FileTrail Tips: Using Item Short Description

One of the problems of dealing with data is getting the right data in front of the user that they need in order to compare, differentiate or identify items.  FileTrail has answered this challenge using the Item Short Description.  This value presents the user with a combination of multiple fields.  The fields that are needed by the user may vary among different types of items. Item Short Descriptions appear in many places in FileTrail.  They are primarily used in FileTrail Carts, but also appear on context reports – like Pull List, Delivery List, Refile List, etc – and can be used in Search Results.  In these places, the key advantage is that the most useful bits of data to the user are combined into a single value.  They take up far less space on the screen than if each of the fields were displayed in a separate column.

The Item Short Description is constructed using an Expression.  For non-technical people, an Expression is like a math equation that tells FileTrail how to combine multiple pieces of data.  These pieces of data can be literal values, or symbols that represent fields of data in FileTrail.  Using these literals and symbols in combination gives you a lot of power to make the Item Short Description exactly match what is going to have the most benefit to the end user.

The Item Short Description is configured in the properties of a Fieldset.  (At this point, the writing gets more technical.)  If you have administrative access to FileTrail you have probably seen where Fieldsets are configured (Administration | Records | Fieldsets | select a Fieldset).  If you don’t have administrative access, then this article will at least help you understand what is possible, and work with your administrators to make adjustments.

In the Fieldset Properties screen, the Short Description Expr prompt provides an unlimited Text Area into which you can enter your Expression.  There are two basic syntax rules you need to understand:

Fields and Tokens are enclosed with a bracket + dash (ie: "[-", "-]").

Anything that is not a Field or a Token is either an operator (like “+”) or a literal value.

Example 1:  [-Last Name-], [-First Name-]

In this example, I have user-defined fields on a Fieldset called “Last Name” and “First Name”.  The example expression will take the value from Last Name, followed by literals comma [,] and space, and the value from First Name, to produce a value like:

Smith, John

In Example 1, the delimited value “[-Last Name-]” refers to a user-defined field.  There are additional fields that can be used in a Short Description Expression.  Here are some that are more commonly used:

[-FT:ICON-]                                    Icon selected for the Fieldset

[-FT:ORG-]                                     Organization Name

[-FT:CAT-]                                      Category Name

[-FT:CATICON-]                             Icon selected for the Category

[-FT:MEDIA-]                                 Media Name

[-FT:MEDIAICON-]                        Icon selected for the Media

Example 2:  [-FT:ICON-] [-FT:CAT-]: [-Last Name-], [-First Name-]

In this example, I have added an icon and the name of the Category.  Assuming that I have selected an icon for the Fieldset and that the Category is “Claims” the example expression produce a value like:

 Claims: Smith, John

Notice that in Example 2 there is a space between “[-FT:ICON-]” and  “[-FT:CAT-]”.  Also, there is a colon and space between “[-FT:CAT-]” and “[-Last Name-]”.  These literal values are used in the resulting value.  This is important because sometimes adding one or more spaces between elements makes the value easier to read.

Another useful capability is the use of a Break character to split the Item Short Description onto multiple lines.  This is useful to keep the value displayed within the width allocated for a Cart.

Example 3:  [-FT:ICON-] [-FT:CAT-]<BR>[-Last Name-], [-First Name-]

In this example, I have used a Break – <BR> - to split the Item Short Description.  The example expression should produce a value like:

Claims  Smith, John

There are more advanced elements that you can use in an Item Short Description.  Details are provided in the context-help.