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Working with Controls

In this chapter we explain how to work with controls, efficiently.

There are no hard and fast rules about where you should start when modeling a new process in Process Director. Most people find, however, that when faced with a blank slate and a complex process to implement, the eForm is a good place to start. The eForm collects the data that you will be using throughout your process, so the exercise of building the eForm can be helpful in structuring the process in your mind, and determining where the eForm data will be used in the process.

The first, and generally the most time consuming, step in designing an eForm template consists of placing controls on the eForm page. To make the design process as easy as possible, Process Director uses Microsoft Word for this purpose. Using Word gives you access to all of Word's familiar formatting tools, so you don't have to learn some radically new system for designing eForms. You can simply format your eForm just as you would any other Word document.

When designing the eForm template, always view the eForm document using the Web Layout view in Word, rather than the Print Layout view. The eForm is going to be displayed in a web browser, so using the Web Layout view will display the eForm in a fashion that's closer to how it will actually appear to users.

If you look at Figure 13, above, you'll notice that it includes a Section control, which is a type of control that you'll use quite a bit to organize, show, or hide controls on a form. A section actually consists of two separate controls: the Section and Section End. Every Section control must have a Section End. Every control that is placed between the Section and Section End controls become part of that section. You can also nest sections, meaning that you can place a section inside of a section.

As a general practice, you should use the Section control regularly, as it provides several benefits. First, the Section control organizes your form into logical sections. Second, you can use the section to disable or hide portions of the eForm so that users see only the portions of the eForm that are relevant to their tasks. In the Sample project, for example, we will use sections to show or hide different portions of the eForm, based on information entered by the user.


Another useful type of control is the Array. An Array is simply a repeating collection of grouped controls, organized in a row, or rows, of a table. For instance, in the Travel Expenses Request eForm, there is a row of controls that enables you to enter daily travel, lodging and car rental expenses. A new row of expense amounts has to be entered for each day. An Array enables you to add these repeating rows for as many days as you need. Being able to create these collections of repeating controls is a frequent requirement for eForm designers, so the Array's functionality is a very useful and commonly-used, Process Director feature.

The Array is similar to the Section in that there are separate Array Start and Array End controls, and all of the controls placed between the Array Start and Array End controls become part of the array. Arrays are always configured inside of Word tables, and the Array Start and Array End controls must be in the same table. The Array Start control must be in the first column of the table, while the Array End control must be in the last column. Unlike the Section, an Array cannot have a nested Array. An Array can also span more than one table row, so a single "row" of an Array can take up two or more table rows.


At design time, you only have to build a single row for the array. When we are filling out the form at run time, you can add or delete rows as you desire. Process Director will automatically keep track of the rows in the array as you add or delete them.

When placed on an eForm in design view, the Array controls will look like red, square brackets.


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