Pathagoras Help System

'Virtual' *List*

'Virtual' *List*

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'Virtual' *List*

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  informationIn the previous section, we discussed how you can cause variables found in separate MultiChoice *Lists* to act in unison. It is accomplished by giving prepending each alias with the same !group! name.

   You can duplicate this 'in unison' behavior in with *List* derived from external data sources in an even more remarkable way. We call this a "Virtual *List*". You simply combine several MultiChoice *List* aliases that derive from a single data source into a single 'virtual' term.

   Let say you have data aliases for your customer list called "FirstName", "MI", "LastName" and "Suffix" (matching fields in your external database).

"Standard" approach. With the above aliases, you can structure your letter in such a way as to bring each variable/alias one at a time. The first line of an 'inside address' to your letters may look like this:

   [*FirstName*] [*MI*] [*LastName*]

"Standard" approach, with !Groups!.

To make sure that everything moves in tandem (so that when you select "[*First Name*] from the Instant Database screen, the other elements are properly selected, you should assign a !group! name to each element. So, if we prepended the group name !client! to the various aliases, the above line of text in your document would actually look like this:

    [!client!*FirstName*] [!client!*MI*] [!client!*LastName*]

The above should still quite understandable to your end-users. However, but the more you add, the more real estate is taken by the various variables, and the more confusing the overall look might be to your end-users.

It is time to consider the 'Virtual Alias' approach.

"Virtual Alias" approach. Pathagoras allows you to create a 'virtual' alias in lieu of the individual 'real' terms. Let's say we want to combine the three components of a full name into the virtual alias 'FullName'. Here is how:

      Manual Method:

1.Open the MultiChoice Term editor.
2.Click "Add New Alias"
3.Add a new alias Call the term "FullName"
4.Clear the blue 'formula' box. Then  "FirstName+MI+LastName" into the box. (These are the names of the individual fields that make up the virtual term. NOTE: Spelling is critical! However, Pathagoras will make sure that all components of the virtual *List* exist before creating a virtual term for you.)
5.Save the new alias.

Double-click method:

1.Open the MultiChoice Term editor.
2.Click "Add New Alias"
3.Add a new alias Call the term "FullName"
4.Check the checkbox just beneath the 'tree' (at the left) called "Create Virtual List".
5.Clear the blue 'formula' box (a double click will actually do it). Double-click on the first term that will create the virtual term. The value of the term will be transferred into the formula (blue) box.
6.When you have finished building your Virtual *List*, save it under the new alias.

virtuallist1

   Use the virtual alias in the same fashion as you would use any other MultiChoice term. That is, you would place the alias within your document where ever you want it to be used. Surround the alias with asterisks to tell Pathagoras that it is a MultiChoice *List* item. Then surround all of that with the proper 'type of term' indicator: square brackets if a variable or curly braces if options text, etc.

   Separators: Pathagoras recognizes two separators. The '+' sign (the default) inserts a space between terms. The '&" sign will insert an 'Enter'. So, following the above examples, a full name is likely to be written "FirstName+LastName" (as shown in the above image but an address block will look like this:

virtuallist2

informationCurrently, punctuation is not provided in virtual alias blocks. This is a feature on which we are working. If punctuation is required, you can manually add it after the document has been assembled. Alternataively, simply don't use an alias. Rather insert in the source text the appropriate variables using !group! links and the appropriate punctuation. E.g.,

"[!group1!*City*], [!group!*State*]  [!group!*Zip*]

  Alias Names: Of course, for Virtual *Lists* to properly identify the base alias names, the base names cannot contain any '+' or '&' signs. (Pathagoras could not distinguish a "&" that was in the base name and one that you added as a separator.)