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Component Studio

Component Studio is the interface for creating, editing, testing, or deleting the components in your HotDocs Templates.

You can open and close Component Studio as needed, or you can display it and switch between your template and Component Studio as you work. Keeping both windows open makes it easier to view and edit all the components in your template at once.

The individual component editors described in this, and subsequent reference topics can also be accessed from the HotDocs Field Editor in the form of pop-up component editors. You should be aware, however, that if you previously opened Component Studio from Workspace Explorer you cannot edit any components in that file using the pop-up component editors from within the Field Editor. While you can open the editors, they present a read-only version of the component. If you want to work with these editors, you must first close the version of Component Studio you opened from the Workspace Explorer. If you first open Component Studio from your word processor, you do not have this restriction.
You can open Component Studio from the following locations:
*  The HotDocs Author Tab on the ribbon (by clicking Component Studio)
*  The HotDocs Test Browser (by right-clicking a component and selecting Edit Component.)

Common Tasks

Among others, the Component Studio enables you to perform the following common tasks:

Keyboard Shortcuts

Component Studio's interface includes keyboard shortcuts to enable you to work more rapidly than you can by clicking with a mouse.

Window Title

The title of the Component Studio window carries the name of the currently opened component file. If you see [Read-Only] after the title and a lock icon on the component editor's tabs, you have a read-only copy of the component file open and you cannot make any edits.

Component files may be read-only if you are using a source control system for versioning your template and component files.

Component Studio Ribbon

The top of the Component Studio window displays a ribbon containing the following buttons:

Button What it Does
Save Saves any changes you make to a component.
Undo/Redo Enables you to undo and redo the changes you make in Component Studio.

When you use the Undo and Redo buttons to undo or redo changes in the Component File Properties Dialog, a notification appears next to the Properties button.

New Enables you to create new components. When you select a component from the drop-down list a dialog appears where you can enter the basic details of the new component. The editor for that component type then opens.
Find Opens the Find in Components dialog box to enable you search for text strings in components.
Properties Opens the Component File Properties dialog box to enable you to edit component file level properties.
Help Launches the help documentation for HotDocs Author.

Find in Components Dialog Box

When you click Find at the top of Component Studio, the Find in Components dialog box enables you to search through all the components in the component file for text strings, then returns results in the Find Results pane at the bottom of Component Studio:

Element What it Does
Find what Enables you to type the text string for which you want to search.
Find options Enables you to specify whether you want to constrain you search by one or both of the following:
  • Match case – Limits the search to items that matches the capitalization of the string you type
  • Match whole word – Checks the string you type against whole words in the components in the current component file.
Look in Enables you to specify whether you want to constrain you search by one or more of the following:
  • All searchable text – Searches for the text in all of the options (you use this to select and deselect all)
  • Names – Searches for the text in all component names and the names of columns in Fixed Tables, Table variables, and Single Select or Multi Select variables using a default option source
  • Display text (titles, prompts, etc.) – Searches for the text in component titles, prompts, and other fields containing text that HotDocs displays in the interview
  • Additional information – Searches for the plain text in Additional Information panes in all components
  • Scripts, expressions, and tables – Searches for the text in text literals and text strings in fixed table components, as well as the Suggestion text property on Text variables, and the Option Labels property on a Single Select or Multi Select variable
  • Format and input mask text – Searches placeholder field content for format text and text in input masks
  • Option sources and answer suggestions – searches the text in option sources (for a Single Select or Multi Select variable) and answer suggestions (for Text variables)
  • Notes – Searches for the text in each component editor's Notes tab

Component File Properties Dialog Box

To access component file preferences, click the Properties button at the top of the component studio.

Property What it Does
Maximum WHILE iterations To prevent HotDocs from infinitely processing a WHILE expression, which causes HotDocs to stop responding, type a number in this field. This number represents the number of times dialogs or variables in the template or script can be looped before HotDocs stops it from doing so.
Maximum processing stack depth To prevent HotDocs from infinitely processing (or recursing) a computation, which causes HotDocs to stop responding, type a number in this field. This number represents how many instructions you want HotDocs to allow in the processing stack. When HotDocs reaches this limit, the recursion will stop.

Main Components List

The main components list displays components in the current component file and enables you to search, sort, and filter the contents of the component file.

Right-click on a component in this list to view a quick actions menu that enables you to: Edit, Rename, Cut, Copy, Paste, or Delete a component.

Element What it Does
Search box Enables you to quickly locate components within the component file. As you type, search results display immediately. You can clear the search box by clicking X.
Filter (All components) drop-down list The following options filter your search results (you can only search within this component file): All components – displays all components (excluding supplemental components) All supplemental components – displays all supplemental components
  • Dialog Elements  displays only dialog elements

Sort (drop-down arrow)

Enables you to sort the component file's components. You can choose between the following sort options:

  • by Name—sorts components by their names from A to Z
  • by Type—places variables first, then computations, then Dialog Elements and finally dialogs; items of each type are sorted within their type depending on settings Natural and Reverse
  • Natural—sorts components from A to Z
  • Reverse—sorts components from Z to A
Select multiple Enables you to select more than one component in the main components list. When you select more than one component, the multiple component editor opens in the right pane, which enables you to:
  • Using a Selected Components list, review the components you select. You can remove a component from the Selected Component list by hovering over the component name and clicking the x button
  • Using a property grid, edit the properties of multiple components simultaneously. The property grid has the following key features:
    • Properties are grouped into a logical manner (similar to how they are in their respective component editors, e.g. Display, Behavior, etc.) which you can interact with using a hierarchical tree control
    • Only displays and enables you to edit the properties that the each selected component shares in common (e.g. if you select a text component and a date component, you will see and be able to edit the Prompt property, but not the answer suggestion related properties—as those are specific to text components)
    • Enables you to expand and collapse property groups using expanders and edit properties by either typing new values into text boxes, making selections using drop-down lists, or checking boxes
    • Edit the data in Single Select variables, Multi Select variables, and Fixed Table components, including individual cells, rows, or columns
    • Displays a description of the property in a description pane at the bottom

You can also use keyboard shortcuts to select multiple components in the contents pane.


Enables you to create a component depending on the type you select in the drop-down list.

If you set the Filter (All Components) on the left to a given type, the create button displays and creates this type when you click the create button.

Component list

Displays the contents of the component file according to search parameters, sorting, and any filters or multiple selection you apply. Select a component from the list to view it in the right pane, or double-click a component to pin it open for editing.

Component Editors and Tools

The right side of Component Studio is where you can create and edit the individual components of your component file. If you plan your templates before creating them, you can have a good idea of which components you need for a template before you even create your template. This enables you to create most of your components at once and then insert them into the template as needed. Still, you may find that you need to create or edit new components while you are working on your templates.

Each component you edit or create opens in its own tab in the editor area of Component Studio. This enables you to work with various components at the same time. Each type of component has its own editor to provide access to the different properties available with that type of component. When you edit the properties, you change how that component behaves during the interview, and how HotDocs assembles the final document.

You can use the following component editors:

Tab Behavior

As you open components for editing, a tab for the component will display at the top of the editor. Once a tab is open, you can interact with the following elements:

Element What it Does
Component editor tab Displays both the component type icon and the component in a visual tab. This tab feature enables you to perform the following actions:
  • Close a tab by clicking the x button on the currently focused tab. For other opened tabs you hover over a tab to reveal the close button
  • Rearrange tabs by clicking and dragging a tab left or right within the row of tabs to move it to a new position in the tab row
  • Move the tab to new window by clicking and dragging on a tab until it "snaps" into its own window (this behavior is also available in the tab's right-click menu)

If you have a component open in another window when you close Component Studio, the next time you open Component Studio for this template that component is no longer open in a separate window.

Component editor tab right-click menu You can right-click on a tab to open a menu with the following options:
  • Close tab – Closes the tab
  • Close other tabs – Closes all other tabs in the tab group
  • Close all tabs – Closes all tabs in all tab groups
  • Move tab to new window – Opens the tab in its own window, enabling you to move the component editor outside of component studio (e.g., to another monitor)
  • Pin tab leftmost – Moves and locks the tab to the leftmost position in the tab group (subsequent pinned tabs will pin to the right of previously pinned tabs)
  • Keep tab open – (only available from the "quick access" tab) Moves the tab from the "quick access" tab to the open tab group on the left
  • New horizontal tab group – (only available with multiple components open) Moves the selected tab to a new tab group located below the current tab group
  • New vertical tab group – (only available with multiple components open) Moves the selected tab to a new tab group located to the right of the current tab group
  • Move to next/previous tab group – (only available when multiple tab groups open) Moves the selected tab to the previous/next tab group
  • Move to main tab group (only available from a tab opened in a new window) Moves the selected tab (opened in a new window) to the most recently opened tab group in the component editor area
Open tab group Displays the tabs for any components that has been opened from the main component list via double-click. The open tab group is located at the upper-leftmost position of the editor and can contain as many tabs as you desire.
"Quick access" tab Displays the tab for any component that has been opened from the main component list via single-click. The "quick access" tab is located at the upper-rightmost position of the editor and can only contain a single tab. For example, if you single-click to open another component, the "quick access" tab will display the newly selected component (no longer displaying the editor of the previous selection).

The purpose of the "quick access" tab is to help keep your tabs organized and to provide you a quick way to make an edit to a component without cluttering your tab groups. For example, you can review the contents of a component editor before deciding to either close or keep the tab open.

You can click the Keep Tab Open button on the "quick access" tab to move the tab to the open tab group to the left. There are also other commands available to you in the right-click menu you access by right-clicking anywhere on the tab.

Find Results Pane

The Find Results pane is docked at the bottom left of Component Studio and displays the results of the text string searches of the Find in Components feature:

Element What it Does
Find Results title bar Displays the parameters of your search in single quotes followed by (in parentheses) the number of components returned by the search.
List of components Enables you to click a component name or icon to open a component, and (if appropriate) opens the pane containing the text string you searched for.
(right-click menu) X Clears the find in component results.

Errors Pane

The Errors pane is docked at the bottom left of Component Studio. If there are errors within any components, the title of the errors pane displays the number of errors (as in Errors (8)). In addition, a small red icon appears in front of the title to alert you to the presence of errors in your component file. Clicking the error text takes you to the location of the error.

The error list appears as follows:

Element What it Does

Name of components

Enables you to click to open the component which contains an error.

Error description

Details the nature of the error.