Dealing with Irrelevant Answered Variables in HotDocs

Irrelevant answered variables in HotDocs can have their consequence.  This blog notes the problem, its consequences and some solutions.

HotDocs is very friendly, as programs go, in dealing with “unanswered” data.  HotDocs gives you the option, if it doesn’t have sufficient data to fill in a variable or figure out an IF Expression, to display (1) Nothing, (2) A line, (3) [Variable Name] or (4) *** Variable Name ***.  This friendliness, has some consequences.

As recently posted on the HotDocs list, one consequence is that if a field “is answered” and stored in the answer file, but not relevant to a particular set of interview choices, that answer will still be used in the assembly.  The result will be that “irrelevant client data” will show up in the document.

The solution to this problem is to properly nest variables and conditions.  This is not as easy as it seems.  In a complex template, the web of dependencies and conditions can be difficult to track down.  Good dialog scripting and organization can help, but it can take some time to hunt down the proper conditions.  More often, you can over conditionalize a variable, and whole sections that should be relevant will not come in.  Because the “interview script” and the “template” are independent objects in the assembly system, both have to be separately validated and scripted.

The Value of “Polish”

What is “polish” and why is it so valuable to clients?  Surely if the functionality is the same, the polish is just “eye candy”, but then, perhaps not.  This article explores why polish takes so much time, yet repays itself hugely

I was once approached by a young man to provide one-on-one HotDocs training, unconnected to a particular consulting project. When I asked why he chose me over the vendor-based training of LexisNexis, he said, “BECAUSE YOU GOT POLISH”. I agreed, yes, I was Polish (my maternal grandmother was from Warsaw).

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