A multiple choice variable is a simple variable containing a series of words or phrases that you want to offer to the end user as separate choices. Each choice is separated from the others by a plain text slash ("/").
Examples of Multiple Choice Variables:
[chocolate/rocky road/vanilla cream swirl/triple fudge brownie delight]
A multiple choice variable is typically used when the author wants to provide the end user with a limited range of possible 'answers.’ But, as the last example above illustrates, spelling challenges can be another reason to provide a multiple choice variable.
When the entire range of colors is a possible answer, a simple variable like “[color of widgets]” would work fine.
However, if you wish to limit the selection of colors to just a few choices, you can list those colors within the variable itself as a multiple choice variable. That way, the end user understands the limitation, and will be led to provide an acceptable answer:
Thank you for your order. We will deliver [number] dozen of [yellow/green/blue/orange] widgets within 2 weeks.
When Pathagoras encounters a multiple choice variable, it parses out the individual choices and presents them in an easy to select drop down list (in the Instant Database module) or selectable buttons (in GotForms?). Try it out. Type a simple multiple choice list onto your editing screen. (You can even copy and paste the examples above.) Press <Alt-D> to activate the Instant Database. Press the <Scan> button. The variables appear at the left, the dropdown lists at the right.
What if I have a 'lot' of choices?
Pathagoras allows you to create an unlimited number of choices within a standard multiple-choice variable. However, if you need to list more than 5 or 6 we recommend that you use *Aliases*, a powerful feature discussed in the next section that allows you an unlimited number of choices to be presented in your document as a single word. (Think *States* as the alias for the 50 United States, *Countries* for all the countries in the world, and of course, *Flavors* to contain all of the possibilities for Ben & Jerry's© Ice Cream.)
What if I want to use a multiple-choice variable in different sections of my document, but be able to select different values?
Making unique names for each variable is easy to do for a simple variable. Just use a different name, or at the very least, append a number or other character at the end. E.g., "[Variable1]", "[Variable2]", "[Variable3]", etc.
To make otherwise identical multiple choice variables 'unique', append the '@' sign and a distinguishing single character or single digit number at the end of the list of choices. E.g, "[Red/Blue/Green@A]", "[Red/Blue/Green@B]", "[Red/Blue/Green@C]", etc. (Pathagoras knows not to include the distinguishing character or number as part of the last element of the multiple choices when it encounters the '@' sign.)
An alternative approach is to add a title to the variable. A title is simply a descriptive word or phrase typed at the beginning of the variable and separated by a colon. E.g., [custodian:mother/father], [grantor:he/she]. If you have multiple multiple-choice variables that you want to change in tandem, use a groupname.
What if a slash is an integral part of the variable?
If you need to choose among variables that themselves contain slashes, e.g., "1/2" and "and/or" either:
Put the specific choice in quotes (the quotes will be stripped from the final copy). For example: ["1/4"/"1/2"/"3/4"/1 inch]; ["Renovation and/or repair."/"New construction."]
Use the 'slash OR' ('/OR') separator (upper case OR mandatory). E.g., [1/4/OR1/2/OR3/4/OR1 inch]; [Renovation and/or repair./ORNew construction.]
Can I include a picture or a Word 'field' (those 'gray' embedded things) as one of my choices?
No. Variables are 'plain text' in nature. Therefore Pathagoras can handle only choices that are typed as plain text and which can be stored as a permanent record in plain text. HOWEVER (and probably better for most purposes) you can present pictures, Word fields and a wide range of other non-text objects within an <<*Options*>> or <<*Optional*>> text block. This powerful alternative should accomplish what you are seeking. See <<*Options*/*Optional*>> text.
What if I need to repeat the same variable selection in a different section of my document, or make a choice in another section that is based on my initial selection?
Not a problem. That is what !Groups! (two sections down) is all about.
Yes. Just precede the default value with the '#' (hash tag) sign. E.g., "[chocolate/rocky road/vanilla/#triple fudge brownie delight]]"
See Also: *Aliases*
Click the button in the menu bar to read more about how to add GroupNames to your variables.