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3.2. Design issues with form codes

Each six-letter form code is tied to a specific name. Most of the names are English names, and most of those have now or formerly had some official status, typically from one version or another of the AOU Check-List.

This program will form a code from each name using the rules published in the specification, and detect collisions (cases where application of the standard rules causes two or more names abbreviate to the same code). If the data files do not provide a disambiguation, the program will print an error message, and the operator must correct the files and re-run the program.

Because most checklists and field records enumerate species, each species in the taxonomic tree is assigned a six-letter form code. Form codes are not automatically assigned to higher taxa.

As the standard (.std) file is read, and the taxonomic tree is built, the program also builds a table of all the form codes. However, the .std file does not include forms deeper than species level.

The alternate forms (.alt) file enumerates all the form codes that are not derived from standard names. Each line in the alternate forms file is of one of these types: