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IDB: Alternative Input Methods

IDB: Alternative Input Methods

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IDB: Alternative Input Methods

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You can create any number and style of forms that Pathagoras can process to move data from the form into the Instant Database folder.

Pathagoras provides a sample form containing the elements discussed below. You can download the form from this link.


All of the information and instruction provided below is also presented in that form.

Definition,Creating, Using:

   Input forms are presented as tables. Each item of data that you want to place into an Instant Database record for a client is created from the value the user assigns to the cell.

   The size and layout of the table is your choice. As the sample form indicates, there are no size limitations. The rows need not be uniform, either in terms of size, color, number of cells, etc. You have total flexibility as to the method you present the form to the end user.

   Here are the minimum requirements.

Each cell from which you wish to gather a data item must contain a colon.



Your Full Name:

Your Address:

Your City, State Zip:

The colon separates the requested information from the ‘blank’ where the user will provide that information, and is used by Pathagoras to determine where the data input by the end user starts.

The name of the Instant Database variable must be inserted into the cell as 'hidden text' just in front of the colon. The cell will still look just like the above when the end user sees it (because when the end user is completing the form, the variable is hidden. However, the text easily visible to Pathagoras.) How to insert variables as hidden text is discussed below,

Your first form (or editing an existing form):

   Create one or more tables in a document. The tables and their cells need not be ‘uniform.’ It does not matter to Pathagoras whether or not your tables look alike or whether a single row in a table has one, two or ten cells across. Mixing and matching to obtain your 'best look' is fine.

   Put 'friendly' text in the cells requesting the desired information. Type the mandatory colon to indicate the end of the request. (The colon also denotes the start of where the end user will provide the requested data.)

   You can have title and decorative cells in the table as well. These cells should not have colons.

   Once you have designed a nice looking input form, you are ready for the next step.

   Add the hidden Variable Name: Type the name of the variable (including the bracket) into the cell using the ‘hidden text’ font.  There are several ways to turn on ‘hidden text.’

If you are using the sample form, just click the ‘Compose’ button. The Compose button will not only turn 'on' the hidden text font so that the next characters that you type will be 'hidden', but it will reveal existing hidden text already in your document. It will also place into your clipboard a snippet of hidden text reading “[VariableName]”. Just put the cursor in front of the colon where you want to insert the variable name and press Ctrl-V.Change ‘VariableName’ to the appropriate name of the variable, and move on to the next section.

If you are not using the sample form, click the arrow in the lower right corner of the ‘Font’ section (Home tab) in the Word ribbon to turn on 'Hidden' text.


Click to reduce.
Click the small, right-downward pointing arrow to reveal the full 'Fonts' menu, shown at the right.

  Click to reduce.

Check the 'Hidden' text box in the Effects section.

When 'visible', hidden text is indicated by small dots just below the text.

  Repeat for each variable.

  Click the ‘Hide’ button (The name of the button changed from Compose to Hide when you first clicked it.)

  Save the form.

  Send the form to the client (or other office worker) to complete.

  When the form is returned to you,  review and edit as appropriate. Then click the 'Create Record' button. Pathagoras will ‘read’ the form, including the hidden ‘variable name’ and the visible value, one cell at a time, and will save an Instant Database Record in the appropriate folder (where you otherwise save your IDBrecords). The next time you  press Alt-D to bring up the Instant Database, the record will be present in the list of Existing Records.


The name of the variable in hidden text must match the variables you are going to use for variables in your form documents. (This should be obvious, but we needed to say it anyway.)

You should assign hidden text variable to each value in the form that you want to capture. (Be mindful that, while every value may be important, not every value needs to be captured in your database.)

Each variable and its associated value must occupy its own cell.

The title of the cell (the ‘friendly text’) doesn’t matter. Pathagoras doesn’t start reading until the ‘[‘ of the hidden text, parsing out the hidden variable name and the visible assigned value to its right.

Consistent with the above, don’t use brackets in your form except for identifying variables. (A workaround for this does exist, but it is beyond the scope of these instructions. If you absolutely must have brackets in your regular text, write to Pathagoras for the workaround.)

The form can be used as a protected form. You will need to add form fields so that the tab button will jump from field to field and end up in each cell. But we recommend using it just ‘as is.’ The tab button will still move the cursor from cell to cell. Plus you can mouse into any cell you wish.

Consider placing your forms in the folder reflected by a DropDown List to quickly call up a copy.