SQL Variables


Priority’s form preparation mechanism recognizes the following as SQL variables in form triggers; anything else will generate a warning message:

  • a form column variable — e.g., :ORDERS.QUANT (see below)
  • any variable preceded by a colon, which does not include a period — e.g., :QUANT
  • system variables.

See also Form Triggers.

Form Column Variables

Priority defines three SQL variables for each form column:

  • :form_name.form_column_name — stores the column’s current value on screen (note the required colon and period)
  • :form_name1.form_column_name — stores its value in the table (note the addition of “1” before the period)
  • :form_name.form_column_name.TITLE — stores the form column title.

Thus, :ORDERITEMS.QUANT refers to the ordered quantity currently designated in the ORDERITEMS form. In contrast, :ORDERITEMS1.QUANT refers to the ordered quantity stored in the ORDERITEMS table. If you are updating an existing record and have not left the current line in the form, then these variables will hold two different values — the updated value and the previous one, respectively. Along the same lines, :ORDERITEMS.QUANT.TITLE refers to the title of this column. This is useful, for instance, as a parameter in error or warning messages for triggers. These form column variables may be used in creating expressions and triggers for the form.


Generally, expressions and triggers refer to the current form (e.g., ORDERITEMS) or to its upper-level form (e.g., ORDERS). Priority allows you to use the dollar sign as a wildcard in place of these form names. Use one dollar sign ($) for the current form, two ($$) for the next level up, three ($$$) for the next level, and so on.

Consider the following trigger in the ORDERITEMS form, which computes the Extended Price of an order item:

* :$.PRICE * (100.0 - :$.PERCENT) / 100.0
* (:$$.CURRENCY = -1 ? :$.IEXCHANGE : 1.0);

Another example (this time of how to use the previous value of a specific column) is found in the CHECK-FIELD trigger for the PARTNAME column in the same form:

GOTO 1 WHERE :$1.PARTNAME = '' OR :$.ORDI = 0; 

Sometimes a trigger employing a dollar sign may refer to a non-existing form (e.g., $$ when there is no upper-level form). This sometimes happens when the trigger is included in more than one form. In such a case, Priority will consider the wildcard as representing the next form level down (the current form, to continue the above example).

Expressions and Column triggers often refer to the current form column. You can therefore use @ as a wildcard in place of this form column name (see example above). For instance, the link between sub-level and upper-level forms is generally made between columns having identical names. This linkage can be expressed using the @ wildcard.

The use of these wildcards makes it easier to read the trigger. They are also useful when employing an #INCLUDE command in a trigger (see Including One Trigger in Another).

Note: The use of @ in a Row or Form trigger will stand for the name of that trigger (e.g., POST-FORM).

User-defined Variables

In addition to form-column variables, whose values are determined by the data in the form (or table) column, you may also define your own variables. For example, the following SQL statement employs a :CNT variable that counts the number of work orders opened for a given order item (see the CHECK-FIELD trigger for the DUEDATE column of the ORDERITEMS form):

:CNT = 0;

When naming a variable, use the following rule of thumb:

  • If the variable is included in a trigger in a standard form, use the appropriate four-letter prefix, so as to easily distinguish it from standard variables.
  • If the variable is included in a trigger in your own form, the prefix is unnecessary.

For more details, see Rules for Customizing Forms.

Note: Variable names are limited to 50 characters. When naming variables, keep in mind that a variable defined in a trigger for a standard form also includes: the company prefix (see below), two underlines (_), and a period (.).

User-defined variables (such as :CNT) do not have an automatic starting value; rather, this must be set by a trigger. Consider, for instance, the following SQL statement in the first line of the POST-INSERT trigger for the TRANSTRIG form (this trigger is included in POST-INSERT triggers for the TRANSORDER_D form and many other forms like it), which sets the value of the :QUANT and :TQUANT variables on the basis of the quantity of shipped items: SELECT 0 + :$.TQUANT,0 + :$.QUANT INTO :TQUANT,:QUANT FROM DUMMY;

Note: Alternatively, you could use :TQUANT = :$.TQUANT and :QUANT = :$.QUANT, respectively.

Global Variables in Forms

Some forms are used to work with data that is relevant to more than one company, i.e., they refer to one of the companies defined in the ENVIRONMENT table or contain a trigger with a loop that runs for all companies (e.g., the Itemized Rates form). When defining your own variables for use in a multi-company form, you need to make sure to define them accordingly.

When a trigger is activated in a multi-company form, any user-defined variables included in the trigger automatically receive a prefix referring to the relevant company. For example, if a trigger that contains a variable called :SOMEVAR is activated from a record that is defined for the comp1 company, then while the trigger is running the variable will be renamed :_comp1.SOMEVAR. If the same trigger is activated from a record that is defined for the comp2 company, then while the trigger is running the variable will be renamed :_comp2.SOMEVAR.

In order to define a global variable for a multi-company form (i.e., a variable that receives the same value for all companies, regardless of the current record), add the prefix “GLOBAL.” to the variable name (e.g., :GLOBAL.SOMEVAR). This prefix ensures that no company-specific prefix will be added when a trigger containing that variable is activated (and the variable can be used globally within the form).

Global variables are particularly useful when you want to define a loop that runs for all companies and updates records in each company (such as the loop in the Itemized Rates form). In such a case, you need to define a global variable that stores the name of the company from which the loop starts. If you use a local variable to store the company name, this variable will receive the prefix defined for the original company upon completing the loop and will subsequently be empty.

The DUMMY Table

You will note that the SELECT statements illustrated above refer to the DUMMY table. This is a single-record, single-column table which may be included in an SQL statement whenever values are assigned to a variable. While the SELECT statements in the above triggers could have referred to an ordinary database table, this would have caused the SQL mechanism to travel through all the table’s records, which would take some time. It is therefore much faster to execute the SELECT via the DUMMY table. In fact, in Priority any SELECT ... FROM DUMMY statement does not even access the DUMMY table; hence, execution is even faster.

Text Form Variables

Using a form trigger, you can define a given text form as read-only when its upper-level form has a particular status, and you can prevent users from opening the text editor in non-HTML format. In the former case, set the :$.READONLY.T variable to 1; in the latter, set the :$.NOEDITOR.T variable to 1.

Example: See the PRE-FORM trigger in the ORDERSTEXT form.

By default, all text forms in Priority are HTML text forms. If you need to create a plain text form, set the :$.NOHTML.T variable to 1.

Example: See the PRE-FORM trigger in the FTRIGTEXT form.

More on Form Triggers