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Reference: Notices-Settings Format

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10 March 2022

The specification of Operational Characteristics associated with a RidgeStar website can vary significantly, dependent upon the Feature being configured. Most of these configurable "operational characteristics" are established as Settings, which are maintained via a Webmaster authorized page on the individual sites (usually as Options-Settings).

Original Settings Format

The following Options-Settings example detail form establishes a Setting named AccountTypes containing a configuration where the number 22 is being associated with "Checking", and the number 32 is associated with "Savings".

Note that the Setting Value can be a single number or character string. It can also contain a more complex specification consisting of multiple values separated by commas or providing relationships between values and meanings/purposes (like the example). The complex relationship specifications are separated by a comma and may represent a Value and Purpose separated by a "=>" character string in the general form:

{value}=>{purpose or meaning} [, ...]

Upgraded Settings Format (JSON)

The new Settings specification format will use the JSON (JavaScript Object Notation)-> format for storing complex specifications (where a "complex specification" is defined as any Setting with the Array checkbox on).

The same AccountTypes specification example will now look similar to this:

Both formats are required to follow a prescribed format and if an error is made in the specification, the Setting may (or may not) behave as intended. JSON (as a Text String format) is a widely accepted and general purpose format that can represent quite complex structures without ambiguity. It (JSON) is also used in the RidgeStar environment as the storage format for all saved Criteria (visible at Options-Criteria on most sites).

Why change the Settings to JSON?

As the RidgeStar environment has added new Features and functions, we have been increasingly finding a need to embed or incorporate Settings specifications into the software. Converting the complex Settings to a JSON syntax will permit and support continued expansion of the available features to all sites.

The Positives...

  1. JSON text strings entered via Options-Settings can be tested for validity prior to Update, which should help in reducing Webmaster data entry errors when manually adjusting the Settings.
  2. Settings Properties saved as JSON strings can be directly utilized in SQL commands, which permits tabular based translations to be incorporated into SQL searches.
  3. Documentation and discussion of the JSON text format is widespread online with extensive description and examples.

What will a Webmaster have to do when the change occurs?

An excellent question. And, if all goes as planned, the answer is "Nothing, except be aware of the change in format."

By "be aware" we mean to say when the Webmaster next goes to change a site's Settings, the Options-Settings detail panel will no longer contain a Value input area, which will be replaced by the Properties input area. On Update, the Properties input area will be checked for properly containing a valid JSON string (for all complex specifications) and the Update will not be processed if the JSON specification is invalid.

JSON syntax can be pretty cryptic so the wise webmaster will be careful to make sure and use valid JSON syntax when making any changes in the Properties box.