Before delving into the intricacies of forms, let's review the various ways in which you can employ templates in TreePad. First, some terminology.
A form that you fill in is usually a piece of paper or an electronic document with clearly labelled fields (e.g., Name, Address, etc.) in which you enter data. The design for each particular form is stored in a master form or template, from which copies are made. Such copies are often called records, since they will be used to record data. A collection of records forms a database.
TreePad currently supports two types of forms, those created from regular rich text or plain text articles, and those created from TreePad templates.
Article templates and forms
You are probably familiar enough with articles to know that you can put text anywhere you want in them and even store images and hyperlinks, with few constraints. By typing in some headings into an article with space in between, you can create a standard article template, copy it to the TreePad Clipboard and paste it in over and over again as blank standard article forms to be used as records.
Fig. 1 Article form
TreeBook template files and forms
By contrast, TreeBook forms restrict data entry to specific, well-defined fields:
Fig. 2 TreeBook form
Once you understand how to apply TreeBook template files, you will find TreeBook forms preferable to standard article forms for many applications, as they are easier to scan and manage, and less prone to data entry errors and form corruption. That is not to say that they must be used exclusively.
At this point we will define some terms. A node's article is what the Article pane displays. Until now, the article has consisted only of plain text, or rich text containing images, tables, etc. Since this is what you have been accustomed to seeing and working with, it will be termed a standard article.
As we have seen above, the article may be a form, constructed from a standard article, in which case we will refer to it as a standard article form, or from a TreeBook template, in which case we will refer to it as a TreeBook form. Thus an article, so far, may be either a standard article, a standard article form or a TreeBook form
Unlike the standard article template which is just a regular article you have edited, the configuration of a TreeBook form is based on a TreeBook template file, which has the proprietary file extension .tpt (template) and contains template code. The name TreeBook was chosen to indicate that whole e-book files may be constructed around them, as we will see later.
To add a new TreeBook form to the currently opened TreePad database, TreePad looks in the \templates subfolder of its installation directory for its corresponding TreeBook template file1. (This subfolder is created at the time of installation with some sample templates.) Having found the template file, TreePad copies its contents to a new node, thus creating a new form. Note that the .tpt extension is required by TreeBook template files but not by TreeBook forms, since the latter are simply nodes containing template code embedded within the template (.hjt) file.
Comparing article forms with TreeBook forms
|Standard article forms
|Articles are instantly reconfigurable
||The template must be changed then a new record created
|Only the article needs to be scrolled to see data; article is completely open
||Fields may need to be scrolled if field data exceeds field size; form should not require scrolling if designed to fit screen
|Adding data to one field displaces remainder of article downwards, so fields are not uniform across records
||Fields are pleasingly uniform in appearance and thus easier to scan
|Field captions can be edited and thus inadvertently corrupted or deleted
||Field captions are unalterable in use. Only data fields can be edited
|No protection against data entry errors
||Uniform appearance and separation of fields reduce data entry errors
|Can contain rich text, hyperlinks and images
||These features not yet available; however TreeBook forms support active fields
|Templates can be modified using TreePad's inbuilt tools
||Using TreePad to modify templates requires TreePad Business Edition
- Users of TreePad PLUS and TreePad SAFE are nominally limited to creating forms from internal, not external, templates. See Forms and templates in TreePad PLUS.