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Multi Select Variable Editor

In an interview, a Multi Select variable enables your template user to select one or more answers from a series of options. For every Multi Select variable, you use the Option Source property to supply the Multi Select variable with a list of options the template user can choose from to answer an interview question and the values you want in the assembled document.

To access the Multi Select Variable Editor in Component Studio, you can:

  • Click New > Multi Select variable to create a new Multi Select variable
  • From the Components list, select an existing Multi Select variable

Common Tasks

Among others, the Multi Select Variable Editor enables you to perform the following common tasks:

Component Toolbar

Basic component actions appear in the component toolbar, above the component properties.

Button What it Does
Test Displays the selected component in the HotDocs Test Browser.
Rename Displays the Rename Component dialog box that enables you to rename your component and perform other rename-related options.

The Rename button is not available from the pop-up editor (the editor invoked from the Field Editor).

Duplicate Displays the Duplicate Components dialog box that enables you to create a copy of this component in the component file.
Tools Shows or hides the Tools pane on the right.
Delete Displays the Delete Component dialog box that enables you to delete the component. You can also view a list of templates or components that currently reference the selected component and you may have to fix after deletion.

Component Identity Properties

At the top of the editor, you can see the name HotDocs uses to identify the Multi Select variable and the Multi Select variable's option source:

Property Name What it Does
Name Enables you to view and edit the name of your variable. You can easily this property if your no other components or templates reference the variable; otherwise, this property becomes read-only.

It is not advisable to rename variables once another component or template references them, since this can cause major answer mismatches during document assembly.

If read-only, you can rename your variable using the Rename button on the toolbar.

Component names must be unique within the template and component file.

Answer Type Settable only for Single Select or Multi Select variables; indicates the value type of the answer the variable can gather in the interview. The answer type for each of the four primitive variables corresponds to their variable names (Text, Number, Date, True/False). The answer type for a Table variable is Record. Choices for selection variables include all of the foregoing, as well as a list of values of each of the foregoing types, e.g. Text List, Date List, etc.

Options Tab

Enables you to select the option source for your selection variable. If you select a Built in option source, you can use the Options tab to create and manage the rows (and potentially additional columns) of data that determine both the values that are placed into your assembled document and the options your template user can choose from in an interview.

Property Name What it Does
Option source Enables you to define the source of the data that contains the options you wish to present to the template user in the interview and the values you want in the assembled document.
Key type Non-editable reference to your option sources Key Type property. This alerts you to ensure that your selection variable's Answer Type is of the same type; otherwise, your selection variable cannot function.
Key column (of built-in table) The Key column enables you to type the values you want to replace a placeholder field in the assembled document. In addition, unless you designate otherwise using the Option labels property, the values you type in the Key column also become the list of options the selection variable presents in the interview.

If you need to present values in the interview different from those you need to place into your assembled document (e.g. choices of Male or Female in the interview to yield his or hers in the assembled document) you can create additional columns of data using the Add Column button and then use the Option label property in the Display tab to designate which column of data you want to present to your template users.

Add Column button Adds an additional column to the table, enabling you to add more rows of data in the new column.
Insert Row Above button Enables you to insert a new row just above your current selection.
Delete Row button Deletes the row containing your current selection.
Up Arrow button Moves the currently selected row up.
Down Arrow button Moves the currently selected row down.
Copy Table Data button Copies the entire table to the clipboard, enabling you to paste the data (using the keyboard shortcut CTRL+V) onto other tables (both inside and outside of Author).

 

Display Tab

The Display tab provides you with properties that enable you to change how a component's answer field appears during the interview:

Property Name What it Does
Prompt Enables you to provide more instructive text for helping a user answer a question during the interview. The text you add here appears in the interview in place of any text you add in the Title property. Prompts can also contain fields you edit from the Field Editor tab in the Selection Variable editor.
Option Labels Enables you to set the labels of the options presented to your template users in a question during an interview; the labels come from the cells of the option source column you select in the drop-down list or from the expression you enter into the text box.
Style on regular dialogs Enables you to select the visual style of the multi select variable that is displayed in the interview:
  • List box – presents the options you specify in the Option Labels property as a list contained in a box that is always visible. The list box displays a scroll bar as needed.
  • Check boxes (single column) – presents the options you specify in the Option Labels property as a single column list of check boxes—square holes that can contain white space (for unselected) or a black square (for selected). Each check box is accompanied by a label describing the choice that the check box represents.
  • Check boxes (multi column) – presents the options you specify in the Option Labels property as a multiple column list of check boxes—square holes that can contain white space (for unselected) or a black square (for selected). Each check box is accompanied by a label describing the choice that the check box represents.

The buttons in a multi column style are populated in the following manner:
HotDocs first considers the total number of options. If there are two to eight options, HotDocs will split the options evenly into two columns (with the first half of the options being in the left column and the second half in the right column). If there are more than eight options, HotDocs will split the options evenly into three columns (with the first third of the options being in the left column, the second third in the middle column, and the last third in the right column).

Width on regular dialogs Provides you with options for setting the width of the Single Select variable's answer control when the Single Select variable is displayed in an interview using a regular (non-repeated or series) dialog:
  • Automatic – sets the width of the Multi Select variable's answer control to the HotDocs default for Multi Select variables (the required width to show all of the options)
  • Full – sets the width of the Multi Select variable's answer control to the full space available in the interview
  • Exactly – sets the width of the Multi Select variable's answer control to the exact number of units you specify (each unit is about equal to the width of the character 5)
Width on spreadsheet dialogs Provides you with options for setting the width of the Multi Select variable's answer control when the Multi Select variable is displayed in an interview using a spreadsheet dialog:
  • Automatic sets the width of the frame that surrounds the Multi Select variable's control to the HotDocs default
  • At least  sets the width of the frame that surrounds the Multi Select variable's control to the number of units you specify or larger as needed (each unit is about equal to the width of the character 5)
Title If a component appears in a default , enables you to give your component a title that appears in the interview outline and in the dialog title bar. If the component appears in a , the title only appears when you don't provide text in the Prompt property.

Behavior Tab

The Behavior tab provides you with options that enable you to change how a component behaves during the interview and assembly:

Property Name How you accomplish it
Ask automatically Causes HotDocs to ask the variable in an interview as long as the following conditions are also true:
  • The answer for the variable is used within the template (for example, tested in an IF instruction or referenced in a field that places a user's answer into the text of the final document during assembly)
  • The variable has been asked before in the interview

If you previously linked the variable to a dialog, Ask automatically also causes HotDocs to ask that dialog within the interview.

When you clear this option, HotDocs prevents the variable question from appearing in an interview unless the variable is used in a dialog that is specifically asked.

Warn when unanswered Enables you to have HotDocs display a warning message if a user attempts to finish the interview without answering one or more questions.

If you clear this option, the End of Interview dialog still reports the question as unanswered; however, HotDocs does not display a warning message.

Does this need an updated name?

Save answer Enables you to cause HotDocs to store the answer in the answer file. You can uncheck this box when you only need the answer to provide a value to a local variable and do not want HotDocs to store it for later reuse.
If answer is irrelevant Enables you to specify whether HotDocs shows, hides, or disables variables that a user's choices cause to be irrelevant within an interview.
  • Default—causes the variable to use the default setting, which you define at the Component File Properties dialog.
  • Gray—causes the variable to appear grayed out if the user does not include it in the document. (This is the default option for all variables.)
  • Hide—causes HotDocs to hide the variable if the user does not include it in the document. If the user changes the answer file and the variable is now needed, HotDocs shows the variable in the dialog.
  • Show—causes the variable to always appear in the dialog, regardless of whether it's used or not.
Default list format Enables you to set the list format for every placeholder field that references this component throughout the template. You can use list formats to define how the answers to interview questions that present a list of options should be formatted, regardless of the formatting of the individual options themselves. You can select a list format using the drop-down list or type in a custom format.

Setting a default format does not override any formats you have already (or will) set for an individual placeholder field using the HotDocs Field Editor.

Default unanswered text Enables you to specify what text you want HotDocs to merge into the final document when a user leaves the variable unanswered. This text overrides the Unanswered variable placeholder users can select in the Template Properties window.
Pad answer to fixed number of characters Enables you to change how answers are displayed in the assembled document by altering the padding of the answer according to the characteristics you specify using the following properties:
  • Padded width – enables you to specify, by selecting a fixed number of characters, the width of the area in the assembled document that contains an answer
  • Answer alignment – enables you to specify the alignment of the answer in the area of the assembled document that contains an answer:
    • Left the answer appears first, followed by the appropriate amount of pad characters
    • Right the appropriate amount of pad characters appear first, followed by the answer
  • Pad character – Enables you to specify which character HotDocs uses to pad any spaces left over if the answer doesn't use all the width you specify in the Padded width property. If the answer is shorter than the padded width, HotDocs inserts the necessary number of pad characters.

The default fill character is a space.

Notes Tab

To provide you a quick way to know if this tab contains any content, you can see a + symbol on the tab if there is a note.

As you create components, you may want to include notes to remind yourself of decisions you made when creating the component. For example, maybe you need to remember information about restrictions you applied to a Number variable, or remind yourself of the purpose of the component in the template.

The notes tab enables you to type any notes you want about the component and its role in the template.

This information is not visible in the interview; it is for the author’s reference only.

Additional Information Expander

The Additional information expander, located at the bottom of the component editor, enables you to open the additional information pane so you can edit the additional information property:

Property Name Explanation
Additional information Enables you to provide supplemental help text (or an external URL) to help your template users better understand how to answer a question in an interview. Template users access this information by viewing the additional information pane in the interview interface.
  • Text – enables you to type helpful information in the text box which is displayed in the additional information pane in the interview

You can use HTML and CSS in the text box to format the text that displays in the additional information pane in the interview. As such, if you want to preserve angle brackets in your text (for example, <Your Name>) you must use the codes &lt; and &gt; to insert the brackets (for example, &lt;Your Name&gt;).

  • URL – enables you to type a URL for a website in the text box (be sure to include the http:// protocol in your link). This link is displayed in the additional information pane in the interview.

To provide you a quick way to know if this pane contains any content, the content (if any) is summarized to the right of the pane's label.

Tools Pane

On the right side of the component editor you can view a tools pane containing various the Used In and Field Editor (when appropriate) tabs for this component.

Use the Tools button on the Component toolbar to show or hide the tools pane.

Info Tab

When you select a component in the Components column of Component Studio, you can look at the Info tab on the far right of the component editor to see the type of the currently selected component, as well as a list of other components or templates (if there are any) that use the component you select.

Element What it Does
Type Displays the type of the component you selected in the Components column.
Used in Displays a list of other components or templates (if there are any) that use the component you select. Double-clicking an item in the Used In section opens that item for editing, and places focus on the first reference to the component you selected in the Components column.

 

Field Editor Tab

When you select a text-based component property that can contain fields, such as a prompt for a variable or a cell in a Fixed Table, the Field Editor tab appears in the Tools panel. Any HotDocs fields you add to the text that appear in an interview. When a template user provides an answer for that placeholder field in the interview, the answer appears in the component's interview display text.

The Field Editor works in this context just as it does in a DOCX template or in HotDocs Composer.

If you use a placeholder field in a component's interview display text, you must ensure the template user provides an answer for that placeholder before the interview displays the component containing the placeholder field.