Terry's TMG Tips

Creating Special Format Reports
Using TMG's Language Features

This page updated 5 May 2006

Version note: Applies to TMG 8 & 9

This article discusses using a custom Language to create special format reports that are not possible with other techniques.

Other articles, found on the main Languages page, or linked in appropriate places below, provide more detail on related features.

Some users have found the ability to create separate sets of Sentence Structures in different Languages a handy tool for creating specially formatted output. For example, I describe in my article on Minimalist Style Web Pages how to use a custom Language to create bullet style output instead of normal narrative text.

In a quite different application of the same principle, Teresa Ghee Elliott describes in an article on the Wholly Genes Forum how she used a custom Language to produce a special tabular format report to display census information.

For this application, one creates a custom Language only to allow creation of a special set of Sentence Structures – no translations are made in the Language tables themselves. After the special Sentence Structures are created, reports in the desired format are created by selecting that Language in the report definition (or in Second Site, in the case of my web page application).

To use this approach in TMG you must use one of the Narrative style reports because Sentence Structures are only used in narrative reports. Because of the special Sentences you create, the special formatting replaces the normal narrative output. For use in Second Site you must choose "Use Sentence" in the "Detail Format" drop-down in the Pages > Body Tags section.

Creating Specially Formatted Output

The procedure for using Language for specially formatted output is not difficult:

  1. Create the Language – use the File > Language > Customize... menu to open the Languages screen. Click Add, enter the name of your Language, then click OK or Close until you return to the main screen. That's all - no translations required. What this does is enable the Sentence Structures in your custom Language, which are used as described below.

If you will be using this Language in TMG reports, choose any name that reminds you of it's use. But if you plan to use it in Second Site, it's easier if you use the names SS1, SS2, or SS3 because those names are automatically recognized by that program.
  1. Create custom Sentences – this is the key to obtaining the specialized formatting. For each Tag Type that will be involved in the special formatting, create an appropriate Sentence Structure to produce the desired results. Most applications of this technique require involve only a few Tag Types. The links above to my Minimalist Style Web Pages article and to Teresa Elliott's article may provide some ideas about how special formatting can be produced. My article on Modifying Tag Sentence Structures describes the procedure for editing sentences.

  2. Set output to the Language – for TMG reports, specify your custom Language on the General tab of the report's Options. For output to Second Site, set the "Sentence Language" in the Data > Language section.

  3. Take care during program upgrades – when you install an update to TMG, you will be asked if you want to overwrite the Languages file. If this is the only use you make of Languages, say No. If you say Yes, your Language will disappear, and you will be unable to use it. But the solution is simple – recreate it as in step 1 above. Just be careful to spell it the same way as you did before.

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