Archive for August 11, 2014

2 Ways to Manage Blank Status Field Conditions

Mark Schroeder, Senior CA 2E Consultant

Do you ever get tired of having to create a workaround so you can avoid showing the ‘blank’ condition description for your status fields?  By default, you have to enter code to retrieve conditions for display on a screen and then, if it is a blank condition, you must handle that separately so the word ‘blank’ (or whatever you have called ‘blank’ in your model) doesn’t show on the screen. There are a few ways to take care of this issue.  Here are a few I find useful.


1. Create a derived field for the condition and manage the retrieval of conditions inside of the derived field.  Any time the blank condition is retrieved, just replace the condition description with a blank.  This works well if you do not mind having derived fields for most of your condition fields.  The result will add the derived field to a screen; it will take care of the grunt work of displaying the correct condition description as well as not showing a description if the result is blank.

2. I ran across another nice way to handle this as well.  First, when you create conditions, never create a ‘blank’ condition.  Second, create a text field that is longer than any field you will come across and call it ‘blank.’  Now you can use this blank field for comparison with any of your condition fields and you do not have to worry about the word ‘blank’ showing on your screen because you do not have any actual condition called ‘blank.’


In one of the last models I worked with, we used the ‘blank’ field as the primary way to manage blank conditions.  In the beginning, I found it a bit strange to do this. I was used to having to create a blank condition for any fields I wanted to compare with ‘blank’. However, as I got used to it, the idea grew on me. I now think it is a pretty good method.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Feel free to share your preferred method of managing the blank field condition.

Edit Faster

Lorenz Alder, Senior Consultant / Software Architect

Be lazy; reduce the number of characters typed into the AD Editor.  You can use Synonyms and Default Instructions to reduce your effort.

Choose ‘General Options’ from the File Menu and switch to the ‘Action Diagram’ tab.

Tick the ‘Use Defaults’ and ‘Use Synonyms’ boxes. Press ‘Edit Synonyms’ button.  To add a synonym, select the instruction on the left, type your synonym and press the ‘Add’ button to add your synonym. Select the newly added synonym and press ‘Apply.’ In the example below, we define ‘fes’ as the synonym for ‘For Each Selected.’  After a change to the synonym table you need to restart Plex.


In the AD Editor, typing ‘fes’ now translates to ‘For Each Selected;’ entering ‘fes gridp’ is now shorthand for ‘For Each Selected GridP.’

It is good practice to standardize the synonyms throughout the development team.  Once the synonyms are defined on one workstation (hopefully, in collaboration with all team members), they can easily be copied from the Plex.ini file onto another workstation. [Action Diagram Instruction Synonyms] is the section name, where the synonyms are stored. Just copy the whole section.

Example Synonym Section in Plex.ini :

[Action Diagram Instruction Synonyms]
For Page=FP
For Each Row=FER
For Each Selected=FES
For Each Modified=FEM

As you can see from the example, you don’t have to type “Comment” to add a comment into the AD, just type // My comment . The // synonym is defined by default.

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