DropDown Lists provide two-click access to a variety of items: documents, clauses, text snippets (a/k/a building blocks), Excel data, PowerPoint presentations, image files, etc. The end-product is a signable letter, contract, pleading, Will, etc. The target audience is typically the client or customer.
But 'source-document authors' (here we refer to the author of the original or 'source text' used to create the client documents) can also benefit from DropDowns. Several authoring tools can be presented via DropDown Lists. We discuss in this section the DropDown Variables List. This List gives you two-click access to the variables you have adopted as office standards for your forms. It can dramatically speed up the process of 'Pathagorizing' your documents.
It is easy to create, maintain and use the DropDown Variables List. This List is 'permanent' (at least until you manually delete it) sits at the top of your editing screen along with other DropDown Lists. It is 'always on' and 'always active.' (You can create more temporary lists of variables using your collection of masks. These temporary lists are discussed at this page of the Manual.)
Creating the DropDown Variables List
Two methods are available:
1. Via the Instant Database Screen"
•Display the Instant Database screen and select a mask or a client/customer's record that contains the variables you want to add to the Variables List.
•Click 'Power Tools' (the red button) and then click the "Print/Transfer/Export" button. If a List does not already exist, Pathagoras will ask for the location (row and slot) where the List should be placed.
•If a list already exists, you will also have the option of replacing the existing List with just the variables in the mask or record you have called, or to add any new variables to the existing List.
2. Via the 'Collections' Menu (ribbon)
•Click the Pathagoras tab and locate the 'Collections' section toward the right of the ribbon.
•Click the 'Menu' button.
•Select 'Variables' toward the bottom of the new screen. Pathagoras will add a new DropDown List called (appropriately enough) 'Variables.' (If a list of variables already exists from your having followed these steps in an earlier setting, those variables will populate the new list. Otherwise, Pathagoras will create a new list of variables. It will insert [Client Name], [Client Address], and [Client City, ST ZIP] as a starter list. These variables can be kept or deleted following the Editing procedures below.
Now, insert Variables in 2 clicks!
•Insert single variable: Use like any other DropDown List. Just make sure that the cursor is at the location where you wish the variable to be inserted. Point. Click.
•Global replacements: Let say you have on your editing screen a document that you want to 'Pathagorize.' Currently it has the name 'John Doe' in several locations throughout the document. You want to 'neuter' the document to create an office form.
1.Highlight one instance of a word or phrase (i.e., John Doe) that you want to convert to a variable.
2.Click on an entry in the Variables DropDown List that you want John Doe to become.
3.Pathagoras will ask if you want to replace all other instances of the same text in the document with the selected variable. If you do, click 'Yes.' The replacement of all 'John Does' with the selected variable is done in a split second.
4.As with all replacements performed by Pathagoras, the program will preserve the style of the text --case, bold, italics, color, etc. -- when replacements are made in the other locations.
This global replacement of personal values with variables is almost identical to the action that can be performed using the 'Create Variables' Wizard (Alt-V). The main difference is that, with the DropDown Variables List, the names of your variables are always at your fingertips.
Adding Variables to the Variables List
•Highlight and Add: A single variable, or a group of variables, that currently reside on you editing screen can be quickly added to your List.
1.Highlight the variable(s). Click on the Variables list and select the 'Add Variables to List' element at the bottom.
2.To add more than one variable at a time, type a list of the variables in a stack down the left side of the page. Highlight the stack and the click the 'Add Variables to List' element at the bottom.
3.If you are editing a document that contains variables you wish to add, but they are not stacked, use the 'Via the IDB Screen' method described in the section that immediately follows. See #3 in that section.)
4.That's it. Your new variables have been added to the bottom.
•Via the Instant Database (IDB) screen:
1.Display the Instant Database screen. (You can press Alt-D to call up the IDB screen).
2.Select an existing record or any mask from the lists in the upper right or upper left drop downs.
3.As an alternative to using an existing record, you can click the <Scan> button to place the variables in the currently open document into the IDB screen.
4.Regardless of how you populated the IDB screen, click the red 'Power Tools' button.
5.Click the 'Insert into DropDown List' button. Choose whether you want to replace the existing List, or add any new variables to the List.
Pathagoras allows you easy access to the file that contains the Variables. Using the steps outlined below under "Editing the Variables List" you can manually insert (remove, rename, etc.) variables at your pleasure.
Editing the Variables List.
•You can easily access the file for editing in these two ways:
1.Via the Variables List: Click the 'Open List for Editing' element near the bottom of the List itself.
2.Via the Collections menu: Shift click on the 'Variables' button.
Pathagoras will open the document called Variables.txt as a Notepad (not Word) file. (It is just easier to edit a simple file such a Variables.txt with this editor.) Edit as appropriate and then save and close the file.
If you need a more powerful editor (i.e., Word) to edit the file (because let's say you want to search for and replace text in a large file, or you want to alphabetize your entries), you can easily copy all or part of the content from the Notepad screen and paste it into Word . Edit as desired. Copy and paste the results back into the Notepad screen, save and close.
Don't forget to click «Refresh» in the Variables List.
(You can also navigate to and edit the Variables.txt file manually. As suggested above, we recommend that you edit the list with Notepad, Microsoft's simple text editor.)
Techies: The Variables List is physically stored in a file called 'Variables.txt' located in the same folder that your other Instant Database records are stored. By default, the location is:
32 bit computers: c:\program files (x86)\Pathagoras\IDBS
64 bit computers: c:\program files\Pathagoras\IDBs
The actual current location is displayed when you press Alt-D to display the IDB screen, It's at the bottom of the screen. (You can double click the text box displaying the path to open it.)
Currently there is only one Variables List available. If you wish to categorize the List (i.e., separate your Estate Planning variables from your Litigation Variables, etc.), you can do so by editing and rearranging the contents of Variables.txt using any of the editing techniques discussed above. You can insert Category captions (perhaps in ALL CAPS). You can even indent the variables within each category for a more visually pleasing display.
Refreshing the List
If you know you have added a variable (or several) to the List, but it doesn't appear when you drop it down, click the «Refresh» entry near the bottom of the List. This tells Pathagoras to reread the Variables.txt file.
Variables List and the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)
If you frequently need to add variables to your documents, you should consider elevating your Variables DropDown List to your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). That way you will have immediate access to your variables without having to first click on the Pathagoras tab.
To add the List to the QAT, right click on the List and select 'Add to Quick Access Toolbar.'
If you have placed your Variables DropDown in more than one Collection, make sure that the List is in the same relative location in each. If you change Collections, the QAT will display the DropDown that occupies the same position as the List from which you created the QAT entry.