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Groups of things: lists, dictionaries, and sets

To help you organize groups of things, docassemble offers three data structures: lists, dictionaries, and sets. These mirror the list, dict, and set data types that exist in Python.

Overview of types of data structures

Lists in Python

A “list” is a group that has a defined order. Elements are numbered with an index that starts from zero. In Python, if a list is defined as:

fruit = ['apple', 'orange', 'pear']

then fruit[0] will return 'apple', fruit[1] will return 'orange', and fruit[2] will return 'pear'. You can try this out in a Python interpreter:

>>> fruit = ['apple', 'orange', 'pear']
>>> fruit[0]
'apple'
>>> fruit[1]
'orange'
>>> fruit[2]
'pear'

Adding a new element to the list is called “appending” to the list.

>>> fruit = ['apple', 'orange', 'pear']
>>> fruit.append('grape')
>>> fruit
['apple', 'orange', 'pear', 'grape']
>>> sorted(fruit)
['apple', 'grape', 'orange', 'pear']

The sorted() function is a built-in Python function that arranges a list in order.

In docassemble, lists are typically defined as special objects of type DAList, which behave much like Python lists.

Dictionaries in Python

A “dictionary” is a group of key/value pairs. By analogy with an actual dictionary, the “key” represents the word and the “value” represents the definition. In Python, if a dictionary is defined as:

feet = {'dog': 4, 'human': 2, 'bird': 2}

then feet['dog'] will return 4, feet['human'] will return 2, and feet['bird'] will return 2. The keys are 'dog', 'human', and 'bird', and the values are 4, 2, and 2, respectively.

>>> feet = {'dog': 4, 'human': 2, 'bird': 2}
>>> feet['dog']
4
>>> feet['human']
2
>>> feet['bird']
2
>>> feet.keys()
['dog', 'human', 'bird']
>>> feet.values()
[4, 2, 2]
>>> for key, val in feet.items():
...   print("{animal} has {feet} feet".format(animal=key, feet=val))
... 
dog has 4 feet
human has 2 feet
bird has 2 feet

The keys of a dictionary are unique. Setting feet['rabbit'] = 4 will add a new entry to the above dictionary, whereas setting feet['dog'] = 3 will change the existing entry for 'dog'. The items in a dictionary are stored in no particular order; Python will not remember the order in which you add them. (See the DAOrderedDict for an alternative to this.)

In docassemble, dictionaries are typically objects of type DADict, which behave much like Python dicts.

Sets in Python

A “set” is a group of unique items with no order. There is no index or key that allows you to refer to a particular item; an item is either in the set or is not. (A set in Python behaves much like a set in mathematical set theory.) In Python, a set can be defined with a statement like colors = set(['blue', 'red']). Adding a new item to the set is called “adding,” not “appending.” For example: colors.add('green'). If you add an item to a set when the item is already in the set, this will have no effect on the set.

>>> colors = set(['blue', 'green', 'red'])
>>> colors
set(['blue', 'green', 'red'])
>>> colors.add('blue')
>>> colors
set(['blue', 'green', 'red'])
>>> colors.remove('red')
>>> colors
set(['blue', 'green'])

In docassemble, sets are typically objects of type DASet, which behave much like Python sets.

Lists, dictionaries, and sets in docassemble

When you want to gather information from the user into a list, dictionary, or set, you should use the objects DAList, DADict, and DASet (or subtypes thereof) instead of Python’s basic list, dict, and set data types. These objects have special attributes that help interviews find the right blocks to use to populate the items of the group.

If you want to, you can use Python’s basic list, dict, and set data types in your interviews; nothing will stop you – but there are no special features to help you gather information into these data structures using question blocks or code blocks.

Gathering information into lists

The following interview populates a list of fruits.

objects:
  - fruit: DAList
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  There are ${ fruit.number_as_word() }
  fruits in all.
subquestion: |
  The fruits are ${ fruit }.
---
question: |
  Are there any fruit that you would like
  to add to the list?
yesno: fruit.there_are_any
---
question: |
  What fruit should be added to the list?
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit[i]
---
question: |
  So far, the fruits include ${ fruit }.
  Are there any others?
yesno: fruit.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-fruit example

The variable fruit is defined as a DAList object.

objects:
  - fruit: DAList

An objects block is like a code block, except that it performs a special purpose of defining docassemble objects. If docassemble needs to know the definition of the variable fruit, it will use this block and initialize fruit as a DAList. (If you are familiar with Python, you can think of this as a block that runs fruit = DAList('fruit') where DAList is a Python class.)

The next block contains the end point of the interview, a screen that says how many fruits are in the list and lists them.

mandatory: True
question: |
  There are ${ fruit.number_as_word() }
  fruits in all.
subquestion: |
  The fruits are ${ fruit }.

Since this question is mandatory, docassemble tries to ask it. However, it encounters fruit.number_as_word(), which returns the number of items in the list (e.g., “two,” “three,” etc.). But in order to know how many items are in the list, docassemble needs to ask the user what those items are. So the reference to fruit.number_as_word() will implicitly trigger the process of asking questions to gather the list. The reference to ${ fruit } would also trigger the same process, but docassemble will encounter fruit.number_as_word() first.

Behind the scenes, when fruit.number_as_word() is run, and docassemble needs the list to be gathered, it runs fruit.gather(), a gathering algorithm. The .gather() method orchestrates the gathering process by triggering the seeking of variables necessary to gather the list.

Many things other than ${ fruit.number_as_word() will implicitly trigger the gathering of the fruit list. If you iterate on fruit, or run a method that uses the items in the list, this will trigger gathering. The advantage of implicit triggering is that your code can be concise, and your interview will be parsimonious about whether to ask questions to gather the list; if you have no code that requires knowing the items in the list, then the gathering questions will not be asked. If you want to be explicit about when the list-gathering questions are asked, you can call fruit.gather() yourself, perhaps in a mandatory code block.

The gathering algorithm behaves like a lawyer interrogating a witness.

“Do you have any children?” asks the lawyer.

“Yes,” answers the witness.

“What is the name of your first child?”

“James.”

“Besides James, do you have any other children?”

“Yes”

“What is the name of your second child?”

“Charlotte.”

“Besides James and Charlotte, do you have any other children?”

“No”

The .gather() method triggers these questions by seeking the values of various variables:

  • fruit.there_are_any: should there be any items in the list at all?
  • fruit[i]: the name of the ith fruit in the list.
  • fruit.there_is_another: are there any more fruits that still need to be added?

First, the interview will want to know whether there are any items in the list at all. It will seek a definition for fruit.there_are_any. Thus, it will ask the question, “Are there any fruit that you would like to add to the list?”

question: |
  Are there any fruit that you would like
  to add to the list?
yesno: fruit.there_are_any

If the answer to this is True, the interview will seek a definition for fruit[0] to gather the first element. Thus, it will ask the question “What fruit should be added to the list?”

question: |
  What fruit should be added to the list?
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit[i]

This question uses the index variable i. The special variable i means that the question is generalized; it can be used and re-used for any i (0, 1, 2, 3, etc.). docassemble’s gathering process automatically takes care of setting the variable i to the right value before using this question.

Assume the user enters “apples.”

Now docassemble knows the first item in the list, but it does not know if the list is complete yet. Therefore, it will seek a definition for fruit.there_is_another. It will ask the question “So far, the fruits include apples. Are there any others?”

question: |
  So far, the fruits include ${ fruit }.
  Are there any others?
yesno: fruit.there_is_another

If the answer to this is True, the interview will seek a definition of fruit[1] to gather the second item in the list. It will ask, again, “What fruit should be added to the list?” Assume the user enters “oranges.”

Then the interview will again seek the definition of fruit.there_is_another. This time, if the answer is False, then the fruit.gather() method will return without asking any questions, and fruit.number_as_word() will respond with the the number of items in fruit (in this case, 2). When docassemble later encounters The fruits are ${ fruit }., it will attempt to reduce the variable fruit to text. Since the interview knows that there are no more elements in the list, it does not need to ask any further questions. ${ fruit } will result in apples and oranges.

Note that the variable i is a special variable in docassemble. When the interview seeks a definition for fruit[0], the interview will first look for a question that offers to define fruit[0]. If it does not find one, it will take a more general approach and look for a question that offers to define fruit[i]. The question that offers to define fruit[i] will be reused as many times as necessary.

Since the index variable i is a special variable, you should never attempt to set it yourself; you will likely get a confusing error if you try.

Nor should you ever use i in mandatory or initial blocks. The use of i is reserved for blocks that docassemble calls upon when it is seeking to define a variable with an index, such as fruit[2], and there is no block that explicitly defines fruit[2]. If you use i in a mandatory block, you will get an error that i is undefined, or if i is defined, it might be defined as a value that makes no sense for the context in which you are using i.

For more information on using variables like i, see the sections on index variables and how docassemble finds questions for variables.

Customizing the way information is gathered

The way that docassemble asks questions to populate a list like fruit can be customized by setting attributes of fruit. For example, perhaps you would prefer that the questions in the interview go like this:

  1. How many fruits are there?
  2. What is the name of the first fruit?
  3. What is the name of the second fruit?
  4. etc.

To ask questions this way, set the .ask_number attribute of fruit to True. Also include a question that asks “How many fruits are there?” and use fruit.target_number as the variable set by the question. (The .target_number attribute is a special attribute, like .there_is_another.)

objects:
  - fruit: DAList.using(ask_number=True)
---
question: |
  How many fruits are there?
fields:
  - Number: fruit.target_number
    datatype: integer
    min: 2
---
question: |
  What is the name of the
  ${ ordinal(i) } fruit?
subquestion: |
  % if fruit.number_gathered() > 0:
  So far, you have mentioned ${ fruit }.
  % endif
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit[i]
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  There are ${ fruit.number() }
  fruits in all.
subquestion: |
  The fruits are ${ fruit }.
Screenshot of gather-fruit-number example

This example uses the using() method to initialize the ask_number attribute of fruit. Another way to initialize the attribute would be to use a mandatory block at the start of the interview:

mandatory: True
code: |
  fruit.ask_number = True

Generally, it is best to use the using() method.

You can avoid the .there_are_any question by setting the .minimum_number to a value:

objects:
  - fruit: DAList.using(minimum_number=2)
Screenshot of gather-fruit-at-least-two example

Gathering a list of objects

The examples above have gathered simple variables (e.g., 'apple', 'orange') into a list. You can also gather objects into a list. You can do this by setting the .object_type of a DAList (or subtype thereof) to the type of object you want the items of the list to be.

In this example, we gather Address objects into a DAList by setting the .object_type attribute to Address.

objects:
  - location: |
      DAList.using(
        object_type=Address,
        there_are_any=True)
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  The locations
subquestion: |
  % for loc in location:
  * ${ loc }
  % endfor
---
question: |
  What is the address of the
  ${ ordinal(i) } location?
fields:
  - Address: location[i].address
  - Unit: location[i].unit
    required: False
  - City: location[i].city
  - State: location[i].state
    code: |
      states_list()
  - Zip: location[i].zip
    required: False
---
question: |
  Would you like to add another location?
yesno: location.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-list-objects example

There are some list types that have an .object_type by default. For example, DAEmailRecipientList lists have an .object_type of DAEmailRecipient.

objects:
  - recipient: |
      DAEmailRecipientList.using(
        there_are_any=True)
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  The list of recipients
subquestion: |
  % for x in recipient:
  * ${ x }
  % endfor
---
question: |
  What is the ${ ordinal(i) } e-mail
  address?
fields:
  - E-mail: recipient[i].address
    datatype: email
---
question: |
  Would you like to add another
  e-mail recipient?
yesno: recipient.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-list-email-recipients example

During the gathering process, docassemble only gathers the attributes necessary to display each object as text (by default). So if you do:

objects:
  - friend: DAList.using(object_type=Individual)

then the list will consist of Individuals, and docassemble will gather friend[i].name.first for each item in the list. This is because of the way that the Individual object works: if y is an Individual, then its textual representation (e.g., including ${ y } in a Mako template, or calling str(y) in Python code) will run y.name.full(), which, at a minimum, requires a definition for y.name.first. (See the documentation for Individual for more details.) Other object types behave differently. For example, if y is an Address, including ${ y } in a Mako template will result in y.block(), which depends on the address, city, and state attributes. If you use a plain DAObject as the object_type, then no questions will be asked; this is because the DAObject is meant to be a “base class,” with no meaningful attributes of its own. Thus, calling str(y) on a plain DAObject will simply return a name based on the variable name; no questions will be asked.

If your interview has a list of Individuals and uses attributes of the Individuals besides the name, docassemble will eventually gather those additional attributes, but it will ask for the names first and only when it is done asking for the names of each individual in the list will it start asking about the other attributes. Here is an interview that does this:

objects:
  - friend: |
      DAList.using(
        object_type=Individual,
        there_are_any=True)
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  Your friends
subquestion: |
  % for x in friend:
  * ${ x } likes
  ${ noun_plural(x.favorite_animal).lower() }
  and is
  ${ x.age_in_years() }
  years old.
  % endfor
---
question: |
  What is the name of your ${ ordinal(i) }
  friend?
fields:
  - First Name: friend[i].name.first
---
question: |
  What is
  ${ friend[i].possessive('birthdate') }?
fields:
  - Birthdate: friend[i].birthdate
    datatype: date
---
question: |
  What is
  ${ friend[i].possessive('favorite animal') }?
fields:
  - Favorite animal: friend[i].favorite_animal
---
question: |
  Do you have any other friends?
yesno: friend.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-list-friend-bad-order example

The order of the questions is:

  1. What is the name of your first friend?
  2. Do you have any other friends?
  3. What is the name of your second friend?
  4. Do you have any other friends?
  5. What is Fred’s favorite animal?
  6. What is Fred’s birthdate?
  7. What is Sally’s favorite animal?
  8. What is Sally’s birthdate?

If you would prefer that all of the questions about each individual be asked together, you can use the .complete_attribute attribute to tell docassemble that an item is not completely gathered until a particular attribute of that item is defined. You can then write a code block that defines this attribute. You can use this code block to ensure that all the questions you want to be asked are asked during the gathering process.

In the above example, we can accomplish this by doing friend.complete_attribute = 'complete'. Then we include a code block that sets friend[i].complete = True. This tells docassemble that an item friend[i] is not fully gathered until friend[i].complete is defined. Thus, before docassemble moves on to the next item in a list, it will run this code block to completion. This code block will cause other attributes of friend[i] to be defined, including .birthdate and .favorite_animal. Here is what the revised interview looks like:

objects:
  - friend: |
      DAList.using(
        object_type=Individual,
        complete_attribute='complete',
        there_are_any=True)
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  Your friends
subquestion: |
  % for x in friend:
  * ${ x } likes
  ${ noun_plural(x.favorite_animal).lower() }
  and is
  ${ x.age_in_years() }
  years old.
  % endfor
---
code: |
  friend[i].name.first
  friend[i].birthdate
  friend[i].favorite_animal
  friend[i].complete = True
---
question: |
  What is the name of your ${ ordinal(i) }
  friend?
fields:
  - First Name: friend[i].name.first
---
question: |
  What is
  ${ friend[i].possessive('birthdate') }?
fields:
  - Birthdate: friend[i].birthdate
    datatype: date
---
question: |
  What is
  ${ friend[i].possessive('favorite animal') }?
fields:
  - Favorite animal: friend[i].favorite_animal
---
question: |
  Do you have any other friends?
yesno: friend.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-list-friend-good-order example

Now the order of questions is:

  1. What is the name of your first friend?
  2. What is Fred’s birthdate?
  3. What is Fred’s favorite animal?
  4. Do you have any other friends?
  5. What is the name of your second friend?
  6. What is Sally’s birthdate?
  7. What is Sally’s favorite animal?
  8. Do you have any other friends?

You can use any attribute you want as the complete_attribute. Defining a complete_attribute simply means that instead of ensuring that a list item is displayable (i.e., gathering the name of an Individual), docassemble will seek a definition of the attribute indicated by complete_attribute. If .birthdate was the only element we wanted to define during the gathering process, we could have written friend.complete_attribute = 'birthdate' and skipped the code block entirely.

When you write your own class definitions, you can set a default complete_attribute that is not really an attribute, but a method that behaves like an attribute.

In the following example, FishList is a list of Fish, where a Fish is considered “complete” for purposes of auto-gathering when the common_name, scales, and species attributes have been defined.

from docassemble.base.util import DAList, DAObject

__all__ = ['FishList', 'Fish']

class FishList(DAList):
    def init(self, *pargs, **kwargs):
        self.object_type = Fish
        self.complete_attribute = 'fish_complete'
        super(FishList, self).init(*pargs, **kwargs)

class Fish(DAObject):
    @property
    def fish_complete(self):
        self.common_name
        self.scales
        self.species

    def __unicode__(self):
        return self.common_name

Here is an interview that uses this class definition.

modules:
  - .fishlist
---
objects:
  - fishes: FishList
---
question: |
  Are there any fish?
yesno: fishes.there_are_any
---
question: |
  Are there any more fish?
yesno: fishes.there_is_another
---
question: |
  What is the ${ ordinal(i) } fish's common name?
fields:
  - Name: fishes[i].common_name
---
question: |
  Tell me more about the ${ fishes[i] }.
fields:
  - Species name: fishes[i].species
  - Number of scales: fishes[i].scales
    datatype: integer
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  Thank you for telling me about ${ fishes }.
Screenshot of complete-attribute-method example

Gathering lists within lists

Here is an example of gathering nested lists (a list within a list within a list).

objects:
  - person: |
      DAList.using(
        object_type=Individual,
        minimum_number=1,
        complete_attribute='complete')
  - person[i].child: |
      DAList.using(
        object_type=Individual,
        complete_attribute='complete')
---
code: |
  person[i].name.first
  person[i].name.last
  person[i].allergy.gather()
  person[i].child.gather()
  person[i].complete = True
---
code: |
  person[i].child[j].name.first
  person[i].child[j].name.last
  person[i].child[j].allergy.gather()
  person[i].child[j].complete = True
---
question: |
  What is the name of the
  ${ ordinal(i) }
  person?
fields:
  - First: person[i].name.first
  - Last: person[i].name.last
---
question: |
  Is there another person?
yesno: person.there_is_another
---
question: |
  Does ${ person[i] } have any children?
yesno: person[i].child.there_are_any
---
question: |
  What is the name of
  ${ person[i].possessive(ordinal(j) + ' child') }?
fields:
  - First: person[i].child[j].name.first
  - Last: person[i].child[j].name.last
---
question: |
  Does ${ person[i] } have any
  children other than ${ person[i].child }?
yesno: person[i].child.there_is_another
---
generic object: Individual
objects:
  - x.allergy: DAList
---
generic object: Individual
question: |
  Does ${ x } have any allergies?
yesno: x.allergy.there_are_any
---
generic object: Individual
question: |
  What allergy does ${ x } have?
fields:
  - Allergy: x.allergy[i]
---
generic object: Individual
question: |
  Does ${ x } have any allergies
  other than ${ x.allergy }?
yesno: x.allergy.there_is_another
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  Information retrieved
subquestion: |
  You told me about
  ${ person.quantity_noun('individual') },
  their allergies, their children,
  and their children's allergies.

  % for p in person:
  You told me about ${ p }.
    % if p.allergy.number() > 0:
  ${ p } is allergic to ${ p.allergy }.
    % endif
    % for c in p.child:
  ${ p } has a child named ${ c }.
    % if c.allergy.number() > 0:
  ${ c } is allergic to ${ c.allergy }.
    % endif
    % endfor
 
  % endfor
Screenshot of nested-loop example

The first block defines the objects we will use.

objects:
  - person: |
      DAList.using(
        object_type=Individual,
        minimum_number=1,
        complete_attribute='complete')
  - person[i].child: |
      DAList.using(
        object_type=Individual,
        complete_attribute='complete')

(Note that the line breaks here are not meaningful to the syntax; Python allows you to use line breaks in this context for aesthetic reasons.)

The list person will be a list of objects of type Individual. We assume that there is at least one individual in the list, so we set minimum_number=1. Since we want to gather more information about each individual in the list than simply the individual’s name (the textual representation of an Individual), we set complete_attribute='complete' to indicate that an individual is not “complete” until the attribute .complete is defined.

We also assert here that the attribute child for any given person in the list of people (person[i].child) is a list of Individuals, each of which will be “complete” when the .complete attribute is defined. The variable i here is a special variable that is set by docassemble during the list gathering process. (You should never try to set i yourself.) If docassemble wants the definition of person[0].child, it will set i = 0 and then define person[0].child by running the second line in the objects block.

The next block specifies what it means for an Individual item in the person list to be “complete.”

code: |
  person[i].name.first
  person[i].name.last
  person[i].allergy.gather()
  person[i].child.gather()
  person[i].complete = True

This says that a given Individual in the person list (person[i]) is “complete” when the person’s name is defined, when we have gathered a list of the person;s allergies, and when we have gathered a list of their children.

We have seen the block that defines person[i].child for any i. Later on we will see the block that defines person[i].allergy.

When docassemble wants to make a person[0] “complete,” it will set i = 0 and then run this Python code block. It will keep running this block until it gets the answers it needs. First it will ask for the person’s name, then it will go through a list gathering process to gather the allergies, and then go through a list gathering process to gather the children, and when there are no more children to gather, it will define the complete attribute by setting it to True. Then the person[i] will be “complete,” and docassemble will continue gathering the person list.

The next block defines what it means for a child of a given person[i] to be complete. It is similar to the previous block, except the interview doesn’t ask about a child’s children.

code: |
  person[i].child[j].name.first
  person[i].child[j].name.last
  person[i].child[j].allergy.gather()
  person[i].child[j].complete = True

While docassemble is running person[i].child.gather(), it will ask questions to gather the items in person[i].child and to make each item, such as person[0].child[1] (for the first person’s second child) “complete.” Since the child attribute is defined with complete_attribute='complete', docassemble will try to make person[0].child[1] “complete” by seeking a definition of person[0].child[1].complete. There is no block in the interview that offers to define person[0].child[1].complete specifically, but the code block above offers to define person[i].child[j].complete for any arbitrary i and j. So docassemble will set i = 0 and j = 1, and then try running this code block. The Python code in this block will trigger all the necessary questions to make the child object “complete.”

It is very important that the code in this code block is in a separate block from the previous code block. Each code block represents a separate statement of truth. The first code block says what it takes to be finished asking questions about a person[i], and the second code block says what it takes to be finished asking questions about one of that person’s children.

If you tried to merge this code with the code from the previous block, then you might get an error about the variable j being undefined. If docassemble is looking to define an attribute of person[i], it will define i and then run the block that offers to define the attribute of person[i]. But if docassemble, in the course of running a block that defines the attribute of person[i], encounters the variable j, it will not know what to do with that; it didn’t set j to anything before running the code block, so j will be undefined.

While Python is a “procedural” language, the way docassemble works is more “declarative.” In most cases, your code blocks should be self-contained declarations about how a single variable should be defined, even if they cause other variables to be defined as a side effect. In this example, those single variables are person[i].complete and person[i].child[j].complete. The blocks that define these variables will be called upon at multiple times in your interview for the specific purpose of defining person[i].complete or person[i].child[j].complete.

The next block is a reusable question.

question: |
  What is the name of the
  ${ ordinal(i) }
  person?
fields:
  - First: person[i].name.first
  - Last: person[i].name.last

This question will be used for person[0], person[1], and any other person[i] in the person list. If docassemble wants to know person[1].name.first, it will set i = 1 and then ask this question.

The next block is used whenever docassemble wants to know whether there are more items to be added to a list.

question: |
  Is there another person?
yesno: person.there_is_another

The .gather() method of the DAList class will undefine the .there_is_another attribute after each item is gathered, and then re-seek a definition of .there_is_another to figure out if more items need to be gathered.

The next block asks whether a person in the person list has any children.

question: |
  Does ${ person[i] } have any children?
yesno: person[i].child.there_are_any

This is the first question that will be asked when docassemble runs person[i].child.gather().

The next question illustrates the use of two index variables.

question: |
  What is the name of
  ${ person[i].possessive(ordinal(j) + ' child') }?
fields:
  - First: person[i].child[j].name.first
  - Last: person[i].child[j].name.last

The use of the index variables i and j mean that if docassemble wants to find a definition for person[1].child[2].name.first, it will set i = 1, set j = 2, and then ask this question.

If you wanted to ask the question a different way for the first person in the list, you could include the following block:

question: |
  What is the name of the first person's
  ${ ordinal(j) } child?
fields:
  - First: person[0].child[i].name.first
  - Last: person[0].child[i].name.last

Here, the index variable i is used instead of j. docassemble will only try to ask this question if the variable it seeks begins with person[0].child. If docassemble is looking to define person[1].child[0].name.first, it will disregard this question, because person[0].child[i].name.first doesn’t generalize to person[1].child[0].name.first.

Likewise, if you wanted to ask the question a different way for the first child, you could include:

question: |
  What is the name of
  ${ person[i].possessive(ordinal(j) + ' first born child') }?
fields:
  - First: person[i].child[0].name.first
  - Last: person[i].child[0].name.last

This question offers to define person[i].child[0].name.first for any i.

You would never have a block that mentions j without also mentioning i, and you would never have a block that mentions k without also mentioning j and i. The variable i needs to be used for the first index variable that is generalizable, and j needs to be used for the second index variable that is generalizable.

Next is the block that asks whether a person has any more children.

question: |
  Does ${ person[i] } have any
  children other than ${ person[i].child }?
yesno: person[i].child.there_is_another

Next we have a series of blocks relating to gathering the allergies of people. These are similar in functionality to other blocks in this interview, but they are different because they use the generic object modifier and the special variable x, which represents the “generic” object.

generic object: Individual
objects:
  - x.allergy: DAList
---
generic object: Individual
question: |
  Does ${ x } have any allergies?
yesno: x.allergy.there_are_any
---
generic object: Individual
question: |
  What allergy does ${ x } have?
fields:
  - Allergy: x.allergy[i]
---
generic object: Individual
question: |
  Does ${ x } have any allergies
  other than ${ x.allergy }?
yesno: x.allergy.there_is_another

The variable x works in a similar way to the way that index variables like i and j work. If docassemble wants to define the attribute allergy for an object person[0], and the object is of type Individual, it can run x = person[0] and then process the x.allergy: DAList line of the objects block. Likewise, if **docassemble wants to define person[1].child[0].allergy[3], it can set x = person[1].child[0], set i = 3, and then ask the question that defines x.allergy[i]. By using the generic object feature, we save ourselves the trouble of writing separate questions for gathering the allergies of person[i] and person[i].child[j].

Finally, we have the single mandatory block of the interview, which presents to the user all of the information that was gathered during the interview.

mandatory: True
question: |
  Information retrieved
subquestion: |
  You told me about
  ${ person.quantity_noun('individual') },
  their allergies, their children,
  and their children's allergies.

  % for p in person:
  You told me about ${ p }.
    % if p.allergy.number() > 0:
  ${ p } is allergic to ${ p.allergy }.
    % endif
    % for c in p.child:
  ${ p } has a child named ${ c }.
    % if c.allergy.number() > 0:
  ${ c } is allergic to ${ c.allergy }.
    % endif
    % endfor
    
  % endfor

All of the questions that are asked during the interview are triggered by the line % for p in person:. In order to iterate through person, person first needs to be defined. That triggers the use of the first objects block to define person. Then person needs to be gathered, because you can’t iterate through a list that hasn’t been gathered yet. That causes docassemble to gather the items in person and to make them “complete.” Before any given person[i] can be “complete,” the person’s name needs to be collected, the allergies need to be gathered, and the children need to be gathered. Before a child can be “complete,” the child’s allergies need to be gathered. All of these questions are triggered because each time the screen loads, docassemble tries to show the mandatory question, and each time, it keeps encountering % for p in person:.

Once person is gathered, the “for” loops all have enough information, so no further questions needs to be asked.

Note that while the % for, % endfor, % if, and % endif lines are indented when nested, the actual lines of text are not indented. This is because indentation in Markdown has a special meaning (in particular, to indicate that text should be formatted with a fixed-width font). The indentation of % for, % endfor, % if, and % endif is not necessary, but it helps make the code more readable.

Note that the line ${ c } is allergic to ${ c.allergy } makes use of the fact that the textual representation of a DAList is the result of running the comma_and_list() method on the list. So the resulting sentence might be “Jane Doe is allergic to shellfish, peanuts, and dust.”

Mixed object types

If you want to gather a list of objects that are not all the same object type, you can do so by setting the .ask_object_type attribute of the list to True providing a block that defines the .new_object_type attribute of the list.

objects:
  - location: |
      DAList.using(
        there_are_any=True,
        ask_object_type=True)
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  The locations
subquestion: |
  % for loc in location:
  * ${ loc }
  % endfor
---
question: |
  Do you know the full address of the
  ${ ordinal(location.current_index()) }
  location?
buttons:
  - Yes:
      code: |
        location.new_object_type = Address
  - No:
      code: |
        location.new_object_type = City
---
question: |
  What is the address of the
  ${ ordinal(i) } location?
fields:
  - Address: location[i].address
  - Unit: location[i].unit
    required: False
  - City: location[i].city
  - State: location[i].state
    code: |
      states_list()
  - Zip: location[i].zip
    required: False
---
question: |
  What is the city of the
  ${ ordinal(i) } location?
fields:
  - City: location[i].city
  - State: location[i].state
    code: |
      states_list()
---
question: |
  Would you like to add another location?
yesno: location.there_is_another
Screenshot of mixed-list example

In this example, we have a list called location, which is a type of DAList. We have a mandatory code block that sets location.ask_object_type to True. This instructs docassemble that location is a list of objects, and that when a new item is added to the list, docassemble should to look for the value of location.new_object_type to figure out what type of object the new item should be. By contrast, the .object_type attribute instructs docassemble that the object type for every new object should be the value of .object_type.

Thus, before docassemble adds a new item to the list, it will seek a definition of location.new_object_type and then the item it adds to the list will be an object of the type indicated by the value of location.new_object_type. After each item is added, docassemble forgets about the value of location.new_object_type, so the question will be asked again for each item in the list.

There are a few things to note about the question that defines location.new_object_type.

question: |
  Do you know the full address of the
  ${ ordinal(location.current_index()) }
  location?
buttons:
  - Yes:
      code: |
        location.new_object_type = Address
  - No:
      code: |
        location.new_object_type = City

This a question about an item in a list, but note that we do not have a variable i to indicate which item it is, since .new_object_type is an attribute of the list location, not an attribute of the new object (location[i]). Thus, we have to use the .current_index() method to obtain the number.

Note also that we are using the method of embedding a code block within a multiple choice question in order to set the value of location.new_object_type based on user input. You might think it would be simpler to just write the following:

question: |
  Do you know the full address of the
  ${ ordinal(location.current_index()) }
  location?
field: location.new_object_type
buttons:
  - Yes: Address
  - No: City

However, this would set location.new_object_type to a piece of text ('Address' or 'City'), instead of the object type (Address or City). Thus, when setting .new_object_type (or .object_type), make sure to use Python code.

Note that there are two questions that ask about attributes of the list items:

---
question: |
  What is the address of the
  ${ ordinal(i) } location?
fields:
  - Address: location[i].address
  - Unit: location[i].unit
    required: False
  - City: location[i].city
  - State: location[i].state
    code: |
      states_list()
  - Zip: location[i].zip
    required: False
---
question: |
  What is the city of the
  ${ ordinal(i) } location?
fields:
  - City: location[i].city
  - State: location[i].state
    code: |
      states_list()
---

You might be wondering how docassemble knows which of these two questions to ask for a given item in the location list. If the object is a City, a textual representation of the object will first ask for .city and then .state. If the object is an Address, a textual representation of the object will first ask for .address. When docassemble gathers items into a list, it asks whatever questions are necessary to construct a textual representation of the item. So if the attribute docassemble needs is .city, both questions are capable of defining that attribute. The “What is the city” question comes last in the YAML file, so it takes precedence over the “What is the address” question, and it will be asked. If the attribute docassemble needs is .address, only the “What is the address” question is capable of defining that, so only that question will be asked.

Gathering information into dictionaries

The process of gathering the items in a DADict dictionary is slightly different from the process of gathering the items of a DAList. Like the gathering process for DAList objects, the gathering process for DADict objects will call upon the attributes .there_are_any and .there_is_another.

In addition, the process will look for the attribute .new_item_name to get the key to be added to the dictionary. In the example below, we build a DADict in which the keys are the names of fruits and the values are the number of seeds that fruit contains. There is one question that asks for the fruit name (fruit.new_item_name) and a separate question that asks for the number of seeds (fruit[i]). (When populating a DADict, i refers to the key, whereas when populating a DAList, i refers to a number like 0, 1, 2, etc.)

objects:
  - fruit: DADict
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  There
  ${ fruit.does_verb("is") }
  ${ fruit.number_as_word() }
  fruits in all.
subquestion: |
  % for item in fruit:
  The fruit ${ item } has
  ${ fruit[item] } seeds.
  % endfor
---
code: |
  fruit.there_are_any = True
---
question: |
  What fruit should be added to
  the database?
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit.new_item_name
---
question: |
  How many seeds does
  ${ indefinite_article(noun_singular(i)) }
  have?
fields:
  - Number of seeds: fruit[i]
    datatype: integer
    min: 0
---
question: |
  So far, the fruits in the database
  include ${ fruit }.  Are there
  any others?
yesno: fruit.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-dict example

Alternatively, you can use the attribute .new_item_value to set the value of a new item.

objects:
  - fruit: DADict
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  There are ${ fruit.number_as_word() }
  fruits in all.
subquestion: |
  % for item in fruit:
  The fruit ${ item } has
  ${ fruit[item] } seeds.
  % endfor
---
code: |
  fruit.there_are_any = True
---
question: |
  What fruit should be added to
  the database?
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit.new_item_name
  - Number of seeds: fruit.new_item_value
    datatype: integer
    min: 0
---
question: |
  So far, the fruits in the database
  include ${ fruit }.  Are there
  any others?
yesno: fruit.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-dict-value example

The value of the .new_item_value attribute will never be sought by the gathering process; only the value of the .new_item_name attribute will be sought. So if you want to use .new_item_value, you need to set it using a question that simultaneously sets .new_item_name, as in the example above.

Gathering a dictionary of objects

You can also populate the contents of a DADict in which each value is itself an object.

objects:
  - pet: DADict.using(object_type=DAObject)
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  You have ${ pet.number_as_word() }
  pets.
subquestion: |
  % for item in pet:
  Your pet ${ item } named
  ${ pet[item].name } has 
  ${ pet[item].feet } feet.
  % endfor
---
question: |
  Do you have any pets?
yesno: pet.there_are_any
---
question: |
  What kind of pet do you have?
fields:
  - Type of pet: pet.new_item_name
---
question: |
  Describe your pet ${ i }.
fields:
  - Name: pet[i].name
  - Number of feet: pet[i].feet
    datatype: integer
    min: 0
---
question: |
  So far, you have told me about your
  ${ pet }.  Do you have any other
  pets?
yesno: pet.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-dict-object example

In the example above, we populate a DADict called pet, in which the keys are a type of pet (e.g., 'cat', 'dog'), and the values are objects of type DAObject with attributes .name (e.g., 'Mittens', 'Spot') and .feet (e.g., 4). We need to start by telling docassemble that the DADict is a dictionary of objects. We do this by setting the .object_type attribute of the DADict to DAObject. Then we provide a question that sets the .new_item_name attribute.

When a .object_type is provided, docassemble will take care of initializing the value of each entry as an object of this type. It will also automatically gather whatever attributes, if any, are necessary to represent the object as text. The representation of the object as text is what you see if you include the object in a Mako template: ${ pet['cat'] }. (Or, if you know Python, it is the result of str(pet['cat']).) The attributes necessary to represent the object as text depend on the type of object. In the case of a DAObject, no attributes are required to represent the object as text. In the case of an Individual, the individual’s name is required (.name.first at a minimum).

Since a DAObject does not have any necessary attributes, then in the example above, the pet object is considered “gathered” (i.e. pet.gathered is True) after all the types of pet (e.g., 'cat', 'dog') have been provided. At this point, the values of the DADict are simply empty DAObjects. The .name and .feet attributes are still not defined. The final screen of the interview, which contains a “for” loop that describes the number of feet of each pet, causes the asking of questions to obtain the .feet and .name attributes.

Gathering information into sets

The gathering of items into a DASet is much like the gathering of items into a DADict. The difference is that instead of using the attributes .new_item_name and .new_item_value, you use a single attribute, .new_item.

Here is an example that gathers a set of text items (e.g., 'apple', 'orange', 'banana') into a DASet.

objects:
  - fruit: DASet
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  There are ${ fruit.number_as_word() }
  fruits in all.
subquestion: |
  The fruit include ${ fruit }.
---
question: |
  Should there be any fruits
  in the set?
yesno: fruit.there_are_any
---
question: |
  What fruit should be added to
  the set?
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit.new_item
---
question: |
  So far, the fruits in the set
  include ${ fruit }.  Are there
  any others?
yesno: fruit.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-set example

You can also gather objects into a DASet. However, the DASet does not use the .object_type attribute, as DAList and DADict groups do. The objects that you gather into a DASet need to exist already.

In the example below, we create several DAObjects, each representing a fruit, and we use a multiple choice question with datatype set to object to ask which fruits the user likes. (See selecting objects for more information about these types of questions.)

objects:
  - fruit: DASet
  - my_favorites: DASet
  - apple: DAObject
  - orange: DAObject
  - pear: DAObject
  - plum: DAObject
  - grape: DAObject
---
mandatory: True
code: |
  apple.name = "apples"
  orange.name = "oranges"
  pear.name = "pears"
  plum.name = "plums"
  grape.name = "grapes"
  my_favorites.add(apple, pear)
  my_favorites.gathered = True
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  There are ${ fruit.number_as_word() }
  fruits in all.
subquestion: |
  % if fruit.number():
  The fruits you like include ${ fruit }.
  % endif

  % if fruits_in_common.number():
  The fruits we both like are
  ${ fruits_in_common }.
  % endif
---
code: |
  fruits_in_common = fruit.intersection(my_favorites)
---
question: |
  Do you like ${ apple }, ${ orange },
  ${ pear }, ${ plum }, or ${ grape }?
yesno: fruit.there_are_any
---
question: |
  Pick a fruit that you like.
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit.new_item
    datatype: object
    choices:
      - apple
      - orange
      - pear
      - plum
      - grape
---
question: |
  So far, you have indicated you like
  ${ fruit }.  Are there any other
  fruits you like?
yesno: fruit.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-set-object example

Manually triggering the gathering process

In the examples above, the process of asking questions that populate the list is triggered implicitly by code like ${ fruit.number() }, ${ fruit } or % for item in fruit:.

If you want to ask the questions at a particular time, you can do so by referring to fruit.gather(). (Behind the scenes, this is the same method used when the process is implicitly triggered.)

mandatory: True
code: |
  fruit.gather(minimum=1)
---
question: |
  What fruit should be added to the list?
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit[i]
---
question: |
  So far, the fruits include
  ${ fruit }.  Are there any others?
yesno: fruit.there_is_another
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  The fruits are ${ fruit }.
Screenshot of gather-fruit-gather example

The .gather() method accepts some optional keyword arguments:

  • minimum can be set to the minimum number of items you want to gather. The .there_are_any attribute will not be sought. The .there_is_another attribute will be sought after this minimum number is reached.
  • number can be set to the total number of items you want to gather. The .there_is_another attribute will not be sought.
  • item_object_type can be set to the type of object each element of the group should be. (This is not available for DASet objects.)
  • complete_attribute can be set to the name of an attribute that should be sought for each item during the gathering process. You can also set the complete_attribute attribute of the group object itself.

The .gather() method is not the only way that a gathering process can be triggered. The .auto_gather attribute controls whether the .gather() method is invoked. If .auto_gather is True (which is the default), then the gathering process will be triggered using .gather(). If .auto_gather is False, the gathering process will be triggered in a simpler way: by seeking the value of .gathered. Thus, you can provide a code block that sets .gathered to True. For example:

code: |
  fruit.append('apple', 'orange', 'grape')
  fruit.gathered = True
---
mandatory: True
code: |
  fruit.auto_gather = False
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  The fruits are ${ fruit }.
Screenshot of gather-manual-gathered example

Setting .gathered to True means that when you try to get the length of the group or iterate through it, docassemble will assume that nothing more needs to be done to populate the items in the group. You can still add more items to the list if you want to, using code blocks.

Detailed explanation of gathering process

At a very basic level, it is not complicated to gather a list of things from a user. For example, you can do this:

objects:
  - fruit: DAList
---
question: |
  How many fruits are there?
fields:
  - Number: number_of_fruits
    datatype: integer
    min: 2
---
question: |
  What's the ${ ordinal(i) } fruit?
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit[i]
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  Fruits
subquestion: |
  The fruits are:

  % for index in range(0, number_of_fruits):
  * ${ fruit[index] }
  % endfor
Screenshot of gather-simple example

This example uses Python’s built-in range() function, which returns a list of integers starting with the first argument and less than the second argument. For example:

>>> range(0, 5)
[0, 1, 2, 3, 4]

The for loop iterates through all the numbers using the variable index, looking for fruit[index]. The first item it looks for is fruit[0]. Since this is not defined yet, the interview looks for a question that offers to define fruit[0]. It does not find any questions that define fruit[0], so it then looks for a question that offers to defined fruit[i]. It finds this question, and asks it of the user. After the user provides an answer, the for loop runs again. This time, fruit[0] is already defined. But on the next iteration of the for loop, the interview looks for fruit[1] and finds it is not defined. So the interview repeats the process with fruit[1]. When all of the fruit[index] are defined, the mandatory question is able to be shown to the user, and the interview ends.

Another way to ask questions is to ask for one item at a time, and after each item, ask if any additional items exist.

objects:
  - fruit: |
      DAList.using(
        auto_gather=False,
        gathered=True)
comment: |
  These attributes disable the automatic
  gathering system.
---
mandatory: True
code: |
  num_fruits = 0
  more_fruits = True
---
mandatory: True
code: |
  while more_fruits:
    fruit[num_fruits]
    num_fruits += 1
    del more_fruits
---
question: |
  Are there more fruits?
yesno: more_fruits
---
question: |
  What's the ${ ordinal(i) } fruit?
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit[i]
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  Fruits
subquestion: |
  The fruits are:

  % for item in fruit:
  * ${ item }
  % endfor
Screenshot of gather-another example

To gather the list manually, it is necessary to disable the automatic gathering system:

objects:
  - fruit: |
      DAList.using(
        auto_gather=False,
        gathered=True)

This example uses a little bit of Python code to ask the appropriate questions.

Some variables are initialized:

num_fruits = 0
more_fruits = True

Then the main algorithm is:

while more_fruits:
  fruit[num_fruits]
  num_fruits += 1
  del more_fruits

Since more_fruits is initialized as 0, the first undefined variable that this code encounters is fruit[0]. When the code encounters fruit[0], it will go looking for the value of fruit[0], and the question “What’s the first fruit?” will be asked. Once fruit[0] is defined, the interview undefines more_fruits, but then when the while loop loops around, the definition of more_fruits is needed. Since more_fruits is undefined, the interview presents the user with the more_fruit question, which asks “Are there more fruits?” If more_fruits is True, the loop repeats, and the definition of fruit[1] is sought.

This is starting to get complicated. And things get even more complicated when you want to say things like “There are three fruits in all” and “You have told me about three fruits so far” in your interview questions. In the case of “There are three fruits in all,” a prerequisite to saying this is to make sure that the user has supplied the full list. But in the case of “You have told me about three fruits so far,” you would not want this prerequisite.

Since asking users for lists of things can get complicated, docassemble has a feature for automating the process of asking the necessary questions to fully populate the list.

If your list is fruit, there are three special attributes: fruit.gathered, fruit.there_are_any, and fruit.there_is_another. The fruit.gathered attribute is initially undefined, but is set to True when the list is completely populated. The fruit.there_are_any attribute is used to ask the user whether the list is empty. The fruit.there_is_another attribute is used to ask the user questions like “You have told me about three fruits so far: apples, peaches, and pears. Are there any additional fruits?”

In addition to these two attributes, there is special method, fruit.gather(), which will cause appropriate questions to be asked and will return True when the list has been fully populated. The .gather() method looks for definitions for fruit.there_are any, fruit[i], and fruit.there_is_another. It makes fruit.there_is_another undefined as necessary.

Here is a complete example:

objects:
  - fruit: DAList
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  There are ${ fruit.number_as_word() }
  fruits in all.
subquestion: |
  The fruits are ${ fruit }.
---
question: |
  Are there any fruit that you would like
  to add to the list?
yesno: fruit.there_are_any
---
question: |
  What fruit should be added to the list?
fields:
  - Fruit: fruit[i]
---
question: |
  So far, the fruits include ${ fruit }.
  Are there any others?
yesno: fruit.there_is_another
Screenshot of gather-fruit example

Using “for loops”

In computer programming, a “for loop” allows you to do something repeatedly, such as iterating through each item in a list.

For example, here is an example in Python:

numbers = [5, 7, 2]
total = 0
for n in numbers:
    total = total + n
print total

This code “loops” through the elements of numbers and computes the total amount. At the end, 14 is printed.

For loops based on DAList, DADict, and DASet objects can be included in textual content using the for/endfor Mako statement:

code: |
  fruit_list = ['peaches', 'pears', 'apricots']
---
question: |
  Summary of fruit
subquestion: |
  % for fruit in fruit_list:
  I assume you like ${ fruit }.
  % endfor
mandatory: True
Screenshot of for_fruit example

Mako “for” loops work just like Python for loops, except that they need to be ended with “endfor.”

If the list might be empty, you can check its length using an if/else/endif Mako statement:

question: |
  Summary of fruit
subquestion: |
  % if len(fruit_list) > 0:
    % for fruit in fruit_list:
  I assume you like ${ fruit }.
    % endfor
  % else:
  There are no fruits to discuss.
  % endif
mandatory: True

You can also use the .number() method:

question: |
  Summary of the case
subquestion: |
  % if case.plaintiff.number() > 0:
    % for person in case.plaintiff:
  ${ person } is a plaintiff.
    % endfor
  % else:
  There are no plaintiffs.
  % endif

You can check if something is in a list using a statement of the form ifin:

---
question: |
  % if client in case.plaintiff:
  Since you are bringing the case, it will be your responsibility to
  prove that you were harmed.
  % else:
  The responsibility to prove this case belongs to
  ${ case.plaintiff }.  You do not have to testify in your defense.
  % endif
---

For more information about “for loops” in Mako, see the markup section.

Edit an already-gathered list

It is possible to allow your users to edit a DAList list that has already been gathered. Here is an example.

mandatory: True
question: |
  All done
subquestion: |
  The people are ${ person }.

  Your favorite is ${ favorite }.
  
  ${ person.table }
  
  ${ person.add_action() }
---
table: person.table
rows: person
columns:
  - Name: |
      row_item.name.full()
  - Fruit: |
      row_item.favorite_fruit
edit:
  - name.first
  - favorite_fruit
Screenshot of edit-list example

This works using two features:

  1. The edit specifier on the table block, which adds an “Actions” column to the table and indicates which screens should be shown when the user clicks the “Edit” button. First a screen will be shown that asks for the the attribute .name.first. Then a screen will be shown that asks for the attribute .favorite_fruit.
  2. The .add_action() method on the DAList inserts HTML for a button that the user can press in order to add an entry to an already-gathered list.

You can allow your users to edit a DAList from an edit button in a review page.

mandatory: true
question: |
  Thank you for your answers!
subquestion: |
  The people are ${ person } and your
  favorite is ${ favorite }.

  You can
  [edit your answers](${ url_action('review_interview') })
  if you want.
---
event: review_interview
question: |
  Edit your answers
review:
  - Edit: favorite
    button: |
      Your favorite person is ${ favorite }.
  - Edit: person.revisit
    button: |
      The people are:

      % for y in person:
      * ${ y }
      % endfor
---
field: person.revisit
question: |
  Edit the people
subquestion: |
  ${ person.table }
  
  ${ person.add_action() }
---
table: person.table
rows: person
columns:
  - Name: |
      row_item.name.full()
  - Fruit: |
      row_item.favorite_fruit
edit:
  - name.first
  - favorite_fruit
Screenshot of review-edit-list example

The attribute .revisit of a DAList is special; it is undefined by default and is set to True by the auto-gathering process at the same time that .gathered is set to True. Because .revisit is undefined at first, the review block will not show the “Edit” button for the list until the list is gathered. When the list has been gathered, and the user clicks the “Edit” button associated with .revisit, the user is taken to the block with field: person.revisit. On this screen, you can show the list as a table and provide the .add_action() button if you want users to be able to add entries.

Putting an editable table directly into a review page is also possible.

need: person.table
mandatory: true
question: |
  Thank you for your answers!
subquestion: |
  The people are ${ person }.

  You can
  [edit your answers](${ url_action('review_interview') })
  if you want.
---
event: review_interview
question: |
  Edit your answers
review:
  - note: |
      % if len(person):
      The people are:

      ${ person.table }
      
      ${ person.add_action() }
      % else:
      There are no people.

      ${ person.add_action(label="I would like to add one.") }
      % endif
---
table: person.table
rows: person
columns:
  - Name: |
      row_item.name.full()
  - Fruit: |
      row_item.favorite_fruit
edit:
  - name.first
  - favorite_fruit
Screenshot of review-edit-list-table example

The line need: person.table is important here. An item in a review list will not be shown if it contains any undefined variables. The presence of an undefined variable in a review list item will not cause docassemble to seek a definition of that variable (unless the specifier skip undefined: False is used). Therefore, if you want a review item containing a table to be displayed, you need to make sure that the variable representing the table gets defined by the time that you want the table to be editable. In this example, need: person.table ensures that the variable representing the table is defined before the user is given the opportunity to review his or her answers.

While the above examples have all featured tables for editing DAList objects, the edit feature can also be used when the rows of the table refer to a DADict:

objects:
  - income: |
      DADict.using(
        object_type=DAObject,
        keys=['employment', 'benefits', 'interest'],
        complete_attribute='complete',
        there_is_another=False)
---
code: |
  if income[i].receives:
    income[i].amount
  income[i].complete = True
---
question: |
  Income from ${ i }
fields:
  - "Do you get income from ${ i }?": income[i].receives
    datatype: yesnoradio
  - "How much do you get from ${ i }?": income[i].amount
    datatype: currency
    show if: income[i].receives
---
table: income.table
rows: income
columns:
  - Type: |
      row_index
  - Receives: |
      'Yes' if row_item.receives else 'No'
  - Amount: |
      currency(row_item.amount) if row_item.receives else ''
edit:
  - receives
Screenshot of table-dict-edit example

If your DAList is not made up of objects, it can be made editable by setting edit to True instead of to a list of attributes.

question: |
  Who is the ${ ordinal(i) } person?
fields:
  - Name: person[i]
---
question: |
  Are there any more people
  you would like to mention?
yesno: person.there_is_another
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  All done
subquestion: |
  The people are ${ person }.

  ${ person.table }
  
  ${ person.add_action() }
---
table: person.table
rows: person
columns:
  - "#": |
      row_index + 1
  - Name: |
      row_item
edit: True
Screenshot of edit-list-string example

You can do the same with DADict groups that do not use objects:

question: |
  Income from ${ i }
fields:
  - "How much income do you get from ${ i }?": income[i]
    datatype: currency
---
question: |
  What type of income would you
  like to add?
fields:
  - "Type of income": income.new_item_name
---
table: income.table
rows: income
columns:
  - Type: |
      row_index
  - Receives: |
      'Yes' if row_item > 0 else 'No'
  - Amount: |
      currency(row_item) if row_item > 0 else ''
edit: True
Screenshot of table-dict-string example

Customizing the editing interface

If you do not want your users to be able to delete items, you can add delete buttons: False to the table.

table: income.table
rows: income
columns:
  - Type: |
      row_index
  - Receives: |
      'Yes' if row_item.receives else 'No'
  - Amount: |
      currency(row_item.amount) if row_item.receives else ''
edit:
  - receives
delete buttons: False
Screenshot of table-dict-edit-delete-buttons example

Or, if you want your users to be able to delete items, but not edit items, you can include delete buttons: True and do not include edit:

table: income.table
rows: income
columns:
  - Type: |
      row_index
  - Receives: |
      'Yes' if row_item.receives else 'No'
  - Amount: |
      currency(row_item.amount) if row_item.receives else ''
delete buttons: True
Screenshot of table-dict-delete-buttons example

If you want to allow your users to delete items, but only if the group is longer than a certain length, you can give the DAList or DADict a minimum_number attribute.

objects:
  - income: |
      DADict.using(
        object_type=DAObject,
        keys=['employment', 'benefits', 'interest'],
        complete_attribute='complete',
        minimum_number=3,
        there_is_another=False)
Screenshot of table-dict-edit-minimum-number example

If you have a DAList or a DADict and you want the user to confirm before deleting an item that they really meant to delete the item, you can include confirm: True.

table: income.table
rows: income
columns:
  - Type: |
      row_index
  - Receives: |
      'Yes' if row_item.receives else 'No'
  - Amount: |
      currency(row_item.amount) if row_item.receives else ''
delete buttons: True
confirm: True
Screenshot of table-dict-confirm example

If you want specific items to be protected against editing and/or deletion, you can set a read only specifier:

mandatory: True
code: |
  fruit.appendObject()
  fruit[-1].important = True
  fruit[-1].name.text = 'Apple'
  fruit[-1].seeds = 10
  fruit.appendObject()
  fruit[-1].important = True
  fruit[-1].name.text = 'Orange'
  fruit[-1].seeds = 5
---
code: |
  fruit[i].important = False
---
table: fruit.table
rows: fruit
columns:
  - Name: |
      row_item
  - Seeds: |
      row_item.seeds
edit:
  - name.text
read only: important
Screenshot of table-read-only example

In this example, the attribute important of the table fruit determines whether the item is “read only” or not. The first two items in the DAList, which are added to the list in a code block, have the important attribute set to True, while items that are added by the user have the important attribute set to False. Since read only is set to important, the Edit and Delete buttons are not available for the items that have the important attribute set to True.

If you want to allow editing but not deletion, or vice versa, the value of the attribute can be set to a Python dictionary rather than the value True or False. If the value of the key edit is false, the “Edit” button will not be shown. If the value of the key delete is false, the “Delete” button will not be shown.

mandatory: True
code: |
  fruit.appendObject()
  fruit[-1].important = dict(delete=True, edit=False)
  fruit[-1].name.text = 'Apple'
  fruit[-1].seeds = 10
  fruit.appendObject()
  fruit[-1].important = dict(delete=False, edit=True)
  fruit[-1].name.text = 'Orange'
  fruit[-1].seeds = 5
---
code: |
  fruit[i].important = False
---
table: fruit.table
rows: fruit
columns:
  - Name: |
      row_item
  - Seeds: |
      row_item.seeds
edit:
  - name.text
read only: important
Screenshot of table-read-only-2 example

Typically, the creation of a table requires the gathering process to be completed. However, if the gathering process is already ongoing, then the table will still be created, and it will only contain items that are “complete.” If you do not want the table to trigger the gathering process, set require gathered: False.

If you have a table definition that includes editable elements (i.e. edit, delete buttons), but you want to present the table with the editing features in some contexts, but without the editing features in other contexts, you can include the table by calling the method .show() with editable=False to hide the editing features.

mandatory: true
question: |
  Thank you for your answers!
subquestion: |
  ${ person.table.show(editable=False) }

  You can
  [edit your answers](${ url_action('review_interview') })
  if you want.
Screenshot of edit-list-non-editable example

Reorder an already-gathered list

If you have a DAList and you want to allow the user to change the order of items in the list, you can set allow reordering to True:

table: fruit_table
rows: fruit
columns:
  - Fruit Name: row_item.name
  - Seeds: row_item.seeds
edit:
  - name.text
allow reordering: True
Screenshot of table-reorder example

The changes to the order of elements will be saved when the user presses Continue.

Collect all items on one page

By default, when gathering or editing a list item, docassemble asks about only one list item at a time. If you have a question that contains a fields specifier and that uses iterator variables (i, j, k etc.) in the variable names, you can use list collect to expand this question on the screen so that the user can enter answers for multiple list items on one screen.

question: |
  Tell me about the fruit.
fields:
  - Fruit name: fruit[i].name.text
  - Number of seeds: fruit[i].seeds
    datatype: number
list collect: True
Screenshot of list-collect example

The list collect specifier can be set to True, False, or Python code that evaluates to a true or false value. If the value is true, the question will be expanded; if it is false, the question will not be expanded.

A limitation of the list collect feature is that you cannot use Mako templating on labels, or else an error will result.

You can customize the behavior of the question by setting list collect to a dictionary.

The available keys for the dictionary are:

  • enable: this can be True, False, or Python code that evaluates to a true or false value. If the value is true, the question will be expanded; if it is false, the question will not be expanded. (This is the same as the value for the shorthand version of list collect discussed above.) If list collect is a dictionary and enable is omitted, the default value is True.
  • label: this can be set to a text label for each item on the screen. If it is “Fruit,” the items will be labeled “Fruit 1,” “Fruit 2,” etc. Mako templating can be used.
  • is final: this can be True, False, or Python code that evaluates to a true or false value. If the value is true, then the there_is_another attribute will be set to True when the user presses the Continue button. The default value is True.
  • allow append: this can be True, False, or Python code that evaluates to a true or false value. If the value is true, then the user is allowed to add additional items to the list. If the value is false, the user can only edit the existing items. The default value is True.
  • allow delete: this can be True, False, or Python code that evaluates to a true or false value. If the value is true, then the user is allowed to delete existing items from the list. If it is false, the user will not see any “Delete” buttons except on items that appear because the user clicked the “Add another” button.

Here is an example:

question: |
  Tell me about the fruit.
fields:
  - Fruit name: fruit[i].name.text
  - Number of seeds: fruit[i].seeds
    datatype: number
list collect:
  enable: not fruit.has_been_gathered()
  is final: False
  allow delete: False
  label: |
    ${ fruit_name }
Screenshot of list-collect-options example

This example demonstrates how you can use the enable attribute to indicate that the multiple-item collection method should be used to gather the list initially, but that the ordinary one-item-per-screen method should be used for editing list elements or adding new list elements after the list is initially gathered.

If you set a the minimum_number attribute on the DAList to 3, the first three items in the list will not have Delete buttons.

The list collect specifier only works on DAList variables, not on DADict or DASet variables.

Triggering your own code during the gathering process

When you are gathering a group, you might want some code to run after the group is gathered, as well as whenever an item in the group is edited or deleted.

If the code you need to run relates only to an item in the group, you can set complete_attribute to 'complete' and write a code block that defines the .complete attribute for any item in the group. This code block will be run for every item in the group during the gathering process and also whenever the user edits the group.

However, sometimes the code you want to run relates to the group as a whole and not just to a particular item. In this circumstance, you can use the “hook” methods hook_on_gather() and hook_after_gather(). In order to use these methods, you will need to define your own class using a module file, and make your class a subclass of whatever class you are using (e.g., DAList, DADict).

Here is an example that subclasses the DADict.

modules:
  .income
---
objects:
  - income: |
      IncomeDict.using(
        object_type=DAObject,
        keys=['employment', 'benefits', 'interest'],
        complete_attribute='complete',
        there_is_another=False)
Screenshot of hook-on-gather example

The module file that is referenced in the modules block, income.py, looks like this:

from docassemble.base.util import DADict

__all__ = ['IncomeDict']

class IncomeDict(DADict):
    def hook_on_gather(self):
        if 'benefits' in self.elements and self['benefits'].receives and 'employment' in self.elements and self['employment'].receives and self['benefits'].amount + self['employment'].amount > 2000:
            self.reason_for_benefits
        elif hasattr(self, 'reason_for_benefits'):
            del self.reason_for_benefits
    def hook_after_gather(self):
        self.total_amount = sum(y.amount for y in self.values() if y.receives)

In this example, the hook_on_gather() method ensures that the user provides an explanation about their income if the user is employed, receives public benefits, and the total income from these income sources exceeds $2,000.

The hook_after_gather() method performs a computation that uses all of the items in the dictionary.

The advantage of putting this logic into the “hook” methods is that the logic will be applied automatically whenever a change is made to the items in the dictionary. For example, if the user first puts in less than $2,000 of income but then edits the list to increase the income, the additional question will be asked. If the user edits the list to decrease the income below $2,000, the attribute with the answer to that question is deleted. Whenever a change is made to the list, the total_amount is updated.

The hook_on_gather() method is run just before the dictionary is marked as gathered. Every time the user edits the table, the dictionary is temporarly marked as ungathered, and is then marked as gathered again. Since the dictionary can’t be marked as gathered until the hook_on_gather() method runs to completion, you can be sure that the .reason_for_benefits attribute will get defined (or undefined if appropriate).

By contrast, the hook_after_gather() method is run after the dictionary is marked as gathered. It is guaranteed to run after the group is gathered or re-gathered. Unlike hook_on_gather(), it cannot trigger the asking of question blocks or code blocks, at least not in a reliable way.

In this example, the hook_after_gather() method computes a sum. This is done for demonstration purposes only. In practice, if you just need to compute a sum, it is best to write a separate method for this, and then call that method whenever you need the sum. (You can also write code in-line that computes the sum.) You might want to use hook_after_gather() for code that calls an API, or other code that should not run unnecessarily.

Note that since hook_on_gather() is called during the gathering process, it is careful not to do anything that relies upon the group being gathered. For example, it refers to the .elements dictionary directly, which will not trigger gathering. By contrast, the hook_after_gather() method assumes (correctly) that the group has already been gathered.

Subclassing the DADict is an advanced Python technique, but it is ultimately easiest to write your logic in the form of “hooks,” because otherwise you have to try to anticipate all the different ways that users might be able to get past your logic by editing, deleting, or adding table items.

Examples

List of dictionaries from checkbox

Here is an example of an interview that uses a checkbox to determine which items to use in a dictionary.

objects:
  - user: Individual
  - user.sibling: DAList.using(object_type=Individual)
  - user.sibling[i].company_hired: |
      DADict.using(object_type=Organization,
                   auto_gather=False,
                   complete_attribute='complete')
  - user.sibling[i].company_hired[j].place_of_business: City
---
code: |
  user.sibling[i].company_hired.new(user.sibling[i].types_of_companies.true_values())
  user.sibling[i].company_hired.gathered = True
---
code: |
  user.sibling[i].company_hired[j].name.text
  user.sibling[i].company_hired[j].place_of_business.city
  user.sibling[i].company_hired[j].complete = True
---
question: |
  Do you have any siblings?
yesno: user.sibling.there_are_any
---
question: |
  What is the name of your ${ ordinal(i) } sibling?
fields:
  - First Name: user.sibling[i].name.first
---
question: |
  Do you have any other siblings besides ${ user.sibling }?
yesno: user.sibling.there_is_another
---
question: |
  Which of the following types of companies has ${ user.sibling[i] }
  hired?
fields:
  - no label: user.sibling[i].types_of_companies
    datatype: checkboxes
    choices:
      - Bank
      - Law Firm
      - Exterminator
      - Financial Advisor
---
question: |
  What is the name of ${ user.sibling[i].possessive(j) }?
fields:
  - Company name: user.sibling[i].company_hired[j].name.text
---
question: |
  In what city does ${ user.sibling[i].company_hired[j] }
  do business?
fields:
  - City: user.sibling[i].company_hired[j].place_of_business.city
  - State: user.sibling[i].company_hired[j].place_of_business.state
    code: states_list()
---
mandatory: True
question: All done
subquestion: |
  % for sibling in user.sibling:
  You have a sibling named ${ sibling }.
 
  % for company_type in sibling.company_hired.keys():
  ${ sibling } has hired a ${ company_type }
  called ${ sibling.company_hired[company_type] },
  which has a principal place of business in
  ${ sibling.company_hired[company_type].place_of_business }.
 
  % endfor
 
  % endfor
Screenshot of nested-objects example

Prepopulate a list

Here is an example of an interview that populates a list with two entries before allowing the user to add other entries.

objects:
  - user: Individual
  - user.mom: Individual
  - user.favorite_things: |
      DAList.using(object_type=Thing)
---
code: |
  user.favorite_things.clear()
  user.favorite_things.append(user.mom)
  user.favorite_things.appendObject(
    name='apple pie'
  )
  user.favorite_things.there_are_any = True
---
question: |
  What is your mother's name?
fields:
  - First name: user.mom.name.first
  - Last name: user.mom.name.last
---
question: |
  What is your ${ ordinal(i) }
  favorite thing?
fields:
  - Thing: user.favorite_things[i].name.text
---
question: |
  Besides ${ user.favorite_things },
  do you have any other favorite
  things?
yesno: user.favorite_things.there_is_another
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  Your favorite things are
  ${ user.favorite_things }.
Screenshot of prepopulate-list example

This interview takes advantage of the fact that the automatic gathering process will seek a definition of the .there_are_any attribute. It uses the code block that defines .there_are_any to populate the list of objects.

Note that user.favorite_things.clear() is called. This line happens to be unnecessary in this interview, but it illustrates a good practice. Code blocks in docassemble often need to be idempotent; they should be able to be run from the beginning more than once without causing unwanted side effects. Code blocks often restart because when an undefined variable is encountered and the definition is retrieved from the user or from another code block, the original code block does not pick up where it left off, but rather starts at the beginning again.

Alternatively, you could prepopulate a list by using mandatory code at the beginning of an interview to append items to the list. Then the interview will never even seek a definition of the .there_are_any attribute. The method described above is helpful, however, in cases where the list being initialized does not exist at the start of the interview, as would be the case if the list was user.sibling[i].favorite_things.

Postpopulate a list

Here is an example of an interview that populates a list with two entries after the user is done adding entries.

objects:
  - user: Individual
  - user.mom: Individual
  - user.favorite_things: |
      DAList.using(object_type=Thing)
---
code: |
  if user.likes_something:
    user.favorite_things.there_are_any = True
  else:
    default_things_appended
    user.favorite_things.there_are_any = False
    user.favorite_things.there_is_another = False
---
code: |
  if user.likes_another_thing:
    del user.likes_another_thing
    user.favorite_things.there_is_another = True
  else:
    default_things_appended
    user.favorite_things.there_is_another = False
---
code: |
  user.favorite_things.append(user.mom)
  user.favorite_things.appendObject(
    name='apple pie'
  )
  default_things_appended = True
---
question: |
  What is your mother's name?
fields:
  - First name: user.mom.name.first
  - Last name: user.mom.name.last
---
question: |
  What is your ${ ordinal(i) }
  favorite thing?
fields:
  - Thing: user.favorite_things[i].name.text
---
question: |
  Do you have any favorite things?
yesno: user.likes_something
---
question: |
  Besides ${ user.favorite_things },
  do you have any other favorite
  things?
yesno: user.likes_another_thing
---
mandatory: True
question: |
  Your favorite things are
  ${ user.favorite_things }.
Screenshot of postpopulate-list example

This interview uses code blocks to determine user.favorite_things.there_are_any and user.favorite_things.there_is_another. Instead of asking the user questions that define these variables directly, the interview asks questions that set the variables user.likes_something and user.likes_another_thing. It can then use code to do things depending on what the answers are.

If the user says he has no favorite things, the interview adds Mom and apple pie to user.favorite_things. If the user does describe some favorite things, and then says that he has no other favorite things, the interview will then add Mom and apple pie to the list.

Note that if the user says he has no favorite things, the interview sets .there_is_another to False. This is necessary to persuade the automatic gathering feature that the list is fully gathered.

Note the use of del to undefine user.likes_another_thing as soon as it is set to True. This is because the automatic gathering system will need to ask the question again, and if user.likes_another_thing is already set to True, the list of the user’s favorite things will be infinite! Similarly, behind the scenes, the automatic gathering process undefines .there_is_another after it is defined.