Global placeholders

Rationale

The placeholder system allows you to define placeholders — e.g. {company name} or {address} — and assign values to them. The placeholder can then be used in various places, particularly in the context of Q&As. Its value will be dynamically calculated by the software and shown towards the end-user, so that the end-user would see Acme Inc. instead of {company name}.

The benefit is that you can centrally manage certain bits of information that can vary over time, so that you do not have to start hunting through potentially hundreds of individual files to change Acme Inc. to Gamma Co. when the company name would be changed.

However, ClauseBase takes the idea of placeholders to a whole new level, by allowing you to merge placeholders on many different levels. For example, if you would automate a non-disclosure agreement for all the entities in your company group, you could use the placeholder system to assign different values to placeholders such as {company name} and {company address}. When an end-user from subsidiary A would then open the agreement, he would automatically see the name and address of his company, while an end-user from subsidiary B would see another name and address. Similar use cases can be envisaged for a law firm that reuses the same documents for different clients.

Merging levels

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Data types of placeholders

One of the essential properties of a placeholder, is its data type. While most of the data types are straightforward — true/false, number, date, duration, etc. — a few of them deserve some clarification.

Please note that, except if you control all Q&A and all configurations, you can never be sure what data type a particular placeholder will be. For example, even if placeholder {alpha} would be assigned a currency value at the customer-level, it is possible for some user to assign a duration value to that same placeholder {alpha} in some Q&A.

The various text types

ClauseBase offers three data types that can hold text.

  • Regular Text placeholders can hold a single line of text.
  • As implied by their name, Multi-line text placeholders can hold multiple lines of text, e.g. an address spanning several lines.
  • Formatted text placeholders can also hold multiple lines of text, but can additionally be formatted (bold, italic, centered or right aligned, bulleted, etc.). Typically you will want to use this data type for documentation purposes or disclaimers.

Note that in multi-lingual ClauseBase environments, for each of these text data types, the value can be optionally translated by hitting the button and assigning separate values to separate languages.

The “nothing” placeholder

You can use this placeholder to un-set any value assigned to the placeholder at some higher level.

For example, assume your company policy requests you to impose a system-wide disclaimer on all users (split into 14 different groups), except the 15th group of managers. While you could separately assign the same disclaimer to each of the 14 different groups, it is probably more efficient to assign the disclaimer at a level higher than the group (i.e., at the level of the customer), and then assign the “nothing” placeholder with the same name to the group of managers.

Note that it is perfectly possible to then assign a new placeholder with the same name at some lower level. To continue the example: it would be perfectly possible to assign a disclaimer to a few specific managers, because in the merging cascade the personal level is taken into account after the customer level and the group level. Similarly, a disclaimer assigned to a specific Q&A would also be shown to everybody — including end-users from the group of managers.

Table placeholders

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Placeholder lists

For several data types (number, currency, text, date, duration), you can also use a placeholder that can hold multiple values at once. This can be particularly useful for Q&A questions where end-users should be offered different choices.

A list-place holder {signing manager} could for example be used to allow end-users to choose between several managers whose name should be printed as the signatory of a certain document. Through the merging system, you could even assign different managers to different entities within the same group of companies.

System placeholders

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Labels

Except for the table and nothing data types, every placeholder can be assigned a label in addition to a value. When available, the label will be shown on the screen instead of the value; the value will instead be used in calculations, conditions and clause text.

For example, instead of using the full text of a country, it is probably a better idea to use a two-letter abbreviation for the value (“de”, “mk”) and a separate label with the full text (“Germany”, “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”). This not only helps to avoid errors due to typos, but also allows to reuse the same condition across different languages — otherwise each condition would have to somehow check on the country’s translation.

This is similar to how labels and values function in a concept’s datafields.

Differences with spreadbases

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