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Definition: A 'multiple choice variable' is a simple variable containing a series of words or phrases that you want to offer to the end user as separate choices. Each choice is separated from the others by a plain text slash ("/").
Examples of Multiple Choice Variables:
My favorite ice cream flavor is [chocolate/rocky road/vanilla cream swirl/triple fudge brownie delight].
I hope to travel soon to [Poughkeepsie/Patchogue/Irondequoit/Skaneateles].
[Andrew A. Attorney/Laura L. Lawyer/Brenda B. Barrister]
A multiple choice variable is typically used when the author wants to provide the end user with a set number of possible 'answers.’ But, as several examples above illustrates, spelling challenges can be another reason to provide a multiple choice variable.
When the entire range of colors is a possible answer, a simple variable like “[color of widgets]” would work fine.
However, if you wish to limit the selection of colors to just a few choices, you can list those colors within the variable itself using a multiple choice variable. That way, the end user understands the limitation, and will be led to provide an acceptable answer:
Thank you for your order. We will deliver [number] dozen of [yellow/green/blue/orange] widgets within 2 weeks.
When Pathagoras encounters a multiple choice variable, it parses out the individual choices and presents them in an easy to select drop down list in the Instant Database screen. Try it out. Type a simple multiple choice list onto your editing screen. (You can even copy and paste the examples above.) Press <Alt-D> to activate the Instant Database. Press the <Scan> button. The variables appear at the left, the dropdown lists at the right.
What if I have a 'lot' of choices?
Pathagoras allows you to create an unlimited number of choices within a standard multiple-choice variable. However, if you need to list more than 5 or 6 we recommend that you use Aliases and *Lists*, a complementary feature discussed in the next section that allows you an unlimited number of choices. (Think the 50 United States, all the countries in the world, all of the flavors of Ben & Jerry's© Ice Cream, and similar long lists.)
What if I want to use a multiple-choice variable in different sections of my document, but be able to select different values?
Making unique names for each variable is easy to do for a simple variable. Just use a different name, or at the very least, append a number or other character at the end. E.g., "[Variable1]", "[Variable2]", "[Variable3]" etc.
To make otherwise identical multiple choice variables 'unique', append the '@' sign and a distinguishing single character or single digit number at the end of the list of choices. E.g, "[Red/Blue/Green@A]", "[Red/Blue/Green@B]", "[Red/Blue/Green@C]", etc. (Pathagoras knows not to include the distinguishing character or number as part of the last element of the multiple choices when it encounters the '@' sign.)
The red color for the markups above are for emphasis only. They are not required for performance.