Stefan Cameron on Forms
Building intelligent forms using Adobe LiveCycle Designer

'Conditional Breaks' Category Archive

Conditional Breaks

Some of you have requested a sample of the new Conditional Breaks feature in Designer 7.1.

This feature allows you to set conditions, based on imported data, which determine when breaks should occur.

For example, you may have data that you want to list by category and every time the category changes, you’d like to start the new category on a new page. Or, you may have a separator that you want to insert in between sets of data on your form.

I’ve created a little sample which demonstrates the Conditional Breaks feature by listing some movie data where each time the category changes, a new page starts. Don’t forget to import the data.xml file into the form when you open it in Acrobat.

Download Sample [zip]

Minimum Requirements: Designer 7.1, Acrobat 7.0.5.

Note: A basic understanding of Data Binding is required for this sample.

Since breaks are only really useful inside flowed subforms (there’s no point setting breaks on a subform inside a positioned container since the data won’t flow — it’ll all stay in one place instead of flowing left-to-right, top-to-bottom, for example), you can only get to the Conditional Break settings on the Object palette’s Pagination tab if you select a subform inside a flowed container (subform). The only exception is selecting a row or a section within a Table object since the content of Tables is always flowed.

Typically, after creating a new form, you would add a positioned subform (let’s call it the ContentSubform) to the page and add the fields you need into it. You would then make the page subform flowed (set the Content property on the Object palette’s Subform tab to Flowed), then select the ContentSubform and click on the Edit button on the Object palette’s Pagination tab. This will open the Conditional Breaks Dialog where you can add multiple conditions for that subform’s breaks.

In my sample, the data represents movies and each movie record has the following information:

  • Category
  • Title
  • Actor

Since I wanted to create a report-style form where a change in category breaks to a new page and a change in the actor’s name is preceeded by a separator, I created a movie subform which lists the data and then two other subforms:

  1. NewCategorySF which I want to insert every time the category changes.
  2. NewActorSF which I want to insert every time the actor’s name changes.

I then specified two conditional breaks on the movie subform:

  1. The first one checks for a change in the category data. When a change occurs, the layout will break to the top of a new instance of the “page 1” subform and, before starting to list the data for the new category, insert an instance of the NewCategorySF subform. This is what we call a Break Before Conditional Break (since the break occurs before the new record, which contains the new category name, is inserted into the form). Notice that the NewCategorySF subform is listed as a Leader for the Conditional Break because it’s meant to be inserted after the break but before the new record gets inserted into the form.
  2. The second checks for a change in the actor data. When a change occurs, the layout will not actually break because we simply want to use the Conditional Break to know when to insert the NewActorSF to separate the data set into sub-groups of actors. In this case, I specified NewActorSF to be a Leader for the Conditional Break because I wanted it to show-up after the actual break but before the new record is inserted into the form. You may wonder why I didn’t make it a Trailer but in this case, there wouldn’t be any difference since there isn’t an actual “physical” break in the data flow (to a new page or content area, for example).

Also notice that the NewCategorySF and NewActorSF subforms are both set to Repeat for Each Data Item (you can set this on the Object palette’s Binding tab) with a Min Count of 1 so that they always appear before the very first data record is inserted into the form. Otherwise, they wouldn’t appear until the first Conditional Break occurs.

Posted by Stefan Cameron on May 6th, 2006
Filed under Conditional Breaks,Tutorials