acs-person Documentation

Version 0.1 By Jon Griffin
This document is Copyright © 2002 Jon Griffin.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".


acs-person is a superset of person in the OpenACS system. It can be used as a standalone module or to augment/replace person.

Table of Contents

Developers Guide
Administrators Guide
Users Guide

Design Goal


Probably since humankind started writing and keeping track of others, there has been a debate about the easy way to store information. This problem has only gotten worse as time went on.

The problem (along with addresses) seems relatively simple until you think of all the variables that come along with it. Not even taking into account alphabets there are many gotchas in storing names correctly.

Take for instance names in the Latin American Countries and Spain:
Luis Alvaro Hernandez Garcia
How would that be stored? In most US-centric databases this is stored as either:

first_name — Luis
middle_name — Alvaro
last_name — Hernandez Garcia
OR (as the case of OpenACS)
first_name — Luis Alvaro
last_name — Hernandez Garcia
While certainly this model is useful, it has its limitations. What if you decide to sort your data by Last Name? What is the correct part of last_name to sort on? Is it Hernandez or Garcia? These are easy Western Language problems that get much more complicated when dealing with Eastern European or other cultures where names aren't written in a first, middle, last order.

Here are some examples of cultural differences and you can see the problems that are created:
Indonesia — Many (not all) Indonesians have only one name.
Korea — Some put family name first, others put family names last.
Hispanic — As well as the above example the rules can get very complex. Spanish men, for example, sometimes use their father's name and mother's name and separate them with a y (and).
Luis Alvaro Hernandez y Garcia
Other times they may hyphenate the last names:
Luis Alvaro Hernandez-Garcia
Now onto Hispanic women (and this also changes somewhat by country). In general a single women is similar to men. She takes her father's last name and adds her mothers maiden name. The difference comes about when the women marries. In this case the women still has the fathers last name but appends the husband's last name preceded by de (of):
Luisa Benavides Hernandez de Fernandez
As a side note, in Cuba the Wife keeps her name and so does the husband.
To complicate matters more, the Wife may be refered to as Luisa de Fernandez or simply Luisa Fernandez, as well as Sra Fernandez.


Formatted Name
Given Name
Preferred Given Name
Family Name



GNU Free Documentation License

Revision History

index.html,v Revision 1.2 2002/09/27 00:09:55 jong updated some links
Revision 1.4 2002/08/09 23:51:27 jon
Added new links
Revision 1.3 2002/08/09 23:35:17 jon
Fixed bad typo in link
Revision 1.2 2002/08/09 23:34:32 jon
Updated format and fixed typos
Revision 1.1 2002/08/09 23:16:02 jon
Initial Revision