Most questions you add will provide multiple choice responses in a radiobutton list or dropdown list. Although Formulator.NET allows you to specify every possible response when you create answer option groups, some answer groups may be so large you might want to pull it from a table or view in a separate database. For instance, if the question is "What is your instructor’s name?" the options may be pulled from a table named "Instructors" in the University database. This will then populate a dropdownlist.
The Manage Sources screen is where you can specify such external sources. Access this screen by clicking on the Manage Sources link in the left navigation menu. There are three requirements, however, which determine whether a source may be added:
- The database must exist on the same SQL server as the Formulator.NET database
- You must be able to connect to this database using the same username and password used to connect to the Survey database.
- The table must have an identity column set as a unique, numeric key.
If a database table satisfies these conditions, it may be used as an "external source" for answer options.
To add a source, enter a short description to identify it, and select a database from the dropdown list. Once you select the appropriate database, the form will refresh with three additional fields: the Table/View, Text Field and Key Field dropdown lists. The text field is the text that will populate the answer dropdown list for questions using this source. The key field ensures that each option has a unique identifier. When you click Add Source, you will notice that the new source’s description appears selected in the Sources dropdown list, and the button changes to "Update Source".
Once added, the source is available to the Manage Answers screen (see previous section). Once you define an option group in the Manage Answers screen as pulling from the added source, it becomes available to forms. Once created the source should be left alone. It should also be noted that sources added to Formulator.NET should be tables and views that will not be altered to any great extent. Adding data to these tables or views is acceptable, but edits and deletions should not be done as long as the system is using the table or view.