hard time spending time to write a proper response. This response goes back to Silly Tilley's initial proposal.

1. I personally favor the individual VIN input format. There is no other public website I could find an exact VIN for each bus available. We have added so many VINs to the point that I can go onto google and search a VIN, and most of the time it will only appear on the CPTDB Wiki. I too used to struggle for hours with the copy paste methods for inputing VINs. However, it turns out there is a much easier method to input VINs, using find/replace in word processors such as MS Word & TextEdit. I use TextEdit and it has saved me a massive amount of hours of time adding individual VINs and serials. I used to dread creating long pages or adding in over 50-100 VINs at once, but afterward, I looked forward to such big projects.

I am not in favor of this method for inputting VINs: "5FYC8YC12LF073655 - LF073668" as it defeats the sense of quality over quantity. Also many individual VINs have non-standard check digits, which can be easily overlooked in this method. However, if it saves you a significant amount of time in the long run, maybe adding something like "5FYC8YC1_LF073655 - LF073668" would be more ideal, since having the check digit being visible throws things off a bit in my eyes. Then later someone else can come around and expand all of the VINs.

I do understand that having the full VINs on the fleet series page and VIN page may seem repetitive, but having the full individual VINs listed on a production list is still necessary in my opinion. Adding them in for all of these years has taught me a lot of tips related to VINs, codes, etc.

So in the end, I do not reject this proposal and I think if it makes it easier to add VINs for you in the future, then go for it. However I wouldn't consider this as a complete replacement for everyone in the long run. I would look at it as more of an open option.

2. I don't make cutaway VIN pages at all, so this proposal is no problem.

3. I think having the VINs laid out by model is a good idea. Sure it creates gaps in the serial sequence, but those gaps can be filled in with notes linking to the other model pages, such as this: https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Neoplan_USA_AN440LF_'4_VINs'. I initially started this method with the gillig phantom school bus VINs. I think having the VIN pages laid out by serial only would make pages be a bit too long and maybe overwhelming with a massive amount of models shoved into a single page. I liked the separation of the Gillig BRT & Low Floor. Sure the VIN types are the same and the BRT is a restyle of the LF, but they aren't exactly the same kind of bus, sort of like a comparison of an articulated version of a new flyer vs. a 40 foot bus.

Overall, I am still open to changes requested in order to make editing easier for everyone else. The current VIN page layout hasn't really affected me in a negative light as of recent, but this obviously isn't the same case for everyone else. I actually feel like I've learned a lot because of this layout. This is another part of the reason why I haven't made an urgent effort to step in. I notice the biggest issue is not having a sort of automated system when adding VINs to the wiki, that way they could appear on both pages without needing to be manually inputted twice. Until such a solution is created, I wouldn't mind sharing some of my find/replace editing tips & tricks to make editing smoother and even more fun. I will look into the rest of the replies shortly.

Thanks for your patience.

On 8/10/2020 at 1:55 AM, MVTArider said:

^ The bold part is exactly what I was going to bring up. The handful of times I've come across a VIN on an auction or dealer site that wasn't already documented, I've added it to the agency or operator roster fleet range page detail or as a note for a specific unit. But then when I've gone to see if I could get it onto the appropriate VIN list as well, I simply decided not to as having to edit 100s of lines to add a alternating color line for one little VIN was too much.

I will agree this is the most annoying/discouraging part even in my case. I often will go through production lists and add in blank colour slots tied to VINs that will be added in later, but something even this can get through off when an unknown VIN or owner is suddenly found that wasn't noted in production lists. The easiest way to work with colours is with find/replace, but it's still time consuming.

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On 9/17/2020 at 9:16 AM, Kevin L said:

I created some test/demo pages based on the discussion above:

First one - Removed the alternating blue and combined the serials.

Second one - Condensed all NFI Xcelsior models into a year (2020) page.

 

First one I am not a fan of. It feels a bit too cluttered to my eye. I think this kind of setup is better in a format like on MS Word or Angelfire, but it doesn't exactly translate well to this visual format in my personal opinion.

Second one is not bad. It's neat & easy to read.

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On 9/23/2020 at 9:21 AM, Silly Tilley said:

Additionally, the 29' low floor versions use a completely separate serial sequence than the 35' and 40' models and would require their own separate pages.

Some further discussion on how to tackle Gillig will probably be necessary before any changes implemented. Perhaps some of the people more experience with Gillig's production lists can chime in.

 

A separate table should be used for 29 foot Gillig VINs, while still remaining on the same VIN page. I've done a similar method with the Gillig Phantom School Buses to avoid confusion of serials: https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Gillig_Phantom_'H_VINs'#School_Bus

1 thing i suggest even is adding the model numbers of the Gillig buses themselves on the VIN pages, such as G27D102N4, as those hold important codes such as length, engine, width, etc. It also can be easily figured out by the VINs themselves, such as a bus starting with 15GGD271 would automatically = G27D102N4 (40ft Gillig LF Cummins ISL 102 inch Air Brakes/4 bellow suspension). I've done this on the 1980-1982 Phantom VIN pages so far and the Phantom School Bus sectors: https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Gillig_Phantom_Serials & https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Gillig_Phantom_'G_VINs'#School_Bus

I've also done the above on the MAN VIN pages too, so it can really be easier on the eyes & have a smoother layout in general: https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Maschinenfabrik_Augsburg-Nürnberg_SG_310_'E_VINs' & before: https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php?title=Maschinenfabrik_Augsburg-Nürnberg_SG_310_'C_VINs'&oldid=445304

On 9/30/2020 at 12:59 PM, Orion6025 said:

I agree, this is probably the only way. I mean like taking a sample from the 29 ft series:

A1092073-A1022079 Lynchburg 1004-1010

A1092080-A1022089 Escambia 1043-1052

A1092090-A1022091 Luzerne 101-102

C1092092-C1092093 Ulster 60-61

092094 ????

A1092095-A1092096 ??

A1092097-A1092109 ??

B1092110-B1092112 COTA 1138-1140

They're just all over the place... It also won't really help much that build dates won't always correspond with the model year which raises a question with how years should be dealt with for the Gilligs. I suppose one can determine the model year by a simple examination of the VIN but someone who isn't that familiar with VINs might get slightly confused by this. I think it might be a little excessive to have a new column be made for model year on top of the pre-existing build date column, especially since AFAIK the build dates for many of the newer gilligs (2006+) aren't known making a model year column extremely redundant (If someone knows them then please speak up). But, having some standard where noting the model year in the notes when it doesn't match the build date might be a good practice. Just throwing that idea out there..

This would be a great time to finally add the model names of each Gillig to the  VIN lists though, that's something i've wanted to do for a long time.

 

I still think having them grouped by year is the best idea since they generally flow streamlined until the end of the year or beginning of a new year (which is where they end up all over the place. Doing is by serial is not a bad idea for this reason, but I've already added in the majority of the older Gillig Phantoms by year and plan on adding the black bars linking to the other VIN pages by year.

As for adding the model numbers..... great minds think alike. ;)

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On 10/5/2020 at 6:20 PM, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA said:

1. I personally favor the individual VIN input format. There is no other public website I could find an exact VIN for each bus available. We have added so many VINs to the point that I can go onto google and search a VIN, and most of the time it will only appear on the CPTDB Wiki. I too used to struggle for hours with the copy paste methods for inputing VINs. However, it turns out there is a much easier method to input VINs, using find/replace in word processors such as MS Word & TextEdit. I use TextEdit and it has saved me a massive amount of hours of time adding individual VINs and serials. I used to dread creating long pages or adding in over 50-100 VINs at once, but afterward, I looked forward to such big projects.

The CPTDB wiki is no doubt one of the best sources on the internet to find individual bus VINs. This would be maintained even under the proposed changes, and the test page Kevin L made for the New Flyer Xcelsior VINs. As long as the full VIN exists somewhere in the wiki, such as in the fleet series page, it will come up in search results when entering the VIN in the search. This is one of the main reasons it is not necessary to also duplicate full VINs on the VIN pages, saving editors a lot of time and effort.

I too have tried using word processors and the find/replace function but found it was just as cumbersome and time consuming since each individual VIN and fleet number (and all the related background coding) had to be changed manually regardless. On a 3 or 5 bus order it isn't a lot, but on larger 50-100+ orders it is incredibly time consuming. Since you mention this at the end of your post I think you can relate on this point, given your extensive contributions to the wiki.

On 10/5/2020 at 6:20 PM, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA said:

I am not in favor of this method for inputting VINs: "5FYC8YC12LF073655 - LF073668" as it defeats the sense of quality over quantity. Also many individual VINs have non-standard check digits, which can be easily overlooked in this method. However, if it saves you a significant amount of time in the long run, maybe adding something like "5FYC8YC1_LF073655 - LF073668" would be more ideal, since having the check digit being visible throws things off a bit in my eyes. Then later someone else can come around and expand all of the VINs.

It does not defeat the sense of quality over quantity, in fact moving to the format proposed makes the pages better quality in my opinion. For the reader, it makes the page a lot simpler to read and digest, as well as being a consistent format with virtually every other bus production list out there. For the editor, it makes editing a lot easier and also helps minimize errors on the pages due to copy + paste errors and formatting errors.

I cannot support your suggestion of posting the full VIN but leaving the check digit blank, nor can I support your other suggestion of doing this until someone comes around later and expands all the VINs. This will just lead to inconsistency in the pages and make a mess of them.

On the subject of check digits, it should be noted check digits are simply a validation of a VIN. Let's consider the reader perspective for a minute. How many readers looking for a VIN, or looking for a New Flyer production list are going to be looking specifically for check digits? Likely next to none, they're more likely to be looking to match a serial number or get a overview of buses produced in a given timeframe. Again, the full VINs including check digits would still be available on the fleet series pages, which would be conveniently linked to in the VIN pages as per Kevin L's New Flyer example.

On 10/5/2020 at 6:20 PM, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA said:

3. I think having the VINs laid out by model is a good idea. Sure it creates gaps in the serial sequence, but those gaps can be filled in with notes linking to the other model pages, such as this: https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Neoplan_USA_AN440LF_'4_VINs'. I initially started this method with the gillig phantom school bus VINs. I think having the VIN pages laid out by serial only would make pages be a bit too long and maybe overwhelming with a massive amount of models shoved into a single page. I liked the separation of the Gillig BRT & Low Floor. Sure the VIN types are the same and the BRT is a restyle of the LF, but they aren't exactly the same kind of bus, sort of like a comparison of an articulated version of a new flyer vs. a 40 foot bus.

The pages should follow the serial sequence the manufacturers use and it seems there is general agreement on this.

The Gillig BRT is a version of the Gillig Low Floor with various styling options. It is no different than say, a New Flyer with a optional roof fairing, or the Orion VII BRT for example. It uses the same serial sequence as the Gillig LF so I feel the Gillig LF and BRT buses should be on the same page (although with model designations added which you've noted below). The BRT model designation can be noted in the model column proposed. 

On 10/5/2020 at 6:20 PM, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA said:

I notice the biggest issue is not having a sort of automated system when adding VINs to the wiki, that way they could appear on both pages without needing to be manually inputted twice. Until such a solution is created, I wouldn't mind sharing some of my find/replace editing tips & tricks to make editing smoother and even more fun. I will look into the rest of the replies shortly.

Indeed, some sort of automation where a VIN appears on both the fleet series page and the VIN page would be the most ideal solution and if it existed we wouldn't be having this discussion. However (and correct me if I'm wrong) I believe there has been discussion about this in the past but it seems no workable solution has been found. Hence, why we are discussing the possibility of making changes to make it easier to edit.

On 10/5/2020 at 7:05 PM, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA said:

1 thing i suggest even is adding the model numbers of the Gillig buses themselves on the VIN pages, such as G27D102N4, as those hold important codes such as length, engine, width, etc. It also can be easily figured out by the VINs themselves, such as a bus starting with 15GGD271 would automatically = G27D102N4 (40ft Gillig LF Cummins ISL 102 inch Air Brakes/4 bellow suspension). I've done this on the 1980-1982 Phantom VIN pages so far and the Phantom School Bus sectors: https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Gillig_Phantom_Serials & https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Gillig_Phantom_'G_VINs'#School_Bus

I agree on this, and this also goes for all the other pages. The specific model being listed on the page is helpful.

On 10/5/2020 at 7:05 PM, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA said:

A separate table should be used for 29 foot Gillig VINs, while still remaining on the same VIN page. I've done a similar method with the Gillig Phantom School Buses to avoid confusion of serials: https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Gillig_Phantom_'H_VINs'#School_Bus

I still think having them grouped by year is the best idea since they generally flow streamlined until the end of the year or beginning of a new year (which is where they end up all over the place. Doing is by serial is not a bad idea for this reason, but I've already added in the majority of the older Gillig Phantoms by year and plan on adding the black bars linking to the other VIN pages by year.

After thinking about it I can agree that grouping the Gillig data by year rather than my proposed serial range is ok. It will keep things consistent and make it easy for editors. I can also agree with your format to keep the 29' and 35/40' data on the same page but separate tables.

However, I still strongly believe that Gillig LF and Gillig BRT data should be on the same page as they share the same serial sequence. This is the same format that is being proposed (and tested) for New Flyer and other manufacturers.

Overall, I have no issues with the test pages Kevin L has created and I still support moving in that direction.

  • Thanks 1

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