There are a few more features of the IDB system of which you should be aware that have not been discussed elsewhere:
•Double Click: Double clicking on a variable name in the IDB mask will cause the variable name (but not the brackets) to be transferred to the right side of the form. This is a 'poor man's way' to optional text. To 'keep' the text, double click it so that it stays in the document. (The actual operation is that it replaces itself with itself.) To delete the text, just leave the 'replacement text' side blank.
Example: Let's say that you are preparing a cover letter to accompany a purchase order. In some cases, the purchase is final, while in others a product return is allowed. To meet this situation, you might place a variable in the source document that reads "[All purchases final.]"
When it is time to personalize the document, that variable (along with all other document variables) will be presented on the Instant Database screen. If this is one of those sales where no return is allowed, the user could double click the "[All purchases final.]" variable and it will be transferred to the right as the replacement text. When you click the Next button (telling Pathagoras to make the replacements), "All purchases final." will appear in the final letter. Of course, if refunds are allowed, the operator would simply leave the replacement text blank. When Next is pressed, the variable will be deleted and the proper message will be communicated. (In actuality, the variable is replaced with 'nothing,' but the result is the same.)
Double click on variable transfers text (without brackets) into replacement column.
•Delete/Retain Variables: You may wish to complete a document on which you are working with the replacement text you current have and complete the remaining variables at a later time. Pathagoras lets you do this. Simply uncheck the "Delete if blank" box above the first line of the replacement text column. By the same token, if you wish to delete a variable from the editing screen if its value is 'blank', check the 'Delete if blank' box. ('Delete if Blank' will also remove any trailing commas and spaces and blank lines so no empty space remains.)
Uncheck 'Delete if blank' box to retain any variables for which data is not currently available.
You can make this check-box 'sticky' (i.e., always checked) with a 'shift-click'. Undo the 'always checked' condition with another 'shift-click.'
•Copy variable, brackets and all: Two bullets up, we mentioned that double clicking on a variable will transfer the content of the variable to the 'value' (right) side of the screen, without the brackets. Let's say that you want to preserve a specific variable, but want to delete all other 'blank' variables (the bullet immediately above). To accomplish this seemingly contradictory feat, just copy the bracketed variable onto itself. The value is not 'blank' so it won't be deleted, but the variable also remains in the document for later completion. A 'shift-double click' on the variable accomplishes this, with the brackets preserved.
•Don't re-scan: By default, Pathagoras re-scans the underlying document for additional variables after you have recalled an Existing Record. If the underlying document contains many variables, and these varaibles are already contained in the Existing Record, this re-scan is consuming several seconds of your time for no good purpose. While the r-scan is typically just a few second, not long, it is still 'time spent' if no new variables exist. So if you have a 'mature' record (one that you know contains all possible variables, you can skip this re-scan by clicking the box in the lower right corner of the 'Existing Records' section.
There is another kind of 'Preserve Variables' function available in Pathagoras. Click here to read about that alternative.