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Author Topic: Request for var file-list precedence behavior for variable overloading  (Read 5681 times)
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« on: September 30, 2007, 02:18:22 PM »

Currently, TheFormLetterMachine only allows one symbolic variable file at a time and you must choose between them.  It would be significantly better if TheFormLetterMachine operated much like a linker such that multiple object libraries are opened at once and the precedence of the library listing determines which values the overloaded symbolic variables would take.  For example, consider overloading the printf() symbol in debug.obj:

$ LINK main.obj,debug.obj,subroutines.obj > main.exe

would produce a main.exe load module (executable) with additional printf() debugging behavior for tracing the program's progress.  In contrast, if we reversed the debug.obj and subroutines.obj list order, ...

$ LINK main.obj,subroutines.obj,debug.obj > main.exe

then list-order precedence would resolve the overloaded symbols by the subroutines.obj library first instead of the debug.obj library, so the main.exe result would have less debugging objects linked in with it (although non-overloaded symbols within debug.obj would still be included in main.exe).

To use an example more appropriate for TheFormLetterMachine, say a computer scientist is looking for a job in either the graphics, database, or networking fields.  When a recruiter responds to his job ads, he would respond with a precedence listings:

database.var,graphics.var,network.var,general.var --> for database job inquiries
network.var,graphics.var,database.var,general.var --> for networking job inquiries

This means that the precedence list (of overloaded symbols) will need to be juggled for each e-mail response, so there needs to be a "quickie" drag-and-drop GUI to juggle the precedence list each time.  In addition, the command line should accept a var-file list, such that a Windows shortcut can define a given precedence listing.

My only reservations with this approach is that some end users may not understand the concept of "precedence" and "overloading", although they could still use TheFormLetterMachine the "old" way without this understanding.  However, if they wanted to become power users, then they would need to understand these concepts.
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« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2007, 02:23:01 PM »

i think the momentum is building for a Form Letter Machine 2 with all the suggestions made by people here -- it's a big project but all i can say is please keep these suggestions coming and please do keep thinking about ways to redo the user interface to make these things more sensible.

i think we are talking about a complete rewrite so let's try to figure out the best way to do it without preconceptions.  the one thing you hint at which is clear from the other requests is that this will be much more oriented to people who are managing largish size collections of forms and data, and want to build and fill out info with these (as opposed to the current version which is mostly about choosing 1 form template and then a few options).
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« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2007, 01:19:41 AM »

... one thing you hint at ... is that this will be much more oriented to people who are managing largish size collections of forms and data....
Actually, I believe it's to one's advantage to have as few form templates as possible; otherwise, you're repeating (and maintaining) like information between templates.  I have three templates each with over 60 check boxes and radio buttons.  Perhaps I can send you a sample tree.

I also find the current design reasonable for my work.  The few suggestions I do have were discussed in the bugtracker a year ago, and they're simple mods.

Another application--totally separate from TheFormLetterMachine--would have an SQL database generate output files based on stored database fields.  I have a real need for an application that does this as well, but this is a totally different app which should have a different name (such as MS ACCESS or MS Excel).  That's really not what TheFormLetterMachine is about though.

If someone could recommend a flat-file database that can selectively convert fielded records into a formatted output file, I would really appreciate it.  I produce a monthly news digest of ballroom dance events.  Each record would be one event with fields like date, time, place, price, location.  I need to select the records relevant for the given month, and produce an output file that forms that month's digest of events.  I thought about using MS Excel's output file capability for this, but there's probably a better way using a generalized flat-file database.  Can someone please suggest one?

If the flat-file database can produce an XML output file (digest) that can be posted on the web (monthly newsletter), that would be even better.  In fact, if it can produce an XML output-file schema compatible with an RSS 2.0 feed, that would be perfect.  Then I'll just publish my monthly newsletter as an RSS feed instead.  But this is really a database problem, and not a problem for TheFormLetterMachine to attempt (which is a different application).
« Last Edit: October 01, 2007, 01:31:17 AM by superticker » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2009, 01:21:18 PM »

Hi all...

I posted this bit in another section of the forum... thought I might repeat it here... as the previous post seems to ask something similar but seems more complex. Would the suggestion below not be simpler?

I have absolutely no programming skills!

Recently been using sqlite DB for data storage. So thought about this idea if already not done...

What about using sqlite DB that can be filled in by the user and the fields pasted directly into the text area.

Then by filling in the prmary index value the forme will lookup the rest in the DB.

Advantage is that the same date can be re-used, over and over again in as many ways as you want, and if something changes in that record then only have to change it in the DB once...

Hope I'm not saying something that the software is already doing...  embarassed

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