Category: Oracle Policy Modeling

Spell Checking in Interview Controls

The other day, I came across a question regarding Spell Check in Interview Controls. You know the sort of thing – this would be useful for Inputs, but especially for Text Area Controls where there may be a considerable amount of text that will need spell checking. There are today several approaches but one that stands out.

The first option is to implement something in JavaScript – this has downsides for a couple of reasons. The dictionary for a given language, even compressed and specially structured, is going to be larger than average – the size of the file will make for slower processing. And the JavaScript will need to search this file. Thus, the performance might not be great. There are a couple of good toolkits that find innovative solutions, for example this one, but it will need work to build the apporopriate user interface.

The next option is to hand off some of the processing to the server-side. There are a number of spell check engines out there in open source that use PHP or ASP.NET for example. Some others use third-party servers or Google APIs that need payment. So for a simple spell check in Intelligent Advisor that sounds like a lot of effort.

The final spell check option is to leverage the browser itself. Most modern browsers support the spellcheck=”true” attribute value for inputs and text areas and lots of other text-content tags like <p> and <div>. So the simplest option is to switch on that attribute on any items you want to spell check. For example, add an invisible label extension to your Screen and use it scan all the relevant items on the page and add the spell check capability. For speed, the example below uses jQuery to select the relevant items for spell checking but you don’t need it of course, you can select using standard JavaScript too.

/*  Generated by the OPA Hub Website Code Generator 19/06/2020 18:27
Educational Example of Custom Label Extension for Oracle Policy Automation
I will remember this is for demonstration purposes only.
 */
OraclePolicyAutomation.AddExtension({
	customLabel: function (control, interview) {
		if (control.getProperty("name") == "xSpellCheckEnable") {
			return {
				mount: function (el) {
					console.log("Starting name:xSpellCheckEnable customLabel Mount");
					$(document).ready(function () {
						$("input[type='text'], textarea").attr('spellcheck', true);
					});
					console.log("Ending name:xSpellCheckEnable customLabel Mount");
				},
				update: function (el) {},
				unmount: function (el) {
					if (control.getProperty("name") == "xSpellCheckEnable") {
						console.log("Starting name:xSpellCheckEnable customLabel UnMount");
						console.log("Ending name:xSpellCheckEnable customLabel UnMount");
					}
				}
			}
		}
	}
})

With the above code in place, an input or text area will allow spell checking using the browser. Note the wavy line and the right-click:

Spell Check in IA

I’m not saying this is the perfect solution but there are some good and less good points:

  • No management of files needed
  • No user interface to create
  • Supported by the vast majority of browsers (see link above)
  • No server-side stuff to pay for
  • Applicable to pretty much any HTML tag

There are a few downsides

  • Usually defaults to the operating system / chosen language in the browser settings rather than the document language
  • Not the most exciting user interface
  • If you use multiple browsers you might end up with different word lists.

But sometimes, less is more. This example is free in the Shop. Happy Spell Checking!

JavaScript Custom Image Extension

One of the regular readers of this website was very excited to see that recently, the Custom Extensions were updated to include a Custom Image Extension. Whilst at first glance you might not think it would need much of an extension, or maybe you cannot think of a requirement, there have been many situations where the logic of dynamic images, dynamic sizing, and so forth could not be done with a styling extension or a bit of CSS.

So what is available in this type of extension? In a Custom Image Extension, you can leverage the following Control Methods to customize your image.

getWidth()The width of the control (not just for image controls)
getHeight()The height of the control
getImageSource()The URL representing the source of the image
getLinkUrl()The URL used if the image is clicked
openLinkInNewWindow()Will the link open in a new Window?
getHorizontalAlignment()The alignment of the image
getCaption()The text caption of the image

For a quick demonstration, the following project will create a dynamic QR code according to your chosen URL. The image can resized on the fly using the sliders, and you can set the URL and whether it will open in another window:

The Custom Image Extension will generate a QR code and the user can manipulate the size of the image to see it changing dynamically. You could even then put the dynamic image in your Forms. Or use it to send a link to someone for a GetCheckPoint. Lots of ideas!

Creating a QR Code

There are lots of applications where the ability work with a Custom Image Extension will maker life easier. There is a good example in the Example Projects – it’s called Health Diagnosis and check out the diagnosis page with the dynamic image. The example project contains the JavaScript for the Custom Image Extension in the usual folder.

You can get the example Zip file from the OPA Hub Shop.

Dynamic Input Mask JavaScript Extension

Dynamic Input Mask JavaScript Extension

This week I was lucky enough to be chatting to a reader when he shared a requirement for a dynamic mask. The exact concept was simple : when entering a telephone number, if the end user of the Interview types a number first, then the mask should default to the national format – for example (555) 1234-1234 – but if the end user types the international “+” prefix first then the mask should switch to a different one, for example +00 000 0000 0000 or whatever is appropriate. Outside of this example, there are frequently situations where more than one mask is needed, depending on some criteria or some fragment of data entry.

We should not forget of course that if all we want is a simple mask, then Intelligent Advisor has got it covered with the standard out of the box functionality. To implement a simple, static mask simply requires us to create an attribute of type Text and to select Masked Input from the Interview Ribbon before specifying the mask in the Input Mask dialog.

As an example, the following shows a Masked Input Control with a specific mask being implemented. In addition, you can see the Hint Text in the Interview tab shows the result in case you forget.

Clearly this is going to produce a good mask. But it cannot be changed dynamically, as it is part of the Control properties at runtime. So the possible solution is to use an Extension. In this case, a customInput. For the purposes of demonstration, we chose to use the jQuery Mask plugin. You can find more about it at the address : https://igorescobar.github.io/jQuery-Mask-Plugin/docs.html. The most interesting element is the fact that it supports dynamic masks. It uses the keypress event to enable the developer to check the character(s) and then change the mask. So this sounded like a great idea, and indeed proved quite straightforward. The code below shows that in fact there are several steps needed : define the two masks, and also handle the case when the area is blanked by the user.

Happily we found an old project where we had already used this dynamic input mask technique and adapted it for today.

Dynamic Mask

Here is the example code, of course you can get the Zip file from the Shop. There are some comments below.

/*  Generated by the OPA Hub Website Code Generator 30/11/2018 22:41
Educational Example of Custom Input Mask Extension for Oracle Policy Automation
I will remember this is for demonstration purposes only.
 */
OraclePolicyAutomation.AddExtension({
	customInput: function (control, interview) {
		if (control.getProperty("name") == "xMask") {
			return {
				mount: function (el) {
					console.log("Starting name:xMask customInput Mount");
					var div = document.createElement("input");
					div.id = "xMask";
					div.value = control.getValue();
					el.appendChild(div);
					var oldVal;
					$('#xMask').on('keypress', function () {
						var val = this.value;
						if ((val != oldVal) && (val.length == 1)) {
							oldVal = val;
							if (oldVal == '+') {
								$('#xMask').mask('+999-9999-9999');
								$('#xMask').val(oldVal)
							} else {
								$('#xMask').mask('(999)-999-99999');
								$('#xMask').val(oldVal)
							}
						} else if (val.length == 0) {
							$('#xMask').unmask();
						}
					});
					console.log("Ending name:xMask customInput Mount");
				},
				unmount: function (el) {
					if (control.getProperty("name") == "xMask") {
						console.log("Starting name:xMask customInput UnMount");
						var xMask = document.getElementById("xMask");
						xMask.parentNode.removeChild(xMask);
						console.log("Ending name:xMask customInput UnMount");
					}
				}
			}
		}
	}
})

As you can see in this dynamic input mask demo, there is only really the mount to worry about. We use the keypress event and switch the mask based on the previous character pressed on the keyboard. And if no characters exist in the control we remove the mask ready for the next try. Here is a short video demonstrating the effect, and comparing to a static mask. The input control extension has not had any CSS formatting applied so it appears a little smaller than the standard. This can easily be changed.

video

Have a nice day! (the documentation about standard input mask functionality can be found online here).

Input Validation in an Input Extension – IBAN Validation

Input Validation in an Input Extension – IBAN Validation

A funny thing happened today – I came across a forum post that was talking about exactly what we had been describing to someone else the same day. Odd. These confinement measures play tricks with your mind. Anyway here is the scenario, it’s about input validation.

The customer needs to validate a banking account number in IBAN format in Oracle Policy Automation as part of an HTML Interview. What are the options for input validation?

There are several ways to handle this

  1. If you are just validating one country-origin IBAN numbers then you could certainly use Regular Expressions on your Input Text Attribute. A checksum rule would provide extra validation.
  2. Write a lot of Error or Warning Rules to achieve the same.
  3. But given there are many formats and many countries, if you need something bigger then you had better use some help!

There are standalone JavaScript libraries like this one, or you might use the jQuery Validator instead. It comes with IBAN validation as part of the additional methods supplied with it.  Since a lot of people are familiar with jQuery, and since Oracle Policy Modeling already uses it, we decided to opt for that solution for input validation.

We downloaded the validator and the additional files. we ensured that jQuery was accessible to the Project (in short, we clicked the Styles button in the Interview, then the Custom.. button and said OK before pasting the files in the folder). If this was a real-life case we would load the files in the correct order programmatically (jQuery, Validator, then additional stuff) but for this quick hack we renamed the files in alphabetical order to make sure they loaded like A, B and C.

We created an Input attribute, and named it something like this:

Input Validation - Create Attribute

Then we added it to the Screen and hooked up a custom property to make sure the code is executed for the IBAN element.

Input Validation Setup Screen

Then I fired up my trusty Code Generator and created a template Input Extension. I edited the Validate handler and this is the complete input extension. Of course this is the bare bones but it will do for a start :

//*  Generated by the OPA Hub Website 18/03/2020 08:06
Educational Example of Custom Input Extension for Oracle Policy Automation
I will remember this is for demonstration purposes only.
 */
OraclePolicyAutomation.AddExtension({
	customInput: function (control, interview) {
		if (control.getProperty("name") == "xIBAN") {
			return {
				mount: function (el) {
					console.log("Starting name:xIBAN customInput Mount");
					var div = document.createElement("input");
					div.id = "xIBAN";
					div.value = control.getValue();
					div.setAttribute("data-rule-iban", "true");
					el.appendChild(div);
					console.log("Ending name:xIBAN customInput Mount");
				},
				update: function (el) {
					console.log("Starting name:xIBAN customInput Update");
					console.log("Ending name:xIBANcustomInput Update");
				},
				validate: function (el) {
					console.log("Starting name:xIBAN customInput Validate");
					//errorplacement ensures the standard message is not visible
					var validator = $(".opa-interview").validate({
							errorPlacement: function (error, element) {
								return true;
							}
						});
					var returnvalue = validator.element("#xIBAN")
					if (returnvalue === true) {
						control.setValue(document.getElementById("xIBAN").value);
						return true;
					} else {
						return 'Your Message Here - THIS IS NOT A VALID IBAN'
					}
					console.log("Ending name:xIBAN customInput Validate");
				},
				unmount: function (el) {
					if (control.getProperty("name") == "xIBAN") {
						console.log("Starting name:xIBAN customInput UnMount");
						var xIBAN = document.getElementById("xIBAN");
						xIBAN.parentNode.removeChild(xIBAN);
						console.log("Ending name:xIBAN customInput UnMount");
					}
				}
			}
		}
	}
})

Input Validation

Input Extension – Summary

The basic idea is simple – when the Validate handler fires, pull the form and the input element and validate it as an IBAN number. If it passes, then there is no error message. Otherwise the validate fails and you can tell the user. You can have a more interesting message than this of course.

The Zip Archive is in the OPA Hub Shop. Have fun!

JSON Extension File

JSON Extension File

As many, but not all readers are probably aware, the Oracle Policy Automation JavaScript API is restricted in terms of what data it can manipulate in code. The default position is simple. If you plan on working with (accessing, updating or whatever is appropriate given the nature of the data and the type of attribute or entity instance) information from the Data tab of Oracle Policy Modeling then it must be present on the Screen that contains your Extension.

Here is a simple example to illustrate. Suppose you have a project that infers a list of Metro Stations. These stations are inferred in some way by Excel or Word rules. You wish to use a drop-down to allow the user to select one of those stations.

You decide to use the much-downloaded educational example called  Dynamic Options from Instances which you found in the OPA Hub Shop. So far so good. You look at the example Project and you see this:

JSON Extension File - Before

Cool. It’s a demonstration of a dynamic options list (at the bottom) driven by the entity instances (at the top). And the console shows some cool output to highlight the construction of the list. On the left, you can see that the interview is made up of two Screens. Excellent. Then you decide to split the interview into three Screens – separating the Instances from the Selection. Sounds really cool and a better layout. Now you see this in the Debugger:

JSON Extension FileWhich I think you will agree, is sub-optimal. Our extension just fails miserably. But now, it’s opm.extension.data.json to the rescue. We create this file in the resources folder and populate it according to our needs. In this case, we add – and this is required for any entity attributes – the relationship name (the technical name, not the textual name) and then we declare any attributes we want. So our file looks like this:

JSON Extension File Example

We re-debug and everything is back to normal. Re-cool. Obviously we should avoid putting too many elements in there – especially parent – child relationships which can result in masses of JSON being generated by Oracle Policy Automation and made available to your JavaScript, potentially creating performance bottlenecks. But for our little example, it’s perfect.

Table Headers : Tabular Layout Trick

Table Headers : Tabular Layout Trick

Updated 18th March 2020

[Update Start

Thanks to assiduous reader Steven Robert (see the comments) who reached out and pointed out some annoying side effects and  a requirement, now I get to revisit this topic after a while away. As luck would have it, I was working on a similar situation to the one Steven describes, and I had not been timely in updating this post. Thanks to him and here is the updated version of the concept, with explanations.

  1. As the original post mentioned, and Steven pointed out, the selector used in the example is unreliable
  2. Steven proposed a new selector and solved that issue, making it multi-column as well

But the downside is the lack of display when the table is first instantiated. We need something capable of reacting before the think cycle kicks in.

In order to  achieve something like this, our “payload” needs to be part of the table that is displayed automatically. So the obvious candidate in this case is the label extension, since the first column is actually a label anyway. You could extend this concept to include other controls, but  it would require more heavy lifting as you would probably end up, if you were unlucky, building an entire Entity Container. We covered that in the JavaScript Extensions book and it isn’t usually a short effort. Anyway, we have a label so we are cool.

Our label extension has a mount key which fires when the label is displayed. So if the table is displayed, the label code will kick in. So we can be ready as soon as the table is ready. Secondly, we could in theory add several label columns and have custom headers for each of them (you could of course achieve that using non-JavaScript techniques).

Here is the walkthrough based on the previous Project (with the credit cards and visa cards which are derived as a subset of the credit cards).

  1. Add a label in the row in the table and add custom properties. It should display whatever attribute is appropriate.
  2. Generate a standard label extension and edit it a bit.
  3. Add the custom properties to trigger the code when the label is displayed.
  4. Add another label if you want (I ran out of originality but added a second one for demonstration purposes).
  5. Fire it up in the Debugger, and then in the Browser.

I didn’t go all the way to deployment but it looks like it could be elevated into a viable concept. Also, I wasn’t a very good citizen as I didn’t do any checking to avoid my code running every time the label is instantiated – I would most likely check to see if the header already had the text I wanted to avoid setting it again.

And finally, of course if you want the Project Zip just leave a note in the comments!

Here is a walkthrough video. Hope it makes sense!

Update End]

Original Post :

There is always much discussion when users first discover the Interview tab. Let’s be honest – not all of the comments are exactly positive. It all feels a bit, well, basic.

There are a number of things that catch you out at first (and indeed, later). So let’s take a moment to study tabular layouts and a common issue.

For this example I’m going to use the same project (Credit and Visa Cards) as the previous post, since that gives us two entities to work with.

Tabular Layout

Let’s consider that you want to display both entities using tabular layout. You create a Screen and set them both to tabular display. But let’s assume that you want to display the Visa Card with a couple of specifics. You want to include the provider of the credit card. So let’s set that up as a Value List and use an attribute on the Credit Card, and infer it on the Visa Card:

Table Headers Tabular Layout Trick 1So, with that now done, we want to display the Visa Card provider in the Entity Collect (as it is an inferred entity, we cannot use an Entity Collect). But we want to display it as a label as you can see in this screenshot (we added a name to the attribute as you saw in step one so we can reference it in our Screen:

Table Headers Tabular Layout Trick 2Notice how we added a label and used that to display the text of the provider? Using a label ensures three things

  1. It is read-only
  2. If the user is tabbing from input to input, the cursor will not get stuck in that field
  3. It doesn’t look like a read-only input, just a label (which is what we want).

But the downside is that the label does not have a table header in that column, since the Interview designer only adds those for Inputs:

Table Headers Tabular Layout Trick 4

I find it a shame that we cannot put table headers in this “tabular” column, since in HTML a table should have column headers. In fact if we take a moment to inspect this table in the browser, we note that annoying, there is a table header in the table:

Table Headers Tabular Layout Trick 5

So, we need to get that table header populated with our chosen text. But how shall we do it? We don’t want to create an Entity Container extension, since that would mean we have to do the whole thing from top to bottom. So we only want a little tiny change. We have a couple of choices.

  1. Create a Style Extension for the Entity Collect
  2. Create a Label Extension for stealth modification

Let’s try the first option, since it reveals some interesting facts about Styling Extensions. Firstly, get ready by doing the following; change the text associated with your entity in the Interview by double-clicking where the rectangle is, and entering whatever text you would like to display in the missing header.

Then add a compound Styling Extension to your Project. Tabular Containers allow for nested styling, like this:

OraclePolicyAutomation.AddExtension({
style: {
tabularContainer: function (control) {
if (control.getProperty("name") === "xContainer") {
style: {
headerRow:
YOUR STUFF GOES HERE
 
}
}
}
 
}
});

Notice the “headerRow” is a child of “tabularContainer”. And notice the line that says YOUR STUFF GOES HERE. Now for an interesting fact about Styling Extensions. They behave, to a reasonable degree, just like Control Extensions. They are really one and the same thing – the main difference of course is the handlers that are exposed in Control and Interview Extensions.

Drop jQuery into your resources folder, and then replace YOUR STUFF GOES HERE with the following line:

$("#opaCtl4th0").text(control.getCaption());

Of course, the jQuery selector may be different for you but it is easy to find the “header” I illustrated in the previous screenshots. Open your Project in a real Browser (Ctrl+F5) for debugging and take a look at the results:

Final Header Result

Our Styling Extension has added the text to the header, drawing it from the Interview Screen Entity Container definition, and we have it where we want it. Of course, you could style it as well.

But it goes to show that Styling Extensions are really not very different to Control Extensions!

Back to Basics : Extensions #2

Back to Basics : Extensions #2

Following on from the previous post, we delve more deeply into the JavaScript Extensions world.

Interview Execution in a Browser

So how does an Interview Extension work? Let’s begin with some basic information about how your Oracle Policy Automation Interview runs in your Browser. If you happened to be viewing an Interview right now, and you were to open the Console (F12 in Google Chrome, or Microsoft Edge. Check your Browser documentation for the equivalent key or menu option), you might be able to view something like the following screenshot. Check the steps under the image as you may need to refer to them in your own case.

Extensions

In this screenshot I have launched a Project using the Debugger. Remember that if you hold down F5 while clicking the Debug button, you will open the Interview in the Debugger and in your default Browser.

  1. Your web server may of course be a different address.
  2. The web-determinations folder will not have the same numeric suffix as in this screenshot, indeed will most likely not have a suffix at all. This is a feature of the Debugging session.
  3. The js file is most likely in the staticresource folder, however if you are in a more integrated environment it may be in a different subfolder, or a different folder altogether. But it will be present.
  4. The contents of the js file can be read more easily by selecting (in Google Chrome in this case) the option to pretty print the code.

Interviews.js

This file is the foundation of the Interview experience provided by Oracle Policy Automation. It contains all the code necessary to make the user experience function correctly. Inside this file, however, there is a built-in capacity to accept extensions that change the behaviour of the Interview.

In your Console, search in the file for the following text – “customLabel:” (without the quotation marks, but with the colon). You should find one instance of that text, as shown in the screenshot below.

Extensions

  1. Search for the text
  2. Find the text in the file.

Take a moment to perform a second search in the same file, for the text shown below. Use the screenshot as your guide.

  1. Ensure you are looking at interviews.js
  2. Search for this text
  3. View the style definition for textInputStyle.

Accepted Extension Types

Notice in the first example, that customLabel is only one of a series of items in the first list. These are the recognized types of Control extension that we, as Oracle Policy Automation Project workers, are permitted to develop.

In the second search you found that there was a style defined for controls called textInputs. Although not quite as obvious perhaps as the first example, an Oracle Policy Automation Project might want to override the Style(s) used in a Project, in order to comply with corporate guidelines for example: and this system will help us do just that. Style Extensions use keywords in the same way to indicate which elements you wish to style.

About Extensions

It is not important at this stage to understand how these extensions are created or used. It is, however fundamentally important to understand that you will be extending Oracle Policy Automation Interviews by adding one or more of these acceptable extensions, and that they will be run in the browser in the same way as the standard JavaScript is already. These interviews can then be better adapted to your IT environment. As an example, read how Styling Extensions enable integration visually with Oracle Content & Experience Cloud.

More on this subject, with some worked examples, shortly.

Back to Basics – What are Extensions?

Back to Basics – What are Extensions?

Styling Extensions

Introduced in Oracle Policy Automation November 2016 release, a styling extension allows a designer to create styling rules and logic using JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets. These files are contained within the deployed Oracle Policy Automation project, and should be used only if you have exhausted all of the built in Styling possibilities offered as standard in the Interview tab, Styles dialog.

Control Extensions

A Control represents a single item placed on a Screen during the design of an Interview. Typically these controls might be used by the user to enter data (for example, a Control with a Calendar attached to enter the date of birth of the applicant) or to organize data on the Screen (for example, a Container that allows for a better layout of several other items). At run-time, each Control is translated into HTML and associated JavaScript code. Introduced initially at the same time as the styling extensions mentioned in the previous paragraph, although they have grown more numerous over time.

Control Extensions Example

They are generally referred to by a name such as customLabel or customContainer which identifies the type. In a later post you will learn the origin of these names.

Evolution

Interview behavior Extensions have gradually gained in functionality, and also in terms of which Control types are available for customization. There are different kinds of extension for different needs.

Scope

If Controls represent items grouped on a Screen (and therefore on a page, as far as most Interview users are concerned), with Extensions you can also customize the real estate around the pages – whether it be the navigation styling, of a custom footer or header, or even a completely new navigation system. So extensions can be for a single Control, or for a complete Navigation system.

Naming Convention

Technically speaking, all of the examples mentioned above are called Interview Extensions in the official documentation, and they are divided into styling extensions and control extensions as you will discover. You can find the reference material at the following URL at the time of writing .

Architecture

Before looking at the different types available to us, it pays to review the architecture of the Interview and gain understanding as to how they function within it. Coming next…

Fun with Aliases and Strings #2

Fun with Aliases and Strings #2

Returning to the ” Aliases and Strings”  theme of the previous post, where we looked into an example of String concatenation. Just a reminder, in the previous article you created the entity model and set up a couple of relationships, before using a rule to decide if the ticker tape instance is a member of a relationship called  the next ticker tapes.

So here is the continuation of the document you saw in the previous steps:

Aliases and Strings #2

The first part should look reasonably familiar, since it builds on the example with the next ticker tapes. But is uses the second relationship, called the closest ticker tape. Note the wording closest ticker tape not ticker tapes. We are aiming for the closest one, or if you prefer, the next one in line. So for ticker tape number 3, the closest would be number 4.

Dodgey Ticker

We again use an alias, but things get a bit sticky in the following parts. Where did the further ticker tape come from? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s another alias. You see, we already used the other ticker tape in the conclusion so we need to use another word : in this case further was my personal choice, but it could have been another word that meant something in this context. So by now we have the following, expressed in conversational style :

Compare ticker tape A (with other tapes, let’s say B, C and D). B,C or D will be called the closest ticker tape if the following is true.

  1. B,C or D have an ID that is higher than the ID for A
  2. Using the next ticker tapes as your starting point (so, B C and D)
  3. Compare them (so B compared to C, B compared to D etc) to this rule
  4. Is B’s ID is less than or equal to C (for example)?

So we end up with the ticker tape that is in the next ticker tapes AND has an ID that is less than or equal to the other next ticker tapes. So it is the closest one.

I’m reminded of this excellent conversation from Monty Python since it can get a bit confusing at first:

video

The final rule concerns whichever ticker tape has the longest string. And that string is what you are about to create, for each and every instance of your entity.

We’re coming with you!

You will generate a string of text for each of the entity instances (so, for each of the ticker tape instances). And this string will be the driver of a logical loop.

Firstly, let’s set your scene and remind of the context:

  1. “Text 1”
  2. “Text 2”
  3. “Text 3”

Each ticker tape has a text message, for example “Text 1” . This message should be concatenated with the other text messages to form a long “final” string. Each should have a comma inserted between them, into the final string, and of course a “.” at the end. Just to make a nice tidy “final” string. It might look like “Text 1, Text 2, Text 3.”.

Aliases and Strings #2

So each instance has a text string, and a “final text”. The “final text” will be the ticker tape text string concatenated with the closest ticker tape’s text string, plus a comma if required – for example if there are no “next ticker tapes” for a given tape, it’s because we have reached the end of the instances (number 4 , if there is no number 5).

The following attributes give us the numbers used in the table above:

Aliases and Strings #2

And the final (final) global attribute:

Final String Result

Aliases and Strings #2

In the next part of this series, there will be a chance to look back on the techniques, observe the warning message and generally investigate your logical loop.

Aliases and Strings part three will be with you in a few days, In the meantime of course you can read the online help here.

OPA Word Rules – Level Up!

OPA Word Rules  – Level Up!

As the summer lethargy begins to bite (at least if you are in the Northern Hemisphere) I find my colleagues are missing from their desk – vacations long planned are finally here! It is with this in mind that today I am sharing a lighthearted post about Word rule levels. But there is a nice payoff in the end of the post, which some of you will might already know but it might be useful for some, occasionally.

Let’s look at the following document snippet and ask ourselves a question (this screenshot comes from the RetailDiscounts example project).

OPA Word Rules - Level Up!

The picture above shows a fairly typical nested level structure, which improves clarity and helps both the rule author and the rule validator / subject matter expert because it makes the goal and conditions clear. And we can see in this case, there are 2 levels used (level one is yellow, level two is salmon pink).

How low can you go?

The question is, how many levels can you have? Note, that this question is not “how many levels should you have?” which is altogether more nuanced and more in the domain of best practices – and if you are in doubt about that, I strongly suggest you read Jasmine’s famous PDF here.

So, how many can you have? Well, let’s look a the Word Ribbon  – there is a drop-down to help us:

OPA Word Rules - Level Up!

So that’s the answer, right? Five levels, each with their own color.  Or is it?

It’s not Summer, it’s Easter! OPA Word Rules – Level Up!

Some might qualify this as an Easter Egg in computer geek-vocabulary. It’s an unexpected feature – but there are actually SIX levels. Not five.

Take a look at the following screenshot, notice the styles have been displayed for clarity.

OPA Word Rules - Level Up!

In the (albeit very infrequent) case of needing a sixth level, you can access it by pressing the Increase Indent button on the toolbar, while the cursor is on the fifth level (or you can press F12 on your keyboard).

Have a nice day!

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