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Data capture interview layout tips

The look and feel of an XpressDox interview

With the advent of Manage Interview (v14), much of this article is no longer relevant. It is now much easier to control the layout of an interview using the drag and drop method. This article does reference some commands you may still want to make use of (Required, ExcludeFromIV, the Choose commands), but other layout commands such as Caption, Tab, CaptureLater are no longer required.


Before v14:

Although XpressDox will automatically construct a data capture interview for a template when that template is run, template authors will want to make use of the layout commands to control the layout of the interview. Layout commands include Caption, Tab, Heading, Footing, Help, Required, ExcludeFromIV and others. Similar commands are the ChooseFromList, ChooseFromRDBList, etc., which also affect the look and feel of an interview.

All of these types of commands can be inserted anywhere in the template, either before or after the point where the value of the data element that they refer to is to be printed in the merged document. That being said, having the layout commands scattered in amongst the text of the template can make it difficult to read.



Using a Master Layout Template

Experienced template authors have found that a very useful way to include the layout (and choose) commands is to put them into a separate template altogether, and include that template with the «IncludeCodeTemplate» command.

If this master layout template is included at the start of the including template, then an added benefit is that the sequence in which data elements are referred to in the layout template is the sequence in which the data elements will appear on the data capture interview. This means that where you have a suite of templates, this one layout template can be included at the start of all of the templates in the suite, which means that they will all have a very similar look and feel, regardless of the sequence of the data elements in each including template.

Another powerful aspect of the layout commands is that if a layout command appears in a template (or included template) and there is no other command which explicitly requires that the data element be captured, then that data element will not appear on the interview. This is why one master layout template can be used for all the templates in a suite.



Controlling position with CaptureDataElement and CaptureLater

If for some reason none of the layout commands or Choose… commands seem appropriate, and the position of a data element in the template relative to the other data elements is not where you want that data element in the data capture interview, then using the CaptureDataElement command and/or the CaptureLater command will allow you to position the data element exactly in the interview.