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Planning for translation and flexible updates

Use labeled options with the choices modifier

When using the choices field modifier, always provide both a display label and a value.

Example:

fields: 
- Pick a card, any card: which_card
choices:
- Ace: ace
- Queen: queen
- 3: three
- 1: one

The value will remain stable for translation and any language changes that will be made during the course of the project, allowing you to avoid updating your logic with minor language tweaks.

It may be helpful to use snake_case for choices values. This will help signal that they are static terms that will not change when other interview language changes.

Avoid hardcoded string in code - use templates instead

Avoid placing literal English text inside code blocks, functions and methods. Instead, use Docassemble template blocks. You should use an f string or explicitly convert templates to str to avoid certain Docassemble bugs.

Example:

---
template: my_text_template
content: |
Hello, World
---
code: |
list_options = [{'option1': str(my_text_template)}]

Template blocks will become part of the Docassemble XLSX or XLIFF translation file, which makes them the most convenient way to handle text that must be translated.

Do not add a language modifier to blocks in the default language

For certain kinds of metadata, such as navigation sections, the only way to make them change when the interview language changes is to add a language: modifier.

Leave the default language with no modifier. E.g., if your interview is written in English, do not add a language: en modifier. Instead, add the modifier to each new language as you go.

Example:

# English
sections:
- Section 1
- Section 2
---
language: es
sections:
- Sección 1
- Sección 2

Avoid using the language functions from pattern.en in your interview

Docassemble includes very useful features to conjugate verbs, match gender, and more that are drawn from pattern.en, such as the does_verb method of a DAList. These are safe to use inside a language-specific template, such as a court form that will always be filed in English. Never use these inside a question block:

  1. using does_verb and its cousins inside a question block leads to question "fragments" that may not be grammatical in another language
  2. does_verb may not be available in a language that you decide to translate your interview to in the future.

Similarly, do not use sentence fragments to update text that will change if:

  1. the number of people in a list is either 1 or more
  2. the user is answering the question on their own behalf or for someone else

Instead: use a Mako if statement on the whole sentence.

Example:

---
id: agree overpaid
question: |
% if client_is_overpaid_person:
Do you agree that you got too much money from Social Security?
% else:
Do you agree that ${recordee} got too much money from Social Security?
% endif