How do Variable elements work?
Variable elements are dynamic placeholders embedded in a template to hold space for information that changes in each new contract.
(NOTE: this article explains Variable elements. Click here to read about Party elements.)
For example, most contracts have an effective date, which could be set up as a Variable. Here is what an "effective date" Variable looks like embedded in template text:
Once embedded like this, the "effective date" Variable appears in any contract generated from this template as a fill-able field:
Do I have to create Variables?
No, but they have significant benefits over just leaving static blanks to fill in:
- When drafting a contract, Outlaw knows whether a Variable still needs to be filled in, so it won't let you accidentally send or sign an agreement before completion.
- Variables are needed to enable advanced features like conditional sections.
- Images and Tables must be added as Variables.
Create a New Variable Element
In the template editor, find the element icons on the toolbar:
Click the "Variable" icon to name and format a new Variable:
The first box (Variable ID) is how this Variable will show up in the template (as shown at the beginning of this article). The second box, Display Name, is how this Variable will look in a newly-generated Contract.
PRO-TIP: click the "Preview" icon to toggle back and forth between template view and contract view, to see how Display Names look in a contract:
In Box 3, you can choose a special Variable format, including:
- "List," which lets you define a set of possible responses for this Variable:
- "Image" which lets you embed a picture file:
- "Table," which lets you define columns for a table to be populated in the contract:
Box 4, Empty placeholder, is optional. You can leave instructions here about how to fill in this Variable, such "Report length in Metric units."
Box 5, Default value, lets you select a common response to auto-fill as soon as a new contract is generated. Time saver!
Box 6, Assigned Party, refers to who may fill in this Variable. The default "Any Party" means anyone with editing permission can fill it in. If the contract Owner (the user who generated the contract) will fill in this Variable, use the default. If someone else will fill it in, "assign" it to that individual by selecting their Party from the drop down list:
Embedding Copies of a Variable
Once you save a new Variable, it is immediately embedded in the template wherever your cursor was located. It is also added to the list of Variables (and other elements) running across the top of the screen:
Clicking on one of the Variables in this list automatically embeds another copy of it wherever your cursor is located. These copies are linked, so when drafting a contract you only need to fill in one instance of a Variable and the rest auto-fill.