February 24, 2010

New and Somewhat Worsened

The constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church reflecting changes made by the 2009 General Convention have recently been posted on the Web. They first appeared on the site of the Archives of the Episcopal Church. More recently, they were were posted on the site of the Executive Offices of the General Convention, along with other 76th General Convention publications. It is, of course, good news that our revised governing documents are available, as the 2009 versions are the current ones. (The General Convention publications page mentioned above also contains a link to the 2006 versions of the constitution and canons.)

Also good news is the fact that the omission I discovered in Canon III.9.11 (see “What Are the Episcopal Church Canons, Anyway?”) has been fixed. I don’t know if there were other errors that required correction.

The bad news is that it is harder to get around the new PDF document that contains the constitution, canons, rules of order for the houses of the General Convention, and index. (Both sites link to a single file containing all the listed items. The Archives site also links to PDF files containing specific subsets of the material.) In particular, the 2006 edition contained bookmarks that allowed quick access to, say, individual canons. An equally useful, though less perspicuous navigation aid would be to have page numbers in the Table of Contents be hyperlinks. This is what I built into the PDF containing governing documents for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. I inserted actual bookmarks only for the subsections—constitution, canons, etc.

The final piece of bad news is that the 2009 PDF is neither a tagged PDF nor one optimized for Web viewing. PDFs are tagged to make it more easily for devices such as PDAs or cell phones to display them properly. The fast Web view feature allows for display of part of a PDF before the entire file is downloaded, a useful property of a file containing hundreds of pages of text. Neither of these properties were features of the official 2006 PDF.

Update (3/20/2010): The Archives has posted new files on its site. See “New and Improved (Over the Last Version).”

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