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Discussion about defining parts properties and tags

HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 5,588
This discussion was created from comments split from: Graphing Studless Technic.

Comments

  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 5,588
    davee123 said:

    Non sequitur, but long ago, I talked with the Peeron guys about that-- they wanted to be able to search for parts based on other criteria like "has 4 studs" and "has an axlehole" and "has a clip", etc.  But it never really went anywhere.  It'd be a very handy resource now and again, but I don't know if anyone's done anything like that.  GET ON THAT, SOMEBODY!  I've got useless statistics to generate!


    Actually I've been thinking along similar lines, tagging parts like we do sets, to get round the problems of LEGO's inconsistent naming of parts and the fact it no longer provides part categories in the data that's made available at customer services.

    So a 2x4 brick might have tags

    Standard brick
    8 studs
    2x4

    1x2 Technic piece with axlehole

    Technic brick
    2 studs
    Axlehole


    etc. etc.

    There are about 11,000 distinct designs in our data so it wouldn't be a insurmountable job if it were crowdsourced.

    Definitely a development job for the winter, though....



    TheOriginalSimonBcatwranglerkiki180703
  • OldfanOldfan Chicagoland, IL, USAMember Posts: 540
    ^Let us know when you need help, Huw.

    Although it will be amusing to see just how many different tags Brickset users will want to apply to a standard 2x4...
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 748
    Huw said:
    There are about 11,000 distinct designs in our data so it wouldn't be a insurmountable job if it were crowdsourced.

    That'd be handy, if done!  I was just thinking about how you might crowdsource that, actually, since you'd quite possibly have different standards between people for what tags apply where.  For instance, some people might not think about this technic part having studs:



    And some people might think this is a "standard" brick, while others might think it's not:

    And then you've got oddballs like parts that are both slopes and curved slopes, etc.

    Probably nice to do something simplistic and once a tag is suggested by (say) 3 people, it's a relevant tag.  Only problem being that you need more and more volunteers!

    Here's hoping it happens!

    DaveE
    catwrangler
  • catwranglercatwrangler Northern IrelandMember Posts: 1,325
    Yes, I could see people who think in terms of stud dimensions filing that Technic element as a one-stud piece, while people who count overall studs would file it under two... there could be mayhem! 

    (Why yes, I did base my initial sorting of the smaller pieces in my collection on the number of studs, and yes, it did create some very odd situations!)
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 5,588
    I had to do a long drive yesterday so had time to think about this a bit more. I don't think tagging alone would be that useful.

    What's needed is a way to describe the properties of the piece as well in a way that makes finding/grouping similar pieces or those suitable for particular uses easier, in addition to enabling calculations like 'number of studs in the set' possible, and filtering out less interesting parts like printed bricks and minifig torsos/legs.

    So, what properties can be used to describe parts? Here's a few for starters:

    • System: Duplo/System/Technic/CCBS/Clikits
    • Width, Length and Height (in standard units)
    • Number of studs
    • Number of faces with studs
    • Printed y/n
    • Flexible y/n
    • Has 3.18 bar y/n
    • Has 3.18 clip y/n
    • Hinges/rotates y/n
    Would this be a useful exercise? Do you think we could come up with a 'definitive' list of such properties?



  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,286
    I think that would be a useful list of properties, especially if it could then be searched afterwards. You might need a different list of properties for technic parts, but maybe the properties list could be changed depending on which system is selected?

    Maybe for System elements, also have a property such as 'brick/plate/tile/slope/other'. Would it be something where anyone could change properties someone else has assigned? I could see there being some discussion about some elements.

    However it's done, it'd be much better than using the tags, because you can almost guarantee you'd get tags like 'hurts when stood on' or 'hard to spot if dropped in cereal'. Well, maybe not, but you know what I mean ;)
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 5,588
    > properties list could be changed depending on which system is selected?

    Yes good idea.

    The overall challenge would be coming up with properties that are understood by anyone who's assigning them, assuming we crowdsource the data.

    > brick/plate/tile/slope/other

    As soon as you ask someone something like that it's open to interpretation. Is a jumper plate a plate or a tile? for example. I file mine under 'tiles'.

  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,286
    Yes that's true, I was trying to think of properties which would be useful when searching, but it might just be easier to keep it simple! :)
  • MattsWhatMattsWhat Studley, UKMember Posts: 1,634
    edited August 2016
    But, plate/slope/other etc has some potential.  Otherwise parts like windscreens will be scattered all over as some have studs, printing, bars, clips, hinges etc.  This would make it near impossible to find the best shape of windscreen for example.  At least if you could look in 'other' or 'windscreens' or whatever you would have a chance.  I get that maybe being as specific as windscreen is too far, but still.

    Edit: And why would a jumper be a tile? It has a stud on the top!  Mine are filed in the toolbox labelled 'modified 1x2s'.  Man, that has some tat in it:
    Image result for lego modified 1x2 plate
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 748
    I guess I think of tagging as properties that can overlap-- which are good for some categories, and not so good for others.  Something like "number of studs" is pretty good, you shouldn't get "has 3 studs" and "has 8 studs" on the same part.  But for other things, like "is a tile" or "is a DUPLO part", it's definitely possible to overlap and be more tag-based.

    Oddball parts that can be in multiple "systems":




    Offhand list of "systems":  System, Jumbo, DUPLO, Modulex, Technic, Scala, Primo, Quatro, Baby, Soft, ZNAP, CCBS, Galidor?, Clikits, Other/Gear (watches, salt shakers, etc).  Does Muji have any specialized pieces?  Maybe the old-timey gears from the 60s?  Oh, and Town Plan "elements" like the figures, trees, and cars?  And I'm 50/50 on Fabuland.

    Coming up with a good list of candidates for both properties and tags is tricky, but certainly do-able and worth it.  But there will always be interesting parts that challenge everything, I guess.  Offhand, just thinking about pieces like this:


    Technically, those two little nubs on the sides are "bars"-- and you could make the same argument (perhaps) for flex tubing.  But most people wouldn't really consider it to be a "bar".

    For the sake of searching for parts, I'd err on the side of "count all possible interpretations", but for statistics, I might err on the side of human judgement.  So... tough call.

    I guess we should really move this to its own thread, though!  This could be quite a topic!

    DaveE
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,286
    The main concern I had with having a category of 'brick/plate/tile/slope/other' (although I still suggested it) was basically, where do you stop? If you count windscreens, then glass, then plates (modified) etc. etc., you'd soon end up with a list like the one on Bricklink, which is clearly ridiculous for this purpose.

    But yes, things like the Technic bricks would be 'interesting' to decide what to classify them as...
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 5,588
    Discussion split...

    ^ Yes, that's my concern, too. Somehow we need to move away from descriptively naming parts, since LEGO does that (inconsistently) and categorising them since LEGO also does that (inconsistently) and defining them by a series of properties and/or tags that are unambiguous.

    For example,

    • parts that are 1/3rd high and have no studs defines what we call tiles,
    • parts that are 1/3rd high and have some other property like bar/clip/hole/whatever defines what we call modified plates

    That might allow queries such as 'show me all system parts that are 1/3rd high, have 0 studs and are not printed' to find all plain tiles. It may be that other elements are included; if so then some other property may be necessary to differentiate them.


    As for 'systems', for the foreseeable future at least, we'll be concerning ourselves only with parts that appear in inventories published by LEGO CS, so won't need to be worried about znap etc.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,286
    Yes, I think properties which are unambiguous would be best. How about something like 'Has other (non-stud) connection', which would include things like bars, ball-joints, clips etc. (but not technic connections), which would probably not be too many to be unmanageable. On the other hand, it would also include pretty much every minifig weapon/utensil, so...

    On a slightly different topic, how do I add a forum category to the list of ones I'm 'following'? I don't usually follow the 'database' category, so couldn't initially find where this discussion was moved to.
  • MattsWhatMattsWhat Studley, UKMember Posts: 1,634
    But my point still remains allbeit windscreen was a bad example.  Surely the use for this database would be along the lines of needing a part that will fulfil a certain roll, i.e. is a modified plate, or a modified 2x2 or whatever - so when creating a MOC you can find out if a part exists that would do what you needed.  If you just want a way to look up the number of an existing part then isn't this a bit overkill?
    Maybe I am just blinkered by the way I would use this, but if I couldn't choose a pretty obvious option to get all of a particular part (e.g. (but not limited to) windscreens) then why would I use it?
    I think because of interpretation of the rules this is only going to end up in the same way that any storage method does - in a system that has a big box at one end that is full of parts you're not sure where to put, and a lot of time spent looking for stuff you know is in there but can't seem to find.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 748
    Coming up with a list of connection types is pretty tricky, that's for sure!  I was trying to figure out (while counting "studs" in Technic sets) whether or not minifig "hip nubs" counted as studs or something else.  And a lot of older parts featured hinges that were designed only to match with a small set of partners.

    Thinking about some hopefully unambiguous categorizations:

    * System solid studs
    * System hollow studs
    * DUPLO solid studs
    * DUPLO hollow studs
    * DUPLO "big" studs (animal backs-- yes, they're a different diameter!)
    * Bars
    * Clips
    * Technic axle holes
    * Technic axle
    * Technic pin holes
    * Technic pin
    * Small pin holes (as in wheels)
    * Small pin
    * Click hinges
    * Ball joints (small)
    * Ball joints (bionicle-size)
    * Weight/Mass (OMG!)
    * Material (ABS/Rubber/fabric/etc)
    * Printed

    I guess there's a ton of stuff that probably is unambiguous, but not overly helpful-- like maybe "has stud notches" or "has Primo studs" or "has tile lip".  And some that are iffy, like "has electric connection".

    There are a few that I have trouble figuring out how to handle correctly, like dimensions.  Hard to say which dimension is which, or even (in some cases) which direction makes the element orthogonal.  Some of that might be extractable from LDraw parts, though.

    I also can't think of a good way of classifying "stud receptors", since Technic pin holes, tubes, and other things can accept them.  But it'd be useful to have, if possible.

    DaveE
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,286
    On a slightly different topic, how do I add a forum category to the list of ones I'm 'following'? I don't usually follow the 'database' category, so couldn't initially find where this discussion was moved to.
    Never mind, I found it...

    I take your point Matt, but personally I'm leaning towards thinking they should be 'factual' properties, rather than anything subjective. Sure, there's going to be 'difficult' pieces. For example, I have in front of me a few pieces I ordered the other day, one of which is this:

    Now, I have no idea what category you'd put that under, but I do know you can say it has two studs, studs on only one side, is 10 studs long and 2 wide, and 6 plates high.

    Whether that would help anyone to find it, I don't know, but I suspect it's a bit of an unusual case. I also suspect, however, that there will be quite a few cases like it.

    I'm not sure where I'm going with this, if I'm honest...
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UKMember Posts: 2,286
    Material could be a good property.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 5,588
    It's a minefield isn't it!
    gmonkey76dougts
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 597
    I often start my searches for mystery parts now by browsing by color family, then browse categories to figure out what the part is. A search interface with multiple drop-down lists of tags would allow a user to narrow or expand their results by selecting various tags from the lists. The most interesting part to code would be searching tags for dimensions, since orientation of the part may be unclear. I'd go with 3 fields for overall dimensions, and the search would need to check user input against all 3. If the user searches for one dimension of "2x" they would get any element that is 2 bricks high, wide OR deep. 
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 14,015
    On a slightly different topic, how do I add a forum category to the list of ones I'm 'following'? I don't usually follow the 'database' category, so couldn't initially find where this discussion was moved to.
    Never mind, I found it...

    I take your point Matt, but personally I'm leaning towards thinking they should be 'factual' properties, rather than anything subjective. Sure, there's going to be 'difficult' pieces. For example, I have in front of me a few pieces I ordered the other day, one of which is this:

    Now, I have no idea what category you'd put that under, but I do know you can say it has two studs, studs on only one side, is 10 studs long and 2 wide, and 6 plates high.

    Whether that would help anyone to find it, I don't know, but I suspect it's a bit of an unusual case. I also suspect, however, that there will be quite a few cases like it.

    I'm not sure where I'm going with this, if I'm honest...
    Minifigure head, modified ? :-)


    VorpalRyu
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