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Simulate multiple global variables in DataMapper

Original Author: Jean-Cédric Hamel

The Problem

In PlanetPress Suite 7, global variables are useful as they allow you to retain information and make them available through the whole job. Since the form contains both datamapping and template, and is processed as a whole, global variables are possible. But in Connect, since the content may be generated by several engines simultaneously, records are completely independent from each other.

When data from the first record is required to be available through the entire job, one could define variables in Workflow and then pass them on to Connect through the Pre-processor and properties. That is fine and it works.

Now for each Workflow variable, a Connect property will be required. When few variables are required, it is a viable solution. When many variables are required (50…100) then it becomes tedious and counter-productive.

The Solution

The actual solution, however, is to generate a JSON string in Workflow, assign it to a jobInfo (or a variable) and pass it on Connect through the pre-processor, then made available to the entire job, thus emulating the global variable.

How it's done

Primarily, a JSON string must be created in Workflow. Defining what’s JSON is outside the scope of this How-to, then again, for the sake of simplifying things, here the syntax expected from a simple JSON string:

 “var1”: ”value”,
 “var2”: ”value”,

var1 and var1 are called the keys, whereas the part on the right is called the values.

For this example, we will use a PDF file sample from which the JSON file fields will be populated but keep in mind that any type of data can be used in reality.

The Workflow Process

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Let’s get into details of some of these tasks:

The Branch

Branching here allows executing a series of steps before going to the Connect plugins. It is important to change some settings of the branch. Double-clicking the branch brings up the following:

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Uncheck Backup job information since we are using the jobInfo to store the JSON string.

Create File

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Generate the JSON string here. Although it could be done all on a single line, it is suggested that each pair of key/value be put on different line for ease of reading. Data extraction (Right click > Get Data Location…) from the input file (PDF, text or other) can be done in the Create File plugin to populate the JSON fields.

Set Job Infos and Variables

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Select the %9 as the Var/Info#. Set the value to use %c which is the content of the actual file.


As usual, to discard a file we don’t need (the JSON in this case) we can use the Delete task.

Connect Plugins

The original data file is sent to the Connect plugins as well as the jobInfo9.

The DataMapper Configuration

Create a DataMapper Configuration for the input file chosen, set a dummy JSON string as the Default Value for the JobInfo9 property. It is not mandatory but will be useful for the next steps.

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Add an Extraction step. By default, it is a Javascript field, which is what is needed. Name the field and add the same Javascript code as in the image below. That set the field to the content of the JobInfo9.

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At this point, the content of JobInfo9 that was defined as the default in a previous step should show as the value of the newly created field.

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The Designer Template

Now in the Template, add a new script.enter image description here

Since the variable was defined without any keyword, it is now globally available to all scripts below it. Without getting into details, the JSON string is converted into a JSON object. It will allow direct access to the various key it contains has if they were actual field.

Add a placeholder on the Template. Add a Text Script with the following code. This is the code generated by Connect when we drag and drop a field from the Data Model.

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Of course, the line field = global_JSON.customerNumber has replaced the one usually generated by Connect. When typing the variable global_JSON, notice that the period triggers the auto-complete of Connect, which brings back the list of all keys defined in the JSON string from Workflow.

Once that’s all done, you should be able to drag and drop the Text Script Selector into the editing window. Click on the Preview tab to see if the value of the field actually shows up. If it does, it’s a good sign that you can save the DataMapper Configuration and the Print Template and send them to Workflow to test out the process.


Refer to the following resources in order to test this method:

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