Gather Questions into a Custom Dialog

By default, when HotDocs displays variables in a HotDocs interview, each variable is in a dialog by itself. This dialog is called a default dialog. While this approach is sufficient for some situations, you can also group related variables and present them in a custom dialog. Grouping questions together makes it easier for users to answer interview questions because there are fewer dialogs to navigate through. Additionally, sometimes viewing questions in context makes it easier to understand what information is required.

To add variables or clauses to a custom dialog

  1. At the HotDocs template, click the Component Manager button. The Component Manager window appears.
  2. Select Dialogs from the Components drop-down list. This limits the list of components to show only the dialogs used in the template.
  3. Click the New Component button. The Dialog Editor appears.
  4. At the Properties tab, type a name in the Dialog name field.
  5. Select the components you want from the Components list and drag them to the Contents field.

Click the Components drop-down button and select a component type to limit the list of components you are viewing. To use a component you haven’t created yet, select a component type and click the New Component button.

  1. Optionally, to change the order variables are asked in the dialog, select a variable and drag it up or down in the list. As you do this, HotDocs displays a horizontal bar showing you where the variable will be placed when you release the mouse.
  2. Once all the variables are added, you can perform any of the following optional tasks:
To Do This
Specify a prompt for the dialog that is different from the dialog name Type the desired prompt in the Title field. The title is what will be used in the interview outline and in the dialog title bar during the interview.

Dialog titles are useful when the dialog name you have assigned wouldn't make sense to the user.

To make the title bold, italic, or underlined, insert the opening dot code for the style you need. Do not include a closing dot code.

Add other items to a dialog, such as text, graphics, links, or design elements Click on the Create New Dialog Element icon and drag it to the Contents list. The Dialog Element Editor opens where you can choose to add text, lines or spaces, a link that runs a computation, a link that launches an application, a hyperlink, or a graphic.
Choose how you want to display a dialog if it's repeated Click the Style drop-down button and choose a repeated display option: Repeated Series or Spreadsheet.

To assign a label to the entire repeated series of dialogs, enter the label in the Label field.

Customize how the dialog displays variable questions and control how the dialog functions Click the Options tab and make your selections.
Make the contents of your dialog dynamic based on answers a user enters Click the Script tab and create a script.
Provide helpful information about the dialog for the user Click the Resource tab and enter the resource text. The information you enter here appears in the resource pane during the interview.
Have two or more variables appear side by side in the dialog Click the Layout tab and drag variables to the line you want.
View a list of all components that use this dialog Click the Used In tab. (See View Relationship Between the Current Component and Other Components.)
Enter notes about the component, such as an explanation about why the component was created or how it should function in the interview Click the Notes tab and enter your comments.
See how your dialog looks and works without closing the Dialog Editor Click Test. A test assembly window appears, showing the current dialog.

If you want to make changes to the dialog, make your changes in the Dialog Editor (without closing the assembly window) and click Update. When you are satisfied with your changes, close the test assembly window and click OK.

Once your dialog is created, you can rearrange components within the dialog by dragging them up or down in the Contents list. You can remove any component by dragging it back to the Components list. To edit a component, double-click it at either the Contents field or the Components list.

By default, HotDocs asks variables and dialogs in the order it "reads" them in the template (top-to-bottom, left-to-right). To control when a dialog appears in the interview, you must use an ASK instruction at that point in the template.

When you add variables to a dialog, the variables and the dialog become linked and used variables are grayed out in the Components list of the Dialog Editor. To use the same variable or clause in two or more dialogs, you must clear the Link variables to this dialog option (on the Options tab) or the variable is removed from the first dialog.

If you don't link variables to a dialog, the variables will appear in their own default dialogs in the interview. If you assign titles to the variables, that title will be used in the interview outline and in the dialog title bar. Otherwise, the variable prompt or name will be used.

You can control the width of answer fields in a dialog.

To save your changes to a dialog without closing the Dialog Editor, click Save.

To move components between the Components and Contents list using the keyboard, use the Left and Right arrow keys. To move components within the Contents list, press Alt+Up Arrow or Alt+Down Arrow.