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Author Topic: Variable Management (Requests)  (Read 6367 times)

the3seashells

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Variable Management (Requests)
« on: April 09, 2007, 03:29:11 PM »
Let me begin by saying The Form Letter Machine (TFLM) is a fantastic peerless program. I use it everyday for a wide range of correspondence in a professional setting. Because I am using it for such a wide range of tasks, I have encountered a few aspects with variable management that are slightly inconvenient.

For one of my configuration trees, I have almost 40 variables, and the variables are expanding. So far as I can tell, the variables displayed in the “Key” / “Value” portion of the screen are displayed in the order where they are first found within the configuration tree. This usually means they are displayed in a random order and, with 40 variables, it can mean quite a bit of hunting to find the correct variable.

Also, the displayed variables are shared between trees even if a given variable isn’t present in the currently viewed configuration tree.

4 modifications / features would make this program vastly easy for configuration trees with many variables.

  • Display the variables in alphabetical order.

  • Only display the variables used in the currently activated portions of the tree. For example, if my currently selected checkbox items and radiobutton items make no use of the %MeetingDate% variable, the variable should be hidden.

  • Allow variables to be clicked on and filled in as in a form in a word document. When looking at the entire document (the bottom left area where the entire letter is shown), it would be much easier to type in the information there than hunt for, and then update the variable from the variable list.

  • Clearly mark unfilled variables in the ‘completed letter preview’ area. I find myself spending the majority of my post TFLM proofing time checking to make sure I have not forgotten to included / replace all of the needed variable names.

As I have said, I love using TFLM, but if something similar to these steps outlined above was implemented, it would make its use much easier.

Thank you.

Regards,

the3seashells

mouser

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Re: Variable Management (Requests)
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2007, 12:46:20 PM »
these are some good ideas.. i think most can be added without too much trouble so i'm putting them on my todo list - but it will be at least a month before i get to them only because TFLM has to get in line in back of needed updates to a few other programs of mine.  i hope you can wait until then!

the3seashells

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Re: Variable Management (Requests)
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2007, 05:06:02 PM »
Thank you for your prompt reply! I can certainly wait until whenever you have time to update the program. The program has already saved me much time and I look forward to future improvements. Again, thank you for your time.

Cheers,

the3seashells

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Re: Variable Management (Requests)
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2007, 10:14:12 AM »
4 modifications / features ... for configuration trees with many variables.
  • Only display the variables used in the currently activated portions of the tree. For example, if my currently selected check box items and radio button items make no use of the %MeetingDate% variable, the variable should be hidden.
This is a good feature, but there needs to be some way to disable it so you can locate discontinued variables and remove them.

  • Allow variables to be clicked on and filled in as in a form in a word document. When looking at the entire document (the bottom left area where the entire letter is shown), it would be much easier to type in the information there than hunt for, and then update the variable from the variable list.

  • Clearly mark unfilled variables in the ‘completed letter preview’ area. I find myself spending the majority of my post TFLM proofing time checking to make sure I have not forgotten to included / replace all of the needed variable names.
Well, there are really two distinct types of variables: (1) predefined variables and (2) fill-in variables.  They both need to be handled differently.  The TFLM currently handles the first type well.

Firefox handles fill-in variables by making suggestions as you type in the fill-in field.  For filling in my name and address on web forms, I like Firefox's method.  Firefox also has a method of deleting obsolete fill-in suggestions, but it requires a cryptic hotkey combination I can never remember.  I also like this delete-suggestion feature, but I wish it was done with a right-click context-menu item instead of a hotkey combination.