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MultiChoice *Lists* from External Database

MultiChoice *Lists* from External Database

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MultiChoice *Lists* from External Database

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Using the MultiChoice *List* module, and simple 'plain-text' references,
Pathagoras can connect to data stored in most of your external databases.
Setup is quick and intuitive. It involves simply pointing to the database, selecting a field,
and providing a MultiChoice *List* name that will be used in your source documents.
Thereafter, a call to the database from the source document
can be done with simple, plain text reference to that *List* name.

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informationCurrently, the *Lists* using databases feature works with Outlook, Excel (.xls),
and any comma delimited (.csv) and tab delimited (.txt or .tsv)  files.
 
Such is not necessarily a serious restriction. These files encompass the universal data storage possibilities.
Most Pathagoras users already use Outlook and Excel.
Further, almost all databases can create Excel, comma or tab delimited files.

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We don't yet know if there is a maximum number of elements that Pathagoras can process,
but in testing it working exceptionally fast on multiple databases with 2,100 entries each.

   The previous pages demonstrated how to add a new, or edit an existing, *List* of terms in the MultiChoice *List* table. They involve manually typing (or copying from separately prepared list) the choices into your *List*. This contemplates that the *List* will be more or less static.

   This works well for most circumstances. The 50 United States is static. The counties in which you conduct your practice is probably fairly static. If not static, it likely short enough to easily modify using the standard MultiChoice *Lists* editing tools described in previous pages.

   In many circumstances, a hand typed, fixed list should be entirely satisfactory.

   But what if choices that you want displayed is really long? Hundreds (thousands) of entries. What if the values frequently change? New names of customers are added and old ones deleted. Clients move to new addresses. New product models are added, others are retired.

   This is the 'stuff' of databases.

   And Pathagoras can link to them. (We recognize that databases can be static too. If you have a database containing the 50 United States of America, it doesn't change. Just recognize that you can link to a static database just a readily as you can to a dynamic database. The message we are trying to convey here is that Pathagoras can link to any kind of database.)

   You can easily populate a MultiChoice *List* from a database. The steps are easy. Just like just about everything else in Pathagoras, you simply 'point' to it. You also need to assign the database field to an 'alias' and make sure that the source document in which you intend to call in the list of choices to complete the variable contains the alias.

   Here are the steps to create an alias that links to a database:

1.Display the MultiChoice *Lists* screen.
2.Click the Next>> button indicating that you want to Show/Edit terms. You will see this screen. If you want to add a new variable, click the top element. If you want to edit an existing entry, click that element.

 

multichoice2

 

multichoice_db1

   We are presuming here that you want to add a new variable and that you want to connect it to a database.

 

   (1) Read instructions. Follow those in the second paragraph and Check Assign to Database (2). This expands the screen to reveal the Select Database button. (You can provide the alias for the new *List* at anytime.)

   The following expanded screen will appear:

multichoice_db2

 
(3) Click the Select Database button. (If you are going to connect to an Outlook Contacts list, check the Outlook box that appears beneath the Select Database button.)

 

   If not Outlook:

   You will be directed to navigate to the Excel, .csv or .txt file to which you wish to connect.

   Upon selecting the database, Pathagoras will display in a new list on the screen the contents of the first row of the database. Typically, the first row contains the name of  the various fields of the database. Otherwise, it will contain the values of the first record. The screen will like this:

multichoice_db3

 

   Select the field that you want the Alias to represent. For this example we select the FullName entry. The screen changes to this:

multichoice_db4

 

(4) Click on the field you want the alias to reflect. A list of the values appears at (5). This display is just to confirm that you have the right list. You do not select anything from it.

 

(6) If all is 'okay,' click the 'Save' button to lock in the reference. The essential linking information is transferred into the box (7) that otherwise would contain the hand typed list of choices.

 

You can create more aliases or exit the routine.

 

   If Outlook:

If you wish to connect to Outlook contacts, check the 'Outlook Contacts' box before clicking the Select Database button. You will be redirected to a new screen where you can select the contacts fields you wish to be able to draw from. (You cannot navigate to, or directly link to, the Outlook files.) Once you have made your selections from Outlook, a new file containing only those fields will be created. Once that file has been generated, you will be returned to the original screen and will see the list described in the above paragraph containing the names of the various fields from you Outlook contacts. The remaining steps are similar to those outlined above

 

   Using the alias:

Once you have assigned an alias to a database field, simply type the MultiChoice alias at the appropriate locations within your source document. It is set up just like you set up any other variable or options text block. The only additional requirement is that you must enclose the alias between two '*'s. (It is these asterisks that signal Pathagoras that an alias is being used. Save the source document.

 

When you recall the source document during a document assembly session, Pathagoras will open the appropriate MultiChoice *List* and present all of the choices the list represents.

 

  informationYou can link two or more fields in two distinct way:

1.Using a !group! name. Here is an example of four fields that together make up a 'full name' (the !CUS! is an arbitrary name for the group. It stands for 'Customer'):

[!CUS!*FirstName*] [!CUS!*MI*] [!CUS!*LastName*], [!CUS!*Suffix*]

  When you press Alt-D, the available values of each variable will be displayed on the Instant Database Screen. When you select one item from any list, the corresponding values from the other lists containing the same !group! value will automatically be selected. Click here to read more about *Lists* and !groups!.

2.Using a Virtual *List*: You can concatenate up to 6 fields in the MultiChoice *List* screen. The only additional restriction is that the fields must be from the same database source. See Virtual *List* for illustrated examples.