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The Power of the Temporary Flag

Flags are limited, one-bit, unsourced pieces of information. Despite their limitations, they can be very useful, especially when used with TMG's reporting possibilities. If you've reached this page via the discussion of a report needed to locate possible candidates to be searched in the SSDI, then you know that one of the possible flag uses is to mark a filtered group of people in your dataset. Sometimes, you want this marker to remain with the person's record, but sometimes the marker has only a temporary use, hence, the Temporary flag.

  1. Create your custom flag called "Temporary". If you've never created a custom flag before, instructions can be found here.
  2. Your Temporary flag can be created as a simple On-Off flag using ? or N as your default value, the Off value, and Y as your On value.
  3. You're now ready to revisit your List of Events report, adding a Secondary Output.

Report Options: Secondary Output

Secondary Output Tab

Change Flag Query

Do you see the box marked "Suppress output to screen, file, and printer?" If this box is checked, all flag changes will be made automatically. If you're absolutely sure of your filter, feel free to check this box. It's a little safer, though, to output the report to screen first, just make sure your filter works correctly.

Rerun your "TVTMG_Events_Source" report with the Secondary Output added. You will be able to view the results, and if these results are what you expected, anser "Yes" when asked if you want to change the flag values.

Now, return to our List of People report, "TVTMG_SSN_candidates." We can't edit a report definition, but we can simulate editing one by following these instructions.

Report Filter

Report Filter Screen
  1. From the Source Definition screen for the "TVTMG_SSN_candidates" report, select "Add."
  2. Call the report, "TVTMG_no_SSDI" (or something similar).
  3. Answer "Yes" to the query, "Apply the current option settings to the new report?"
  4. Next, edit the filter "tvtmg_ssn does not exist."
  5. Replace the first line with something that filters out any person with a Temporary flag value equal to Y and rename the filter. I called this one "tvtmg_no ssdi source".

Report Sample

Sample Report

Here's the new report: a list of people who might be found in the Social Security Death Index, but who haven't been found, yet - and we didn't need to have a SSN tag to create this list!

The ability to change flag values based on a List of People report or a List of Events report is a powerful reporting tool. If you're searching for the absence of something in your database and can't seem to come up with a direct filter, consider the possibility of filtering on a flag value first.