FormCalc Nuts & Bolts
FormCalc operates on just a few simple concepts:
||A Layout describes details about a particular
QuickBooks form--or more commonly, about a particular QuickBooks
form-and-template combination--and a set of calculations you want
FormCalc to do on that form. FormCalc supports up to ten Layouts,
In the illustration above, Layout 0 tab is showing. It is
named "Invoice - Product template" to serve as a
reminder that this Layout is for use on the Invoice form with the
Product template applied to it.
||An Action describes the details of one particular
calculation, such as which column is to be totaled or counted, or
which two columns are to be multiplied together to compute values
in a third column. Actions then, are the building blocks that
make up a Layout.
Layout 0 in the illustration above has two Actions. The
"Extd Wt." Action calculates the value of column 5, on
each row of the detail area, by multiplying values columns 1 and
4. The "TotalWt" Action totals column 5 and displays
the results in that same column.
||Trigger Items are QuickBooks Items you've identified
for FormCalc's purposes. They "trigger" the display of
FormCalc results at a particular location on the QuickBooks form;
specifically, trigger Items are associated with Actions and cause
those Actions to display results where you want them on the form.
This illustration shows the Trigger Items tab with two
QuickBooks Items entered on it, SubtotWt and TotalWt:
Can you find these same two Item names in the illustration at the
top of the page? They're associated with the Action which also goes
by the name of "TotalWt".
So what does this mean? Suppose you've filled out a QuickBooks
Invoice form and have included the TotalWt QuickBooks Item as the
last line on the form. Then you invoke FormCalc to process the form.
When FormCalc reaches the line where the TotalWt Item is, it will
trigger the corresponding Action to display its results on that
line. (Look at the illustration at the top of the page and you will
see that the results will be a total for column 5.)
Let's have another look at the QuickBooks invoice shown earlier,
where results provided by FormCalc are highlighted
As you can see, FormCalc has provided a total for column 5--the
Extd Weight column--on the line where the TotalWt Item was selected.
Yes, it's as simple as that. If you want to see step-by-step
details of how to set up Layouts, Actions, and trigger Items, please
see the FormCalc tutorial.
OK, But How Does FormCalc Really Work?
Ahh, so you want to know how FormCalc reads data from, and writes
data back into, a QuickBooks form?
FormCalc works by sending keystrokes to QuickBooks, reading and
writing data using the Windows clipboard and other "magic"
provided by the Microsoft Windows API. FormCalc does not use on the
QuickBooks SDK (Software Development Kit) to access QuickBooks, and
that allows it to work with most versions of QuickBooks, including
older releases and non-U.S. versions.
As for invoking FormCalc while you're working in QuickBooks, you
do that by pressing a "hotkey" of your choosing, usually
the F10 key. When you press the hotkey FormCalc pops up a window
over the current QuickBooks form:
In this window you choose the Layout you want to use, by clicking
on a Layout name or pressing the appropriate number key (0...9).
Then FormCalc goes to work, applying that Layout's calculations to
the form and writing the results back into the form.