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Dynamic Popups

Dynamic Popop menus provide a powerful, easy to comprehend mechanism for end users who need to insert data into an entry form. Instead of requiring the user to lookup some arbitrary value (typically a unique identifying code) from one view and type it into another, Dynamic Popups allow you to present a range of choices to the user, making data entry faster and more error free.

Although you can format a field as a dynamic popup, we recommend in general that dynamic popups be defined as a Custom Format only on the template rectangles where the popup is needed. (Displaying the popup as part of a list can be confusing to the end user.)


The discussion below refers to items as seen in this example:

Dynamic Popup menu definitions contain 5 key elements…

The Relation the menu items should be drawn from. In this example, a relation containing one record for each person (aka The Players).

A Query that should be used to restrict the player list. In this example, a we may choose to restrict the list to only show players who are on the team we are currently working with.

A Menu Order (or Index) to determine the order in which the menu items should be shown. Although the example doesn't make it clear, this index orders the players by last name. In the case of multiple people with the same last name, they are subsorted by first name.

A Menu Value that appears when the user clicks on the popup menu on the entry view. In this case, we show each player’ full name followed by their unique identifier in parenthesis to help make the choice when two players with the same name are involved. A key point is that we can display as much data as we need to guide the user to make the correct choice.

A Data Value that is placed into the field the popup is attached to.

Additional Options allow you to specify whether the user should also be allowed to type into the field and whether or not the menu should attempt to resize to the width required to show the Menu Values, or to remain at the exact size of the template rectangle it is attached to.

Dynamic Popup Power

A key strength of dynamic popups is that they allow you to specify a Menu Value that is distinct from the Data Value. This allows you to present information to the user to help them make the correct choice, while allowing the selection to return the piece of data that is required by the field it is attached to.

In our example, the popup menu contains a list of players in a sports league. It displays the player’s name (created by the abacus PopUp Display) but returns the player’s unique ID (seen as 01-[N] Record Nº) since that is the unique key that positively links each entry in this relation to the correct player.

When the popup menu is selected on the view, the popup menu will display a list of names (restricted by the query NAV Match), sorted in the chosen order (determined by the index 03/02). When an item is selected from the menu, the corresponding Data Value (the player’s record number) is placed into the field.

Dynamic Popup Limitation

A dynamic popup can have no more than 251 items in it. If there are more than 251 records that can be displayed (taking the query into consideration) only the first 251 (determined by the Menu Order index) are shown, followed by a placeholder with the text More… Selecting this placeholder does nothing: it is only there to let you know there were too many menu items to display.

Specification Update in Helix 6.0

Prior to Helix 6.0, when choosing a Menu Value, abaci that contain a Lookup tile are excluded. This limitation was removed starting with Helix 6.0