A 'Dot Variable' is a variable to which has been pre-assigned a fixed value. The name derives from the setup of the variable within a document: [.VarName]. Note the period (dot) introducing the variable. See the box below for some samples.
Use a Dot Variable when you want to assign a variable to a specific default value. You might also use a Dot Variable for documents that you wish to share with others where header items like the office name, address, etc. are totally different. Rather than having the 'share-ee' modify the header text in each each document to reflect local information, just change the file that contains the dot variables values.
Perhaps you have a designed a series of standard order form templates, but the product line your company offers changes with some frequency. You could have a proposal that lists a certain product line. You could list [.Product1], [.Product2], [.Product3], etc. in the cover letter, actual order form, confirmation and other followup-up letters. Modify the Dot Variable associations as individual letters are produced. (A variation of this theme that Pathagoras will soon be offering is to allow multiple sets of Dot Variables, each placed in a separate page of the Excel spreadsheet that contains the lists.)
The Dot Variable list is (currently) contained in the same Excel spreadsheet that contains your *Alias* data (i.e., 'multichoice.xlsx'). They can be found on the second page of that spreadsheet. (The two tabs in the multichoice.xlsx spreadsheet are labeled 'Aliases' and 'Dot Variables' respectively.)
By way of example. your letter might look like this:
[.Firm City ST Zip]
With a letterhead in this style, any letter can be shared with any branch of the company. So long as the proper 'local' information has been provided in the Dot Variables tab, Pathagoras can quickly complete this document.
Locate and display the 'Alias' spreadsheet. Typing 'alias' and pressing <Alt-G> will get you there the quickest, but following the steps on this page is the more 'classic' approach. Dot Variables are simply listed top to bottom in the first two columns of the Dot Variables page. The Variable name is in column A and the value of each variable in column B. (The column A value is just the term. Don't add brackets or the dot in the spreadsheet. Pathagoras knows what they are.)
If you need an 'enter' or new line to appear in the final document, type <P> to reflect a new paragraph.
The above 'ABC, Inc.' example gives you but one way to incorporate dot variables into your documents. But don't restrict their use to just header or footer material. You can dot variables anywhere you want to set a default value. You can overwrite the value after it appears on the Instant Database sceen if needed.
You can also use a 'mask' to set a variable to a default value. You can also set a default value of any multiple-choice variable by placing a # in front of the default choice: [Larry Lawyer/#Cindy Counsellor/Abigal Attorney]
Beta testers sought:
This is a new feature, and more 'real world' testing is needed. We think that the dot variable function can be applied much more broadly than described above. For example, with a properly constructed Excel spreadsheet, you could call a multi-dimensional variable such as [.Firm.Attorney.Bar Number]. If your firm or company would benefit from this feature, let's talk. Excel has some phenomenal lookup and logic tools, and dot variables will help you to take advantage of these tools