You can create an Instant Database Input Form Mask either manually or automatically:
•Manually: Display the Instant Database screen by pressing <Alt-D>. Manually type the known, anticipated or desired document variables into the left column. Create the Mask by using the 'Save' button in the upper left side of screen. (Image below.)
•Automatically, via Mask Maker: Mask Maker will scan one, several or an entire folder's worth of documents for variables. It will put those variables onto a screen where you can edit, rearrange and save out as a Mask. Read more about Mask Maker in the next section of this Manual.
•Automatically, alt.2: Open or create a document that contains many variables. Display the Instant Database screen with <Alt-D> and then hit the Scan button in the lower left hand corner of the IDB screen. Pathagoras will locate all bracketed variables and display them as Document Variables in the left column. Save.
Tip: To make sure that Pathagoras gathers as many variables as possible during the scan described above, consider assembling one huge document containing at least one of every representative document in the genre or class of document for which you wish to create this Mask. That’s right! Assemble the largest Will and the most complex Power of Attorney and the biggest Trust all as one humongous document. (Just assemble it. You won't need to save it.) Then Scan the document to capture the myriad of variables. Rearrange the variables in a “makes sense” order using the Up and Down arrows of the Mask Editor. If variables are not present, add them.
•Another alternative: Call up an existing client or customer's record from the Existing Data records list. This should be a 'mature' record (i.e., it currently contains all or at least the major portion of the variables you typically use in documents of this genre. Change the personal (replacement) text showing at the right with instructions or qualifications you want to provide to the end user. For example, modify 'John Q. Doe' on the [Customer Name] row to read Customer's Full Name [e.g., 'John Q. Doe']. Save as a Mask using the 'Save' button in the upper left side of screen. (Image below.).
Save often: Save the Input Form Mask by clicking the "Add New" (the first time you save) or "Save" buttons in the “Input Form Masks" section in the upper left hand corner of the Instant Database screen. (image below.) If you are saving the Mask for the first time, provide an appropriate name that reflects the ‘genre’ or subject matter of the documents in which you will be using these variables. E.g., “Estate Planning” or “Proposals” or “Litigation,” etc. See discussion on ‘genre’ below.
Click the Masks|Save button to save your new (or updated) mask.
Notes and Final Thoughts:
Number of Variables. Each Mask can include an unlimited number of Document Variables. The default number of Document Variables is set at 60; however, you can change it to any other number by simply changing the number in the Max Terms box at the top-center of the screen.
Overbuild with Variables. Input Form Masks can be (and actually should be) “over-built” to contain every variable that you potentially might use for the document’s genre. In this context, "genre" means ‘general subject matter.’ As said before, the variables in a Will will be quite different from the variables in a Purchase Order, but the variables in a Will may overlap those in a Trust and Power of Attorney.
Maximize Consistency within Genre. The 'humongous document' approach described above also lets you see if your variable names are consistent from document to document. For example, if the variable for a Client's Name is [ClientName] in a Will and [Client Name] in a Power of Attorney, pick one approach and use it consistently in both documents. They are of the same genre, and they should share a common Mask and use identical variables.
Minimize Variables within Genre. Your goal should be to reduce the number of individual variables to the smallest number possible for each document genre. Spend some time up front to rename similar variables with a more generic term that can be applicable to all of them. For example: A “Testator” of a Will, a “Settlor” of a trust and the “Grantor” of a Power of Attorney are frequently the same person in an estate planning package. Since the documents are of the same genre, perhaps forget titles for now and just rename them something like “[Adult1]”. The result is that the variable is completed only once. On the mask, you can give the end-user very specific guidance and instructions as to who or what ‘Adult1’ stands for.
Use Equivalency Function. As an alternative to the immediately preceding paragraph, consider using the equivalency function to avoid having to type the value of related variables more than once. This function allows you to maintain multiple variables that refer to the same actor. The value of the 'extra' variable is made equivalent to the value of another variable. Click this link to read more about the Equivalency Function.
Number of Masks. You likely will need several Input Form masks for a complete document assembly system. This is because the variables typically found in, let’s say, a Will are quite different from those found in a Purchase Order. It is perfectly fine (indeed, it is a ‘best practice’) to have a variety of Masks for a variety of situations. That said, a Mask should be written in such a way that it can support multiple documents and source forms. Consideration should be given to using a common variable naming scheme across a range of similar or related documents. For example, Wills, Trusts and Powers of Attorney might contain similar naming schemes.
Modifying Masks. It is easy (very, very easy) to modify a Mask. Just recall the Mask and type the changes on its face. Rearrange fields if appropriate. Don’t worry if you don’t have every variable in your Mask when you save it. Don’t worry if the order of the clauses in the Mask is not the ‘best.’ Pathagoras lets you easily recall it and easily modify it later.
•An existing Mask can be temporarily or permanently augmented if the current document has variables not contained in the mask. Simply press the Scan button. Any new bracketed variables will be added at the end of the list. If you wish, you can edit and save the augmented listing.