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Author Topic: Variables  (Read 2153 times)

oblivion

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Variables
« on: August 06, 2015, 11:03:41 AM »
Trying to do something clever with TFLM -- effectively mailmerge-to-email with all the usual section choice stuff.

As usual, I did my planning in my head three microseconds before entering information into the config tree.

Renaming and deleting variables is entertaining :)

(What's the dropdown above the variables box for? It never seems to have any content in any tree I make...)

Copy/paste into variables has some aggravating results if you accidentally copy in a <return>. Might it be possible to ignore <return> characters unless explicitly specified with \n or somesuch?

I'd like to be able to point the variables at a comma-separated list. So, for instance, I might have:

Code: Text [Select]
  1. names.csv
  2. ========
  3. recipientname,recipientemail,username,userid,validfrom,validto,userpwd
  4. Fred Smith,fred.smith@nowhere.com,Eric Jones,jonese,Aug 15,Feb 16,PA$5w0rd
  5. Fred Smith,fred.smith@nowhere.com,Jane Dough,doughj,Aug 15,Feb 16,PA$5w0rd
  6. Jim Gumby,fruitbat@nowhere.com,Jim Gumby,gumbyj,Aug 15,Sep 15,Gjfd8^51

and TFLM would let me reference those variablenames in the tree and populate the variables a record at a time, so I could concentrate on getting the boilerplate content matched to the recipient without having to fight with the variable data too... so the workflow would be "choose sections/copy to clipboard/next record/choose sections/copy to..."

...I'm asking for the moon and the stars, aren't I? Again. ;)
-- bests, Tim

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mouser

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Re: Variables
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2015, 05:41:53 AM »
Pleas excuse my delay in replying -- I'm out of town until the 26th and have been working furiously on a major update to the DonationCoder forum/website so I've fallen a bit behind in replying to posts about my software.  I will try to remedy that when I get back in town.

oblivion

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Re: Variables
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2015, 11:32:27 AM »
Pleas excuse my delay in replying
Absolutely excused :) No worries at all!
-- bests, Tim

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mouser

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Re: Variables
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2015, 10:25:10 AM »
Ok so let me reply to this at long last..

TFLM is a small utility that I use myself regularly.  I only use the basic features and rarely mess with the options.  So for me it does what it needs to do.

But I've always had a lingering feeling that it could do a lot more..

The Form Letter Machine is one of my apps that I regularly think about rewriting from scratch to be much more powerful and flexible.  In fact I have rewritten it once as a fully working web app (tfdocs.com) that was pretty sophisticated, but that was abandoned due to lack of interest/funding/etc.

More flexible support for custom scripting and variables would be a key focus of any rewrite, and probably making it cross platform (mobile?), along with multiple output formats (pdf).

Anyway, the difficult dilemma for me is deciding whether its worth the effort to write a new version, and how much time I could spend on the project...

oblivion

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Re: Variables
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2015, 11:29:23 AM »
But I've always had a lingering feeling that it could do a lot more..
For what little it's worth, I suspect it's always going to be a bit niche. For me, I like the idea of a sort of halfway house between building documents with boilerplate sections chosen as required -- my first experiences of wordprocessors back in the <cough> early 1980s included interacting with the bits of them that allowed such things, even if I didn't use them very often -- and full-on mailmerge. But I'm not an ordinary user, and I quite often find myself diving headlong into things I don't know much about in order to solve a specific problem. TFLM was what seemed to be the best fit to a problem I was trying to solve at the time, and even with its limitations was very helpful. I haven't needed to do anything else like that since... ;)

Quote
The Form Letter Machine is one of my apps that I regularly think about rewriting from scratch to be much more powerful and flexible.  In fact I have rewritten it once as a fully working web app (tfdocs.com) that was pretty sophisticated, but that was abandoned due to lack of interest/funding/etc.
I did go look at the time, I think, but couldn't see a good reason for moving the sort of things I could envisage wanting to do off my local PC.

Quote
More flexible support for custom scripting and variables would be a key focus of any rewrite, and probably making it cross platform (mobile?), along with multiple output formats (pdf).

I think if you could do variables and (basic) formatting -- text enhancements, tabs -- and output in .doc format, or plaintext too, I guess, most people who'd have a need for something like TFLM would be able to take it on from there, wouldn't they? And the cross-platform thing -- you could be right but it doesn't strike me as an obvious need.

Quote
Anyway, the difficult dilemma for me is deciding whether its worth the effort to write a new version, and how much time I could spend on the project...
I guess if it's a "from the ground up" sort of a problem, it's probably never going to justify the extra work. It IS pretty good as it is, for the six people in the world who use it :D

Thanks for thinking about it, anyway!
-- bests, Tim

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23EGzM5X39m83jE

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Re: File -> save current Variable Setting as..
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2015, 01:48:38 PM »
I am a long time user of the The Form Letter Machine.   In my experience, the File-> "save current Variable Setting as .." command is used so frequently that this operation should ALSO be made more easily accessible than just through the File menu ribbon. For, example, I suggest a simple save data "icon" on the menu ribbon to the right of Help would be more convenient.  Once a user works out their tree of check box options, the File-> "save Configuration Tree as..." command is much less frequently used and can stay where it is in the File menu.  The form letter machine is a great utility for those who learn how to use it.