Place notation
Many forms of place notation are in current use by bell ringers to define methods. This section describes the forms you can use with Abel - which include all the most common forms used by ringers generally.
MicroSIRIL notation
The microSIRIL library uses place notation of the form:
b &-3-4-25-36-4-5-6-7
This notation comprises 3 sections: the method group indicator (letter b in the above example); a symmetry indicator (&); and the place notation itself.
The method group indicator is the standard Central Council representation where ‘a' means this is a seconds place method where the first lead end is the same as the first lead end of Plain Bob; ‘b' means this is a seconds place method where the first lead end is the same as the second lead of Plain Bob; etc. ‘z' means this method does not have a plain bob lead end order, and the full notation has to be specified.
The symmetry indicator is either ‘&', which means the method is symmetrical and the place notation is to be reflected before adding the lead end place; or ‘+' which means the method is asymmetric and the place notation is given in full.
The microSIRIL place notation uses the characters 1234567890ETABCD to indicate the position(s) in which a place is made in each row, for up to 16 bells; Abel extends this with FGHJKLMN for 17-24 bells. microSIRIL uses a hyphen to indicate that all pairs cross. External places are usually omitted (so you don't need to say 38 if you are writing out Cambridge Major, you can just write 3), and contiguous places are separated by a dot. The above example is Cambridge Major: Scientific Triples would be:
z +3.1.7.1.5.1.7.1.7.5.1.7.1.7.1.7.1.7.1.5.1.5.1.7.1.7.1.7.1.7
Abel notation
Abel's place notation adds to the microSIRIL notation by allowing a little more flexibility.
You can use ‘x' to indicate that all pairs of bells change over, equivalent to ‘-‘ in microSIRIL notation. This is most often used for methods with even numbers of bells; if you use it for odd-bell methods other than doubles, all pairs change except for the back bell. Doubles is a special case: the Central Council doubles collection use x to mean that only the treble (hunting) and adjacent bell change over, the other three making places. Abel follows this slightly idiosyncratic use of the ‘x' notation for doubles.
As for microSIRIL notation, ‘&' implies symmetry, and allows you to reflect a section of place notation. ‘+' means asymmetry, and you can add this at the end of the place notation to specify the lead end as well as using it to define asymmetric methods.
You can specify the lead end in a variety of ways. For example, Plain Bob Minor can be written out entirely in longhand as:
x16x16x16x16x16x12
Since you don't need to specify external places, you can shorten this to:
x1x1x1x1x1x2
If you prefer, you can show the reflecting portion using the ‘&' character, and separate out the lead end place notation using the ‘+' character:
&x1x1x1+2
Abel also accepts Central Council method groups, which allows you to specify Plain Bob Minor as:
a &x1x1x1
Contiguous places can be separated by either a dot or a space, so all the following are legal representations of London Minor:
&36x36.14x12x36.14x14.36+12 &36x36 14x12x36 14x14 36+12 f &36x36.14x12x36.14x14.36 f &36x36 14x12x36 14x14 36
Stedman Doubles
Stedman Doubles is unusual (unique?): it only has one call (single) but this call can have two different place notations (145 and 345) depending on whether it is called in a quick or a slow six. Abel has a special notation for handling this. If you put a * for the place notation for 'single', Abel knows what to do! Make sure that you set the 'call interval' to 6 and the 'call start row' to 0 (assuming you start in the 'normal' place i.e. at the 4^{th} row of a quick six).