Adding conditions to cards, questions and change sets

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Cards and/or questions (and even predefined options within a question) can be made conditional so that they are only shown in the Q&A form if the condition is fulfilled.

Similarly, change sets can also be made conditional, so that they will only be applied when the specified conditions are met.

Enabling conditions

Select the card, question or change set that you want to apply the condition to and click the   button. (If you want to apply a condition to a predefined option within a question, click at the right side of the predefined option.) Now the conditions frame will be visible.

Choose here whether all of the listed conditions have to be met (conditions shown in yellow), whether it suffices that any of them are met for the card/question to be visible (conditions shown in green), or whether none of them may be met for the card/question to be shown (conditions shown in gray).

Simple conditions or groups

You can add one or more “simple” conditions, add groups of conditions (which are evaluated together) or make a combination of both. 

An (additional) simple condition is created by clicking , while a group is created by clicking .

It is important to note that subgroups of conditions are evaluated together. A choice will again need to be made whether the conditions in the subgroup should all be met, whether any of them should be met or whether none of them may be met.

Configuring a condition

A condition can be tied to several elements:

  • the answer to a question
  • whether another question is visible (i.e. the conditions for that question are fulfilled)
  • whether another card is visible (i.e. the conditions for that card are fulfilled)
  • the output language (language of the document being made)
  • the interface language (language of the Q&A form, depending on user preference)
  • user tags (i.e., the combination of all tags assigned by the customer’s administrator, either directly to the user, or to the groups of which the user is a member, or to the customer itself)

Answer to question

Makes the card/question conditional upon the answer of a question. There are several types of ways a condition can be evaluated, depending on the type of question that it will be tied to.

For example, a condition tied to a “date” type question can be evaluated to be equal to, before, before or at, later than,  later than or at another date. A condition tied to “text” type question can be evaluated to be equal to, not equal to, containing a certain text fragment or not containing a certain text fragment.

For all types of questions a condition can be tied to whether an answer was specified or not specified.

Deleting conditions

A (set of) condition(s) can be deleted easily by clicking the garbage can  icon next to the condition you want to be deleted.

Disabling all conditions

If a card/question should be shown unconditionally (i.e. in all cases), or if you want a change set to always be applied, then you can simply uncheck the checkmark here:This will remove all conditions and make sure the selected card/question will always be shown (or, in the case of change sets, that the changes within the set will always be applied).

Copying and pasting conditions

When you hover your mouse over the set of conditions for a card/question or over an individual condition, the copy button   will become visible.

Having clicked the copy button, the paste button  will become visible as well. Clicking it will paste the (set of) condition(s) that you copied in the location that you indicated.

Sharing conditions

Copying and pasting conditions between questions/cards/change-sets is very easy — in fact, it is so easy that it is a no-brainer to copy-paste the same condition in many different places.

This is fine for trivial Q&As, but from a maintenance point of view, this quickly becomes dangerous in a complex Q&A with many different questions, cards, predefines and change-sets.

Assume that you have a non-trivial set of conditions that specifies that the fee must be higher than 2500 EUR, the commencement date must be known and some duration must be set. Also assume that you have copy/pasted this condition set to 45 different items in the Q&A. You can be almost certain that at some point in time, the company’s policy on the 2500 EUR fee will get changed — e.g., into 3000 EUR, with the additional caveat that a third subcondition regarding the late interest amount must be added as well. Now imagine the amount of work involved when you have to apply these two changes 45 times…

This is where shared conditions are designed for. By showing the repository pane and going to the subpanel shared conditions, you can add a shared condition. It works exactly in the same way as the regular conditions, the only difference is that you have to give it a name — in fact, it is probably a good idea to simply copy/paste the condition-set from a certain item once you know that item’s condition-set is properly working.

Next, you can use that condition-set as a regular condition in any location within the Q&A:

The shared conditions have two distinctive advantages from a management & maintenance point of view:

  • You can centrally change a shared condition, so that you don’t have to manually hunt for all the locations where a certain condition-set happens to be used.
  • You can assign a descriptive label to help understand the purpose a complex condition-set. This may sound trivial, but if you have a very complex set of conditions with many different sub-conditions, it may not be obvious to some colleague who maintains that Q&A in the future what the condition-set is really about. Also, do not understand how little future-you-in-six-months will remember about a complex condition-set that may seem obvious to you today.

Disabling subsequent questions

Due to their inability to show real-time interacting questions and text previews, most competing document automation platforms require users to answer Q&As in a “step-by-step” fashion, where a certain question must be answered before subsequent conditions can be answered.

We are convinced this leads to “questionnaire fatigue” for your users, because users do not know upfront how many questions will need to be answered. Also, going back/forth tends to be slow, or is even actively avoided by users who have been traumatised by old-style questionnaires that forget all answers when you hit the back-button.

ClauseBase takes the opposite approach: if possible, you should be able to see all questions upfront, and be allowed the possibility to answer them in any order. Where necessary, you can easily define that certain cards/questions/predefines should be hidden until some preceding question is completed.

Even though copy/pasting conditions and using the aforementioned shared conditions easily allow you to create questionnaires that hide subsequent questions until a certain preceding question is completed, this can become cumbersome in complex questionnaires with many different cards, because the same (shared) condition must be copy/pasted onto many different items.

ClauseBase therefore allows you to specify for a specific question A that, until that question A is answered, all subsequent conditions B, C, D, … must be disabled (i.e., hidden). You can even choose whether all subsequent questions in the entire Q&A must be disabled, or only the questions in the same category of cards, or only the neigboring questions in the same card.

Note that this takes the opposite approach: instead of imposing the condition “A must be answered” on questions B, C, D, … you enable this “disable subsequent questions” feature within question A.

While very powerful, please use this option sparingly, particularly the “disable all subsequent questions” suboption. The aforementioned “questionnaire fatigue” is a real issue that we have witnessed many times in competing systems, even causing users to reuse old Word-files instead of completing a questionnaire.

The typical use case is for an introductory question in a card/category on which several subsequent questions depend — e.g., a question “Does the employee have a company car?” that should hide several questions relating to the company car if no car is granted to the employee.

The “if empty” action effectively operates as an implicit condition that is checked in addition to all the other conditions that may get imposed on subsequent questions (or their cards).

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