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v8.08- Age Variable usage


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#1 Lee

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 09:58 AM

One of the more common “problems” experienced by new users is in Sentences that use the Age Variable(s).  The user wants the age to print, but it doesn’t print because one or more of the Dates needed for calculation is incomplete.  In many cases, the user looks at Help, but gets no information there.  This is because the information that is needed in located in a place that is counter-intuitive.  That is, there is nothing in the Age [A] Variable Help wording that tells about printing year-only ages.  Since the user is not interested in printing days, months, and years (can’t be done with incomplete dates anyway, they figure), they don’t read the second sentence of the Exact Age [AE] explanation.

 

The obvious “fix” to this situation is to change the [A] Variables to calculate years-only when the Date(s) are incomplete and possibly prepend the word “about” to the output to allow some ambiguity.  Or, change the standard Sentences to use the [AE] Variables.  This last is not necessarily desired as most users would not want the months & days parts all the time.  Also, changing standard Sentences may not suit many current users.

 

This leaves only changing the [A] Variable function as first suggested above.  However, this may require more work than feasible for an update, and/or may require some added re-design work.  Thus, a third easy option is to revise Help to tell the user how the [A] Variables should be changed to [AE] when incomplete Date(s) are used.

 

Lee

 



#2 Michael Hannah

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 11:47 AM

I completely agree, Lee, that the issue of the age variables in the presence of incomplete dates has been an issue for some time.  However, I don't understand your comment "the user looks at Help, but gets no information there"  When searching on "age variable" the very first Help topic is "Variables (Event Tags)".  Under "Age" there are only three sentences:

The A variable produces output only when both the primary birth tagand the tag that contains the A variable contain the full (day, month, year) dates, and the age is over one year.The AE variable will produce an exact age (years, months and days) if both dates are complete. If one or both tags contain approximate dates, the AE variable will only output years.There is no variable that will always output years irrespective of the completeness of the dates.


I wonder how more complete and concise this Help could be?  Perhaps the first sentence should read:

"The A variable produces output in years but only when ..." [bold text added]?

 

While I agree there is room for improvement in the Age variables, I would guess TMG would not want to change the output behavior of existing variables.  Therefore I (and others) have wished for a third new Age variable (maybe called [AY]) which always output only years, irrespective of the completeness of the dates, as long as the dates of both the primary birth tag and the tag with the variable at least contained a year.  Then the third sentence above could be deleted.


Michael
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