ATLAS FormBuilder - Text Merge Formatting (Advanced Users)

Learn to use the text merge formatting options available in ATLAS FormBuilder. This tutorial is intended for more advanced users of ATLAS FormBuilder or people with experience programming or problem solving with technology.

TextMergeField Formatter Usage

Text merge fields all support a ResolveForResponse method that emits a string for use in sections, emails, pdfs, etc. However, the output for a given merge field is fixed and can't be changed or formatted differently. For example, a text merge field that outputs a date may not be formatted in the way that the form author desires. Text merge field formatters (hereafter referred to as a "formatter") are appended to the end of a merge field declaration and are used to modify the data emitted by a merge field. Here's a basic example of modifying the output of a merge field that deals with dates:

Your form was submitted on [[FormSubmitDate]]!

This text resolves into the following:

Your form was submitted on 2019-08-27 06:51:07 PM!

Perhaps the author didn't want to have the full date and time listed, or perhaps they did not want to have it in ISO-8601 format. In this case, the author really just wanted the day of the week to be listed. They would add a formatter declaration to the end of the merge field.

Your form was submitted on [[FormSubmitDate]]{{ "dateFormat": "DayOfWeek" }}!

Now, the output of the merge field would be:

Your form was submitted on Wednesday!

Formatters are not just limited to dates. Currently, a formatter can handle:

  • dates
  • numbers
  • booleans (true/false, checked/unchecked)
  • lists
  • composite questions (formatting as tables)
  • empty values
  • alternate text when a value is present

Formatter Syntax

Formatter declarations are defined by two left curly braces ({{) immediately following a merge field declaration with no spaces, ending with two right curly braces (}}). The contents between the braces must be comma-separated, quoted key/value pairs with a colon separating the keys and values ("key1": "value1", "key2":"value2"). A sample formatter declaration would be:

{{"key1": "value1", "key2":"value2"}}

Formatter Types

As mentioned above, formatters can handle different types of data in a text merge field. Some formatter properties can also be combined with others. For example, an emptyValue formatter can be combined with most other formatter directives. All formatter directives can have nested text merge fields (with their own formatter declarations) that will be resolved if necessary.

Dates

Date formatting uses the dateFormat and optional timeZone directives.

dateFormat

The dateFormat directive accepts a string that contains the text that should replace the original merge field output. This text can either be a single date format declaration, or it can have text with one or more single-quoted date format strings in it.

dateFormat Single Date Formats
  • DayOfWeek -> Tuesday
  • MonthOfDate -> September
  • MonthDayYear -> 9/3/2019
  • StandardTime -> 1:59 PM
dateFormat Examples
  • {{"dateFormat": "DayOfWeek"}} -> Tuesday
  • {{"dateFormat": "yyyy-MM-dd"}} -> 1955-11-5
  • {{"dateFormat": "Hi there, you were born on a 'DayOfWeek' in 'yyyy'!"}} -> Hi there, you were born on a Tuesday in 1955!
  • {{"dateFormat": "Updated on a 'DayOfWeek' by [[FormAssociatedUser_DisplayName]]"}} -> Updated on a Tuesday by John Smith

timeZone

The timeZone directive is only used in combination with the dateFormat directive. This is used to alter the time being fed into the dateFormat directive to match a given time zone. The contents of this directive must match a tz database identifier. If no timeZone directive is given, a time zone of America/Chicago will be used.

timeZone Examples
  • {{"dateFormat": "hh:mm tt", "timeZone": "America/Chicago"}} -> 05:32 pm
  • {{"dateFormat": "hh:mm tt", "timeZone": "America/New_York"}} -> 06:32 pm
  • {{"dateFormat": "hh:mm tt"}} -> 05:32 pm

Numbers

Number formatting uses the numberFormat directive.

numberFormat

The numberFormat directive accepts a string that contains the text that should replace the original merge field output. This text can either be a single number format declaration, or it can have text with one or more single-quoted number format strings in it.

numberFormat Examples

These examples use a source number of 42.256

  • {{"numberFormat": "000.0"}} -> 042.3
  • {{"numberFormat": "The amount of $'0.00' was paid using [[CreditCardUsed]]"}} -> The amount of $42.26 was paid using Visa
  • {{"numberFormat": "$'#00.0000'"}} -> 42.2560

Boolean Values

Boolean value formatting uses the checkedValue and uncheckedValue directives. The checkedValue and uncheckedValue directives are often used together, but they can be used independently if you prefer to only modify one boolean option, leaving the other to be resolved normally by the text merge field.

checkedValue

The checkedValue directive accepts a string that contains literal text and optional text merge fields that are inserted when the text merge field has a true value (e.g. when a checkbox is checked).

uncheckedValue

The uncheckedValue directive accepts a string that contains literal text and optional text merge fields that are inserted when the text merge field has a false value (e.g. when a checkbox is unchecked).

checkedValue and uncheckedValue Examples
  • {{"checkedValue":"Thanks for selecting the option to donate.","uncheckedValue":"Sorry to see you decided not to donate, [[LastModifiedBy_FirstName]]. It's ok to call you [[LastModifiedBy_FirstName]], right?"}} -> Sorry to see you decided not to donate, John. It's ok to call you John, right?

Empty Values

When a text merge field would return a null or empty value, an empty string is emitted. This can occur if a question doesn't have an answer, or if an attribute field doesn't resolve. In these cases, the emptyValue can be used to substitute text.

emptyValue

The emptyValue directive accepts a string that contains literal text and optional text merge fields that are inserted when the text merge field would emit an empty string.

emptyValue Examples
  • {{"emptyValue":"No street address was given"}} -> No street address was given
  • {{"emptyValue":"[[Question_ValueOf:preferred_first_name]]"}} -> Jim
  • {{"emptyValue":"[[Question_ValueOf:last_name_also_empty]]{{ emptyValue: \\"Going down the rabbit hole!\\" }}"}} -> Going down the rabbit hole!

Present Values

Sometimes, one wishes to substitute the value of a merge field with something completely different. The hasValue merge field handles this case.

hasValue

The hasValue directive accepts a string that contains literal text and optional text merge fields that are inserted when the text merge field would emit anything other than an empty string.

hasValue Examples
  • {{"hasValue":"We shall take your output and replace it with this instead."}} -> We shall take your output and replace it with this instead.
  • {{"hasValue":"[[Question_ValueOf:preferred_first_name]]"}} -> Jim
  • {{"forcedPresentValue":"[[Question_ValueOf:last_name]]{{ forcedPresentValue: \\"Going down the rabbit hole!\\" }}"}} -> Going down the rabbit hole!

Composite Question Formatting

Merge fields involving composite questions typically don't format the way most people would want. Using the tableFormat and optional columns, columnFormat and sortBy directives, a much clearer output can be obtained.

tableFormat

The tableFormat directive accepts one of the following values:

  • Html - the output will be formatted as an HTML table.
  • TabDelimited - the output will be formatted as tab-delimited fields with line breaks between each row.
  • CommaDelimited - the output will be formatted as comma-separated fields with line breaks between each row.
  • FixedWidthText - the output will be formatted as a fixed-width table suitable for display with plain-text fixed-width fonts.
tableFormat Examples
  • {{"tableFormat":"Html"}}
<table class="table table-bordered"><thead><tr><th>Date Question</th><th>Number Question</th><th>Signature Question</th><th>Single Line Text</th></tr></thead><tbody><tr><td>1955-11-05</td><td>1</td><td>Signed by user1 on 1955-11-05 07:14:15 AM</td><td>single line text answer 1</td></tr><tr><td>1955-11-06</td><td>2</td><td>Signed by user2 on 1955-11-06 07:14:15 AM</td><td>single line text answer 2</td></tr><tr><td></td><td></td><td></td><td>single line text answer 3</td></tr><tr><td>1955-11-08</td><td>4</td><td>False</td><td>single line text answer 4</td></tr></tbody></table>
  • {{"tableFormat":"TabDelimited"}}
    Date Question	Number Question	Signature Question	Single Line Text
    1955-11-05	1	Signed by user1 on 1955-11-05 07:14:15 AM	single line text answer 1
    1955-11-06	2	Signed by user2 on 1955-11-06 07:14:15 AM	single line text answer 2
    			single line text answer 3
    1955-11-08	4	False	single line text answer 4
  • {{"tableFormat":"CommaDelimited"}}
    Date Question,Number Question,Signature Question,Single Line Text
    1955-11-05,1,Signed by user1 on 1955-11-05 07:14:15 AM,single line text answer 1
    1955-11-06,2,Signed by user2 on 1955-11-06 07:14:15 AM,single line text answer 2
    ,,,single line text answer 3
    1955-11-08,4,False,single line text answer 4
  • {{"tableFormat": "FixedWidthText"}}
    Date Question | Number Question | Signature Question                        | Single Line Text
    --------------|-----------------|-------------------------------------------|--------------------------
    1955-11-05    | 1               | Signed by user1 on 1955-11-05 07:14:15 AM | single line text answer 1
    1955-11-06    | 2               | Signed by user2 on 1955-11-06 07:14:15 AM | single line text answer 2
                  |                 |                                           | single line text answer 3
    1955-11-08    | 4               | False                                     | single line text answer 4

columns

The columns directive accepts a comma-delimited list of question field names that are children of the composite question being formatted. These columns will be the only columns included in the output, and will appear in the order specified.

columns Examples
  • {{"tableFormat": "FixedWidthText", "columns":"number_question,date_question"}}
    Number Question | Date Question
    ----------------|--------------
    1               | 1955-11-05
    2               | 1955-11-06
                    |
    4               | 1955-11-08

columnFormat

The columnFormat directive accepts a comma-delimited list of format strings specific to the data type of the sub-question. For instance, one might want to format the dates in the example date_question. This directive can only be used in conjunction with the columns directive. A format string is not required for each column included, but there does need to be at least an empty element for each column.

columnFormat Examples
  • {{"tableFormat": "FixedWidthText", "columns":"number_question,date_question", "columnFormat":"'numberFormat: \\'You ate \\\'0\\\' donuts\\'','dateFormat: \\'MM/dd/yyyy\\''"}}
    Number Question   | Date Question
    ------------------|--------------
    You ate 1 donuts! | 11/05/1955
    You ate 2 donuts! | 11/06/1955
                      |
    You ate 4 donuts! | 11/08/1955
  • {{"tableFormat": "FixedWidthText", "columns":"single_line_text,number_question,date_question", "columnFormat":",,'dateFormat: \\'MM/dd/yyyy\\''"}}
    Single Line Text          | Number Question | Date Question
    --------------------------|-----------------|--------------
    single line text answer 1 | 1               | 11/05/1955
    single line text answer 2 | 2               | 11/06/1955
    single line text answer 3 |                 |
    single line text answer 4 | 4               | 11/08/1955

sortBy

The sortBy directive accepts a quoted, comma-delimited list of question field names (followed by an optional ASC or DESC) that are children of the composite question being formatted. These columns will be used to sort the rows of each table. Note that the columns listed in the sortBy directive do not necessarily have to be included in the output columns defined by the columns directive, and can even be used with only the tableFormat directive without any other directives.

sortBy Examples
  • {{"tableFormat": "FixedWidthText", "sortBy":"'number_question DESC', 'date_question'"}}
    Date Question | Number Question | Signature Question                        | Single Line Text
    --------------|-----------------|-------------------------------------------|--------------------------
    1955-11-08    | 4               | False                                     | single line text answer 4
    1955-11-06    | 2               | Signed by user2 on 1955-11-06 07:14:15 AM | single line text answer 2
    1955-11-05    | 1               | Signed by user1 on 1955-11-05 07:14:15 AM | single line text answer 1
                  |                 |                                           | single line text answer 3
  • {{"tableFormat": "FixedWidthText", "columns":"number_question,date_question", "sortBy":"'number_question DESC', 'date_question'"}}
    Number Question | Date Question
    ----------------|--------------
    4               | 1955-11-08
    2               | 1955-11-06
    1               | 1955-11-05
                    |
  • {{"tableFormat": "FixedWidthText", "columns":"single_line_text,date_question", "sortBy":"'number_question DESC', 'date_question'"}}
    Single Line Text          | Date Question
    --------------------------|--------------
    single line text answer 4 | 1955-11-08
    single line text answer 2 | 1955-11-06
    single line text answer 1 | 1955-11-05
    single line text answer 3 |

List Formatting

Text merge fields that return lists of information, such as a student's StudentMajorCodes_Current attribute, or the answers to a choice-based question like a list of checkboxes will output their values as a comma-delimited list. The listFormat directive allows one to choose different formatting options.

listFormat

The listFormat directive accepts one of the following values:

  • Bullets - the output will be formatted as an HTML unordered (<ul>) list. note: if the ultimate output format is plain text (such as an email), then the list will be output as a series of lines with an asterisk * at the start
  • UnorderedList - same as Bullets: the output will be formatted as an HTML unordered (<ul>) list.
  • OrderedList - the output will be formatted as an HTML ordered (<ol>) list. note: if the ultimate output format is plain text (such as an email), then the list will be output as a series of lines with a number followed by a right-parenthesis ) mark at the start
  • CommaDelimited - the output will be formatted as comma-separated fields.
  • TabDelimited - the output will be formatted as tab-separated fields.
listFormat Examples

In this example, the source question has five values. Those values are:

  • red
  • blue
  • green
  • purple
  • other>!

Output:

  • Markdown Output: {{"listFormat":"Bullets"}}
<ul><li>red</li><li>blue</li><li>green</li><li>purple</li><li>other>!</li></ul>
  • Plain Text Output: {{"listFormat":"Bullets"}}
    * red
    * blue
    * green
    * purple
    * other>!
  • Markdown Output: {{"listFormat":"OrderedList"}}
<ol><li>red</li><li>blue</li><li>green</li><li>purple</li><li>other>!</li></ol>
  • Plain Text Output: {{"listFormat":"OrderedList"}}
    1) red
    2) blue
    3) green
    4) purple
    5) other>!
  • {{"listFormat":"TabDelimited"}}
    red	blue	green	purple	other>!
  • {{"listFormat":"CommaDelimited"}}
    red,blue,green,purple,other>!



Keywords:formbuilder, forms, text merge, format   Doc ID:95562
Owner:Todd R.Group:University of Illinois Liberal Arts and Sciences
Created:2019-11-04 13:42 CSTUpdated:2019-11-04 13:53 CST
Sites:University of Illinois Liberal Arts and Sciences
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