Input Screen / Form Theme Idea

Let me start by asking a question…

Why do we need Custom Themes/Forms?

In my case, a Purchase Order (PO for short) is specific to acquiring Materials. They follow a typical relationship path from Owner / Buyer / Purchaser to a Supplier. Pricing is not so much the issue (although important!) as is:

  • What is being purchased?
  • How much is being purchased?
  • When do I need it?
  • Shipping / Freight? (Delivery Charges, Who delivers, Full Freight Allowed? Drop Ship? Freight Along Side? X-Works?)

But, there is another use for a document like a PO, called a Subcontract (S/C). A Subcontract is comprised of several things that are not prominent on a purchase order:

  • Scope of Services (Usually written / signed on another document)
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Assignment of Liability
  • Who buys what, and who has Custody
  • Where services performed (Your shop or my site?)
  • When will S/C deliver?

That is a much heftier lift…and has nothing to do with accounting.

So, the capability to use a different theme,one for PO, one for S/C makes data entry easier for others to follow…plus have better documented work processes, since you can have a document with a different name to point at. Here’s what I came up with:

Within a Custom Theme, one can select defaults…if you choose to use a Custom Theme, the selection is right at the top. No Screen prompts are changed, Data Entry is the same, none of the “Line Item” Custon Fields are changed…after all, if they aren’t important, don’t add them, and don’t put them to default show up as columns, or on the form.

But when you do select a Custom Form, first action should be to change title (like “Purchase Order” to “Subcontract” ) to reinforce what you are doing on that input screen. Likewise, one can set the default “Ref#” to start “S” - for Subcontract.

And, instead of dumping the “Custom Codes” at the bottom on the left, String them out across the first line. To many fields? Only show what can fit.

As I show here, the Custom Theme prompt defines what document I am creating, and it should be prominent right at the top. Second, "Change Ref# number is important because I need to track changes in Scope, Extra Work within the Scope, and any extra work I ask them to do, and to my benefit to have some kind of documentation of what I asked for, and what they agreed to do.

Of most importance is moving the “Custom Theme” prompt to the top row…that helps match a workflow/process. Also the remaining form level custom codes also add value to the input at the top…because it is easier to catch your eye as a reminder.

But, in ALL instances, leave the “Discount”, Tax Inclusive" down below, and “CREATE” / “UPDATE” / “DELETE” down below. Much less chance of bad error if it is a deliberate action, rather than just in the path of the mouse…


First of all, forms and themes are two very different things. Forms are the web pages on which you enter data. Themes are code that govern display of data. And you don’t need custom themes. You can accomplish everything the program is designed to do with the built-in theme.

The rest of your post overlooks the fact that a theme works across all transaction form types and all customer and supplier statements. Using the custom theme name as a title will result in errors in 21 of its 22 uses. And the place you suggest putting the custom theme name at the very top of your example purchase order is reserved for the breadcrumbs.

Tut, please pardon my editorial liberty of making a bullet list of you first paragraph.

First, from the guide,

Change a form title

A title is the name of a particular transaction form in Manager. Titles appear near the top of forms in many themes, but can be placed elsewhere. They include:

Seems to me that the Guide itself refers to FORMS, and THEMES as a way to capture User preferences and distinctions between different types of documents.

The use of color in printed documents can be a very impactful visual key as to what type of document one is holding/reading. Yeah, the input screens can be a “form”, and they are all white (or some variation of white). But if you choose a Custom “Theme”, why cannot the data input “Form” adopt the color of the “Theme”? Points 1 & 2 addressed.

So, on to your third point…
Yes they do, and one of the first things I did, was read that guide on Changing a title, because I know…KNOW… that Awarding a Subcontract is much more credible when it says “Subcontract” at the top.

In other words:

is MUCH more meaningful than this:

when I hand him that paper, stapled to a 7 page set of Contract T’s & C’s, a Scope of work Statement, and all of the rest of the documents I need to give him to protect both of us.

On to Point 4…
If you look closely at the form in my original post (covered by my boxes and arrows for emphasis…sorry), please note there is text in the “Custom Themes” box I Pasted on the first line… let me magnify it for you…

When you open the input screen for a Purchase Order, that “Custom Theme” text is right next to a clickbox…that’s it. Once you click on that box, the input object appears just below…with the faint, grey text “Plain”. Opening the drop-down list exposes a list of custom forms:

Note the first, fourth, sixth and seventh Custom Themes are labeled to match a Work Process/Flow in my Business. Just to demonstrate my use of "Custom Themes:

Placing that input box at the top, along with DATE and REF is of great importance as a reminder to an assistant on what task they are working, and the “stuff” they need to do it (Scribbled notes, Signed Contract, Invoice for completed work from a Framer on a 1 foot long 1 x 6, etc.) It makes no difference to any other operation on the input form where that field is located, as well as any other “Custom Field” that makes sense in that prominent position. Heck, you can add a “Put this Field in the first line” checkbox on the “Create Custom Field” form to not that. And, in my opinion, anyone who wants to load an input form with a dozen “Custom Fields” on the first line is probably over-doing the custom code functionality, perhaps struggling with trying to create an hierarchical code structure, since “Tracking Code” doesn’t solve their issue(s).

Using color, title and some other changes to where things are placed on the output form, I will know what I am handling, others will know what I am handing them, and that is the first step in clear, concise communication between myself and a valued assistant, either of us with Suppliers, Subcontractors, Consulting Engineers or Inspectors…

With that in mind, Do you see now why Custom Themes are such a wonderful part of Manager? It places Manager head and shoulders above other similar scoped systems… If you pull that capability, I think you destroy part of the user community that has been built over time. So much for Point 6.

Now, as to your second paragraph:

Only if you don’t rename them to something meaningful, that can match a work process/flow. Other users may choose to name their custom forms after famous heroes, their sister, wife or child… I. Don’t. Care.
And, I don’t share my forms with any other user of Manager. So, it is of no concern to me if another user wants to generate a Purchase Order entitled “Amelia Earhart”, just because; or print a Sales Invoice entitled “Subcontract Invoice”, because they don’t care, can’t read or are being sarcastic. If they want to appear that disconnected from the business world, well, good luck with that.

As far as the…

goes, please review the PO input form carefully…there is NOTHING to the right of the “Ref” input box…just clear screen real estate.

And my request to possibly change the text title at the extreme upper left corner (I am sure you are referring to the teeny, tiny, itty-bitty text and links), what is so hard about,

Onselect(“Custom Theme”); Replace(form.input.title with custom.theme.text)
Set(form.input.color.background) to color.customtheme)

I have no idea if that is anywhere close to the code language used, but it is reminiscent of some OOL I have used in the past.

In summary, Tut, two points I would like to make:

  • First, if the users of Manager are that maladjusted in their business practices, that they should only stick to the “Plain” forms, why in the heck did someone spend precious hours coding them, writing help manuals with more precious hours, then pointing users to those guides in this forum as monitors? Why not pull all custom themes because, you know, “these users will wrap themselves around an axle”.

  • Second, I think this is the third time I have responded to your posts on a topic and felt the need to respond with rational reasons, boxes and arrows, and explanatory texts, as to why I am doing / requesting enhancements. Either you are getting some pleasure out of lobbing these grenades and watching for fallout, or you do not fully understand complexity in a business, and the need for concise, effective communication, whether verbal or paperwork, to Clients, Suppliers, Subcontractors or Investors alike.

But, I do enjoy the discussion, it helps me firm up my understanding of the issue…thanks for that.

@HomeFlip, most of what you say amounts to proselytizing for your personal graphic design preferences. You are welcome to them. Having moderated this forum for almost five years, I can assure you there are competing ideas.

Meanwhile, the developer makes deliberate choices about the user interface and consistency of presentation and operation. Sometimes, the elegance of his approach only becomes apparent with longer use. As you gain more experience with the program, his vision might become clearer to you. I can only observe that it is for greater simplicity than you advocate.

Big word…how is what I request any different from the requests of many other users who are:

  • Modifying Forms through “Custom Themes” to achieve some desireable output.
  • Asking to move stuff around on the input screen
  • Making suggestions for useability/readability of users/input specialists in any business?

Well, then Lubos may have to explain that elegance to me, or use a stick, whatever. I have been involved in development of Gobal Project Management Systems at the same time assigned to a project, trying to pull data strings together to issue reports for upper management to review. I may have more understanding of big systems than you imply above.

But I disagree with your sentiment that I should just calmly go into the night, trusting Lubos to solve my problems, because that is not what I have seen on this forum, and Lubos sometimes chimes in, with thoughtful and considered observations.

Thanks for your response!


And there’s this little caveat at the very bottom of the guide:

Manager will remember the theme you have chosen for a particular form. However, all new forms will use the themes chosen for their form types in Form Defaults under Settings unless you change them.

Elegant, wise or not, if that input line for “Custom Theme” is right at the top of the screen input form, don’t you think it would help users to get it right from the start, to see it prominently displayed right there when they open the form?