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|= (logical OR assigment)


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To make it easier to write rules succinctly, you may use the assignment:

$TheAttribute |= the_expression; 

…which sets $TheAttribute to the value of the_expression if it is already true OR if the_expression is true. An attribute that has no locally set (or inherited) value is evaluated as false. Thus there are two possible outcomes:

A more verbose (and less efficient at scale) way to write the same test without the |= operator is

if((!$TheAttribute)){ ... do the_expression;} 

where '(!$TheAttribute)' is a short-form test meaning if the value of attribute named TheAttribute tests as false. A false value arises differently for for different attribute data types, but for for a string, the above can be further unpacked as:

if($TheAttribute!=""){ ... do the_expression;} 

In practical terms this means the left side, usually an attribute, is set to the right side value only if it is not already set locally at note level. This is because for most attributes, especially new user attributes, the default value will evaluate as false. But, $TheAttribute's data type does not have to be Boolean.

For new String-type attributes (and string-based Action/Color/File/Font/Interval/List/Set/URL types) the default is an empty string "". For Number-type, is it 0 (zero). For Date-type, it is the string "never". For Boolean-type, is it 'false' (with no quotes, and shown as un-ticked if displayed via a tick-box). The "", 0 and "never" values—for the appropriate data types—evaluate as false. But, be aware that not all system attributes follow this assumption. For instance, the $Color default is preset to use a named Tinderbox colour, so its default value (even if inherited) would evaluate as true .

Prototypes have no direct effect as the outcome, as it initially depends on the evaluation of the left-side attribute value regardless of whether document default, prototype inherited or locally set.

This operator's behaviour makes the |= usage very useful for doing tasks like making code run only once; on the second pass the left side already has a value so no change occurs. This avoids scenarios like successive applications of a rule causing multiple concatenation of strings (one extra each iteration).

For example, for the Boolean-type attribute $Urgent:

$Urgent |= any(children,$Urgent); 

A project is urgent if it has been declared to be urgent itself, or if any child is urgent.

If using |= assignments, it can be useful to have a means to reset an attribute to default to re-enable |= value assignment.

See also the logical AND assignment (which is likely used less often).